... The King then commanded his servants to summon the girl into his palace the next day. He also ordered the maids to prepare a room equipped with a spinning wheel and filled from ceiling to floorboard with straw. "I will see to it that I get all the gold I want out of that girl," the King told his servants. "And if I discover that this is nothing but a hoax, the girl will be put to death."
The servants shook with fear and scurried away. It was common knowledge throughout the kingdom that the King was a wicked and self-centered man who’d come into power only because he had ruthlessly seized the throne which rightfully belonged to his older, but weak-willed brother. He had managed to convince his father, the reigning King then, that his brother was unfit to rule because of his tendency to break into song whenever he became nervous. The King was convinced and on his deathbed, had passed the crown over to his younger devious son, driving the eldest to jump off a windmill and plunging to his untimely death.
With power firmly in his grasp, the King was ruthless with his subjects. He cared little for their welfare, preferring to spend much of his time increasing his already astounding wealth. Throughout his reign, the King had had seven marriages, each one shorter and more shocking than the last. The last wife, whom he’d recently divorced on the grounds that she repulsed him with her social inadequacies, had proclaimed him to be the most vicious man she’d ever known. And how right she was.
The King chuckled to himself as he retired to bed, thinking of the drama that was sure to unfold the next day when the girl was to be brought to him. Ah, it was high time something exciting took place in the royal palace. Things have been a little dull lately.
Meanwhile, back in the little cottage, Ingrid was having trouble falling asleep. Tossing and turning, she couldn’t seem to shake off the feeling that something bad was about to happen in the morning. Full of anxiety, she finally managed to doze off just as the first streaks of sunlight began to stream into her tin bedroom. She hadn’t slept for long before she was awakened by an anxious knocking on her door...