A kind woman fell sick. Neighbors came from across the town to thank her before she passed. As the last well wishers left her home, the woman called her daughter to her side and gave the only gift she had, a pearl hair comb. The mother died, and her daughter grew into a beautiful young dancer.
The dancer wanted to attend the palace ball and catch the prince’s favor. Being too young and without a mother, she did not know how to prepare. She told her neighbor of her plans. Her neighbor laughed that she could never have hair as gold as the queen. So she danced her way into town with her pocket full of coins. The town painter took her coin and colored her dark hair as gold as the best chalice.
As he colored her hair, she told him of her plans. He nodded but remarked that her faded linen dress would never fit among the well dressed women. So she skipped to the tailors. She told him where she would go and paid him for a new dress. He clothed her in royal purple silk with gold accents to match her hair. He told her to get dancing slippers to dance all night.
She waltzed to the shoe maker and showed him her dress. He crafted for her a pair of slippers as royal as her dress with gold bows and gold toes. She gave him the end of her coins, telling him she was ready to dance with the prince. He shook his head in despair for her jewelry would never be as nice as the other dancers’.
Having no more money, she went to the jewelers and asked what she must do to get the jewels for her dress. The jeweler pointed to her pearl hair comb. For the comb and dance at the ball, he would trade a gold tiara. She showed him the hair pin with its bright white pearl so unlike the purple dress and her gold hair. The jeweler assured her the comb was old fashioned and would not outshine the pieces the other girls wore. With one last kiss to the comb, she traded it for the tiara.
Dressed and bejeweled, she floated into the palace. Her hair shone more gold than the queens, her dress was more royal than the other girls, her shoes let her dance all night, and her tiara sparkled more than the jewels of all the other girls.
She bowed before her prince. He bowed and moved to the next girl. She turned to stand against the wall with the other girls in their bright new clothes and adorned in gold. The prince chose a girl from the line and twirled onto the dance floor with a brown-haired girl in a dull linen dress with a silver necklace.