Story: The King’s Daughter
Once upon a time there lived a king whose only daughter was coming of age and nearing the time when princesses in the kingdom were expected to marry. The day came when the king proclaimed with great pride that he sought a husband for his daughter. As tradition dictated the wedding was to take place exactly one year to the day or the princess could never marry.
As was also tradition those men who considered themselves as suitors were each granted a day with the princess in order that they may persuade her to marry them. Now it was well known that the princess was the most beautiful girl in the kingdom and the king knew that many rich families would try anything to see their own sons married to the princess as a way of improving their standing in the kingdom. Furthermore, the king knew that in order to avoid making enemies of those families whose sons the princess rejected he must offer them compensation to keep them as friends. Messengers were sent to all the powerful families in the land informing them that they would be amply compensated if their sons were not chosen.
Unbeknown to the king however, one of the messengers was thrown from his horse and failed to deliver his message to the last remaining powerful family. When the mother of the family discovered that only her family had not been promised compensation, she vowed revenge. When it came for her son to spend his day with the princess the mother ordered her son to slip a special potion into the princess’s wine should he be rejected. The effect of the potion was to cast a spell on the princess making her believe, wrongly, that she had lost all of her beauty and that she would never find anyone prepared to take her for a wife, in what remained of the year she had to marry. On the last day of the year the mother said to her son, you will present yourself again to the princess as the only man prepared to marry her. Then they will have to accept you.
And so it came to pass that the son was rejected by the princess. The young man appeared gracious in defeat and the princess, taking pity on him, agreed to his request that they toast her future happiness, whoever might bring it. The potion was then slipped into the princess’s wine without her knowing and they parted company. The princess went to bed that night unaware of the cruel trick that had been played, but it did not take long for her to discover her fate. So ashamed did she feel at the prospect of letting her father, the king, down by losing her looks and not being able to marry that she fled the kingdom in sorrow the very next morning, planning never to return.
For many months the princess wandered aimlessly, working here and there to earn a living. Then one day as she was walking through a dark wood she came across an old woman crying under a tree. Now the princess was a compassionate person and she asked the old lady whether there was anything that she could do. The old lady said that she had no money and had not eaten for days. The princess who had very little herself offered what she did have to the haggard figure in front of her. After a short while the old lady began to revive and feel much better. She thanked the princess and said that her kindness would be rewarded.
The princess, as befitted her character, replied that she did not seek any reward.
Now unbeknown to the princess, the old lady was in fact Fate in disguise and she had the power to change for the better the fate of anyone who deserved it. She asked the princess why she seemed so unhappy. The princess told her what had happened, falsely assuming that she must have done something to deserve her punishment. As the princess went to take her leave, the old lady said for her to sleep well that night and that the spell would be broken in a dream. A little puzzled, the princess continued on her way. That night the princess did indeed have a dream. She dreamt that she found a golden mirror under her bed and that she looked into it and discovered herself to be beautiful again. However, as with many dreams, the princess had forgotten it by morning and it was only when she looked in the mirror to wash her face that she saw that her beauty had returned. And so the princess returned to her father and before long she was engaged to be married, finally believing that she had been beautiful all along.
Mark Evans, Human Givens therapist