Once upon a time in the far away kingdom of Vandin, there were a very old king and queen who spent the days all alone in their huge castle. For many years, they had been trying to have children but had been unsuccessful. What truly frightened old King Fim and old Queen Mavis was not that they were all alone, but rather the thought that if they never had an heir, the kingdom would fall under the control of Savius, the evil king of the neighboring land; a wicked man whose penchant for tyranny would be sure to bring death, famine and war to little land of Vandin.
At last Queen Mavis decided to call on a local witch for help. She sent one of her servants to bring the witch to the castle, but when the servant returned later that night he did not have the witch. Instead he had a little pouch full of cherries.
“What is this?!” the Queen cried in dismay. “I asked you to bring me the witch and all you have brought me is cherries! Now I shall never conceive a child!”
“No, my Queen, you don’t understand!” said the servant. “The witch told me that if you eat the cherries in two months time you will conceive a child…a girl child to be exact.”
Though Queen Mavis had her doubts, she ate the cherries and, like a miracle, in two months time the queen became pregnant and nine months later she gave birth to a perfectly healthy little princess, who they named Arielle. By the time she was eighteen years of age she was intelligent, polite, talented in music and art, extremely well spoken, and kind. But there was one problem; unlike other little princesses you read about in fairy tales, she was not the least bit beautiful. Instead of blonde tresses, she looked as if someone had thrown a mop on her head. Plus, one of her eyes was blue and the other brown and her nose was crooked.
“How will we ever find her a husband?! No one will want a princess that looks like that! My kingdom is lost!” cried poor King Fim.
Hating to see her husband so unhappy, the Queen decided to once again call upon the witch for help. No sooner had she made up her mind than a messenger arrived with a letter from the witch. The note said simply: “
You’re ugly girl will be made a beauty
But for this she must pay a duty
For the kings and princes from many a land
Will come before her, to seek her hand
But not one who gives her a glance
Shall ever find, in the real her, romance
Her beauty will trap them, yes this I can swear
But her joy, her thoughts or tears, they will never bear
If ever they look into her face
Then in their hearts, she’ll n’ere find a place.
After reading the strange note Queen Mavis went alone to her chambers to ponder the situation. It had been made clear in the witch’s note; her daughter could be beautiful, could find a husband, and could save the land of Vandin from the evil machinations of King Savius, however the price would be high; the young princess Arielle would, despite her beauty, never find true love. For if any man were to look upon her beauty, he would be smitten, but never truly love her. As Queen Mavis sat pondering, her husband burst into the chamber and exclaimed “Evil King Savius has ordered his soldiers to march, there will be war unless our daughter Arielle is wed! Whatever shall we do?”
So the Queen and King sent word to witch and that night a messenger returned, this time with a small sack of strawberries. That very night, Princess Arielle ate them and when she awoke in the morning she was at least three times prettier than the land’s previous holder of the most fair title. After her morning tea, she went for a stroll in the courtyard where she came upon Sir Bastion, the most handsome and bravest of all the king’s knights. When he looked upon her, his heart skipped a beat, so he swooped her up into his arms and said “My fair princess, I am awed by your beauty, for your face makes even a field of daisies in the morning sun look as grotesque as putrid ox carcasses.”
“Why, thank you, Sir Bastion” the Princess replied “Shall we go into the field and walk through the daisies? It would make me so happy.”
“Who cares what makes you happy?” he said as he kissed her on the cheek “Let us not wander through foliage, let us instead get married tonight and live happily ever after.”
But Arielle shook her head and ran away, tears streaming down her face. So incensed was she by the knight’s callus remarks, that she didn’t noticed when she ran right past the castle gate and out into the village. In fact, she was crying so hard that she didn’t even notice when she ran right into Count Bernu, the richest merchant in the land. When he saw her, his eyes opened wide and a smile came across his face.
“Princess Arielle, I do declare that you are the most beautiful girl in the land.”
“Thank you” she sobbed “But that mean Sir Bastion has hurt my feelings.”
“Who cares about your feelings, my dear?” he said with gusto “Let us go get married tonight and live happily ever after.”
Instead of making Arielle fall in love, Count Bernu’s proposal only made her weep harder. Turning around, she ran away from him, so fast that she missed her footing and fell in a big pile of mud. Picking herself up, she looked down at her beautiful gown and only felt more dejected.
Just then, a young man with a wrap around his eyes came up to her. His outstretched hand held a cloth and his face held a kind smile.
“I heard you crying and I heard a big splat. You must have fallen in the mud and ruined your clothes. Here, take my cloth and clean yourself off.” said the stranger.
“Oh, thank you, sir” she said as she tried to clean herself off “But why do you have that bandage over your eyes?”
“Long ago, an evil witch put a curse on me which made me blind. So, I was forced to leave my home and travel as a beggar.”
“And yet you stopped to help me? Why? You do not know who I am?”
“No, I do not know who you are, but I could hear your crying and knew that you were saddened, and I could not bear it to let you be sad.”
“Why thank you, but I do not even know your name, kind beggar. But you shall know mine, I am Princess Arielle, and that castle is my home. Tonight you shall come and dine with my family, as a show of thanks.”
And so that night, there was a lavish feast with all manner of food. Expecting their daughter to soon be engaged to the various knights and merchants who had proposed, King Fim and Queen Mavis had invited many guests, including the mysterious witch. In fact, they had even invited evil King Savius who they thought could witness for himself the Princess’s engagement and the victory for the land of Vandin.
Seated next to the Princess was the blind beggar she had met, though many other men were trying to get her attention. After the main course was over, King Fim stood up and held aloft his glass, proclaiming “Now, all in attendance will witness the engagement of my daughter Princess Arielle, heir to the Kingdom of Vadim, to the man she chooses.”
“She will choose me” stated Sir Bastion “for I am the bravest knight in the kingdom.”
“No, she will choose me” stated Count Bernu “For I am the richest merchant in the kingdom.”
Rising, the princess smiled “No, I will choose the only man who has ever been kind to me, who ever cared about my feelings and ever loved me for who I am.” And with a flourish, she turned to the blind beggar, who stood up. Pulling the bandaged off his eyes, she took his hands.
“Oh no!” cried the evil King Savius “It is Prince Agald. the son of my older brother, the rightful heir to my kingdom, the one who I had the witch curse with blindness and who I exiled into a live of poverty!”
Then Princess Arielle and Prince Agald kissed and in an instant the witch’s spell was broken. Not only did his sight return, but Princess Arielle became even more beautiful. King Fim ordered the guards to take the evil Savius and his witch to the dungeon and that night Arielle and Agald were wed, joining the two kingdoms into a peaceful union forever.
And Princess Arielle and Prince Agald lived happily ever after. The End.
Based on an original idea by the Rev. Arielle Phillips.