Once upon a time there was a princess. She was not a very beautiful princess. She was rather ordinary, but she was a princess just the same. She was daughter of a splendid young king and queen. Strong in battle and a knowledgeable ruler, her father the king, had been the most handsome and wealthy of princes.
From a neighboring kingdom, her mother the queen, had been a royal princess. She was as beautiful as the king was strong. Suitors traveled for miles to pursue her beauty and favors. Not unaware of the admiration she aroused, the clever young princess would settle only for the most noble of spouses.
So it was the young prince and princess married to become king and queen. They overlooked a vast and prosperous kingdom from a magnificent castle on a hill. Royal as they were, they soon beget a daughter, but nature could not repeat the beauty of the queen nor the strength of the king.
The beautiful couple looked at their child in dismay. The young princess was not a frog, but it might have been better. No one you see, equaled the king and queen in strength or beauty. The young princess was very ordinary but the subjects of the kingdom
welcomed her with love and acceptance. Not one you see, equaled the king and queen, and as the princess was very ordinary, so were they.
Homely though she was, she had an unselfconscious zest for life. This brought a beauty that nature couldn't touch. The queen grew jealous, for her own attentions declined with years. One day in a rage she cut off the nose of the princess.
Not one would say it, but they knew it was
the queen who had cut off her nose. The princess went on being a princess. She had a harp and she played and sang. Strange and beautiful were her songs, for they had no laughter and they had no tears. People would come for miles to hear her music. She received many attentions and fine gifts from royal subjects who used to love the queen.
Missing the adoration of her princess days, the queen's resentment grew until one day in another rage she took a hot iron and burned the tongue of her daughter. She said, "You will sing no longer."
The princess played sad notes on the harp, and moved her mouth without singing. Strange and beautiful were her songs, for they had no tears and they had no voice. Still the people listened and loved her.
Jealously consumed the queen and she commanded the king, "We will take the child to the woods and dispose of her." He loved his daughter but, he loved his queen more. They took the child to the forest and the king held her while the queen poked nails in her eyes. Climbing back into their carriage, the queen tossed the harp out beside her.
They tore their clothes, and without looking back, the royal couple returned to the castle. In royal despondency they explained that while on a royal family picnic the young princess had been consumed by a wild boar. The valiant king had fought desperately to save her, while the queen cried in royal despair.
The subjects were saddened and bestowed many attentions on their beloved queen and king. The queen was happy and the king sat beside her.
The young princess picked up her harp and stumbled through the forest, her tongue was too sore to speak and her eyes too crusted to see. Groping for berries and nuts she survived. She didn't weep, she didn't laugh, and neither did she sing.
She wandered for many years, until one day she came to a quiet and beautiful place in the heart of the forest. She couldn't see it, but she could feel it and she knew that she was safe.
Exhausted, she lay on soft grass and wept, and as she wept her tears rolled down the bank into a stream. When she ceased weeping she reached for the cool water, for she could hear it. She dipped her hands into the stream and washed her eyes with its magic
waters. As she did, her eyes began to heal and she could see a faint reflection of herself in the blackness. In the safety of the quiet glade she mourned the loss of her king and queen. She cried for many days for she loved them deeply. Her teardrops mingled with the waters of the deep.
Feeling her strength returning, she drank freely of the water. Her mouth was healed. She had a voice and she sang, but her songs were not yet real. Once more she washed her eyes and drank the water, and this time she understood its magic. When she picked
up her harp her songs were real, for as she looked in the wet darkness she could see herself clearly. She wasn't very pretty for she had traveled far and she would never have a nose, but she was real and she could sing. As she sang, she realized she wasn't singing alone.
Surrounding the quiet place, was a quiet people. They weren't very pretty either, some were missing ears, some eyes and some were missing legs, but they all understood and shared love with each other.
Their songs were not beautiful, but they were real, for they had all traveled far. They sang in joyous laughter and wept in sorrow's tears.
They lived happily for many years in joyous celebration for each who made it to the magic stream. And the magic stream flowed until the end of their days with tears wept for the ones who didn't.