“Tell me the story, Nonny. Please?”
“Which story is that, Lilly-pop?”
“You know the one, Nonny…Once upon a time…”
Once upon a time, as these stories so often begin, there lived a king and queen in a beautiful palace in the great woods. The queen was regal, and she was known throughout the land for her kindness and warmth. She never uttered a cross word to a soul, and a few remarked that she was a living saint. Many people requested an audience with her just to spend an hour in her presence, for they always departed with a feeling in their hearts not unlike the fresh sweetness of the air after a gentle spring rain.
In the minds of his subjects, the king was a mountain. Tall, bold, and immovable in his resolve, he ruled with a fist of iron. His temperament seemed the perfect balance to the queen’s gentle manner. They met in the faraway land of the queen’s birth when the king, then a headstrong prince, was serving in his father’s army. The young king-to-be arranged for his lovely bride to travel to his palace that summer, where they would be married and begin their happily-ever-after. Their kingdom was built upon the eternal principles– strength, discipline, duty, and dignity. The king was certain that without firm leadership and unceasing vigilance, the forces of evil would overcome the kingdom, and all within it, from destruction and disorder. In matters of law and order, disobedience was a graver matter to the king.
The king envisioned a lineage of great honor when he set out with his new bride so many years ago. All the great leaders of the world would come from his family, from his lineage. When the queen announced she was carrying his first heir, the king was overjoyed. A daughter was born first. There followed many sons. The king personally instructed each son in the requirements of royalty– honor, duty, courage. He was sure his sons would carry on the kingdom, and his own values, until the end of history. Happily ever after seemed a certainty.
The daughter did not receive the same instruction as her brothers. She learned of the domestic arts and the value of service to others. She often followed the boys on their adventures, wandering off in search of small animals, wildflowers, and fairy-folk, while the brothers built tree-forts, hunted rabbits, or caught frogs in the pond. The royal children passed many warm summer afternoons vanquishing imaginary brigands and dragons.
“Your duty will be to serve your husband, when the time comes,” the king advised his daughter, shaking his head in consternation at the smears of dirt and grass on her dress, face, and hands. “In the meantime, look to your studies. I’ll not tolerate any laziness.”
On the eve of her 18th birthday, the daughter of the king disappeared. The entire household, from the kitchen maids to the palace guards, searched the house, high and low, for any sign of the missing girl. The search went on for several days. The queen took to her bed, overcome with grief.
The king, in his practical wisdom, decided that the willful child left of her own accord and ordered the household to resume their customary routine. If she returned, she would be called to answer for this disturbance in the affairs of state. Nothing further was said on the matter.
NaNoWriMo–50k words or bust!