The Princess (Part 1)
Once upon a time there lived a beautiful princess who lived in a castle in the heart of a valley, surrounded by forest and rushing rivers. Just like her father the king, she adored fine jewels, good food and being surrounded in luxury. Every night she since she was little, she would take a delicious chocolate from her golden chocolate box and eat it before going to sleep in her four poster bed. She had only known life to be summoning servants and having people over for dinner, being invited to balls and fine holidays. Everybody would gasp and gush when she walked into a room. “Your highness!” they would say before bowing or kissing her hand. “How marvellous to see you here.” The princess would smile and nod, which was all she seemed to have to do to make people adore her. She had much pressure on her to marry and find another heir to the thrown, but she could not fall in love with any man she met. “How am I supposed to fall in love,” she asked her servant, “when every man treats me the same?”
One evening as she was resting in bed, she awoke to the sound of violent coughing coming from her father’s chamber. She put on her silk robe and slippers and walked to his room. “Father?” she said before opening the door. The king was very red in the face and had a blue colour to his lips. “My dearest daughter, come here.” His coughing had lessened, but he seemed to be growing weaker. “Whats the matter father? Shall I call for a servant?” “No child. I am dying.” The princess collapsed on the bed beside him and held his hand. “My dear,” he continued with a tired voice, “I have lied to you. Forgive me.” “What do you mean?” The king reached a hand under the side of his bed a pulled it up to show her. In his hand was a white silver coin which gave a shimmer of gold when he held it to the light. The coin was large and was engraved with a royal crown. “This, my dear, is my secret.” “Its just a coin father.” The king coughed and shook his head slowly, he was certainly starting to look even tireder. “This is more than a coin. This is the reason you are a princess and I am a king. I have not always been king or even prince.” “You aren’t making sense father, you’re too weak. You should rest.” “Listen to me, you must understand. I was born from very poor parents. They were peasants and had very little money. We struggled to afford food and my father sometimes used to have to beg. My mother was taunted for wearing old cloth and used to get kicked and beaten by people who thought she did not belong in the town. I myself was bullied for our lack of fortune. We had a very difficult life. But one day, my mother fell asleep on the streets near a stable with horses, hoping she could beg the owner for a loaf of bread. She woke up to a handsome man bending over her. She said he had the finest clothing she had ever seen, dressed in deep blue velvet with gold linings and black leather boots. His skin was remarkably smooth and he was glowing with health. All he said to her was ‘I am content,’ with a smile and handed her this coin.”
The king held up the shimmering object once again. “Do you see the crown engraved on the face? This means great wealth. Whoever the man was, he passed his wealth on to my mother, simply by giving her this coin. She went to sleep the next day and woke up in a very fine house. As soon as she and my father left the house, everyone began treating them differently.” “Father…are you saying the coin has power to make you rich?” “Yes my child. It will look after you, so long as you have it. You shall always have this wealth. You shall always be a woman of royalty, so long as you keep it. Your mother would never have married me if it were not for this coin. Little did everyone know she was a queen marrying a peasant.” The king took her hand and placed the coin inside it, closing her palm around it securely. It felt ice cold in her hand. The princess found it difficult to care about the coin when her father was dying in front of her. How fragile he looked, how exhausted. That night, the king died peacefully in his bedchamber, the moonlight glowing through the window to bid him farewell, and the princess did not leave his side, but slept next to him until the afternoon the next day. When she woke next to his dead body, she let go of his cold hand and wept on the floor. Days turned into months and the princess spent her days locked away in the castle, never going outside the gates or attending balls. She spent all her time in her room staring out the window, her servants were her only company.
“My lady,” one of her servants said one day as she sat alone for her breakfast. “May I ask how you are?” The princess put down her silver fork and looked at the servant. “I no longer have love. I miss my father, and everyone else I know talks to me as if I am a glass vase that must be looked at but not disturbed. My father was the only person who was real to me.”
The servant served her a hot chocolate to make her feel better, “Is there anything else I can do to help?” The princess smiled at him but shook her head. “You have done quite enough, I thank you.” For a few years, the princess could not break her habit. She did not want to leave the castle. She felt secure there and comfortable, and she did not trust herself to leave the gates. It made her realise she had been living in her father’s shadow all her life, and she longed to have a friend. “My lady,” said the servant one bright afternoon, “Its a beautiful day outside.” The princess opened the window and breathed in the air, which was beautifully scented by all the roses surrounding the walled garden. “Perhaps,” she said at last, “I shall go to the village today.” The servants were secretly delighted, as they did not like seeing the princess as glum as she had been. She kept the coin in her pocket as she was too frightened not to have it with her at all times. The servants arranged for a carriage to come and collect her from the door, which took her up long gravelly roads through the valley and towards the small village. As soon as she stepped off the carriage, people surrounded her and stared at her wide eyed. She heard whisperings and murmurings of the locals and she tried to ignore them. “Is that the princess?” “I think thats the princess! Look at her, look at her robes. She’s gleaming with jewels.” One person approached her as she walked past, “Your highness, is there anything you would like? Can I get you anything, anything at all?” “No thank you,” said the princess and walked quicker past him. As she walked through the hoards of people, the crowd parted and stared at her in awe. She became so overwhelmed after such a long time indoors that she fled and hid around a quiet backstreet where no one could find her.