The Princess and Her Problem


 A Story by  Jacqueline Dotzenrod

         Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess who was born to a land of plenty.  There was always enough to go around.  From the townsfolk inside the castle walls, to the villagers in the outlying settlements and even the rural-folk never had want for much of anything.  The princess grew up in a world of satisfaction, yet she could not find satisfaction within herself.

The beautiful child grew into a lovely young woman.  Her hair was gold with shimmers of red like the color of the setting sunlight on a wheat field.  When the wind tickled her hair, it was calming to see like a gentle breeze blowing through waves of grass.

Here eyes reflected the color of the light; blue to match the sky, green to match the sea, or grey to reflect the sky before a storm.

Her skin was pale as soft moonlight.  It was so soft; it put the first winter’s snow to shame.  However, it was her radiant smile that gave her face its warmth.

It was a smile she showed none to often.  For the smiles she gave at court were just as hollow as the castle corridors the morning after a festival.  They were forced and fleeting.

These were the same sort of smiles she would use to greet potential suitors from the nearby kingdoms.  All of the subjects in the kingdom knew their princess was the most beautiful thing to see in all the land and news of her beauty spread far and wide.

However, even the princess knew that beauty was only skin deep and so seemed the love of her subjects.  The suitors that came to court the princess only made her heart grow cold out of skepticism.  None of them really knew who she was nor did she think they’d care to know.

As a child, the simplest things would bring her great delight.  The shining of the sun or the falling rain could neither dampen her smile nor the awe in her young heart.

But as she grew, she found fewer and fewer things could bring her happiness.  Even walks through the lovely garden filled with the most exotic flora could not awaken her inner senses as they did so seemingly long ago.

It was on one of these afternoon walks through the garden that she came across another young woman about her own age and stature.  However, the clothing she wore revealed her class was far below that of the young princess.  Her face was dirty and her hands were calloused, but beneath the rags she wore, the princess could tell there was something special about this person before her.

At first, the servant woman did not notice the princess, but kept at her task of sweeping the garden path.  It wasn’t until the princess cleared her throat in a tone that must have sounded most perturbed due to the servant woman’s reaction.

A look of fear filled the eyes of the woman as she gazed back at the princess.  “Whatever I have done, Your Highness, I humbly beg your forgiveness and ask for the opportunity to right any wrong I have trespassed against you.”

The look of alarm was mimicked in the princess’s face as she realized what sort of reaction she evoked from her people.  Fear was not what she had hoped to project in this initial interaction.  “You have done no wrong.  I merely wish to speak with you.” said the princess.

“What sort of advice would a princess have to dispense on a lowly servant like myself?  Is she going to tell me how to better put my meager broom to use?”  thought the servant woman.  But with an open mind, she said “Speak what you will Your Highness.”

“As a close servant of the castle,” the princess began, “you must know, as nearly everyone in the kingdom does, that I am not happy and have not been since my childhood.  I would like to ask you, have you ever been happy?”

The servant woman paused to think a moment.  After a moment passed, she responded.  “I’m not sure, Your Highness.  What is happiness?”

This was not the response the princess anticipated so she also needed a moment herself to think.  When she had mulled the question over awhile, she responded, “Happiness is what you feel when you are doing something and the feeling is so great you would want to go on forever and ever doing that one thing.”

The servant woman sharply responded, “Then, no, I have never been happy.  Even the most fun games eventually turn dull, and even the brightest music dampens if left to drone too long.  I have enjoyed many things in this life, but nothing so much that I would want it to go on forever.  So by your definition, no, I have never been happy.”

The princess had never considered these things that the servant woman had said and as she turned them over in her mind, she turned out another question.  “Have you ever been in love?” asked the princess.

“What is love?” asked the servant woman.

Again, the princess was not prepared for her question to be answered with another question, but she realized she must be forgiving of the servant woman, for she has not had the privilege of a proper education as the princess herself has had.

After thinking it over, the princess replied “Love is a feeling that you feel when you love someone or something so much you would do anything for them, go to the ends of the earth to care for them, and you would most definitely never want to loose them.”

The servant woman once again was quick with her answer.  “Yes, I have been in love.  I love myself. I do what I can to help myself. I try to take the very best care of myself that I can in body, in mind, and in spirit. And I would most certainly never want to loose myself.”

The princess began to feel something in her heart move as her own perspective on life began to shift. With all the wisdom this lowly servant woman had already dispensed upon her, she still had one question remaining.

The future of her kingdom always seemed to weigh heavily on the heart of her father, the king, and thus in her heart as well. There were many things to be concerned about such as the crops, the weather, the satisfaction of the subjects, and of course, which prince should the princess marry to take over once her father has passed on.

“Before you continue with your work, I have one more question for you.” said the princess.

“Ask whatever you will.” replied the servant woman.

“Where do you see yourself in the future?”

“The future? Us lowly servants don’t concern ourselves with the future. That is for you, the royalty, and the manifestation of the gods on this earth, to decide what our future should be.”

“Please indulge me.” urged the princess.

The servant woman glanced at her dusty broom and looked at the lovely garden around her. Then she replied, “Here’s fine.”

Before the princess could even ask her name, the servant woman turned up the path to continue her daily duties, leaving the princess alone on the path beside a pool of water.

The final words of the servant woman echoed in her mind. “Here’s fine.” With all the hardships and toils in her life, the servant woman had found happiness in her own way, she had found love within herself, and she was more than satisfied with her lot in life.

As the princess gazed down into the pool beside the path, she stared at her own reflection in the water. She saw her crown sparking a-top her head, her striking features, her flawless face, and on that face grew a warm, radiant smile. She had to bring her fingers to her lips to believe what she saw as the warm feeling radiated though her body and her spirit.

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