Story Saturday: An Ordinary Life

"An Ordinary Life"

Once upon a time, there was a princess who was very sad. Though she had everything her heart desired, her parents had both been struck with the same illness. The greatest physicians in the land had tried everything they could to treat them, but all attempts proved fruitless. It seemed that only magic could help them now. The princess knew that all the luxuries in the world could not make her happy without her parents who she loved so dearly, so she sought the aid the aid of a witch. She knew that witches were dangerous, but she was willing to do whatever it took to help her dear parents.

"How much are you willing to sacrifice in order to save them?" asked the witch.

"I would give up everything I have and everything I am if it means my parents could live another day," said the princess.

The witch found her answer acceptable. She mixed some potions in a cauldron and said some magic words. Then she gave the princess a glowing vial and told her to give the elixir to both of her parents and everything would change in the morning. The princess raced straight home to the castle and did exactly what she was told. Her mother and father barely had enough strength to drink from the vial, but she gently lifted their heads and helped them to each swallow half of the small amount of elixir she was given. She went to sleep with high hopes for their recovery.

The following morning, the princess woke up to a shooting pain in her back. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in an unfamiliar bed and an unfamiliar room. Loose straw poked at all of her extremities and her silk nightgown had become rough rags that hung loosely around her skin. When she touched her face, dirt and grime came off on her fingers. Her previously braided hair hung loose and unraveled around her shoulders.

"Get up, girl! There's work be done. No time for your laziness!" shouted an angry voice.

A humbly dressed man and woman the princess did not recognize barged into her room and began shouting commands at her. When she tried to explain that she didn't know how to tend to crops or animals, the shouting only became louder. So, she did her best to make herself look presentable and got to work the best she could. To her surprise, the farm animals treated her kindly and guided her to their food and to the tools she needed to properly do her work. She quickly realized that this was the price that the witch was making her pay in order to save her parents.

After she completed her chores, the princess began a polite conversation with the strange couple. No matter how respectful she tried to be, the couple continuously reminded her that she should be grateful to them for taking her in as a child when no one else would. They assumed she was an orphan who was only alive thanks to their kindness. She was berated when she asked about the queen and king, being told that such matters were no concern to her, but she was satisfied with learning that they were well and surprised to hear that they had a son who was the same age as her. The princess had no brothers or sisters as far as she could remember.

Over time, the princess became quite skilled at her chores thanks in part to the animals that guided her and helped her in whatever ways they could. She came to trust them as her dearest friends, even though she could not understand them. The princess told her animal friends about her curse and how she had given up her way of life to save her parents. She had no regrets, but she wished more than anything to see her parents again. Her animal friends sensed her kind heart and guided her back to the castle where she would try to find them.

The guards, however, did not recognize the princess and refused to grant entry to a dirty peasant girl. Her visit would have ended there if the false prince had not come outside to see the girl groveling to the guards to grant her entry. He sneered at her lowly appearance and took great pleasure in throwing dirt at her. The princess covered her eyes but did nothing to harm the prince, for she thought he might be related to her somehow and did not wish to offend him. When he saw that he still hadn't gotten to her yet, the false prince pushed her into the moat, where she caught the attention of a hungry alligator.

The guards took pity on the poor girl and helped her out of the moat just before she had been eaten alive. All of this caused such a commotion that the king and queen were summoned to come outside and observe the intruder that their son took such pleasure in tormenting. The moment she saw her parents in good health, the princess ran into their arms as tears of joy streamed down her face.

"Goodness," said the king, "Don't you know who we are? There are certain formalities one must follow in the presence of royalty..." he paused suddenly as recognition filled his eyes on his daughter's embrace.

"How can you treat her so coldly?" asked the queen as the curse broke for her as well. "Don't you recognize your own daughter?"

The false prince grew angry at the reunion and tried to throw rocks at the royal family and tear at their clothes, but the guards stopped him. Now that they saw him for who he truly was, they banished him from the castle grounds and forced him to return to his parents, the couple who had been so cruel to the princess. It turned out that the false prince had visited the very same witch as the princess on the very same day, wishing to give up his ordinary life. He promised the witch that he would love the king and queen as if they were his own parents and never forget where he came from. When he treated the princess so cruelly because of her rags, the spell had been broken and everything returned to the way it was. The princess lived happily ever after and learned to never take anything for granted. The false prince learned the same lesson but spent the rest of his life in misery.


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