Story Saturday: The Veiled Princess

"The Veiled Princess"

Once upon a time, a princess was born while her kingdom was in the midst of a terrible plague. The royal healer was able to protect the newborn princess from the ailment, but sadly, the queen passed away shortly after. It was the queen's dying wish to name the infant princess Miri. The king loved his wife so much that he refused to ever marry again and was determined to make Miri the heir to the kingdom. Yet, he was concerned. The plague had taken the lives of so many. If he lost Miri, the kingdom would be without a successor. So the king did what he thought was best. Miri was locked away in a tower to avoid catching the illnesses of the outside world. To further ensure her safety, the king decreed an order that any servant who attended Miri in her tower must cover their face when they visit her, and she, in turn, must wear a veil that covers her nose and mouth in the presence of others. As a result, no one in the kingdom ever saw what Princess Miri's face looked like.


Though Miri led a lonely life, she was not entirely unhappy. Her tower was adorned with the most comfortable bed money could buy, and her closet was filled with beautiful gowns in every color imaginable. It was too bad that she had no one to show them to. Her most prized possession was a vanity mirror that hung on her tower wall with an ornate gilded frame that belonged to her late mother. The mirror was rumored to have magical properties that Miri discovered one day when she spoke upon it "Mirror Mirror in my tower, what shall I do to pass the hour?" A light flooded across the silver surface, and her reflection vanished. Miri was bombarded with flashes of images that revealed different parts of her kingdom. She saw many splendors such as noble festivals, children playing, and peasants tending to their farms.

Mimi grew dizzy from the numerous images that flowed past the once static surface. "Stop!" she shouted. To her relief, the projections stopped in what appeared to be an infirmary. She saw a healer tending to a few sick patients, but not nearly as many as she would have expected from what her father described about the illness that still plagued the kingdom. There was a boy who looked like he was around her age gathering tools for the healer. Miri gasped, for she had never seen another person's face before. He was handsome. Could he see her too? She made sure to adjust her veil, just in case. Miri called out to the boy, and to her surprise, he came closer. He knocked on the screen to make sure it wasn't an illusion. She assumed he must have another mirror on his side.

Over the next few weeks, Miri learned a lot about the healer's apprentice, Jacob. She was careful not to reveal her identity as the princess, but she told him many other things such as how her father kept her in isolation all her life to protect her from the plague. Jacob had heard about the devastating effects of the plague from his childhood. He assured her that no one had contracted that particular illness in years. In fact, most people he saw were quite healthy. He told her about how he came to work for the healer after she saved his mother's life. Miri admired Jacob for his kindness.

Jacob asked Miri to describe her symptoms, and she listed everything she felt, such as fatigue, loneliness, boredom, and physical weakness. He shook his head and explained to her that those were natural effects of living in isolation and had nothing to do with the illness her father had described. He asked her if she had any difficulty breathing without her veil, but Miri refused to remove it for fear that Jacob might find her ugly. She had grown too attached to him to take that risk. Jacob respected her wishes but regularly asked if it would be possible for them to meet in person. Though Miri continued to refuse him, her defenses waned over time. She had grown quite attached to him.

One day, Miri's father announced that he was planning a grand gala to celebrate her sixteenth birthday. Miri rejoiced at the idea of being around so many people until her father told her that it was too dangerous for her to attend. The guests would celebrate outside her tower, and Miri would look out upon them and wave from above. Miri was displeased by this, especially after everything Jacob had told her. She tried to explain to her father that neither she nor anyone in the kingdom had shown signs of the plague in years, but when her father asked her how she knew this, she backed down. When she was left alone again, she consulted Jacob through her mirror.

"Has your father ever seen you without your veil?" he asked.

"No," she said.

"Good. Then I have a plan."

A few days before the gala, Miri requested one hundred yards of embroidery floss from her servants. She told them that she wanted to prepare a special gown for everyone to see her in during the party. Once her request was granted, she worked tirelessly on weaving a ladder that would span the length of the tower. Each time her father or one of her servants came to visit, she would hide her work under her bed. When her sixteenth birthday arrived, the ladder was complete. At dawn, she slipped outside through her window, unnoticed by the guards who stood on the other side of her door. Jacob met her at the bottom.

"Are you ready?" he asked. She nodded, and without another word, she removed her veil. Miri took a deep breath of the cool morning air, marveling at the refreshing scent of dew and newly bloomed flowers. Jacob gasped, for Miri was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Soon, guests from all over the kingdom arrived for the party. Jacob and Miri blended right into the crowd. Some people asked Miri where she came from for she was a vision of loveliness. Miri simply smiled mysteriously and turned the conversation back them.

When the hour struck for Miri to greet her guests, her father gave an elaborate speech about how their coveted princess was about to grace them with her presence. All eyes gazed up to her tower window, where not a soul looked out up them. "She's probably just shy," said the king. "I'll go talk to her."

Miri stepped forward. "Wait," she said. "You threw this party for the princess who you claim to covet with your life, and yet you do not even recognize your own daughter."

"Miri?" the king gasped followed by every single attendee at the gala. "You can't be outside of your tower! You'll get sick. Our kingdom needs a queen when I am gone."

"You are the one with the sickness, not me. Jacob is a healer's apprentice, and he told me that the plague ended years ago. I am in perfect health, and I will never learn to be queen locked in a tower. I will go with him to learn more about the healing arts so that I can help my people when the next crisis strikes."

"You will do no such thing!" the king roared.

"I refuse to live under your control for one more day. I am the princess, and I will do as I please."

The king did not see Miri again until he was on his deathbed many years later. She and her husband Jacob tended to him in his final moments. It was only then that he admitted he was wrong to keep her away from the world. He was impressed with her skill in comforting his ailments as he felt himself fade from the world. Miri became a great queen who ruled her people with love. She let them have the freedom to come and go as they pleased, and when illness overtook them, she and Jacob tended to the sick with the utmost expertise. They both lived happily ever after.

Comments

jem said…
That warm my heart it was beautiful
jar1234 said…
That is such a beautiful story! I loved it! You are such a talented writer!
Amy said…
Great story! Especially when you take in to consideration the things we are dealing with right now.

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