July 25, 2023

#08-329: The Seventh Princess

"...at least her eye could travel far and wide" (archive.org)

Note: This modern fairy tale has a most satisfying "twist" at the end.

Get Ready: Is it better to be poor and free, or rich and bound by rules and customs?

This a literary fairy tale written by English author Eleanor Farjeon.

Once there was a king who married a Gypsy and, as Gypsies are wont to wander, he built a high wall around his estate, but out of kindness he also built a high viewing tower so at least her eye could travel far and wide.

Soon the new queen had little blonde twins. When the king asked what she wanted as a christening present, she looked at the flowery hills to the east and said, "I want spring time!" So the king sent his gardeners to dig up the meadows and trap them inside the castle walls. The queen wept.

When another pair of twins came the following year, and the same question was asked, the queen looked at the flowing river to the south and said, "I want the river!" So the king had his workmen channel part of the river into the garden, to power a fountain. The third year, more twins, and she asked for "The people!" living in the town to the west, and the king had his soldiers round up just six women--one to care for each princess. Both of these times, also, the queen wept.

In the fourth year, the queen had just one child, small and dark like herself. This time she requested the free-flying birds, and the king brought her six swans--and a pigeon in a cage.

Time passed, and as her end drew near, the queen asked which of the princesses would sit on the throne after her. And the king, looking at the long necks of the swans, said, "The one with the longest hair."

So the nursemaids started taking exquisite care of the six blonde princesses' locks, but the queen took care of the seventh, and always kept her head wrapped in a handkerchief.

When The Prince of the World appeared one day to choose a bride, all the princesses were brought out to see who would inherit the kingdom. The six fair daughters had their hair duly measured, and it was all found to be the same length, creating a quandary. Would the seventh princess's hair be longer? When she removed her handkerchief, it was found that her hair was cropped close, like a boy's!

While the others squabbled over which should marry The Prince of the World, the seventh princess ran out of the palace to the hills, river, and markets that her mother loved so, along with her pet pigeon and the Ragged Servant of the great Prince.


Practice: Match the term to its definition:

Term Definition
  1. christening
  2. cropped
  3. duly
  4. exquisite
  5. Gypsy
  6. quandary
  7. ragged
  8. squabbled
  9. wander
  10. wont
  1. Roma; a member of a wandering culture
  2. excellent; perfect
  3. accustomed; used
  4. baptism
  5. cut
  6. properly
  7. travel without an objective
  8. poorly dressed
  9. argued
  10. a state of uncertainty

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for July 25, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. e; 3. f; 4. b; 5. a; 6. j; 7. h; 8. i; 9. g; 10. c