The Fateful Face

January 22, 2008
Once upon a time, there was an Asian prince. Now, if you ever thought to yourself, “prince”, closed your eyes, and imagined what a prince looked like, you would think him to be a handsome, charming, and altogether “your dream”. But in this story, our prince was not a wonderfully delightful looking specimen. No indeed. He was strong, kind, and manly-I’ll give him that-but the thought of being his wife was enough to make most women shudder with horror. Some were just plain rude, but others because they truly dreaded his demeanor. They must have supposed that this unfortunate man had scarcely any feelings, even though he was of royalty. They sneered and jibed at him openly.
You are probably wondering what was so amiss in this noble-blooded mortal. Well, to ease your blooming curiosity, I shall tell you. Of course, you should rightly know that at the beginning of this prince’s life, his face was formed into an extremely devastating countenance, so that it was hard to look upon this dreadful sight. I dare not tell you of its true appearance, but beg of you to use your own imagination at this time. I may only tell you that it was verily deformed.
Many years passed, and the prince grew up healthy and formidable. He was now an unsightly adult. Even though the kingdom tore at his gentle heart, his chivalry and patience kept his life happy. Audecure’s heart was lonely, but his ever-constant cheer never showed signs of fading. He was altogether wealthy and just to his subjects. He would have won every woman’s heart if it hadn’t been for his face, marred as it was.
As the years had gone by slowly, the young prince’s mother, Queen Monisa, decided that her son needed a wife to be his queen and companion. So with best intentions to his well being, she summoned immediately all of the young, beautiful, and noble women of her court. She sent messengers from east to west, requesting girls of quality to assist her deepest needs by attending a special banquet. Every girl, who was invited and wished to attend, could attempt to win the prince for a spouse. Few attended, yet Audecure liked every one of them. His loneliness had grown and he wished they would attempt the test willingly. For the test was, my friend, a very hard one for sure, if any wished to try. Though they did not know it yet, the test was to kiss Audecure’s cheek, the disgusting, most corrupted part of his face! Audecure had meager hopes, but when the announcement was proclaimed, they were completely lost. Every girl, at the sound of the words, screamed and fled. Others who wanted to watch yet not to attempt, grabbed at their smelling salts or were too late for them.
At this, Her Majesty Monisa was outraged, “What disrespect these “ninnies” have for my poor son!” Her fury reached the old king’s ears with great pain. He tried desperately to soothe her by complimenting on her brilliant ideas, but alas, it only helped for a minute or so.
“Well, think of it this way,” contributed the king, “at least they didn’t marry him when they didn’t love him enough to kiss him.” She wiped her tears and shook her head, forgetting her own sorrow as the young prince stepped into the courtyard where they were.
“Why don’t you invite every girl, Mother? From every merchant’s daughter to the poorest peasant,” he commented cheerily. “Why, if I have been turned down by court ladies, where else could I find someone that would be willing enough? I know that the peasants are a crude type, but they should have a chance same as anyone else?”
The queen was surprised at her son’s generosity, but since it was he who was looking for a wife, she let him have his way.
The royal family’s request surged a tremor of excitement throughout the entire countryside. The normally despondent peasants were raised to their highest points with hope and joy. Preparations were all they could think about as the families buzzed around the countryside.

When finally that glorious day arrived, every human being in the village was outside the castle waiting to discover their daughter’s, sister’s, granddaughter’s, cousin’s, niece’s, or friend’s test. Now, none of them knew what it was, for the queen had given orders that none should be told, hoping that they might have a better response.

Slowly, slowly, the gates were drawn back. Everyone held her breath, each thinking her own thoughts. “Would the prince change his mind once he glimpses our poverty?” “Is he really as awful as they all whisper he is?” “What will the test be?” None of them dared guess.

Then, the mountainous gates swung fully back! There stood, in a marble-floored courtyard, Prince Audecure. He was magnificently dressed, with a shining silver robe trimmed with gold, and a purple cape, also trimmed with gold. As the crowd looked on him, they gasped with astonishment at his face, yet stayed put to hear the proclamation that was to be next.

In a moment or so, a squire, also richly dressed, stepped up in front, and with a loud voice pronounced, “You young women of His Majesty’s kingdom, must hereby prove your love for his highness, the prince, by bestowing upon his cheek a kiss.” Loud cries of horror arose from the crowd of girls as they fled to their homes for safety. Their relatives, friends, and nosy neighbors followed faithfully after them, never to return again.

Audecure was so distressed that he ran to his closet, lay down, and wept like one whose heart had just been broken. He did not eat nor leave his chambers for three days.

Meanwhile, a terrible storm had broken out as soon as the peasants reached their homes. Thunder and lightening rolled through the sky as if grieving with the young prince. Rain poured down in flooding torrents, drenching the farms and drowning crops.

Now, there was a dirty gutter girl in those parts, who hadn’t had a home or parents since she was five. She ate from garbage dumps and drank out of sewers. Her filth and stench disgusted everyone she met. So you can understand why no one would let her in from the fierce storm.

She was huddled in the corner of a dark alley when a rich carriage drove toward her very slowly. She was too scared to run, and besides that, she was curious as to what its business was. When it had progressed until it was only a few feet away from her, it stopped. She sat and watched, for in a few moments, a man stepped out from it and walked toward her quickly. She sat stock-still. The man was very wealthy by the looks of him, and she knew as well as anyone else that only a man in the king’s service would be so rich. She could not examine his face well because of the rain, and the man wore a hat to keep the rain off his head. He walked up next to her and squatted where she was so that he would not have to shout over the storm. “Follow me, please,” he summoned her. She didn’t move. He tried again, “I am in the service of His Majesty, Prince Audecure. He asked me to drive around and find every guttersnipe in the county who was not politely sheltered from this gale. You will not be harmed. Will you please follow?”
Weakly, she made her way to the fancy cab, and in amazement, she stepped inside. She was enveloped immediately in a dry, soothing blanket. She was given a seat on a fluffed cushion near the window, where she could lay her head on a pillow and look out on the muddy streets that were her home. There was no other of her kind in the cab and they didn’t make any stops either, save for the castle. She felt that it was unfair that she was the only “guttersnipe” in the county but as she drove on she changed her mind as she felt more and more like a queen each moment.
When she arrived at the castle, a hot soapy bath was made ready immediately. After she was clean and fitted in a robe that was once Queen Monisa’s, she ate.
The banquet set before her was glorious; being the most nutritious and appetizing food you ever ate. The girl was speechless as she took it all in. She had never seen anything of the like in her life, as you can imagine. Audecure appeared and sat by her at the table, watching her and thinking how beautiful she was in all the splendor of the moment. The girl did not mind his face yet, for she was too hungry to bother.
Afterwards, she was so tired that servants had to help her to bed, but before she could lay down on the soft eider-down mattress and pillow, Monisa asked her a few questions, “What is your name,” she inquired kindly.
“I don’t know, Your Majesty.” she answered sleepily. “I forgot it long ago, but I often imagine my name is Brigitta or Margaret; I like Margaret better though.”
“Alright, Margaret. How old are you?”
“I think,” She answered strangely, “that I am seventeen.”
“Wonderful!” thought the queen to herself, “Perhaps…” she stopped.”You must sleep now. Sleep, and I will be here in the morning.”
Margaret settled down and fell into a deep sleep. The last thing she beheld,
before she hit slumber, was Audecure, sitting devotedly by her bedstead, watching her sleep so peacefully.
She awoke the next morning very late. Audecure, as soon as he glimpsed her eyes flutter in wakefulness, snapped his finger to a servant to fetch her breakfast. He did little things like this for her all day for he loved her very much. And despite his fateful face, she was realizing that she loved him back.
Days passed, as Margaret grew strong and healthy. She would have gone out into the village again with a job and house if it hadn’t been for Audecure’s pleas for her to stay. So Margaret lived in the castle for a whole month and a half until the queen, who knew the young peoples’ love for each other was growing daily, told Margaret a very special thing that would change her life forever.
“If you love my dear son, all you must do is kiss his cheek and you shall be his wife. This was the test that all the other girls of the kingdom were invited to chance, but they all failed. I would not tell you this if it wasn’t that my son loves you exceedingly. I can tell. Furthermore, I see you have the same feeling for him.” Monisa paused a minute-she was extremely sensitive-and remembering the time she fell in love with her sweet king made her shaky. “It is up to you,” she finished, and then walked away.
After hearing this, Margaret burst out of the room into the courtyard where Audecure was. They often sat there together on cool summer evenings and this was one that would always be remembered by the two of them as the best of all. They both smiled at each other lovingly, then, without any hesitation, Margaret bent over, leaned her head against his and laid a pure lover’s gift upon his cheek.

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