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The Magic Pearls

Once upon a time, there lived a young girl who believed herself to be very ugly. Her mother was very beautiful, and the girl believed she secretly wished her daughter looked more like her. Once, when the girl was very small, the girl had heard her mother say that she would never get married, she was so unsightly. The girl took these words to heart and grew up despising herself and her looks. Eventually, her face grew sour to match her unpleasant moods. She cried herself to sleep every night, wishing that when she woke up, she would be beautiful. But, every morning, she woke up being as homely as ever.

One day, after a group of her peers called her a witch, she ran off to the seashore, weeping. When she had been there for some time, she realized a woman was standing over her.

This woman was everything the girl wanted to be. She had silky blond curls, and skin that glowed like the moon. Her eyes were a deep grey blue that reminded the girl of the ocean when a storm was approaching.

“Do not cry, my dear,” said the woman. “You are not as appalling as your tormentors say.”

“Yes, I am,” said the girl, bitterly. “I am the most horrid-looking person that ever existed. I am disgusting.”

“You are not,” said the woman, gently. “For I sense a great beauty in your heart. Greater than any other member of your race.”

“What good is beauty if it cannot be seen?” said the girl. “What good is it if no one knows it exists?”

“Oh, it is far more important than you'll ever realize, my dear.” She pulled something from behind her back, and handed it to the girl. It was a string of beautiful, milk-white pearls. “I was hoping I would not have to give you this. I was hoping you would be able to discover your beauty on your own.”

“Your giving these pearls to me?” asked the girl, sharply. “Well, then, you are a fool. An ugly girl like me does not deserve to wear such a beautiful thing.”

“I am not a fool,” said the woman. “And these pearls are no ordinary pearls. When you wear them, all your inner beauty will shine through.”

The girl was skeptical. “And that will make be beautiful on the outside? Everyone will be able to see it?”

“Yes,” said the woman. “Try them on, now.”

The girl did, and instantly she felt better. “Did it work? Did it work? Am I beautiful?”

“See for yourself,” said the woman, producing a mirror. The girl took it eagerly, and stared at herself in awe. Everything she had despised about herself was now reformed into something beautiful. Her dull brown eyes, were now large and bright; her large nose was small and delicate; her thin lips were full and red; her limp brown hair was rippling with curls; her pimply skin was clear and white. She was looking at the most beautiful girl she had ever seen. And that girl was her.

“Oh, thank you,” she breathed, and for once her voice sounded genuinely happy, not sad and bitter. She turned to look at the woman, but her eyes met with nothing. The woman was gone.

The girl shrugged, and turned towards the town, a new spring in her step. When she passed the girls and boys who had called her a witch, she smiled and waved. She laughed at the surprise on their faces.

By the time she retrurned home, she was singing. Her mother looked at her in surprise. “Daughter,” she said, uncertainly. “There's something different about you.”

The girl realized the pearl's magic must be preventing her mother from remembering what she was like before. Such a change would be too much for ordinary folk, the girl assumed. So she said, “Oh, nothing, mother. I am the same as I always was.”

As the days passed, the girl became more confident, singing more than talking, and dancing more than walking. She began to spend time with the other girls in her village, and they had great fun laughing at each other's jokes. They all remarked on how sweet and smart the girl was, and how they weren't sure how they had failed to realize it before.

One day, the girl was walking to the store to fetch some fish for her mother, when she saw the prince's carriage. Normally, she would have run away before the prince caught sight of her, but today, she walked past it confidently. As luck would have it, the prince called out to her: “Miss! Miss, please come here!”

The girl turned as the prince jumped out of the carriage. She gave a graceful curtsy, and said, “What can I do for you, your Royal Highness?”

“A great deal,” said the prince. “I heard a blacksmith learned to weld a new type of sword. I would like to see it, as if it is decent, the castle blacksmiths will reproduce it for me, and for the army.” He paused. “But I am not sure where to go. I was hoping you could show me where this blacksmith is located.”

“Certainly, your Royal Highness. I know the way very well. If you will just follow me?”

She led the prince through town, and she showed him the sights, giving him juicy gossip about each store owner and shop worker. The prince had a great laugh, and made a remark on her wit and humour.

They had such fun walking to the blacksmiths, and even more fun inspecting the sword, that they were both reluctant to go back. “I would very much like you to come to the castle tomorrow,” said the prince. “It is not fair that you should have to show me around your home, without me offering you the same.”

The girl eagerly agreed, and the next day, she arrived at the castle, where the prince awaited her.
He showed her around, giving her equally juicy gossip about the servants and knights who dwelt there. When the day ended, the prince invited her to come the next weekend, and when that weekend came and passed, he invited her to come yet again. They continued to see each other for the better part of a year, and one day the prince announced he loved her and would like to marry her.

The girl almost said yes, before she remembered the pearls, and realized that if she said yes, their whole marriage would be a lie. She could not marry him like this, for if ever she lost the pearls, she would lose her beauty, and the prince would believe her a witch that had tricked him into marriage. And she could not allow him to know the truth now.

“I'm sorry,” she said, “I wish I could marry you, but I cannot.”

“But why not,” asked the prince. “You do love me, don't you?”

“Yes,” she said, sadly. “But I do not deserve to marry you.” And she hurried away before he could stop her.

She ran all the way to the seashore, flinging off her pearls. “Take them back, take them back!” she sobbed.

A moment later, the strange woman again appeared. “My dear, why do you cry, now?”

“Because I am a fake! I am not beautiful! I never will be!”

“But, my dear,” said the woman. “Haven't you realized that you are indeed beautiful?”

“I am not. It was just a stupid spell.”

“It was not stupid,” said the woman, and then she paused, turning her gaze sternly on me. “In the last year, a great many people have come to like you.”

“Because I was beautiful.”

“No,” said the woman. “Think carefully. When people complimented you, what were they complimenting?”

“My intelligence, and humour, and sweetness,” said the girl.

“Which are all aspects of what?”

“I don't know!”

“They are all aspects of your personality. Everyone was seeing the beauty inside you.”

“But –”

“The pearls magic only worked on you, my dear. They made you realize your own inner beauty.”

“But why was everyone so much nicer to me?”

“Because you were nicer to yourself. You respected yourself. And when a person respects themselves, everyone else does, too.”

“So the prince loved me –”

“For you. Not what was on the outside. He loved you for who you were on the inside. And he still does.”

The girl turned as a voice shouted her name. It was the prince!

She ran to him. “Oh, I'm sorry,” she said. “I really do love you, and I really do want to marry you. It's just that my insecurities got in the way.”

The prince embraced her, and soon they had their wedding and were married. They were well-loved rulers, and were very happy for the rest of their days.

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CountryMusic said...
Feb. 7, 2013 at 8:37 pm
I love how this is written like  a fairytale :)
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