The children clasped the hands of the story-teller, “Tell us another story.” they circled her with smiles and song.
“Maybe another one about castles and dragons,” a curly hair boy chimed.
“I think it should be about a princess this time,” the girl with the cornflower eyes smiled.
“Yes, Yes I think a story about two princesses will do.” The woman smiled through wise wrinkles.
“This story is about two princesses and their father the wise but misunderstood king.”
The children leaned over on their elbows readying for the story:
Two princesses grew up in a castle filled with interesting things. The father would take them to lands far away, kill fiery dragons, and fly magical cars without ever leaving the throne room. They loved watching the king’s face glow; happy lines seemed to dance when he was in this magical place.
The princesses were taught to love books and God’s furry creatures in the forest. On snowy days, the three of them (the princesses and the king) would watch, from a big oversize window, the creatures as they scurried looking for food. The generous king always had handfuls of seeds and crumbs hidden away in a secret pocket. The animals would eat the food from the princesses’ open hands. They loved the time they spent together in their special world – just the three of them.
The princesses grew older and spent less time with the generous king, but he always had a big thoughtful smile and secret pockets full of surprises when they joined him in the throne room. Sadly, someone in the castle started saying things about the king that changed the opinion in the kingdom. Instead of generous and kind, he was incapable of talking to his subjects and not very smart. The laugh lines about his eyes began to turn to frowns. The princesses, when they were young, could always kiss away the lines, but they believed the stories and never came to the throne room. The only ones who could cheer him were the furry creatures who knew he still had secret pockets. They alone chirped loudly for his attention. Many seasons went by and the king was so lonely and sad.
Then a woman who was known throughout the land as a bard came to the castle. She wrote songs and sang them to children and their families in the corners and alleyways of the castle. The king heard her songs as they echoed into his throne room and he was less sad. He wished his princesses could hear the stories of far away places in the songs. But alas the princesses did not come. He bid the singer to come to his throne room to tell him more. He listened and the frown lines began to turn into happy lines once again. The king began to walk among his people once again. They smiled and waved and listened as he spoke to them.
Most of them said ‘we should never have listened to those rumors that the king could not speak and that he was not very smart. His speech is well thought out and eloquent.’
And so the king began to tell stories that sometimes came out as a song. The princesses heard that their father was out in his kingdom which did not make them very happy. When they heard about the woman who sang songs, they were indignant.
‘What right does she have to make the frown lines go away?’ one of the princesses stubbornly stomped.
‘Only we are allowed to feed the king’s furry creatures.’ the other princess huffed.
They did their best to tell the people in the castle that the king was old and unnecessary, but no one listened. Sadly, they no longer understood their father the king. He had not stopped sharing crumbs and seeds with the creatures; he just added a song or two when he and the song writer opened their hands. The princesses were unable to share in the king’s magical world of stories, because they no longer believed in them. The king didn’t stop loving his two princesses he just was not going to let their absence make his worry lines come back. The king knew he had many people to talk to and a castle full of people to take care of so he chose the song writer to be his queen. He gave her a secret pocket so when he was away she could feed the furry creatures. The people in the castle liked the king with the laugh lines and his song writer queen. The furry creatures loved the two people who never forgot to spend time with them and feed them. The king and the song writer grew older and wrote many songs together. Children would repeat the songs in the cobbled streets. The king’s face was filled with laugh lines that never turned into frowns again.
The storyteller smiled as she finished her story. She hoped that these children would not too soon forget her stories of kindness and acceptance.