The Beautiful Princess

Chapter 1

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a land far, far away, there lived a beautiful young tribal princess. She was deeply loved by her tribe, not only for her beauty, but for her wisdom as well. Her father was a great chieftain who could see into the hearts of others, and when the princess's mother was alive, she had been a medicine woman, using the herbs and spices of the fields as well as magic to help people and keep them well.

One day as the princess was working alongside her people in the fields, gathering berries, her father walked up to her and said "My daughter, in seven days it will be the first day of your twelfth year, the time when your people announce who they will marry. Have you made up your mind whether you will follow the tradition of the tribe, and make such an announcement?"

"I am the princess of my people, father" the young girl said, "and I intend to set a good example and honour my people's traditions. I will indeed make up my mind soon, and I will choose my future husband."

"Then might I enquire as to whether you have chosen your life partner already, in your heart?" asked the chieftain.

"Not yet, father" replied the girl. "None of the men I have considered seem right for me. I will ask the wise woman Sulara for her advice on the matter, for her readings and guidance in the past have always set me on the right path to my goals."

That evening at twilight, when the concerns of the day drift away, and spirit comes into its strength, the beautiful princess walked into the hut of the wise woman known as Sulara.

"Ah! You have come for advice, once again, my princess" said Sulara. Her old grey head turned towards the girl, and she peered deeply into her eyes. "I see that it is matters of the heart that concern you this time."

"Yes, Sulara! I am entering my twelfth year, the time of announcement, and I do not wish to make a mistake in such an important matter. Is there anything you can tell me about how to make my decision?"

The old lady shook and threw some bones on the mat, and peered at them, then she gazed trance-like into a bowl of water for several minutes, then she stared at a candle, and closed her eyes, and softly chanted an ancient chant, which echoed throughout the hut. Then she slowly opened her eyes and gazed deeply into the princess's eyes.

"In order to discover who your true love is, you will need to give all the men who seek your hand, a test." The old lady paused, listening to some distant inner guidance. Then she said "It will be a test of courage." She paused again, then said "The one who performs the greatest feat of courage for you, will be your true love." Then after a few more moments she added "You will be far, far happier spending your life with him than you will with anyone else, for you and he will love each other far more deeply than either of you could love anyone else."

The princess asked "How will I know which feat of courage is the greatest?"

The wise woman smiled, and said "You will know, you will know." Then she paused, looked deeply into the princess's eyes, took the princess's hand, and softly repeated "Yes, my dear, you will know. One deed will stand out from all the rest, like a blazing light."


Chapter 2

At his daughter's command, the royal chieftain sent out a message to all the neighbouring tribes, to all those who wished to marry the princess, to come and witness his daughter's royal announcement. The message told the tribes that she would choose whoever performed the greatest act of courage. They came, bearing gifts, and many brought their best hunting weapons too.

When all was ready, the chieftain blessed the men, announced the rules of the test, and then shouted "Let the competition begin!"

Some men swam upstream against the flow of the river, some hunted wild dangerous animals, some climbed dangerous cliffs, some lifted great weights. When the princess heard of all their feats, she became confused. "How can I choose from all of these feats?" she thought to herself. "They all seem equally courageous."

On the morning of the second day, several men had become exhausted and could not go on. But most of the men performed even more courageous acts than before. Some ran through acres of stinging nettles. Some invaded bees nests and took their honey, not minding the stings. Some ran up mountainsides, without pausing for breath.

By the end of the second day, some of the men had become hurt or exhausted. The chieftain said to the wise woman Sulara "This is going on too long. Some of the men are becoming too exhausted, and some are even hurt. When will my daughter decide?"

Sulara smiled softly and said "Tomorrow. She will make the announcement at dawn tomorrow. Have no fear, she will know."

That night, when the moon had risen, but before anyone had gone to bed, the beautiful princess stood at the window of her royal hut, deeply troubled. She could not make up her mind. All of the men had done very brave and courageous acts, but no one deed stood out as being the most courageous. And she was sure the third day would see more of the men injured.

She decided to light a candle and meditate, to help herself find an answer. But the deeper she meditated on the problem, the more confused she became. Should she choose this one or that? Still none of them seemed the right one for her, even in the depth of meditation.

She began to slide into sleep, and her body began to topple forward. Then she awoke with a jerk, knocking over the candle! The flames quickly spread across the matting on the floor and licked up the curtains.

The beautiful princess cried out, and tried to douse the flames with a blanket, but the flames quickly spread all over the hut. She ran to the door, but the flames were engulfing every exit. She was trapped. She began to scream!

All of the men ran towards the princess's screams, but the searing heat of the flames held them all back. Several tried to get in through the door, but their skin almost began to burn.

Then from down by the river, one man came running like the wind. It was the chieftain - the father of the beautiful princess. He immediately plunged into the middle of the searing flames, threw a blanket around his daughter the princess, scooped her up in his arms, and ran out through the middle of the burning flames. With his clothes, his hair, and the blanket on fire, he ran quickly down to the river. He jumped into it with the princess, dousing the flames in the waters. The princess was wet and frightened, but unharmed by the flames, and she was gasping for relief at her rescue.


Chapter 3

The next day at dawn, the beautiful princess made an announcement. She said to all the men gathered round "I have made up my mind who I will marry. The one who performed the bravest deed of all is my father. I will marry him." Everyone cheered for the great chieftain, and wished the couple well, even though many were disappointed at not winning the princess themselves.

Then the chieftain stepped towards his daughter, and said "My beloved daughter, I am honored by your love. I will always be guided by our love. I will always strive to be worthy of your love." And the beautiful princess took his hand and said "My beloved father, you have the greatest courage of all because you have the greatest love of all. And it is the same love I feel for you. I have always loved you, and you have always loved me."

After more cheering, the beautiful princess said to her father "When will we be married, father?"

The great chieftain replied "Let us be married this very day. The guests are all here, and the food is here for the third day of tests, which will not now take place".

The princess agreed "Yes, there is no reason for us to wait. We are both firmly decided. And I cannot wait to be your bride, father."

So that evening, a feast was prepared and heartily enjoyed, and treats and toys were handed out to all the children, and the beautiful princess was married to the bravest man of all.

So the beautiful princess and her husband-father lived together in blissful happiness as they shared their love, and they had many beautiful adventures together, and had many children and grandchildren.

And even today, when the sunset makes the sky blaze with a fiery glow of orange and red, and the reeds in the river dance in the wind, mothers whisper to their little babies "Do you see that fiery blaze in the sky, little one? Perhaps somewhere in the midst is the great chieftain rescuing the princess - his beautiful daughter-wife."

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