Karl Wiener

The wallflower

        The Prince was not only handsome; he was also young and very wise. These are three qualities seldom combined under one crown. It’s no wonder therefore, that he featured in the dreams of all the daughters of the land. One day he would inherit his father’s throne, and the girl he chose as his wife would become Queen of the kingdom. For this reason all the fair virgins of the city called to him, whenever he passed by on horseback. The admiration he received flattered the Prince and he occasionally granted his favour to one or other of them giving her a bouquet of red roses. For this reason his way was strewn with faded roses and broken hearts.
        Each year when the Prince celebrated his birthday, the king invited the young subjects of the kingdom to a huge banquet. The tables groaned with food and the castle resounded with music and laughter. All the young ladies surrounded the Prince trying to get his attention. Each of them was happy to catch a smile or even better to be asked for a dance. Only one of them stood apart and nobody paid any heed to her. For sure she was pleased to gaze on the handsome Prince but she was shy and a little too proud to make herself noticed.
        In this particular evening misfortune occurred. The Prince had been unwell for some days but the King didn’t want to cancel the festivities since its preparation had taken weeks. The music had been chosen, the banquet prepared and anyway the King had decided it was high time the Prince chose his bride. He wanted to know the girl that should reign some day at the side of his son. Needless to say every girl hoped to be the one to sit on the throne at the side of the Prince and each tried to attract his attention with idle chatter. But the Prince had lost all pleasure in the festivity. His fevered eyes gazed around him and his face became paler and paler. He felt he had to leave the room, but on reaching the door he collapsed, dropping to the floor.
        The music came to an abrupt halt and the guests left the hall in panic. They feared for their own welfare, thinking the Prince had become infected by some dread disease. But one of the girls remained. It was the shy girl, who hadn’t been noticed by anyone. She rushed over to the Prince and took his hand in hers. His heart beat feebly but thank God he was still alive. The King called for help and some servants approached in haste. They carried the prince to his chambers where they laid him on his bed. The young girl followed on behind and her concern touched the King’s heart. She cared for the Prince, watching over him day and night not moving from his side until all danger had passed. The Prince slept restlessly but in those moments when he awoke from his feverish dreams, he looked up into her lovely face. Calmed by this image he fell asleep once more. By the third day the crisis has passed, but on opening his eyes the Prince found that the girl who watched over his dreams had vanished.
        Still weak from his illness the Prince rode out from the castle. For weeks he searched in vain for the girl who had aided his recovery.  Then one day at the base of a wall that had fallen in ruins he found a lone tender flower. It seemed to be a sign of hope. He knelt down beside it. But as he was about to pluck the flower, he noticed a shadow fall over him, and he heard the sound of a well-known voice: "They call that flower a Forget-me-not. If it is broken, it will soon fade". The Prince realized that the girl he had been looking for stood before him. He embraced her happily and kissed her tenderly before carrying her on his horse back to his father’s castle. There they married, and the young girl became the Queen of his heart.

 

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Published on e-Stories.org on 22.10.2007.

 

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