Sunday, February 22, 2009

The King, the Princess, and the Poor Boy

There was once a king who loved his daughter very much, so much in
fact that he did not wish her to marry; so he built for her a secret
house or vault under the ground, and there he kept her away from all
but her parents and her maid servants.

There was also an old man in the same city who had a son. The old man
said to his son, "Come, lad, let us go into the country and plant crops
that we may live," for they were very poor. After they had worked a
short time in the country, the old man died and the boy returned to
the king's city and then went up and down the street crying, "Oh! who
will buy me for a slave, that I may bury my father?" A kind-hearted
rich man saw him and inquired his troubles, and the boy told him that
he was greatly grieved because his father was dead and he had no money
for the funeral. The rich man told him not to grieve, that his father
would be buried with all the ceremonies given to any one. After the
funeral the boy went to live with the rich man as his servant, and
served him faithfully; so faithfully, indeed, that the rich man, who
was childless, adopted him and gave him every advantage of education.

One day the boy wrote a sentence and placed it in the window, "You may
hide your treasure with every care, and watch it well, but it will be
spent at last." Now the boy had no idea of any hidden meaning in this
sentence, but the king chanced to pass that way and read it. Angrily
he called the rich man to his carriage, and demanded of him what
it meant. "I do not know, most exalted king," said the rich man,
"I have only now seen it. It must have been written by a poor boy to
whom I have given shelter since his father died." "Drive him away,"
said the king; "if he comes back he shall be put to death."

So the rich man with a heavy heart, for he loved the boy, sent him
out into the world. The boy wandered far and long, till at last he
came to a house. He called out to those within, "Honorable people,"
and heard them answer, "Come in." Inside there was no one but only
two statues, and one of these spoke, bidding him return to his own
town and beg of his master princely clothing, a princely carriage,
all gilt, and a music box that could play many tunes.

So the poor boy returned to his master, who sent for the tradesmen
and tailors and had them make all manner of princely clothing.

Then he got into his carriage and drove around for a while, till
he met a boy. To the boy he gave the music box and a piece of money
and told him to play it everywhere but to sell it to nobody, and to
report to him if any one wanted it. So the boy got into the carriage
and took the music box with him, while the poor boy went back to the
rich man's house.

Soon the king saw the beautiful carriage and heard the sweet music of
the music box. The king asked the boy who the owner was, and wished
to buy them. The boy told the king that he must tell his employer,
and soon the carriage and the music box were sent to the king for
a present.

The king was much pleased, for he knew the princess would be delighted,
so he had the carriage and the music box taken into her vault, and
played on the music box a long time. After he had gone, out stepped
the poor boy from a secret compartment of the carriage, and knelt
before her telling his love in gentle tones. She listened to him,
much frightened at first, but later more composedly, till at last
she gave him her heart and promised him her hand.

When the king came in again he found them sitting holding each other's
hands. He demanded in a loud voice, "Who are you? Why are you here? How
did you come?" To this the boy modestly replied, saying that he had
come concealed in the carriage, and told the king that "You may hide
your treasure with every care, and watch it well, but it will be spent
at last." But the princess entreated for him, and finally the king
gave his consent to their marriage, and they lived happily ever after.

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