August 8, 2010

A Better Sleeping Beauty- part 2

...The Continuum...

“I was banished here,” replied the old woman.
“But why?” asked the Princess.

“Because,” said the old woman, “I told your parents that you would die.”
Then the Princess realized who the old woman was and scrambled to get away. She lost her balance and grabbed for the spinning wheel to help steady herself. When she did this, the Princess’ hand wrapped around the spindle, pricking her finger.
Immediately, just as the prophet foretold, the Princess fell in a dead faint on the floor. Pleased at her handiwork, the evil witch screamed loudly for help, pretending to be distressed. Soon, the bubble of excited voices and the scuffle of shoes rose up the stairs.
Led by the King and Queen, who by this time had begun to miss their daughter, the great crowd of noblemen and noblewomen, courtiers, ladies-in-waiting, and palace attendants jammed into the tiny turret. When they saw the lovely Princess lying as dead on the floor beside the spinning wheel, they knew that the evil witch’s ancient curse had begun to work. They tried in every way they knew, to revive the Princess, but in vain. She did not respond to their efforts with so much as the flutter of an eyelash.
So the King and Queen had the Princess carried down the stairs to her own room. Ladies-in-waiting laid her gently, robed just as she was in her simmering gossamer gown, on her royal bed of exquisitely carved woods, hung with curtains of transparent cloth-of-gold. In her perfect beauty, a smile of heavenly sweetness on her lips as she lay motionless on the bed, the Princess looked indeed like an angel.
The King and Queen were of course, shaken with grief. But they felt it their duty to bid the guests return to the banquet hall and continue the festivities. But the spirit of merry-making had faded away, and even as they danced, they did so with hushed voices and to muted music.
After a while the King and Queen, heavy-hearted but with a royal sense of courtesy, came slowly down the grand staircase to join the guests. Just as they entered the great hall, in came the Seventh prophet; the one who, at the Princess’ dedication, had declared that she would not die but would sleep for seven years instead. Seeing the King and Queen, the prophet took in the whole situation at a glance. He walked up to the King and Queen and told them not to despair.
He quoted the Psalms saying, “YHVH will provide for you and ensure the safety of your daughter. Submit to Him and He will direct your path. You shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season. The leaves also shall not whither, and whatever you do will prosper. Be wise now, King, be instructed, you judge of the earth. Serve YHVH with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”
Before anyone could comprehend this, the prophet left as abruptly as he came. After he left, a thick forest began to grow, with trees so tall that the only part of the palace to be seen was the very top of the highest tower- and that only from a great distance. This forest was surrounded by thickets of bushes, prickly with thorns and briars and walled by a matting of thickly entwined vines and roots. So dense were the thickets and so high the trees that the palace was completely protected.
For seven years, everyone in the Castle was provided for and had plenty of food to eat. But now they were starting to get restless, because it was nearing the time when the special Prince would come to wake the Princess and break the curse. They prepared a celebration to match that of the last one so that when she woke up everything would be the same as it was when she fell asleep. Well, everything but the Prince; and the old witch was dead now- that you can be sure of.
Meanwhile, far away in a neighboring country, there was a young Prince approaching his twentieth year. He was a lad dearly beloved by his people- for he was not only handsome and brave, but good and kind as well. Since he was thirteen he had heard mysterious stories of the hidden castle whose tower he could see, on a clear day, high above a forest of tangled trees and briars. Many a knight, curious to know what might be within, had tried to penetrate the thickets, but each had perished in the attempt.

The Prince, younger and more courageous than the others, had made up his mind that on the day he turned twenty he would try. Stories had reached him of a beautiful young maiden called the Sleeping Beauty asleep within the castle, waiting for a worthy Prince to awaken her from the curse a wicked witch had put upon her, and the Prince hoped he would be the one to do so.
True to his determination, the young Prince set off bravely early on the morning of his birth-day. He whistled gaily as he approached the dense wall of thickets and forests surrounding the castle. “Many there be which say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in YHVH.’ But You, YHVH are a shield around me; my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
Suddenly, a marvelous thing happened. In the twinkling of an eye the heavily inter-twined branches untwined, and the tall trees bent gracefully apart to make a narrow opening through which the Prince could enter the path to the castle. They closed immediately after him so that no one else might follow. Narrow and winding as the path was, the Prince followed it faithfully, glancing neither right nor left.
At last he found himself in the courtyard of the castle itself. Flowers of the brightest hues, trees and shrubs of every description flourished in the gardens. At either side of the doorway two courtiers stood on guard, their rifles rigid over their shoulders. Birds perched in the trees and squirrels decorated the stone stairs.
The Prince, bewildered indeed, entered the castle door and saw within a great celebration. Great numbers of knights and ladies, nobles all, as well as courtiers, servants, flower girls, and all manner of royal guests. The King and Queen stood at one end, and dancers whirled away in a waltz, musicians bent over their instruments, and servants passing great silver trays of party food and drinks.
In every room the Prince saw the same kind of scene. Excited beyond bearing- for he felt he was nearing the object of his quest and the solution to the mystery- the Prince leapt up the stairs ‘til he came to a room as rosy-pink and snowy-white as a blossoming apple tree. There in the very center of the room was a royal bed of carved wood hung with cloth-of-gold curtains. And on it, deep in sleep, lay the Sleeping Beauty Princess! She was the loveliest, the most exquisitely beautiful girl the Prince had ever seen or imagined. Rapturously he knelt by the side of her bed and kissed her tenderly on the brow.
Instantly there was life. The Sleeping Beauty drew a long breath, smiled, and opened her eyes. “Oh dear!” she exclaimed as she saw the handsome Prince kneeling at her side. “I knew you would come.”
The Prince helped the Princess, who was still in her exquisite gossamer ball gown, down into the great hall where her parents, the King and Queen, were overjoyed to welcome her. The Prince asked her parents then and there for their daughter’s hand in marriage, and they consented readily. Indeed, at the Prince’s request, the festivities begun as a coming-of-age celebration were continued now as a wedding feast.
And so the Prince and the Sleeping Beauty Princess were married and lived happily ever after. On their wall was posted these verses from the third Psalm:
“YHVH, how are they increased that trouble me! Many rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in YHVH.’
But you YHVH are a shield around me; my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried to YHVH with my voice, and he heard me out of His holy hill.
I laid me down and slept, I awakened; for YHVH sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, YHVH! Save me, O YHVH: for you have smitten all my enemies on the cheekbone; you have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to YHVH: His blessing is on His people."
“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does will prosper.” Psalm 1:3
And all of their children and grandchildren grew up in that protected castle, and listened to the stories of the Sleeping Beauty Princess, all learning to spin wool in her palace.
The End.

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