A Friend Indeed
by Jennifer Wells
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Once upon a time, in a beautiful green land, there in a silver castle, lived a princess and a prince with their mother and father, the queen and king. The princess was a lovely maiden to look upon, her hair like fine spun gold and her eyes as blue as an ocean’s tide. When she smiled you could not help but to smile back at her. Her brother, the prince, was a dashing youth with melting brown eyes and a mischievous grin. He, being younger, had the propensity to be naughtier than his sister.
The king and queen where ever so busy in their grown up world. With battles to be won and proclamations to be made, they could not always be present to reign in justice over their two beloved children. The children received instruction from their loving parents and were expected to learn how to carry out justice and mercy between themselves.
On winter days, when it was far too cold to wander outside the castle, the princess and the prince would play games in front of the fire. The princess would even, on rare occasions, indulge the prince with a well told story. These were pleasant days. There was peace between the children, and the king and queen were well pleased.
Spring soon came and warmed up to summer. The children ran and played in the green grass chasing butterflies. There of course was an occasional squabble, but the princess and prince were learning to solve their disagreements quickly. For how long could you hold anger against your only playmate?
That summer there were visitors to the castle. A lord, his lady, and their only daughter, Abigail, came to stay with the king and queen. Though Abigail’s parents were thought highly of in every other aspect, they lacked in one area. Their daughter was spoiled. They gave in to her every whim, and this had served to feed Abigail’s expectations of everyone around her. She looked upon others as servants and herself as queen.
As soon as she arrived Abigail demanded of her parents that playmates be brought to her. The king and queen, being generous and compassionate, thought their own children should play with Abigail even though they knew the girl’s nature. They believed in treating others the way you would want to be treated.
The princess and prince were brought to Abigail’s chambers (which were second only to the royal chambers, even her parents had lesser rooms). Immediately Abigail began to give the orders. The princess and prince looked at one another in dismay, but obediently set about to do what she asked. They “played” this way every afternoon for a week; Abigail giving the directions and the princess and prince following through. It wasn’t enjoyable for anyone, not even Abigail. For her appetite was never satisfied.
One evening after supper, the princess and prince sat alone with the king and queen. The lord, his lady, and Abigail had all retired for the night. The king and queen encouraged the princess and prince to continue in their play with Abigail. After all she was an only child and had never learned to consider another.
The princess and the prince continued as the king and queen wished. The afternoons seemed to begin at dawn and drag on until midnight as far as the princess and prince were concerned. The princess and prince began to long for the days when they played only together chasing butterflies in the green grass working their disagreements out between them. In those days each of them had the right to an opinion and the freedom to exercise justice and mercy. Their strength was beginning to waiver.
One rainy afternoon in their “play” Abigail began to cry. The princess and the prince were surprised. Why was Abigail crying? Hadn’t they been at play with her? Weren’t they carrying out her orders? Abigail continued to sob. You see, all this time Abigail had gotten everything her heart desired. The best of everything, never denied a thing she asked: huge rooms, playmates, desserts, toys, the finest clothing, on and on. Yet she had never ever had a true friend. All her playmates had been more like slaves than a brother or sister. She had gotten her way only to find that it was not as important as she once thought. For now in her distress she had no one to comfort her. Would the princess and prince comfort her? She had treated them shamefully and did not deserve their compassion.
The prince could not believe his eyes. Would this finally be the end of all this miserable “play”? Would they finally be free of this wicked girl? They could get away now with out any resistance from Abigail. She would want them to leave. If she was this displeased with them she would send them away. Maybe she and her family would leave!!
The princess, too, could not believe her eyes. Abigail sat in her fine chair looking up at the ceiling, tears rolling down her cheeks. What should she do? What would mother and father want? She knew the king and queen would have compassion on Abigail. They would speak gently to her as they did with their own children.
The princess looked over at the prince. He wore a smile, the kind of smile that showed enjoyment in another’s pain. The princess could not let him continue in such folly. She tapped him on the shoulder and shook her head at him. His smile faded away. Looking at his sister’s face he could see her concern for Abigail. His sister looked more like his mother at that moment, and he remembered his mother and father and what they had taught them: justice, mercy, compassion, and to treat others the way you would want to be treated. If he were crying would he want Abigail to smile victoriously over him? He was ashamed.
Both the princess and the prince acted very nobly. Each approached Abigail and showed concern for her. She did not want them to be so close and pushed them away. The princess and the prince did not give up on her. They gave her some time but never left her.
Gradually Abigail realized that the princess and prince would not leave her in her despair. Truly they were friends she had not known she had. She sent them away as usual though when their “play” time was over. She did not yet know how to have friends or how to treat them. The princess and prince left knowing only they had made the right choice by not leaving Abigail in her distress.
The next afternoon when they arrived at Abigail’s chambers, they found a very unusual sight. Abigail, instead of sitting in her fine chair ready to take command of them, was dressed to go on an outing. She was smiling. Her eyes glistening as she told them what had only been known to her own heart.
She had longed for a friend, a true friend, someone to comfort her and stand along side her, not just give in to her every whim. Only yesterday did she even know this for herself. The princess and prince had shown her what she needed by giving their love and friendship freely even though Abigail had done nothing to deserve it.
All three children went out to play, chasing butterflies in the green grass that day. Their laughter could be heard all through the castle, in the doors, down the great halls, pouring into the court where the king and queen sat on their thrones. The king and queen could not help but smiling for they were well pleased.
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A tale filled with good morals and a happy ending. Too bad it isn't always that simple, but parents can have such a positive effect on children. Nicely done, but watch for dangling participles such as "The children received instruction from them (sounds like they recd instruction from selves); lady and lord, dear to the king and queen, came to stay with their only daughter, Abigail (sounds like the lady and lord came to stay with Abigail).
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