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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)

TITLE: Princess Pig Pen
By Val Clark


It was Barnabas’ task to stand watch over Princess Debolev. It was not a task he relished. In fact, if he were honest with himself and he had no choice but to be, he hated the task. He had asked the king several times to be reassigned; after all the palace was full of his children. Each time the king smiled kindly and said. ‘Barnabas, you are my best watcher and only the best will do for Princess Debolev.’

This was a covert operation. And when it came to hiding and unobtrusive helping, the king was right, Barnabas was the best. So he stood in the cool of the afternoon, her invisible companion. He wrinkled his nose. Princess Debolev had chosen to spend yet another day in the utility garden surrounded by piles of horse, cow and chicken manure waiting to be piled into the compost heap.

He resisted the impulse to sigh as Princess Levobed, followed closely by her companion, Simon, wandered through the rose garden touching and smelling and enjoying the abundance of flowers. Oh what bliss, to care for such a perfect princess.

Barnabas knew the compost heap was vital to the garden. Without proper nutrition the roses wouldn’t bloom. The fruit, vegetable and grain crops would fail. Nevertheless, it was no place for a princess or the king. Yet, every evening as the sun set the king would appear in whatever revolting part of the garden Princess Debolev chose, to spend time with her time.

Barnabas bowed as the king approached, feet crunching on the gravel pathway yet not disturbing its intricate patterns. He grimaced as the princess dug three wriggling, fat worms from the bottom of the compost. Don’t, please don’t.

Unhearing, Princess Debolev opened and upended her sandwich, ignoring the slices of smoked salmon that fell to the ground, replacing them with the three worms.

Barnabas grimaced as the king hunkered down in front of the princess. ‘Debolev my child, why do you persist in sitting here among the dung heaps eating worms and beetles when you are free to wander the whole of my garden and partake of whatever you chose?’

Barnabas forced himself to not turn away as Debolev bit into her sandwich. She chewed for a while as if she had not heard the king speak. Barnabas knew how insistent the king could be. He would wait through the night, through many days and nights asking the same question, planting the same thoughts, until she told the king what he already knew.

She finished her sandwich, licked her fingers and began picking caterpillars off the comfrey that grew around the compost. ‘I don’t belong in this garden. Oh, it’s a beautiful place and I’m grateful to you for bringing me here, but I’m not worthy to sit among the roses or gather fruit from your trees.’

The king reached over and picked the caterpillars out of her hand. ‘And who has told you this?’

She watched hungrily as he placed them out of her reach. ‘Voices on the wind. People in my dreams. My own heart confirms it. It’s logical isn’t it? What would a great king such as yourself want with someone like me? Why, even my own parents abandoned me, there is no goodness in me whatsoever, why should you be interested?’

Barnabas leant forward eagerly. Discussion between the princess and the king had never evolved to this depth before.

‘I know that there was no goodness in you, Debolev, but still I chose you to be my princess before the foundation of the earth. Remember the day I purchased you from the slave markets? Remember when I adopted you and brought you to this garden so that we could get to know each other?’

She nodded, glancing over to the path. Princess Levobed was walking past, carrying a large basket of fragrant blooms.

‘I could never be like her.’

‘Did I say I wanted you to be like her?’

The princess looked down and began digging in the earth with a twig.


Barnabas’ heart nearly broke at the compassion and love that was wrapped in that one word.

She shook her head.

He waited.

‘No, you never said you wanted me to be like anybody else, ever.’

He reached out a hand. ‘Will you join me as we discover who you really are?’

Debolev looked at her filthy hands.

‘I should visit the bath-house first.’


‘Because….’ She showed him her hands and gasped. They were spotless.

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This article has been read 1347 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 09/14/06
Beloved? What a great story. I got a little confused as to who was speaking at the end, but this is a wonderful word picture. Congrats!
Kevin Kindrick09/14/06
Marilyn Schnepp 09/18/06
Hmmm....I'm hate to have to admit this; but I have no earthly idea what this story is about. Pigs? Humans? Kings? Body Guards? Worms? spotless hands? Sorry, it escapes me. What else can I say? ("duh?")
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/19/06
Wow. Great point, well written.
Beth Muehlhausen09/19/06
Well now, this one...the message did hit me, but w/ a half-twist! Imagery is excellent and brings the reader right into the (rather uncomfortable) spot, then you wrap everything up in a way that encourages pondering. I like it!
Donna Powers 09/19/06
Wonderful! I smiled when I figured out what her name meant, and I was touched by this beautiful picture of God's unending grace. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing it!
Ann Grover09/19/06
Jan Ackerson 09/19/06
Oh my, this is a beautiful, beautiful "fairy tale." Love the "beloved" princesses, and the depth of your extended metaphors. Gorgeous.
Rita Garcia09/19/06
Creative, and wonderfully written. This is why you are in 'Masters'.
Debbie Sickler09/20/06
I loved the fairytale setting to this great reminder of God's love for us. I have to admit, the names of the two princesses threw me a bit, being so similar, but I still enjoyed the visual of a princess eating bugs in the dirt. So many of us are in the same position with out even realizing that He has made us worthy. Great submission, Yeggy. :)
Lynda Lee Schab 09/20/06
I loved the meaning of this entry. How often do we eat worms when God is trying to feed us prime rib! And why do we insist on seeing ourselves as poor paupers when we are, indeed, children of the king!? Wonderful through and through... just one tiny thing - in the 4th paragraph, did you miss the second "time" in your editing? Or maybe I'm just reading it wrong. ?? Other than that small thing that jumped out at me, the piece was awesome! Nice work!
Brenda Craig09/20/06
‘No, you never said you wanted me to be like anybody else, ever.’

We are made just the way we are to express a portion of God's heart that no other ever has or ever can.

Deeply stirring love story, reminds me of theses scriptures.

Son 6:3 I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine; He feeds among the lilies.

Son 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting-house, And his banner over me was love.

Simply Beautiful!!!!!!!!!

Betty Castleberry09/20/06
Clever. I like the "she watched hungrily" line in reference to the caterpillars. I enjoyed this.
Melanie Kerr 09/20/06
I did a double take when I read this line - “I know that there was no goodness in you” – thinking that there is goodness even in the worst of us. As far as God is concerned though – there isn’t – that is why we need grace. Good thought provoking story.
Suzanne R09/21/06
I too loved the line about eating worms. This was a beautiful allegory that bears comparison with 'Pilgrim's Progress'.

Congratulations on making it into the FaithWriters anthology - it well deserves its place there!
Julianne Jones09/21/06
Congrats Yeggy on a well-deserved win. This was excellent.
Pat Guy 09/22/06
This was awesome Val! Great work - great message - greatly done! Congratulations.
Karen Treharne09/23/06
Exciting entry Val. Very thought-provoking with a great message. I had to read it twice to make sure I didn't miss anything. You did an excellent job and this will bless many who read it. Congratulations.
Jen Davis09/26/06
Original, creative and very nicely written. I "wriggled" myself as I read your description of the three worms and then was touched by the image of "the king" taking the caterpillars out of her hand. She felt unworthy at least in part because her own parents had abandoned her. After reading this story I am left with feelings of God's faithfullness, compassion and love.

Congrats on placing in Editor's Choice. Great job!
Deborah Porter 06/08/07
Val, I'm coming down the home stretch editing the Hidden in the Hymns anthology. Princess Pig Pen is the second last story in the book, and WHAT a story! I don't get a chance to comment on many winning entries these days, but having just read this, I have to say it was absolutely BRILLIANT. How could anyone miss the point?

Perfect analogy, and written in a way that held me from start to finish.

Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)
Joanne Sher 01/18/08
Oh, Val. I just finished reading "Hidden in the Hymns", and this was one of my absolutely favorite ones of the entire book. I am SO glad it was in, because I would have missed this astoundingly wonderful and enchanting tale otherwise. Wow.