Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Vanity (11/15/18)
TITLE: The Prince's Greatest Need
By Nancy Bucca
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“Won. . . won. . . won have I,” the mirror echoed back.
The proud mother smiled. “I knew it. The royal ball was a success. My daughters killed the competition. But which one will win his hand - Freda or Marcella?”
Bowing to pretend applause, she pictured the audience cheering for whichever one had stolen the handsome prince’s heart.
Freda, her oldest, rocked the singing contest. Ah, the benefits of grueling voice lessons! The karaoke crowd was awed.
Marcella the younger sister nailed the beauty pageant and talent show. Hours of primping and gymnastics had paid off.
Now, after six days of entertainment and contests, Prince Frederick was ready to pick a bride. He didn’t mingle with the crowd but sat in the balcony the entire time, taking notes. After tallying the votes, he was ready to make a choice. But one more test remained: a question only the most enlightened woman could guess.
“No fear, my girls can figure that one out,” Esmeralda decided. “Then it’s straight to the throne. First the wedding, then the takeover.”
She envisioned herself as queen mother of a bride wed to the land’s most famous man. Ah, what a happily ever after scenario for them all -
all except for Plain Jane, Esmeralda’s stepdaughter.
Jane was a peasant girl and easily “stepped on.” Esmeralda and her daughters took turns using and abusing her. A favorite trick was to make Jane mop the floor, then set the hounds loose in the house to track mud all over it. Then everyone would blame Jane for the mess.
“Can’t you do anything right?”
Jane jumped at every verbal jab, much to their delight. Needling her gave them a high no drug could match. But it never lasted very long. Nor did it satisfy.
Then one day, Jane’s sisters tried to “push her buttons” but nothing happened. Instead of reacting in anger, she listened to their complaints, then resumed her work with joy. She started doing nice things for her family without being asked.
As the ball approached, for example, she took it upon herself to hem Freda and Marcella’s outfits so they wouldn’t trip on them. She shopped with them for shoes with thicker heels that wouldn’t get snagged on loose carpet. One time she even helped Esmeralda down the stairs. “Watch your step while the floor dries. I don’t want you to have an accident.”
Esmeralda couldn’t believe that and assumed an ulterior motive lay behind Jane’s transformation.
Naturally, she asked her magic mirror for advice. “She wants to butter me up so I’ll let her attend the ball, doesn’t she?”
The object she idolized agreed with her and suggested that Esmeralda allow the girl to go - but as a servant, not a guest. That’s how Jane got introduced to the palace staff, who supplied her with much work to do. Her amazing skills and gracious manners impressed them all.
As the ball came to an end, each girl was brought forward. Now for the defining question:
“What is the prince’s greatest need?”
His greatest need? Why, how were they to know?
Some said, “riches.” Some said, “Fun.” Others said, “A studious one.”
Marcella answered, “A beautiful woman.”
Freda pointed to herself. “A girl with a great voice.”
Each contestant had a turn. Then, in an unexpected move, Prince Frederick asked the servant women to weigh in. Though surprised, they did their best. Cooking skills and cleaning topped the list of answers.
Then finally Jane’s turn came.
“What do you say?” she was asked. “What is his greatest need?”
Jane gave the most unique response of all. “If I might be permitted, I’d like to pray for his highness. For God has shown me that his feet are crooked.”
Prince Frederick was astonished. “How did you know?”
Jane explained how she used to be quite vain, too concerned about her own image to notice others’ needs. Then she invited Jesus Christ into her heart. He gave her eternal life. “And he can do the same for you.”
Prince Frederick got healed that day and for the first time in his life he danced – with the girl whose testimony humbled everyone. Horrified beyond belief, Esmeralda repented of her boastful ways and ditched her worthless mirror at a "used junk" sale.
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