Flash Fiction: King Grizzle Beard
Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess named Alana who was conceited and proud. She looked down on anyone whose station in life was lower than hers. She criticized the princes who came to ask her in marriage. No one was good enough for her.
One day, the king held a feast and invited all of Alana’s suitors but she managed to insult each one by calling them names. Then she came to a rather handsome young prince who sported a beard on his chin which she called a grizzle beard. She further insulted him by saying, “I shall call you young King Grizzle Beard and she laughed at his face.
The Prince, though insulted, felt sad for Alana whose behavior was in total contrast with her beauty.
Her father was so angry and vowed that because of her conduct, Alana would marry the first man that would come to the door, be it a royal or a poor man.
The next day, a traveling fiddler played under the king’s window. The king was pleased, “Let him come in.” The man was brought before the king who said, “I shall give you my daughter for your wife.”
Alana protested but the king was firm. “I promised to give you to the first man who comes to the door, and I will keep my word.”
The princess begged in vain. She was married to the fiddler. When the wedding was over, the king sent her to go with her husband.
The fiddler took Alana with him. She complained all the way, “My father takes pride in my beauty. He is going to send for me anytime soon.”
They journeyed until they came to a beautiful forest. She asked the fiddler, “Who owns this beautiful forest?”
He replied, “It belongs to King Grizzle Beard. If you would have married him, this would all be yours.”
The princess felt a bit of regret.
Next they came to some fine meadows. She asked, “Who owns these fine green meadows?”
“It belongs to King Grizzle Beard. And that magnificent palace over there also belongs to him. If you would have married him, this would all be yours.”
Alana wailed, “Oh, why did I not marry King Grizzle Beard!”
“I am your husband now. Why would you wish for another husband?”
“I didn’t want to marry you!” she wailed.
“Hah! Don’t worry, Princess. I have no interest in you either. I just can’t refuse the king.”
They came to a small cottage. “And who owns this dirty little hut?”
The fiddler answered, “That is my house and that is where we are to live.”
“And where are the servants?” she cried.
“What servants? You must do what needs to be done. You can start by making fire and cooking supper for I am very tired.”
But Alana did not know how to make fire or cook so her husband had to help her. After their meager meal, she went to bed but the fiddler woke her up very early in the morning to clean the house.
After some time, the fiddler said, “You need to weave baskets that we can sell to buy food.”
The princess tried but she failed. The fiddler said, “I’ll buy some pots and pans, and you sell them in the market for profit.”
Alana said, “If my father’s court will see me in the market, they will laugh at me.”
The fiddler did not care, “You have to work if you do not want to die of hunger.”
The people bought her wares because she is such a beautiful woman. She was proud that her beauty had drawn people to buy from her. But then a drunken soldier rode his horse through her stall and broke all her wares.
When she told her husband, he asked, “Why did you set up your stall on the edge of the market? Why did you not join the other sellers inside the market?”
Alana answered, “I don’t want to be with them. They look dirty.”
The fiddler was exasperated, “When will you change, Alana? When will you learn to treat people well? You are not superior to those people!"
Alana cried and the fiddler softened his stance. “I have arranged for you to work in the palace. There you will have plenty to eat.”
Alana worked as a kitchen-maid in the palace where she learned to be obedient and modest. After a few days, she heard that a feast was being held to celebrate King Grizzle Beard’s wedding. She went to the window and looked out. Everything was bright and the court was festive and filled with excitement.
It was then that she bitterly wept and recognized that her pride and conceit had brought her so low. All of a sudden, King Grizzle Beard came in, and when he saw her, he took her by the hand, “I want you to be my partner in the dance.”
She trembled in fear. She knew that King Grizzle Beard would humiliate her in front of his court and his guests. She pulled her hand from his grip and rushed to the door to run away but he overtook her. “Do not be afraid. I am the fiddler, your husband. I took you to the cottage because I loved you. I am also the soldier who ran into your stall. I wanted you to learn wisdom, humility, and modesty.”
She fell on her knees and said, “I don’t deserve to be your wife. I have done you wrong…”
He knelt beside her, “But you have changed, you have learned your lesson. Come, it is time to celebrate our wedding feast.”
They brought her the most beautiful robes, and her father and his whole court were there to celebrate their wedding. Alana and King Grizzle Beard lived happily ever after.
© 2015 Norma