A Fairy Tale

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Once upon a time, when magic was still in common use, on the far side of the world there lived a King and Queen of a fair but isolated realm, situated beyond a great chain of mountains, whose snow-capped peaks cast long shadows into the valley below when the sun rose at morning. The King and Queen had only one daughter, whom they loved very much, for they had been married a long time and it was thought they might never bring forth a child. When she was born there was rejoicing throughout the realm. The peasants celebrated the joy of their sovereign with gifts of hydrangea-blossoms and honeyed cakes, left on the great staircase in front of the palace, while the local nobility brought gifts in tribute, of jeweled baubles and damask draperies fit for the bedroom of a princess. The King in his happiness declared that the princess, whom he named Anatine, had brought such joy to the kingdom that he would never wish to see her unhappy therefore it was declared that, contrary to custom, when it came time for her to marry the girl would have the right to refuse any suitor whom she did not find pleasing. He made this declaration to his subjects while standing on the great staircase, in sight of all he swore as an oath that the girl herself should have choice of whom she would wed. For twenty years, the marriage of Anatine was the subject of much conversation within the kingdom. Washerwomen by the river would gossip about the noblemen who might seek the hand of the princess, and

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