Prince Charming Of A Tear Born

In the days of old, when the people of today were just the project of a distant future, when God Himself trod with His sacred feet the rocky deserts of the earth – in those old times there was a king, gloomy and pensive as the dark midnight, and he was married to a young and smiling queen, as joyful as midday. And for over fifty years this king had fought a war with one of his neighbors. The neighbor had died in the meanwhile, but the feud and hatred and enmity had been passed on to his heirs, his sons and his grandsons. And our king felt weak and old and knew his life was coming to an end, and he was childless and had nobody to bequeath his hatred to. He would get up in distress from his royal bed that he shared with his young queen – a golden but barren bed that had not been blessed – and he would go to war full of grief, but with an untamed heart; and his queen was left alone and she cried as a widow in her solitude. Her long golden hair fell over her round, white breasts, and tears streamed down from her big blue eyes like rivers of watery pearls, over her cheeks that were whiter than the silvery lily. Long violet rings were formed round her eyes and her white face that looked like living marble was marked with blue veins. She got up from her bed and threw herself on the stone steps leading to a vault in the wall where, above a smoking candle, the icon coated in silver of the Virgin, Mother of all pain, kept vigil. Moved by the prayers of the kneeling queen, the eyelids of the cold icon became moist and a tear dropped from the black eyes of the mother of God. The queen stood up in all her splendor and touched with her dry lips the cold tear, sipping it deep inside her soul. And she was with child from that moment. A month passed, then a second one and after nine months the queen gave birth to a boy, his skin as white as the purest milk and his hair as fair as the light of the moon. The gloomy king himself smiled, the sun smiled, too in his fiery kingdom and it even stopped in his course, so that there was not night for three days on, but only clear daylight and mirth; the wine flowed from the caskets and the cries of the revelers rose to the celestial vault. And his mother called him Prince-Charming-of-a-Tear-Born. And the prince grew up and was as tall as the firs in the deep forest. And he grew in a month as much as others grew in a year. And Prince Charming entered the hall of the palace. It was a high room whose ceiling was supported by pillars and arches, all made of gold, and in the middle of it all there stood a table… and the lords sitting at the table were wearing golden clothes, and the chairs they sat on were of red velvet, and they were beautiful as the days of youth and joyful as a country dance. But one of them in particular had shining clothes and a golden circle studded with diamonds girdled his head. And he was beautiful like full moon during a dark night. But Prince Charming was even more beautiful. "You are welcome, Prince Charming. I am so happy that you came," the king said. "Thank you for your hospitality, my king, though I am afraid that you will not be happy any longer when you hear why I am here; I am here to fight with you, as I find you have too long plotted against my father." "Nay, I did nothing of the kind. I never plotted against your father, I only fought against him earnestly and with honor. I will not fight against you, however. Let us rather ask the fiddlers play and the servants pour us wine, and we will take an oath and become sworn brothers for the rest of our lives." And the two kissed while the lords cheered and they drank and held council. And thus spake the king to Prince Charming: "Whom do you fear most?" "I fear nobody in this world, except God. How about you?" "Neither do I fear anybody, except God and the Witch of the Forest. She's an old ugly hag that crosses my kingdom like a storm. Where she passes, the land dries up, the villages are scattered, the houses collapse. I waged war against her; it was in vain, however. To prevent her from destroying my entire kingdom, we struck a deal and I promised to give her every tenth child of my subjects. And she is coming tonight to take her tribute." At the stroke of midnight the faces of the diners saddened; as from the north came the mad Witch of the Forest on horseback; and her wings were as the wind, and her face was like a ragged rock carved by streams; she had a forest instead of hair and her voice howled in the dark air. Her eyes were two troubled nights, her mouth was an open chasm, while her teeth were rows of millstones. As she came whistling, Prince Charming seized her by the waist and threw her with all his force into a big felting mill; and he rolled a rock over the mill that he fastened on all sides with the help of seven iron chains. Inside, the old hag was whistling and struggling as captive wind, but all was in vain. Prince Charming joined the other people at table and partied with them for a while, but then he took his mace and followed the trace left by the felting mill until he got to a white, beautiful house, which shone in the moonlight in the middle of a flower garden. Near the porch were two water barrels; and a beautiful girl was spinning on the porch. Her long and white cloak looked like a halo of rays and shadows, and her golden hair was braided in plaits that fell on her back, while a wreath of pearls decorated her even brow. Lit by moonlight, she seemed dipped into golden air. As Prince Charming came closer, she heard the light noise of his steps and she raised her eyes that were blue like the waters of the lake. "Welcome, Prince Charming, she said, her limpid eyes half close, I've been dreaming of you for a long time… While my fingers were spinning the thread, my thoughts were spinning a dream, a beautiful dream, in which we were making love; Prince Charming, I was spinning from a silver distaff and I was weaving you a coat of spells, buttoned with happiness; for you to wear it… and make love to me. Of my spun yarn I would make you a coat, and of my days a life full of caresses." As she was looking at him shyly, she dropped the spindle and the distaff fell by her side, too. She stood up and as if ashamed of the audacity of her words, she looked down with her big beautiful eyes and her arms were hanging by her sides and she looked like a guilty child. He came close to her, put an arm round her waist and with the other one he fondled her brow and her hair gently and whispered to her. "How beautiful you are and how much I love you. Who are your parents, my girl?" "My mother is the Witch of the Forest. Will you still love me, Prince Charming, now that you know who my mother is?" She put her naked arms round his neck and looked him in the eye for a while. "What do I care who your mother is? I love you and that's enough for me." "If you love me, let's run away," she said, clinging to him even more closely; "if mother found you here she would kill you, and if you died I would go mad or I would die, too." "Fear that not," he said, smiling and freeing himself from her arms. "Where is your mother?" "Since she came back she has been fighting inside the mill where you locked her and gnawing with her fangs at the chains that keep her inside." "What do I care!" he said and rushed out to see where she was. "Prince Charming," the girl said, "don't go there yet. Let me instruct you how to defeat my mother. Can you see these two barrels? One is full of water and the other is full of energy. When fighting with her enemies, mother cries after a while, when she gets tired: "Let's stop and drink some water!" And she drinks from the barrel with energy while her opponent drinks just water. That's why we will shift these barrels, changing their places: she will not know it and will drink only water while fighting against you." No sooner said than done. Then he dashed behind the house. "What are you doing here, old witch?" Out of spite, the witch pulled her body upwards, out of the mill, broke the chains and stretched herself, long and thin, until she touched the clouds. "Well, well, here you are at last, Prince Charming!" she said, becoming short again, "let's fight and see who is stronger now!" "Let's!" Prince Charming retorted. The witch seized him by the waist, stretched herself again up to heaven, taking him with her, and then hit him against the ground, burying him in, ankle deep. Prince Charming hit her against the ground and buried her in, knee deep. "Let's stop and drink some water!" said the exhausted witch, out of breath. They stopped to catch their breath. The witch drank water. Prince Charming drank energy, and he felt an untamed fire burning inside him and chilling him, refreshing all his exhausted sinews and veins. With doubled energy and iron arms, he snatched the witch by the arm and thrust her into the ground, neck deep. Then he hit her with his mace on the head and scattered her brains. He then took the girl to the king, his sworn brother, and told him she was his bride. The king smiled and then took Prince Charming by the hand as if he wanted to tell him something in private, and pulled him towards a high window from which you could see the wide lake. However, he said nothing, and only looked at the glittering waters in amazement and his eyes filled with tears. A swan had raised its wings like two silver sails and its head plunged into the water; it advanced on the limpid surface of the lake. "You are crying, my king! Why?" asked Prince Charming. "Prince Charming," the king said, "I will never be able to pay my debt to you for the good you have done to me and my kingdom. Not even if I gave you the light of my eyes, which is the dearest thing to me. And yet, here I stand and ask you one more favor." "Which is that, my king?" "Can you see that swan, which loves water so much? I am a young man and I should love life accordingly, and yet, many a time was I on the verge of putting an end to it… I am in love with a beautiful girl with dreamy eyes, sweet like the dreams of the sea – the daughter of January, a proud and wild man who spends his life hunting in old forests. O, how harsh he is and how beautiful his daughter! All my attempts to abduct her failed. Won't you try for me?" Prince Charming would have rather stayed with his beloved but, as he was a valiant knight, his sworn brotherhood was very dear to him, indeed dearer than his own life, dearer even than his bride. "My graceful king, you may have had a lot of luck in life, but the luckiest thing that happened to you was that I became your sworn brother. I'll go and get the daughter of January for you." At dawn, Prince Charming saw that the range of mountains led to a green, wide sea, slowly crossed by thousands of shining serene waves that were lost in the deep horizon, where the eye can no longer tell the blue of the sky from the green of the sea. And at the end of the mountain range, just above the sea, stood a granite rock whose reflection in the water went deep to the bottom of the sea, and on top of this rock you could see a white fortress, like a bird's nest, a fortress that was so white that it seemed it was made of silver. Shining windows could be seen above the arches in the walls and at one of these windows, which was open, you could see, among the flower pots, the head of a dreamy, swarthy girl, as dreamy as a midsummer night. She was the daughter of January. "Welcome, Prince Charming," she said, jumping from the window and opening the gates of the mighty castle where she lived alone like a genius in the desert, "this night I thought I was talking to a star, and the star told me you were coming on behalf of the king, your sworn brother, who loves me." In the big hall of the castle, in the ashes of the fireplace, a seven-headed tomcat was on vigil, and when one of its heads screamed you could hear him from a day away, and when all of his seven heads screamed you could hear him from seven days away. January, lost in his wild hunting, was a day away. Prince Charming took the girl and put her in the saddle of his horse and they flew away across the width of the blank sea and they were just like two white, hardly perceptible spots in the horizon. But January was a tall and strong man and he had a prodigious horse that had two hearts. The tomcat in the castle mewed once from one of his heads and January's horse neighed in his bronze voice. "What's wrong with you? Are you trying to stir my anger?" asked January the prodigious horse. "Nothing is wrong with me, you are the one who's being wronged. Prince Charming is abducting your daughter." "Do we need to hurry to catch them?" "Yes and no, as we can catch up with them quite easily." January mounted his horse and flew like old terror in the pursuit of the escapees. And he soon caught up with them. Prince Charming, however, could not fight with him, as he had no power over the forces of darkness. "Prince Charming," January said, "charming you are, indeed, and I will have mercy on you. I will spare you this time, but if you do that again I won't… mark my words!" And taking his daughter with him, he vanished into the thin air as if he had never been there. Prince Charming, however, was a vigorous lad and he knew the way back. Therefore he went back to the castle and found the girl alone once again; she was, however, paler and she had cried a lot, and this only made her look even more beautiful. January was again hunting, two days away this time. Prince Charming took a pair of horses from the stables of January himself. This time they set off at night. And they ran as moonlight glides over the deep waves of the sea, they ran through the void, cold night like two dear dreams; and while they were running, they heard the twofold mewing of the tomcat in the castle's fireplace. Then they felt they couldn't advance anymore, just like those who try to escape in a dream, but cannot do it. Then a cloud of dust enveloped them, as January raced towards them in the saddle of his prodigious horse, and he came with the speed of the lightning. He had a terrible face, and the look in his eyes was fierce. Without a word, he seized Prince Charming and threw him up against the vault of heaven among the dark, stormy clouds gathered there. Then he vanished together with the girl. Burnt by the fiery lightning in heaven, Prince Charming became a handful of ashes that spread over the hot and dry sands of the desert. But his ashes turned into a clean spring that flew over diamond-like sands, amidst tall, thick trees that were extending their cool and perfumed shade in the surrounding waste. If anyone could have understood the voice of the spring, they would have heard a long and sad lament expressing the longing for Queen Ileana, the lost bride of Prince Charming. But who was to understand the voice of the spring in the desert, a place no human had ever trodden before? God, however, still trod the earth in those times. One day two people could be seen walking across the desert. They were Our Lord and Saint Peter. Their feet, heated by the sands of the desert, stepped into the cool and clear waters of the spring. They walked upstream, their ankles cutting the waters in two, until they reached the source. There, Our Lord drank water and washed his face. Then they both sat in the shade, Our Lord thinking of his Father in heaven and Saint Peter listening carefully to the flowing lament of the spring. When they stood up ready to go on, Saint Peter said: "My Lord, turn this spring into what it was before." "Amen!" quoth Our Lord, raising His hand, and then they went away, towards the sea, without looking back. The spring and the trees disappeared by magic and Prince Charming woke up as if from a long, deep sleep, and he looked around… And then he remembered that he had promised to bring the daughter of January to the king, and when a prince promises something he must keep his word. So he set off and by night he reached January's castle, which shone like a huge shadow in the dark of night. He entered the house… the daughter of January was crying. But when she saw him her face brightened up, like the waters of a lake under the light of the moon. He told her how he had been revived; and then she said to him: "As for taking me away, you cannot do that before you get a horse like my father's, as my father's horse has two hearts; but this night I am going to ask him where he got his horse from, so that you can get one like that, too. Until then, however, I will turn you into a flower lest my father should discover you." He sat down on a chair and she whispered a sweet spell, and as soon as she kissed him on the forehead he turned into a crimson flower that had the color of a ripe sour cherry. She put him among the flowerpots in the window and she sang so happily that all her father's castle was resounding. In came January, that very moment. "How happy you are, my daughter! How come?" he asked. "I am happy because Prince Charming is no more and he cannot take me away any longer," she replied laughing. They sat down at table for supper. "Father," the girl asked, "where do you have your horse from, the one you ride when you go hunting?" "Why would you like to know that?" he retorted, frowning. "You know very well that I'm asking you that out of sheer curiosity, as Prince Charming is no longer alive to come and abduct me," the girl replied. "And you, too, know very well that I can never refuse you," January said. "Far away, by the sea, lives an old woman who has seven mares. She hires people to watch her mares for a year (though her year is just three days long), and if someone watches them properly, she tells them to choose a foal as a reward, but if anyone fails to do it, she kills them and puts their heads on posts. But even if someone succeeds in this task, she cheats them as she pulls the hearts out of all the horses and places them inside just one of them, so that the poor devil makes the wrong choice taking a heartless horse that is worse than an ordinary one… Satisfied now, my daughter?" "I certainly am," she answered, smiling. January, however, threw a red, light, perfumed handkerchief over her face. The girl stared at her father for a while as someone waking from a dream that they cannot remember. She had forgotten everything her father had told her. But the flower in the window was watching behind its leaves, like a red star behind a shredded cloud. The next morning January went hunting again. Murmuring her spell, the girl kissed the red flower once more, and Prince Charming appeared in front of her out of nowhere. "Well, what have you learned?" he asked. "Nothing," she said, sadly, lifting the back of her hand to her forehead, "I forgot everything." "I've heard everything, though," he said. "Fare you well, my girl; we'll soon meet again." And he mounted his horse and disappeared in the desert. When he opened his eyes, the sun was high in the sky… But in the barren desert stood the beautiful, shining, neighing horse, bathed in the golden light of the sun that he now saw for the first time. Prince Charming jumped in the saddle, and with the speed of happy thoughts he got to the isolated castle of January. This time, January was hunting seven days away. Prince Charming put the girl in the saddle, in front of him. She sat facing him and she put her arms round his neck and hid her head in his bosom, while her long dress was touching, as they flew, the sands of the desert. And they could only faintly hear the tomcat mewing with all his seven heads. Lost in the middle of the forest, January heard his horse neighing. "What's wrong?" he asked. "Prince Charming is running away with your daughter," the prodigious horse answered. "Do you think we can catch him?" asked January in amazement, as he knew he had killed Prince Charming "I'm afraid not," the horse answered, "as he is riding one of my brothers, which has seven hearts, while I only have two." January thrust his spurs into the belly of his horse that ran like a whirlwind. When he saw Prince Charming in the desert, he told his horse: "Tell your brother to throw his master high into the clouds and come to me, and I will feed him nut kernels and give him sweet milk to drink." January's horse neighed and passed his brother the message of his master; and the horse of Prince Charming told the latter about it. "Tell your brother," Prince Charming said to his horse, "to throw his master high into the clouds and come to me, and I will feed him embers and give him fire to drink." The horse of Prince Charming neighed in reply and gave his brother this message, and the latter threw January high into the clouds. The clouds in the sky froze and turned into a gray, beautiful palace, and under two eyelash-like clouds you could see two sky-blue eyes that cast flashes of lightning. These were the eyes of January, who was exiled into the airy kingdom. Prince Charming slowed his horse down and put the girl in the saddle of her father's horse. After a day's ride they had reached the superb city of the king, his sworn brother. The third day, the king married January's daughter. And the fourth day, the wedding of Prince Charming followed. And it was a fine and proud wedding such as there had never been one before. And they lived happily and peacefully for many years, and if it is true what people say, that time is timeless for the princes in fairy tales, they might be living even nowadays.

Based on a folk tale, Prince Charming Who Grew from a Tear.

by Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)