Seven flowers bloomed on seven stems. One red, one white, one yellow, one blue, one orange, one violet and one that could not be seen by ‘normal’ folk.
One day a handsome Prince was walking in a Royal garden and noticed the flowers. ‘Seven beautiful blossoms’ he exclaimed, bending down to take a breath of their perfume. ‘Bring them to the palace’ he ordered, for his mother the Queen would be delighted with this gift. The Prince continued with his afternoon stroll and the courtiers, eager to oblige, cut six perfect blooms. Once back in the palace the Prince decided to immediately visit his mother the Queen. In her chintz lined afternoon room she had watched his progress around the gardens and was delighted with his gift of the beautiful flowers, now displayed in a fine vase. When the Prince saw them he reprimanded the servants, ‘there were seven flowers I asked you to bring.’ ‘No my liege’, the courtiers bowed but disagreed. ‘There were only six.’ The Prince growled inwardly. Why did they always miss the most beautiful?
‘These are truly wonderful’ the Queen interspersed and the courtiers nodded, pleased that she had quietened the Prince. ‘Yet,’ the Queen said so that none could hear, ‘yes my dear, there were seven for I had seen them myself from the window. But it is of no matter that they only cut the six. They are pleasant enough to brighten my day.’ All were now smiling and laughter filled the palace again.
A great dance was planned for the Prince the next day and many pretty young Princesses were invited. Hustle and bustle filled the air as butlers prepared tables for the grand banquet, the orchestra arrived and tuned their instruments, the maids set dishes of pot pouri in every room, and the Royal Family prepared themselves to entertain their guests.
The first to arrive was the King of Garnish, his elegant Queen and their three attractive daughters. Frills and bows covered their dresses, covered their shoes, and covered their hair. Ribbons cascaded around them, fluttering in the breeze as they walked. ‘What a delightful effect’, smiled the welcoming host. ‘Yes, truly amazing’, grinned the Prince, showing the three Princesses the route to the gardens, where they could promenade and display their finery. Other guests followed, all costumed to appear the richest and most attractive. So many guests arrived that the Prince tired of the handshaking and was despatched, by his considerate mother, into the garden to talk to all the pretty Princesses who were now vying for his attention.
One that caught his eye wore a plain white dress of purest silk, but, as he moved to speak to the stranger, a tall lady, a close neighbour, stepped to his side and presented her daughter, Aurora.
True to her name her dress wove a curtain of blues and greens around her, falling in wide drapes and folds. The Prince marvelled at the amount of priceless fabric required for such a dress and was impressed.
And then he glimpsed the girl in the white dress.
‘Hello’ boomed the Queen of Garish, and he turned. Well named, he secretly reflected. The Queen was bedecked in gemstones – emeralds in her hair, ruby rings on her slender fingers, jade sewn onto her dress in patterns edged in pearls. And her daughter, a little shy, stood beside her, shining more brightly than the sun as its light sparkled and played on the thousand diamonds on her dress. Such a display of bright wealth the Prince had never seen.
And then he glimpsed the girl in the white dress.
‘My dear’ his mother the Queen stood by his side appearing from nowhere. ‘Why don’t we suggest the guests choose the most beautiful flower in the garden for a corsage for the Ball tonight?’ A delightful idea agreed the Prince, and detailed the servants to move amongst the guests and cut them whatever stems they requested. By this time the orchestra had finished tuning their instruments and all were invited back into the palace for the banquet was about to be served. The many Princesses in their grand ball gowns sat on the Royal Family’s finest chairs, ate off the Royal Family’s priceless gold plates and drank the Royal Family’s rarest wines.
The Prince was positioned next to his father, the King, to the left, and the Queen of Garnish to the right. Opposite was the Princess Perfect. Delicate hands gracefully lifted each morsel of food to the sweetest lips. Her hair, curls and tresses in great swathes, displayed an elegant neck. The Prince was entranced. Then he lowered his eyes and noticed her corsage. The flower she had chosen was a bright orange marigold. The perfume was not the Prince’s favourite. ‘What a practical choice’ he complimented Princess Perfect, ‘we plant those amongst the tomatoes to deter the flies.’ Conversation after that was a little strained between them. The banquet finished, the King made a speech welcoming the guests and telling an embarrassing story about one of the Prince’s childhood capers. The Queen then stood up and doubled the Prince’s discomfiture by recounting the story of the day he fell into the pigsty when visiting the palace farm. Some of the beautiful Princesses squirmed and wondered if, even now, he smelt, turning their pert noses away from his direction, in case a whiff of pig still lingered.
The Prince thought that, surrounded by the guests at one of the far away tables, he saw a movement of a white dress, but he could not be certain. A sudden chill swept down his spine. Had she gone, disgusted by the Queen’s story? A strange feeling of dismay entered his thoughts.
And now it was his turn. The Prince stood and in an eloquent speech thanked his mother the Queen and his father the King, Ma and Pa he cheekily called them. Mischievous in such refined and stately company. And the company loved it and clapped and cheered. Then the Prince thanked all the guests for coming and making this a wonderful occasion. And the company clapped and congratulated themselves on being there.
It would be improper to have a competition to choose the most beautiful Princess present, claimed the Prince, for they were all delightful. And all the Princesses blushed, knowing the he really meant it was them. He would tell them privately later no doubt. But instead, he announced, he would dance the first dance with the Princess wearing, as a corsage, his favourite flower. This was an unexpected turn of events and everyone shuffled and stretched to be in the best position and appear to finest effect, as the Prince caste his eyes along the rows of tables before him. The Princess’s mothers fiddled with the blooms their daughters had chosen earlier in the garden. He tried to do it fairly, lingering over a particularly pleasant pink rose, noticing a fine white carnation, smiling kindly at the Princess who had chosen a dandelion.
But he knew he was really searching for the white silk dress, hoping, praying, that a truly beautiful flower was now pinned to it.
Then the King of Garish moved to one side a little and there she was, sitting next to her mother, the Queen of Hearts. And yes, she was indeed wearing the most beautiful flower. Gratified, relaxed, he announced, ‘My first partner shall be the Princess of Hearts.’ All heads turned. Where was she? What had she chosen? What had they missed?
The Queen quickly announced, ‘Let the Ball begin!’ and moved her hand to instruct the courtiers to move the chairs and direct the guests to the Ballroom. Quick thinking by the Queen had saved a possible disaster, neigh rebellion. For, as far as the guests could see, the Princess of Hearts wore no flower.
A small start;
a twinkle of starlight in the vast darkness
slowly extended it glow outwards,
warmly brushing against the void.
And by its gentle heat converted
the bleak to the comfortable,
the empty to the full,
encompassing the whole
by subtle yet inexorable life, until the true nature of the spark revealed itself
in a worldly hymn of praise - love.
Page last updated: 29th Nov 2017