TELL ME A STORY
The prince fails to heed his heart's desire
Adapted by Amy Friedman
Adapted by Amy Friedman
"The Rose Maiden" is a European tale.
Long ago there lived a prince named Rupert who longed to marry. He decided he must find the perfect bride to be his princess.
Rupert traveled far and wide in search of his princess. One day, he came upon a field of flowers, with a stream that tinkled through the center. At the stream's edge grew a rose tree, and there he lay down to rest.
Suddenly he heard a voice whispering in his ear: "I pray to my rose, oh sweet tree of mine. Open your bark, let your branches untwine. I long to be free, to breathe the fresh air, to roam through the fields to become part of a pair."
And from inside the branches of the bush stepped a beautiful woman. Rupert had never seen a woman so lovely.
The Rose Maiden's smile was so sweet, he heard himself say, "Will you be my bride? Come live with me in my palace?"
"I will," Rose Maiden said, "but we must bring my tree, and there I must stay each night, for I belong to the Rose Tree."
"Of course," Rupert said. "Now let us rest together," for he felt suddenly overcome by exhaustion. He and the Rose Maiden lay beneath the tree and fell fast asleep.
Hours later Rupert awoke, and when he looked at the maiden, he was struck with terror by what he had done. This woman was a complete stranger, and she lived in a rose tree! She could never be his princess. In spite of the love he felt in his heart, he scattered rose petals in his place and set off again, still searching for a wife.
When the Rose Maiden awoke and saw that her prince was gone, her heart nearly broke. "Rose tree," she whispered sorrowfully, "open your arms for me." But the tree did not untwine its branches or open its bark to her. "You no longer live here," the tree said.
The Rose Maiden, now alone and homeless, decided to search for her prince. When she reached a monastery, she knocked upon the door. "Might I borrow a monk's dress?" she asked the monk who answered. "I am a poor woman traveling alone, and I must disguise myself for safety's sake." The monk gave her a garment, and the Rose Maiden put it on.
The next day the Rose Maiden was walking down the road when she heard the sound of horses' hooves. She waited by the side of the road, and before long she spied eight horses drawing a carriage, and in it sat her beloved Rupert. At his side sat a lovely young woman.
The Rose Maiden waved to Rupert as they passed. "Hello there," she called, and Rupert pulled his horses to a stop.
"Kind sir," said the Rose Maiden, disguising her voice, "I have just passed a rose tree, and there I saw a beautiful maiden weeping. A prince asked her to marry him, and she agreed, but then he disappeared. Now her tree has rejected her, and she is all alone."
"That is a sad tale indeed," said Rupert, as he thought of how he had abandoned the Rose Maiden.
"Perhaps you can help her," said the Rose Maiden through her disguise.
"There's nothing I can do," Rupert said wistfully, though secretly he wished to hear more, for he could not stop thinking of the beautiful Rose Maiden. "May we offer you a ride?" he asked. And the Rose Maiden, disguised as a monk, agreed to ride along.
Rupert could not stop the thoughts of the beautiful Rose Maiden that crowded his mind. He was determined to keep the monk in his palace, and later he would send the monk to see her and to return with news of her.
The wedding day at last arrived, and the Rose Maiden, still in her disguise, spoke softly to Rupert. "Think twice before you marry, sir. Is this wise?"
"It is," Rupert said, though he felt sad, not happy.
"But you seem to love the Rose Maiden," the monk whispered.
"Perhaps I do," said Rupert, "but I can never marry her."
That evening, after the wedding ceremony, Rupert went as usual to the monk to speak about the Rose Maiden. But the monk was gone, and in his place lay the beautiful Rose Maiden, wilted and pale. And so, too late, Rupert understood how wrong he had been not to listen to the lessons of his heart.