A FABLE

There was once a peasant girl who was born in a small village.  As beautiful inside as she was on the outside, she treated every creature she met with love and kindness, from the smallest and most insignificant creature to the highest royalty, truly believing that the lowest was as important as the highest. 


Although the peasant girl was kind, and beautiful, as she grew she was not beloved by the villagers.  For she was cursed at birth with the ability to see through others actions, words, and deeds, into their hearts.  As the years passed, she grew aloof, distancing herself from the evils in others.  Although, she was outwardly a kind and loving friend to all, she began to silently judge others, until one day (in a fit of overwhelmment), she turned away from all those with malice, hate, bias, and misused influences.  Finding herself with no one who could hold up to her high standards, she began to see herself as above the others in her village. 


Overtime, she convinced herself that she was deserving of finer quarters which better reflected her superiority.  One evening, the peasant girl decided to leave her tidy house in its small village.  Early the next morning, she gathered her most costly garments.   Before the sun was up she had bid ado to her village, seeking out a Prince deserving of a wife as lofty as she.  With every mile, she became more impressed with her righteousness.  Unbeknownst to her, as the ugliness in her heart grew, her face morphed from unrivaled beauty to unparalleled deformity.  Spent from her arduous journey, the peasant girl stopped by a river for drink of water and bite of bread. 


“Pardon,” a voice called from the road. 


“Yes,” the peasant girl replied haughtily.


“Could I impose on you for some help with my horse?”  A crippled old man asked.


Sensing no harm from the old man, the peasant girl nodded.  As she stood to help him the swelling from her eyes cleared.  Flashing the old man a genuine smile, her skin cleared regaining its porcelain appearance. 


Once his horse had been watered, the old man smiled a crooked smile, scratched his head and offered, “My oldest son is looking for a good wife.  He’s a simple breadmaker, but he would be honored for a wife as kindly as you.”


A breadmaker, the peasant girl thought unkindly.  Her lips and eyes swelled uncomfortably as she declined, “I’m destined for a Prince.” 


A short while later, the peasant girl came upon an old woman who’s carriage had run off the road. 


“Bless you dear!” The woman cried.  “This fool horse ran off of the road, and now the wheel is stuck.  Could you give an old woman a hand?”


Sensing genuine distress from the old woman, the peasant girl responded, “Of course.”  At her unselfish thoughts, her lips and eyes returned to their normal size. 


In no time, the peasant girl was able to lead the horse from the mud, pulling the wheel free. 


Struck by the peasant girl's grace and beauty, the old woman offered, “My second son is looking for a good wife.  Although he is a minor noble, he would be honored for a wife as kindly as you.”


A minor noble?  The peasant girl scoffed to herself.  Her cheeks and eyebrows swelled and her skin became discolored as she haughtily declined, “I’m destined for a Prince.” 


The sun was setting, and the peasant girl began to wonder where she would lay her head for the night.  Surely, one such as she was beyond sleeping on the cold ground.  With every step, her legs reminded her of how weary they were, until around a bend she spied a weathered inn.  The peasant girl stepped inside to ask for a bed.  The innkeeper, took one look at the once beautiful girl and recoiled at her misshapen features. 


“Be gone, witch!” the innkeeper cried, crossing himself.


Unused to such treatment, the peasant girl looked around in confusion.  Catching her reflection in a metal plate, she let out a horrid shriek.  Her nose was thrice the size of normal, one eye was just a slit, she had triple eyelids, and erratically swollen jowls colored pink, purple, black, and white.   Tears stung her eyes as she turned to leave. 


“Wait,” the innkeeper’s wife stopped the peasant girl.  “It is about to storm.  We have no rooms, but we can spare a bite of stew and a spot in the barn.”


“You can?” the peasant girl whispered, in awe of the woman before her.  “But, I’m hideous.”


“No, you’re not,” the innkeeper’s wife smiled gently.  “It is my husband who was hideous.”


The innkeeper opened his mouth to object, then hung his head in shame.  “Yes, yes I was.  I am truly shamed by my actions,” he told the peasant girl.   


Tears stung the peasant girl’s eyes as she choked out a small, “Thank you.”


“If you have need,” the innkeeper’s wife offered, “we could use a serving maid.  The pay isn’t much, but we can give you a dry place to lay your head at night and good food.”


A serving maid!  The peasant girl scoffed to herself.  “I’m destined for a …” the girl watched as her forehead doubled its size.  Eyes wide, she touched her face.  “A serving maid is more than I could ask of you.  I am very grateful,” she said instead.


The peasant girl set her things down, and went straight to work.  As she served she heeded her thoughts, looking for the positives in people, and seeing all she met as more deserving than her.  Some nights later, she was cleaning the last table, looking forward to sleep, when a cloaked traveler stepped through the door. 


“We’re closed,” the peasant girl said, without looking up from her chores.


“Please, it is a wretched night.  Just a quick bowl of whatever is hot. and I will gladly sleep with the horses,” the handsome traveler pleaded. 


“It is a horrible night, and I know my mistress wouldn’t want me to turn you away,” the peasant girl consented.  Moments later she returned with a steaming bowl, and warm drink. 


To show his gratitude, the traveler, entertained the peasant girl with his stories.


The next morning, the peasant girl stepped into the barn with a basket of bread and cheese.  Before the traveler could speak, the peasant girl held out the basket, and said, “You have a long journey ahead.  Please, take this.” 


“Come with me,” the traveler pleaded. 


“What?”  The peasant girl startled.


“I have searched long and hard for a maid with your kindness, charm, and beauty.  I would be honored to have you for a wife,” the traveler explained with a bended knee.


The peasant girl looked at the traveler.  “You think I’m beautiful?” she asked. 


“I have met great beauties whose thoughts and beliefs made them hideous.  Your features may not be perfect, but your heart is,” the traveler smiled.  “Come with me?”


The peasant girl was in awe, for she could see that his words were true and his thoughts pure.  “I once thought myself better in others in thought, deed, and visage.  I have learned more of kindheartedness since a curse stole my splendor then I thought possible.  I cannot marry you, for I couldn’t bear what others would speak of you in my hideous presence.” 


At her words, a solitary tear trickled from her eye slit.  As it slid down her face, her swollen features faded, revealing perfectly aligned features and porcelain skin. 


The stranger’s eyes widened in surprise.  Reaching out to touch the peasant girl’s delicate features he asked in awe, “Is this you?”


The peasant girl reached a hand to her face.  With a smile she answered, “Yes.  My heart became dark, cursing me, until I could become truly beautiful on the inside.  Do you still want me to come with you?”


“Yes!  I want you to come with me, and be my Queen.”  The traveler smiled.


“Your Queen?” The servant girl asked.


“Yes,” the traveler bowed.  “I have been on a quest for a deserving Queen to help me rule the land in peace and love.”


“You’re a King?” The peasant girl asked in awe.  “And, to think I thought I was destined for a Prince.”