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The Broken Promise

2006-07-13 23:32

  Once upon a time, there lived a Prince whose best friend was a goat-herd. The two boys spent most of their time together. The Prince would always tell the goat-herd, “Friend, when I am king, you shall not work any more. You shall be my royal guest.” Thus the two friends dreamt of the future.

  Time passed. One day the old king passed away and the Prince was crowned in his place. But alas! as soon as he became king he forget all his promises. When the goatherd went to the palace, he was turned away unceremoniously by the guards.

  One morning the king awoke in unbearable pain. He could not open his eyes. His body was pierced with countless needles. He could only lie in bed, screaming in agony.

  That very day, the Queen went all alone to a lake. It was a hot day and she decided to take a bath. Leaving her clothes and ornaments on the bank, she plunged into the water. A farmhand was passing by. When she saw the royal clothes, she quickly put them on and proclaimed herself to be Queen. The poor Queen still in the water was horrified, for who would believe her without any clothes or jewels left. The imposter gave her some old rags and took her to the palace as a maid servant.

  The imposter entered the royal palace and began to live in great luxury. The king was in great pain but she could not be bothered to nurse him nor would she allow the real Queen to go near him. The Ministers summoned many doctors but none could remove the needles. When they failed, magicians from the whole land were sent for. But none could help the king.

  The real Queen was having a bad time too. She was given very little food and made to do all sorts of hard work. One day, while she was washing a pile of clothes by the river bank, she fainted. The goatherd who happened to be passing by took her home. He nursed her back to health and treated her with great respect. But the good Queen could not be happy.

  One day, the goatherd asked her, “Good sister, pray tell me what worries you?” When he heard the whole story, he at once realized that the king's plight was due to his broken promise. However, he still loved his friend very much and determined to help him.

  At night, the Queen and the goatherd made their way to the palace. They climbed into the king's room by a ladder. The sight of his friend groaning in agony brought tears to the goatherd's eyes. He took out a reel of magic thread and chanted:

  “Thread thread, enter the needles Take them out, make my friend fit as a fiddle.”

  At once the thread looped itself and slipped through the eyes of the needles. Gently it began to wind into a reel and started pulling out the needles one by one. Soon the king was free. After many days, he was able to open his eyes and sit up. He saw the goatherd and the Queen his room. He was shocked to see her in dirty tattered clothes and matted hair.

  Hearing all the commotion, the imposter Queen bustled in. seeing her, the king shouted, “Who are you? How dare you wear the Queen's clothes?”

  The real Queen then told the whole story. At once the king banished the imposter from his kingdom. The goatherd was made the Chief Advisor to the king and they remained good friends ever after.

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