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The Imp and the Princess

Copyright © September 1, 2018 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.


The following story is included in my book: Grandpappy's Stories for Children of All Ages.

Preface

On Friday night on May 18, 2018 my 6 year old granddaughter, Ashlyn, and I kneeled on the floor beside her bed and we said our nighttime prayers. Then Ashlyn got into her bed and she told me that she would like to talk for a few minutes before she went to sleep. I said okay and I asked her what she wanted to talk about. She immediately said she wanted me to tell her a story. So I began telling her the following story. But she stopped me before I had completed the first sentence and she asked me if it was a true story. I told her no and that it was just a Fairy Tale, and that I was making it up as I told it to her. Then I continued telling her the following story as I created the story and the characters in my mind.

When I was about halfway through the story I told her that was the end of Part One and I would tell her Part Two when she woke up. She begged me to tell her the riddle immediately but I said "no" because at that moment I had no idea what the riddle would be. A few minutes later she was asleep and I picked up a pen and a piece of paper and I started making up a riddle and I wrote it down as it came to me.

The next morning I told the beginning of my Fairy Tale to my other two grandchildren (Gracie and Jace) who were spending the weekend with us, and to my wife, and to Ashlyn (again), while we were all sitting at our breakfast table. Then I gave each one of them a piece of paper and I asked them to write down the answer to the riddle on their own without talking about it. I gave them a copy of my piece of paper with the riddle on it so they could think about it carefully before they gave me their answers. Only my wife guessed the correct answer to the riddle so I told that ending of the story to everyone first. Then I shared the answers my three grandchildren had given me and I told the second ending of the story to everyone.

Following is the Fairy Tale and the riddle that I made up and that I shared with my family.


The Imp and the Princess
A Fairy Tale

Queen Please let me tell you a Fairy Tale. But my Fairy Tale is different from the ones you have heard many, many times before. The reason is because you will determine how this Fairy Tale will end based on how clever you are. Therefore please listen very carefully.

Once upon a time many, many years ago, in a country far, far away, there lived a king and a queen in a huge beautiful castle. The king and queen were good to everyone, including the poorest people in their kingdom. The king and queen loved each other very much and they were very happy except for one thing. They did not have any children. All the other people in their kingdom had lots of children. But not the king and queen. After being married for ten years they had given up all hope of having any children of their own.

One night the queen retired to her private bedchamber and she began to cry because she was so sad that she had no children of her own. While she was crying a short ugly Imp suddenly appeared in front of her. The Imp had green skin, a long nose, a pointed chin, and pointed ears. He was only 4 feet tall and he was so thin and gaunt that he looked like he had not had anything to eat for a very long time. His clothes were nothing more than filthy dirty smelly rags and they had holes all over them.

The queen was startled and she was scared. The Imp spoke with a crackling voice and he said, "Do not be afraid of me. I will not hurt you. I have come to make you an offer. I can cast a magic spell on you that will allow you to give birth to a beautiful baby girl. And every year the maiden will grow more and more beautiful. But in return for this favor you must promise me that you will allow me to marry your daughter when she turns 16 years old."

Imp The queen looked at the ugly Imp and she gasped in horror. Trembling she said, "No, I could never allow you to marry one of my children." When she finished saying these words the Imp immediately disappeared.

The next day the queen did not tell her husband about the Imp.

Time passed slowly but the king and queen still had no children. After two years the queen was once again in her private bedchamber and the ugly Imp suddenly appeared before her. The Imp said, "If I use my magic to help you give birth to a beautiful baby girl then will you promise me that you will you let me marry her when she is 16 years old?"

The queen had thought about this for two years and she had become so desperate for a child that she quickly said, "Yes."

The Imp then asked her again, "Do you promise that you will let me marry your daughter when she turns 16 years old?"

Again the queen said, "Yes, I promise I will let you marry my daughter when she becomes 16 years old."

Then the Imp said, "So be it. In about one year you will give birth to a beautiful baby girl. And you will not see me again until I return to marry your daughter." And then the Imp simply disappeared.

About 2 months later the queen became pregnant. When the king found out that his wife was pregnant he was very happy and he said, "Finally we shall have a son."

But his wife said, "We will not know whether the baby will be a boy or a girl until it is born."

And the king replied, "You are right. I promise you that I will love our baby whether you give birth to a prince or a princess."

Approximately 9 months later the queen gave birth to an extraordinarily beautiful baby girl. She was born with beautiful blue eyes and black hair. Her hair was shiny and silky thin and it was more than one inch long when she was born. The king and queen had a huge party that day in the castle and they gave presents to all their servants.

On her first birthday the princess was even more beautiful than when she was born. And with each passing year she grew more beautiful than the year before. Four years passed but the king and queen had no more children. However, they were very happy with their only daughter.

When the princess was 10 years old everyone in the kingdom said that she was the most beautiful girl they had ever seen. When she was 12 years old all the princes from all the nearby kingdoms came to visit her and they all asked her for her hand in marriage when she turned 16. But she always answered, "I will marry whomever my mom and dad, the king and queen, tell me to marry."

When she was 14 the princes in many far away kingdoms got into their ships and they sailed a long ways across the oceans to see for themselves if the princess was as beautiful as they had been told. And every one of those princes proposed to the princess but the princessí answer was always the same, "When I turn 16 I will marry whomever my mom and dad, the king and queen, tell me to marry."

When she was 15 she had become so beautiful that every prince from every kingdom both near and far had taken up residence in the nearby town to wait for the princessí 16th birthday in the hope that the princess would choose one of them to be her husband.

Castle On the night of the last day of her 15th year, on the eve of her 16th birthday, the princess went to sleep early in her own bedchamber. And the queen retired to her private bedchamber and waited. Soon the ugly Imp magically appeared before her and said, "Tomorrow your daughter will be 16 and it is time for you to let me marry her, and you must let me live here in this castle with all of you for the rest of my life."

The queen thought quickly and she said, "Yes, you may marry my daughter but I never agreed to allow you to live with us here in the castle. If you marry my daughter then the two of you must leave the castle and go somewhere else to live."

The Imp stared at the queen and he was silent for a long time. Then the Imp spoke and said, "I must live here in this castle with the princess because I hate living in a cave in the woods. But I did not ask for permission to live in your castle when I asked to marry your daughter so I have no right to live here. But I am willing to amend our agreement if you wish. I will ask you a riddle and if you can answer my riddle correctly before the sun sets tomorrow night then I will not marry the princess and you will never see me again. But if you cannot answer my riddle then you must allow me to marry the princess and you must allow me to live here in the castle with her for the rest of my life. Do you agree?"

The queen thought for a moment and then she asked, "When will you tell me your riddle?"

The Imp replied, "When the sun rises tomorrow morning I will appear here in your room and I will tell you my riddle and then I will leave. I will return tomorrow evening just before the sun sets and you can tell me your answer. You will only get one chance to answer my riddle and you will not be allowed to make more than one guess. You also cannot share my riddle with anyone else and you cannot get anyone to help you. You must do this alone. Do you agree?"

The queen answered, "Yes." And the Imp immediately disappeared. But the queen could not sleep that night because she knew that her daughterís entire future depended on her ability to answer the Impís riddle before the sun set tomorrow.

True to his words, at the first light of day the Imp appeared in the queenís private bedchamber. And then he told her his riddle and he reminded her that before the sun set she would be allowed to make one guess, and one guess only, as to the answer. After telling the queen his riddle the Imp handed her a single sheet of paper with the riddle printed on it so that she could think about it all day long. The Impís riddle appears below:

****************************************************

The Impís Riddle

Sometimes I may be big, but sometimes I can be small.
Sometimes I am in your hand, and sometimes I cling to a wall.

Sometimes I may be round, and sometimes I may be square.
Most people like to look at me, and sometimes they may even stare.

I always reveal the truth because it is impossible for me to lie.
When people look at me, sometimes they laugh and sometimes they cry.

I can be found in bathrooms, and in bedrooms, but not in a book.
I can even be found in a womanís purse if you know where to look.

What am I?

****************************************************


Thatís as far as my story goes. The end of this story now depends on you.

If you can answer the above riddle then the beautiful princess will not have to marry the ugly Imp and the Imp will never bother her family again.

But if you cannot answer the riddle then the beautiful young princess will be condemned to marry the ugly Imp and she will have to spend the rest of her life with her ugly husband living in the castle.

It is now time for you to find out how clever you really are. Can you answer the Impís riddle all by yourself so you can save the beautiful princess? Or will you give up quickly without taking the time to solve the riddle and thereby condemn the princess to a marriage to an ugly disgusting Imp?

The amount of time you are willing to invest in trying to solve the Impís riddle will also reveal what kind of person you are. Are you a thoughtful and considerate person who truly cares about what happens to other people, or are you primarily only interested in yourself? Whether or not you arrive at the correct answer is not as important as how much time you spend considering the above riddle before you continue reading this story.

The answer to the Impís riddle is below. But the answer is in code and to know the answer you must change each letter to the next letter in the alphabet as follows:

a = b ... b = c ... c = d ... d = e ... e = f ... f = g ... g = h
h = i ... i = j ... j = k ... k = l ... l = m ... m = n ... n = o
o = p ... p = q ... q = r ... r = s ... s = t ... t = u ... u = v
v = w ... w = x ... x = y ... y = z ... z = a

The coded answer to the Impís riddle is: Zm nqchmzqx bnllnm lhqqnq.

* * * * * * *

Ending One - If you answered the riddle correctly then the Fairy Tale ends this way.

As the sun was setting the Imp appeared in the queenís private bedchamber. The Imp reminded the queen that she would only be allowed to offer one guess as her answer to his riddle.

Immediately the queen replied with her answer.

The Imp was amazed because the queen had answered correctly. Although the Imp was very ugly, he was also very honest. He said, "Your answer is correct. And as I promised you, I will now disappear and you will never see me again, and I will never again bother you or anyone else in your family." And with those final words, the Imp disappeared and he was never seen or heard of again.

Early the next morning the queen told her daughter that she could marry any prince she desired. And the queen also sent a messenger to the nearby town to announce that the princess would select her future husband from the suitors who appeared in the Royal Ballroom at noon. Each suitor should wear his best clothes and bring the presents he would give the princess if he were chosen to be her husband.

Treasure Chest At noon there were 40 young princes assembled in the Royal Ballroom. Each one had dressed in his most expensive and beautiful clothes, and each one had a huge trunk in front of him that was full of gold, and beautiful necklaces, bracelets, rings, crowns, tiaras, and hundreds of precious jewels.

The princess then approached each prince, one at a time, and looked carefully into his face, and then into his treasure chest that would be hers if she chose him for her husband. Then she began talking with each prince and she asked him a variety of questions until she felt that she understood the kind of person he truly was. She was very careful to ask each prince a different set of questions so she could evaluate his responses without him having more time to prepare an answer when compared to the princes she spoke with first.

It took her all afternoon to interview all of the princes. But just before the evening meal she told her mother and father which prince she had chosen. She told her parents that she had not selected the most handsome prince, or the strongest prince, or the prince with the most treasures to offer her. Instead, she had selected an average looking prince who did not have a lot of treasures to bribe her with. She said she picked him because he answered her questions the way she thought they should have been answered. He always showed compassion and fairness in his answers and his answers always considered the effect his decisions would have on other people, and he never once gave an answer that would only enrich himself. She knew he was telling the truth because he was not dressed in clothes as beautiful as the other princes were wearing, and his treasure chest was not even half full.

Wedding Rings The next day the princess married the prince she had chosen and the entire kingdom celebrated the wedding. The prince moved into the castle with the princess, and with the king and queen, because they had lots of spare rooms in the castle because the princess was their only child.

The years passed and the kingdom prospered under the influence of the princess and her husband because they always discussed their options carefully before making a decision. As the years passed the princess gave birth to seven beautiful children, three sons and four daughters. So the old king and queen now had a castle full of grandchildren and everyone was very happy, including even the poorest people in the kingdom. The poorest people were happy because even though they did not have a much as some of the other people in their kingdom, they still had so some much more than the poor people in other nearby kingdoms that they felt rich by comparison.

This Fairy Tale therefore has a very happy ending because everyone, including all the people in the kingdom, lived happily ever after.

THE END (Only if you knew the correct answer to the Impís riddle.)

* * * * * * *

Ending Two - If you did not answer the riddle correctly then the Fairy Tale ends this way.

As the sun was setting the Imp appeared in the queenís private bedchamber. The Imp reminded the queen that she would only be allowed to offer one guess as her answer to his riddle.

Immediately the queen replied with her answer.

The expression on the Impís face did not change. He looked the queen in her eyes and he said gently, "Your answer is wrong. The correct answer to my riddle is a ______. Now you must keep your end of the deal and allow me to marry your daughter tomorrow and you must allow me to live here with your family in this castle for the rest of my life."

The queen was an honest woman and she would not go back on her word. So she called her husband and her daughter to her private bedchamber and she told them her story. The Imp stood quietly in a corner of the room where he could be seen but he did not speak. The king agreed with his wife that they must honor the queenís deal, and the princess said she would marry the Imp because she had been taught to always obey her parents.

Flower Bouquet The next morning the wedding was announced. In the nearby town all the rich handsome princes immediately packed their things and they all returned to their own countries. That afternoon the Royal Wedding was performed in the Royal Ballroom of the castle. Many people attended the wedding, including some of the poorest people in the kingdom because they all loved the princess very much. The princess wore a beautiful white wedding gown and she carried a bouquet of flowers. The Imp wore his usual dirty, filthy, ragged clothes and his clothes smelled absolutely horrible.

The minister asked the Imp if he would agree to marry the princess and he answered, "Yes, I do agree to marry the princess."

The minister then asked the princess if she would agree to marry the Imp and she said, "Yes, I do agree to marry the Imp."

Finally the minister concluded the wedding and pronounced them husband and wife. The princessí beautiful white wedding gown was soaking wet from the river of tears that had been constantly flowing down her cheeks since she first stepped into the Royal Ballroom. The king and queen and all the people in the ballroom were also weeping uncontrollably as they looked at the beautiful princess and the hideously ugly Imp standing beside her. Even the minister had cried as he forced himself to speak the words of the wedding ceremony.

The moment the wedding ceremony was over the Imp began to sparkle and shine. Gradually the Imp changed into a tall handsome man and he was wearing a suit of armor made of the finest gold. A long sword was strapped to his side and the handle of his sword was decorated with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and other precious stones.

The transformed Imp now turned to look at his beautiful bride and he said, "Many, many years ago my mother, who was also a queen, could not have any children, even though she had been married to my father the king for more than 20 years.

Witch "One day an evil wicked witch told her that she could cast a magic spell on my mother that would allow her to give birth to the most handsome baby boy that would ever be born. However, when the prince was 16 years old the queen had to allow the ugly witch to marry her son and allow her to live the rest of her life in the castle with the royal family. My mother agreed. Therefore the witch cast a spell on my mother and the witch departed from castle. Before one year had passed I was born. And I grew more handsome with each passing year. On the day of my 16th birthday the ugly witch returned to our castle and told my mother that I had to marry her. But my mother could not bear the thought of my being married to the ugly witch so she refused to grant her permission for the marriage. The witch said ĎSo be it.í And then she turned towards me and she cast an evil spell on me that transformed me into an ugly little Imp dressed in rags. Then she told me that the only way I could break the spell was to marry a beautiful princess and to live in the princessí castle with the rest of her family. The witch then cast another spell on me and I found myself deep in the woods near a small cave that was far, far away from my castle. I knew I had been given enough magic to work one magic spell, but one spell only. So I waited for years and years. Finally I heard rumors of another king and queen who had no children. That is when I appeared to your mother, the queen, and offered her my deal. But I knew if I told your mother that I was really a prince that I would lose my one magic spell and I would have to live the rest of my life as an ugly Imp. But today the witchís evil spell has been broken and I now appear before you as the 16 year old prince that I was before I was turned into an ugly Imp. And I pledge to you, my new wife, my undying love for as long as I may live."

When he had finished saying these words the prince leaned forward and kissed the princess. Everyone in the Royal Ballroom began clapping and cheering, including the king and queen.

The prince proved to be as honorable as he was handsome, and he and the princess often gave advice to the aging king and queen on how to improve the living conditions for everyone in their kingdom, including the poorest people in the land.

As the years passed the princess gave birth to seven beautiful children, three sons and four daughters. So the old king and queen now had a castle full of grandchildren and everyone was very happy, including even the poorest people in the kingdom. The poorest people were happy because even though they did not have a much as some of the other people in their kingdom, they still had so some much more than the poor people in other nearby kingdoms that they felt rich by comparison.

This Fairy Tale therefore has a very happy ending because everyone, including all the people in the kingdom, lived happily ever after.

THE END (Only if you did not know the correct answer to the Impís riddle.)

* * * * * * *

The Moral of this Story

The moral of this story is that before we pass judgment on someone else, we should first seek to learn as much as we can about their situation.

THE END



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