8th thread: The accursed princess
The smoke from the fire sat heavily in the cold winter air. Gathered around the spinning wheel, the two little girls coughed and wheezed, small tears running down their cheeks. The old woman took no notice, all at her work and her brooding:
She was young and shapely before getting pregnant, everyone said when she married my son, oh isn’t she a beautiful bride. Did it make a difference? No, it did not help, death carried her off anyway. She gave you life, and there wasn’t enough left, you took it all away. I was not so beautiful when I was young, but your grandfather abducted me and now I have to raise you even though I am old and tired, I am the one to tell you so that you may remember and repeat it to your children when your turn comes. You need to listen, and stop playing with your locks. There was a king and queen who reigned over a large, prosperous kingdom and enjoyed great wealth. But they could not be happy because they were barren. At last, a little girl was born to them, and they were so happy that they omitted to sacrifice to the gods. Shortly after, the oracle of the court predicted that if she were allowed to live, temples and monuments would collapse, kingdoms would disappear, the glory of heroes would be trampled in the dust.
Moreover, the laws would be violated, the privileges unobserved, the poems forgotten. The danger would come not so much from the child, do you understand? But from the daughters she would give birth to, and their daughters, and their daughters’ daughters. The curse would extend like a plague because a woman can have seven girls who can each have seven daughters and further I can not count. If you pass the shuttle under two threads instead of one, you need to undo your work until you reach the defect, so that it is not repeated rank after rank. Where was I? Yes, the child had to be sacrificed for the royal power to be preserved. The king and the queen were in great sorrow, they wept bitter tears and begged for mercy, but it was too late, they had sinned, and destiny can not be undone.
At last, the king ordered for the little girl to be put to death by his archers, despite his wife ripping her chest and tearing at her hair. Deep down, it seems the queen was more concerned with her baby than the laws and the glory of heroes. She was devious too, and succeeded just in time to exchange the little princess with the stillborn baby of a servant. An old nurse carried away the girl in secret and entrusted her to an aging couple, in a mountain village, who gladly adopted her. However, the nurse was careful not to reveal the prediction of the oracle. Who has spun this yarn? The thread is so irregular that it is unsuitable for your dowry. We will use it for the maid’s apron.
Don’t scratch your ear, there is nothing wrong with that ear. Once the royal family became aware of the deception, they searched for the little princess. If they learned that we are her descendants, they would kill us. You must not reveal the secret to anyone except your children. How would I know if the curse foretold by the oracle came about? I’m an old woman sitting on my doorstep, I do not know the way of the world. The council of elders say that the laws are not respected, the statues of the gods have been ransacked, the kingdoms collapsed and founded again. But the poems, we know the poems yet.
A warbler flew in through the open door, bumping against furniture and walls. The girls jumped from their stools and gaily chased the bird until it found itself, bewildered, in the bright daylight of the yard.