How Deep Is Your Beauty?
Once upon a time, a poor farmer married a beautiful princess. She was every bit as charming, graceful, and genteel on the inside as she was beautiful on the outside. The two were madly in love with each other, and even though the princess had to give up her right to the throne in order to marry such a commoner, she never once regretted her decision.
The couple was by no means rich, but their kindness was known far and wide, and due to their generous nature, that seldom lacked for anything, as their kindness would always be repaid when they found themselves in need.
One day, the princess discovered that she was pregnant, and was delighted to know that quite shortly, she would have the family she had always wanted.
But alas! such was not to be. For the princess carried twins, and being petite, she simply could not endure the delivery. While the first daughter was born healthy, the second was breech, and misshapen. The birth took its toll on both mother and child, and shortly after the second child was born, the fair princess died
The town mourned the loss of the princess, but in time, things returned to normal. The farmer somehow managed to raise his two daughters alone. The elder one grew in beauty, but her heart was full of bitterness, especially towards her twin. Why, if not for her, she would have had a complete family - a father AND a mother. Nary a day went by that the bitter sister didn't, in some way, try to add to the younger sister's misfortune.
But the younger sister, having inherited her mother's gentle nature, took it all in stride. She grew up kind and compassionate, and took great pains in helping those who were unfortunate or downtrodden. Being an outcast herself, she could truly empathize with their plights.
Soon, both girls reached the age where all women leave home to seek out lives of their own. The elder sister, being radiant like the very sun, had no trouble finding suitors, and was soon betrothed to the king's son. The younger sister, however, had no such luck. Men would ask her to remove her shawl, which always covered her deformed face, and upon seeing her, would always run away, never to return.
One day, the farmer , being up in years by now, and unable to do heavy lifting anymore, asked his eldest daughter to fetch some water from the town's well. Although she felt the task was beneath her, she grudgingly agreed.
As she was returning from the well, an ugly and gnarled troll happened by, and asked her for a drink.
"Please, beautiful maiden, spare a drink for a poor, thirsty soul. I fear I cannot make it to the well myself."
"Why should I?" the sister replied. "I am beautiful, and you are horrid. If I were to be seen with you, my reputation would be ruined. Get away from me, you filthy, ugly beast!"
"Your beauty is shallow, and will one day fade, but by then, everyone will know your true nature."
And with that, the troll vanished with a puff of smoke. The elder sister just shrugged and continued on her way, completely unaware that the curse had already begun its work.
The next day, the farmer again needed water. With the older sister being away, he asked the younger one to perform the task. She happily agreed, proud that she could at last repay, in some small way, the man who had raised her.
Along her journey back, she, also met the troll.
"Please, fair maiden, spare me a sip of water. I thirst, and cannot make it to the well myself."
"I say," she exclaimed, "that few have ever called me fair before. Sure you may have a drink. Drink your fill, kind sir. I can always fetch more, if needed."
"You are kind and tender of heart. Such inner beauty is rare. One day, all will see it."
And with that, the troll vanished in a puff of smoke.
The sister was dumbstruck at first, but quickly hurried home, to aid her father. She failed to realize that her scarf had fallen off in her haste.
As she knelt by her father, she noticed he had an odd expression on his face.
"Who might you be, dear?" he asked.
"Oh, Father. Don't be silly. It is I, Druscilla."
"But you... you look so like your mother. Even your face is radiant. Here, see for yourself."
Taking the proffered mirror, she gazed into her reflection - only to find it radically changed. Gone was her horrid disfigurement, replaced by beauty beyond compare.
"Oh, my!" she exclaimed, as she dropped the mirror onto her father's lap. She breathed a silent prayer of thanks to the gods for her fine fortune.
Meanwhile, the elder sister was dining with her betrothed, when, all of a sudden, the room got quiet, and the prince's face turned white.
"What's wrong, dear?" she asked innocently.
"I never noticed before what an ugly old crone you were," he said. "To think you bewitched me with your foul magic. I'm glad, for whatever reason, the spell was broken before I made a dreadful mistake. Guards! Seize her, and dispose of her as we dispose of all witches."
After a few days, Druscilla began to worry about her sister, who had not returned home yet, so she went to see the prince. From the moment their eyes met, they both knew it was love.
"Will you marry me?" the prince asked.
"Yes," Druscilla replied, "But only on two conditions. You must allow my father to live here in the palace with me, and you must release my sister from the dungeon, and restore her to her rightful status."
For, even though her sister had always treated her cruelly, she was, after all, family, and Druscilla, in good conscience, could not bear to see anyone, even someone as wretched as her sister had been, to suffer.
"Anything for you, my love," he replied.
And they lived happily ever after. The elder sister never did fully regain her beauty, but she was known far and wide for her wisdom and humbleness.
TRUE beauty comes from the heart, and works its way out, until the whole person shines with its radiance. Don't be fooled by the shallow, fake trappings of what some erroneously label "beauty".
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