Gateway to the Classics: The Way of the Gate by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
The Way of the Gate by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Princess Who Wanted To Be Beautiful

Once upon a time there was a little Princess who was very unhappy because she was not as pretty to look at as she thought a little Princess should be.

She sat in the garden and was sorrowful and cried a great deal of the time, because she felt quite sure that no one would ever make her a queen.

One day she sat by the wall of the garden with her hands in her lap, and was looking very sad. An old woman, very bent and gray, and carrying a bundle, passed along the road outside and looked over the wall.

"Why do you cry, little Princess," she asked.

"Because I am not beautiful," the little Princess replied, "and so I shall never be made a queen."

"Why do you not go out into the world and find some one who can make you beautiful?" asked the old woman as she started again on her way. And this seemed like such a new adventure that the little Princess went out through the garden gate and started down the road.

The old woman had disappeared as if the road had taken her into its gray dust; but before the little Princess had gone very far she overtook a boy. He was stumbling along the road as if it were hard for him to find his way. He put out his hand and touched the little Princess' silken sleeve.

"Where are you going? " he asked.

"I am going to find some one who will help to make me beautiful," the little Princess said. "I am not pretty enough to be a queen."

"Wait a while and help me," said the little boy. "I am blind, and I cannot find my way home."

So the little Princess took the blind boy's hand in hers and walked along with him, leading him very gently, until they came to the cottage by the side of the road, where he lived.

Then the little Princess went on, hurrying, for she felt that she had lost a great deal of time. But before she had gone very far, she saw a little girl standing by the edge of the woods and crying. When the little girl saw the Princess, she looked up and asked, "Where are you going?"

"I am going to find some one who will help me to be beautiful," the little Princess said. "I am not pretty enough to be a queen."

"Wait a while and help me," said the little girl. "My mother is ill, and I went to the dairy to fetch her some milk and eggs; but I have no money, and they say that I must pay."

The little Princess pulled from the silk bag at her side a bright gold piece. She had but two of them to buy herself food on her journey, but she gave one to the child. "This is to pay for the milk and eggs," she said. Then the little girl laughed with happiness. Her smile was as bright as the sunshine that came down through the trees and lighted them both.

"Now I must make great haste," thought the little Princess. "It is getting on in the day and I am no more beautiful than when I started." But she had gone only a little way when she came suddenly upon the same old woman, who had spoken to her in the morning.

"Did you do as I bade you?" asked the old woman.

"Yes," said the little Princess. "But I am still ugly to look at," she added, dropping her head.

"Oh, no, you are not," said the old woman. "Look!" and she held a little mirror before the face of the Princess.

A strange thing had happened. The little Princess's eyes, in leading the little blind boy, had grown as bright as stars. Her hair was as shining as the gold piece which she had given away.

"Shall I ever be a queen!" asked the Princess.

The old woman took a small gold crown from the bundle she carried and set it upon the little Princess' head.

"You are a queen, my dear!" she said.

So will the King desire thy beauty?

—Psalm xlv. II.

Thou art fairer than the children of men;

Grace is poured into thy lips;

Therefore God hath blessed thee forever.

—Psalm xlv. 2.

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