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Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Tale of Tales Day Five

 a poetic rendition of

                                    Day 5, Tale 6 


A king had a son, an obdurate one
who resisted all efforts to teach him.
You can’t become king 
till you've learned everything,
roared the king. But no scolding could reach him.

The king said, Well, I know a baroness nearby
whose daughter has brains. If it suits her,
I’ll send him to her 
and the girl can transfer
all she knows. She will be my son’s tutor.

And so he was sent. Still he would not repent.
To her kind words he just would not listen.
So she lifted her hand. 
Prince, you think you're too grand!
And she hit him. It made his eyes glisten.

The blow did the trick, and his learning was quick
but her fingers had left an impression
not just on his face 
but in some deeper place.
And revenge now became his obsession.

He learned what she knew and some other things, too.
Then the king sent him elsewhere to study.
He got wisdom and yet 
he could never forget
how she'd slapped him and left his cheeks ruddy.

When the wise girl was grown, he said, Father, I own
that it’s into this life you have brought me.
I will do what you say, 
but I’ve debts I must pay.
I would marry the woman who taught me.

Though she’s not of our kind, she is noble of mind.
Said the king, I agree. They were wedded.
Then a palace was built f
illed with marble and gilt
where the two could be privately bedded.

She was closeted tight in a room without light.
She had little to eat. Love? He spurned it.
Why this treatment? she cried. 
For revenge, he replied.
You were stupid, she said, and you earned it.

This inflamed him the more. It grew worse than before
till the baroness heard of her daughter.
Then a tunnel was made 
through which she was sent aid.
Refreshment and clothing was brought her.

When the king died one day, the young prince rode away
to lay claim to his lands. When he’d started
the baroness said, Now 
here’s your chance. Here is how
to get even. The prince has departed.

He is traveling slow. By a shortcut you go
to the town where he’s bound. Then command a
magnificent house 
right across from the louse
and make eyes at him from your veranda.

The prince was ensnared and that night they were paired,
Here’s a necklace, he said. You have won it.
And he left her with child 
though the prince, so beguiled,
did not ever suspect he had done it.  

She bore him a son. When his travels were done
he went home. I assume my wife’s left me?
But she lived, hale and young, 
and she waggled her tongue
as she heaped more abuse on him, deftly.

A year passed and then he went traveling again,
and once more she entrapped him with passion.
Before he left town 
he gave her a crown
and a child, in the very same fashion.

This one was a boy whom she fondled with joy.
When the third time the trick was repeated,
the gift was of gold 
and of diamonds untold,
and a girl child she happily greeted.

The baroness then next wept and wailed in pretext.
Oh! My daughter has died of starvation.
Though the prince acted brave 
as he stood by her grave,
he could hardly contain his elation.

Her death was but sleep. She was slumbering deep
from a draught she’d ingested as bidden.
When night turned to day 
she was smuggled away,
and she lived with her mother, well hidden.

The prince was now free. I will marry, thought he,
a meek woman of noble extraction.
And a princess was found 
who was perfectly sound
but was dumb, to his great satisfaction.

At the pre-wedding ball his wife entered the hall
with her children. Prince, you are forsaking
the true legacy 
of these toddlers you see.
They were born of your very own making.

Three heirs to the throne! And they were his own!
And she! He had thought he’d interred her.
He’d been blinded by hate. 
It was almost too late
but he knew now that he much preferred her.

All along she was right. He was filled with delight.
The new bride was espoused to his brother.
His rage turned to bliss 
and from that day to this
they’ve lived happily with one another.