One More Use for Artists Feb 28, 2009 0:58:40 GMT -5
Post by on Feb 28, 2009 0:58:40 GMT -5
A great raja's daughter was beautiful and talented, and she loved to hunt in the woods on horseback. One day, as she was galloping after a fine buck, she suddenly found herself in a dense forest, all alone. She climbed a tree to see if she could spot her followers anywhere in the distance. As she reached the top branch, she was shocked to see a great forest fire. She watched the fire lapping up trees and shrubs, closing in with tongues of flame on the nests of birds and the lairs of animals, destroying everything in its way. Herds of deer and other animals ran about in a frenzy of fear, and birds of various colors were suffocated by the thick smoke, screaming and screeching as they fell into the fire.
In the midst of this horrible scene, the princess was deeply moved to see a pair of wild geese trying very hard to save their young ones, their little chicks who didn't even have wings yet. As they tried to carry them here and there, they flew distractedly while the fire came towards them closer and closer. They had very little hope of saving themselves or their young ones. As the fire was about to catch the nest, the old male bird made a last desperate attempt and saved himself by flying to a point of safety, leaving the family behind. The mother goose threw herself as a guard over her little ones, and with all of them screaming wildly, was burned in the flames that closed over them.
The princess watched all this, and as she rode away safely, was both moved and angered by what she had witnessed. "How selfish and unreliable these males are!" she said to herself "I'm sure they are the same all the world over, whether they are birds or beasts or men. I'll have nothing to do with them ever. I'll never trust them." And she made up her mind then and there never to marry, ever.
Her followers, who had been frantically looking for her, soon caught up with her, and they all went home.
From that day on, the princess wore a serious face, shunned all males, and told her parents that she would never marry anyone. The old parents were very upset over this, and begged of her to tell them what had made her take such a drastic decision. She was silent and gave them no explanations. Soon everybody came to know that the princess was not for marriage, and the number of suitors soon fell off.
One day a well-known artist happened to visit the raja's court and painted some exquisite pictures for the palace. But just as he was getting ready to leave, he caught a glimpse of the princess and wanted to put all that beauty into a painting. So he begged the princess to give him a few sittings, which she reluctantly did. He painted with great pleasure a faithful likeness of her face and figure. And when he finished the painting, instead of giving it to her, he quietly took it with him when he left the city.
He visited next another raja, who was a great lover of paintings, and sold the painting of the princess to him for a large sum of money. The picture was hung up in the raja's great hall where everyone who saw it admired it and talked about it. They were enchanted by the beauty of the princess and wondered who she could be.
The king's only son and heir had been away hunting all this time and returned home, saw the painting in the hall, and fell madly in love with the image on the canvas without even asking who the original was. When he did ask, nobody knew who or where she was. The lovesick prince lost all pleasure in his daily rounds, shunned company, fell into a gloomy silence, and moped away in his corner of the palace. The father was very unhappy to see his son depressed and soon learned the cause of it. He felt anxious for his son's health and sent messengers in search of the artist. But the artist had long since left the country and gone away to foreign lands, as artists tend to do.
The prince's health and temper grew steadily worse and he was angry with anyone who came near him. One day the old prime minister, a trusted friend of the royal family, happened to arouse him from his gloomy reverie, and the prince was so furious that he at once sentenced him to death. The young prince's word was law in that palace, and the old man had no way of escaping his fate. When the raja heard of it, he summoned the prince and persuaded him to put off the execution for a few days, so that the prime minister might arrange his affairs and transfer his powers to someone else. The old minister was allowed to go home to his family for the time.
Though he didn't wish to talk about it to anyone, his family knew all about the fate that awaited him. His youngest daughter, his favorite in the family, talked to him soothingly, comforted him, and wormed out of him the secret of the prince's rage and sorrow.
Now this young woman was very clever and resourceful. She soon found a way of getting her father out of his difficulty. She went to the young prince, and somehow succeeded in getting an audience. She begged him very hard to spare her father's life for a certain length of time, so that she herself could go abroad and find the woman in the wonderful painting that was the cause of all this trouble.
This pleased the prince very much. The young woman's scheme sounded quite plausible. He saw some hope of realizing what was so far only a wisp of a dream. So he relented and withdrew his terrible order, and the old minister returned to his duties in the palace. The raja was very pleased at this turn of events and wished the young daughter of his minister every success.
Now the minister's daughter was herself a good artist. She made a faithful copy of the great artist's painting. She then dressed herself as a man and set out on her travels disguised as a wandering artist. She hardly knew where to go or whom to ask, but she loved her father and was determined to save his life. So she traveled for months in different directions, showed the picture of the princess wherever she halted, and asked everyone she met, but no one could identify the person in the painting. After a year's weary wandering, she arrived at a distant and strange country, and there, to her great joy, everyone who saw the picture knew who the person in the picture was. They all exclaimed at what a true and speaking likeness the painting was of the daughter of their own raja. And they all spoke of her as "The Princess Who Was Determined Never To Marry."
"Never to marry?" asked the minister's daughter. "What's wrong with her? Did something terrible happen?"
"Nobody knows," they said, "not even her parents."
This news damped her enthusiasm somewhat. If the princess had turned against marriage, how was she, a mere stranger, to succeed in getting her married to the prince who was dying for her?
Still, she was a brave girl and was willing to try more than one way of reaching the princess. She rented a house near the palace and opened her studio there. Every day she set up her easel near a large window that looked out on the palace and worked away with her paints and brushes, till the courtiers and finally the king himself wanted to know more about her. One day the raja summoned her to the court to show him her paintings. When he saw them, he liked them a lot, bought some of them, and invited her to do some pictures for the special palace he was building for his only daughter. Meanwhile, the minister's daughter had the opportunity to see the princess several times, and she was now sure the princess was the true original of the painting that had so enthralled the prince and nearly driven him out of his senses.
When the walls in the new palace were ready, the artist began to paint all sorts of lovely designs and figures on them, decorating even the ceilings and arches. The raja and his court came often to see them and to admire her artistry. Each picture was a study in itself, and each had a story that the artist recounted in her own winning manner. All this drew the ladies of the court to these pictures. Some of these women were friends and attendants of the princess. The minister's daughter thought these women, if anyone, would surely know the reason why the princess shunned all males and despised marriage. So she set to work on them and won them over with her art and courtesy till one of them opened up to her. She was a confidante of the princess, and she told the artist the secret story of the princess's adventure in the forest and her disillusionment with all males in nature.
This was all the minister's daughter wanted to know. On one of the walls of the living room, she drew a picture that was just the reverse of what the princess had seen in the forest. It was a wonderful picture that showed the utter fickleness of females and the devotion of a male. She substituted a pair of antelopes for the geese, and in the place of the princess she painted a very handsome young prince, so young, so brave and handsome, that he would win the heart of any woman.
As soon as this picture was ready, the minister's daughter persuaded the friends of the princess to ask her to come and have a look at it. One day, to her great joy, the princess did honor her with a visit. She went from picture to picture and greatly admired the artist's skill. She at last came to the picture of the antelopes and the prince, and she was arrested by it. She stood there for a while lost in thought, and then turned to the artist and said, "What's the story in this picture?"
"O princess," replied the daughter of the prime minister, seizing her chance, "this picture is about something that really happened to the prince of our country. He was out hunting in the forest and he saw this scene in a forest fire, which convinced him of the fickleness of all females and the faithfulness of males. This may not interest you very much, but it concerns us greatly in our country. This incident has brought such a change in the prince's life. Since this happened, he has shunned all women as faithless and refuses to marry anyone. This decision on the part of his son and heir causes our raja great grief and has cast a gloom over the whole court. Nobody knows what to do about it."
"How very strange!" cried the princess, hardly letting the artist finish her story. "Can males then be faithful and females false? I, for one, always believed that males were false and faithless in all of nature. But now I see there are two sides even to that question. After all, I've observed only one instance and made up my mind too quickly. I'll have to rethink the whole question."
"Oh, I'm glad to hear you say so, my princess," said the artist, obviously delighted by this turn, "but how I wish our good prince too would see his mistake as you do yours. But you are not stubborn as he is."
"Someone should point it out to him, I think," said the princess, "and perhaps, like me, he might change his mind. As I have benefited from an incident in his life, he might profit from one in mine. Please feel free to tell him about my case and see whether it will change his mind."
"Surely I shall, with the greatest pleasure, as soon as I get home," replied the artist, her heart fluttering with joy at this unexpected success.
From that day on, through word of mouth, everyone in the kingdom came to know that the princess had conquered her aversion to marriage and was once again open to offers, and suitors began to crowd the capital. But the princess refused their attentions and seemed displeased with all of them---for a new reason. Her chief pleasure was in looking at the pictures the artist had painted on her new walls and talking to her endlessly about the prince, in whom she had become greatly interested.
The minister's daughter knew what to do. She fanned the flames by telling the princess all sorts of vivid stories about the prince's manliness and virtues. She did it so thoroughly that the princess one day could no longer contain herself and wanted very much to see him. This was the very thing the minister's daughter had hoped for. She readily promised the princess that she would return to her own country and do everything she could to bring the prince back. She would tell him the princess's story and make him eager to see her and talk to her.
Great was the joy of the old prime minister, her father, and the young prince when the minister's daughter returned home and told them everything she had accomplished. The old man hugged her and called her the savior of his life. The young prince loaded her with gifts. The prince didn't waste a day in preparing for his journey. He set out with a grand cavalcade and a magnificent train of followers for the court of the princess's father, and we needn't tell you that the princess accepted him right away as a worthy suitor. The wealth of two kingdoms was poured into the splendor of a gala wedding.
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