True Beauty: A Fairy Tale

true cover

Copyright © 2013 R.G. Dole

Cover Illustrations by K.D. Bufford Photography

All rights reserved. No part of this story  may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the author.

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there lived a princess. Now this wasn’t a beautiful princess; in fact she was quite ugly. Yet, despite her unfortunate face she had a pure heart and not a kinder soul could be found. Sadly, though, her face was one not even a mother could love, and so the King and Queen banished her to the dark forest.

In this dark forest there lived a witch who was so feared that none dared to cross her territory. But the Princess was alone with no hope in the world and so she braved the trip and found herself knocking at the witch’s door. The witch opened the door and seeing such an ugly sight cackled as she beckoned the girl to enter.

“Let me guess, you want a potion to make you beautiful.”

“No, wise woman, I wish only for someone to love me as I am.”

The witch, who had been prepared to turn her into a beautiful flower just for a laugh, suddenly grew thoughtful. She could not make a love potion for this wish but thought perhaps there might be another way.

“Come back to me tomorrow and I’ll see what I can do.”

So the Princess went away and hid in the forest. It was indeed a fearsome place but the hope that the witch could help her got her through the night. The first rays of dawn found her at the witch’s door once more where the old lady beckoned her in.

“Oh, wise woman, have you found me a way?”

“If you wish for someone to love you as you are you’ll have to go into the dark forest.”

“How will I know where to go?”

The witch called over a furry little mutt that was much too small to protect itself in the forest.

“This dog will show you the way.”

And so the Princess followed the small dog as it scurried its way deep into the forest. By the time she caught up with it, the dog was growling at a creature that looked like it hadn’t been put together quite right. Even in its’ strange form, there was a sadness in it and a rough panting that made the Princess take pity. She was quick to realize that the animal was starving and so quickly found it some food in the forest and fed it until it was full. Just as the animal was giving a sigh of contentment, it began to transform into a handsome man.

“Thank you, young maiden, I had been cursed as a weak creature but your sympathy set me free. How can I ever repay you?”

“Sir, I ask only that you love me as I am.”

“I’m sorry, I can see you have a pure heart but I could never love a face such as yours.”

“Then I want nothing from you.”

And so the man went on his way and the Princess returned to the witch.

“I did as you told me but the man I found would not love me as I am.”

“Then you must go deeper into the forest. The dog will show you the way.”

As before, the dog ran ahead leaving the Princess to find the mutt whining in fear at a horrendous monster. The monster had long claws to scratch and sharp teeth to bite and its howl could freeze your blood. All the Princess could see, though, were the gashes and the blood and realized the monster was trapped in the vines and thorns and must surely be in a great deal of pain. The Princess pulled a dagger from her sash and began to hack away at the thorns and vines while avoiding the claws and teeth that reached for her. As soon as the monster was free it lunged at the Princess, but just as it was about to devour her, a bright light shown and the monster disappeared. Where it had been a handsome man now stood.

“Thank you, young maiden, I had been cursed as the monster but your kindness set me free. How can I ever repay you?”

“Sir, I ask only that you love me as I am.”

“I’m sorry, I can see you have a pure heart but I could never love a face such as yours.”

“Then I want nothing from you.”

And so the man went on his way and the Princess returned to the witch.

“I did as you told me but once more the man I found would not love me as I am.”

“Princess, perhaps you should ask for beauty instead.”

“No. I am who I am and I find nothing wrong when I look in the mirror. If I must go deeper into the forest then I shall but I will not change who I am for love.”

“Then, Princess, you must go deep into the heart of the dark forest.”

The dog led the Princess deeper and deeper into the dark forest until they came upon a horrible sight. A helpless animal was tied to a stake while some dark creature danced around stabbing at it and torturing the poor little animal. The squeals of pain tore at the Princess’ heart bringing her to once more pull the dagger from her sash. As she did so, she snuck up behind the dark creature and slit its’ throat. As the dark creature’s blood fell upon the animal, a puff of smoke arose and the animal vanished, replaced by a handsome man.

“Thank you, young maiden, the creature had changed me into a pig for sport but your bravery set me free. How can I ever repay you?”

“Sir, I ask only that you love me as I am.”

“I’m sorry, I can see you have a pure heart but I could never love a face such as yours.”

“Then I want nothing from you.”

And so the man went on his way and the Princess began her journey back to the witch.

The Princess followed the dog all day and all night through the forest and as the first rays of light began to seep through the foliage a terrible roar was heard as a wild creature came charging forth. The poor dog trembled in fear and though the Princess knew her dagger would not be enough she jumped in front of the dog, ready to protect the innocent mutt. Just as she was sure her end was near a mighty sword flashed around her and cut the wild beast down. The Princess spun to see that there was no longer a small dog behind her but a fierce prince.

“Thank you, my lord, for saving me. How may I ever repay you?”

“Princess, I was cursed to be a dog until I could find true beauty in this world instead of living the shallow life I had led. I first saw you show sympathy to a weak creature because you saw it was hungry and when the man would not love you, you still stayed strong and ventured further into the forest. Then you showed kindness to a monster because you saw it was in pain, and as you met with the same response, you were offered a chance for what they might have loved. Yet, you wouldn’t change your looks because you accept yourself as you are. You chose instead to venture into the heart of the forest, where I saw your cunning to save an injured animal from a cruel demon but that man too would not love you. After all that, you remained pure of heart and when you thought I was in danger you risked your life to save a mere mutt. You, Princess, are the most beautiful of people. Would you do me the honor of being my wife?”

The radiance of the smile that crossed the Princess’ face and the joy that shown in her eyes, that day, would leave no one doubting that she was in fact the most beautiful of people, for her true beauty was within and the true love of a man showed it to the world. And so he took her out of the dark forest and to his kingdom where they wed and lived happily ever after.

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