The Bad Temper of The Princess, Part 2

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After half an hour the King, with his crown pushed so snugly upon his head, and with a smile on his very flushed face, burst into the Queen’s drawing-room. He was holding a tangled lock of golden hair in one hand and a sheet of blue paper in the other.
”Darling, honey, what do you think happened? Here, handwritten by Princess Madge’s hand, are the happy words that drive away all our fears. You will marry, my dear, you will marry. And listen: she cares not what his rank, age, or condition may be—he must be a contented man, that’s all. Oh, what a child, what a child! ”
“Oh, Rodolfo, my love, is it true? Why, why, am I so happy! Is it really true? Give me my fan. Yes, thanks. Admire me, my dear; a little faster. It took a breath away. Just to think of it, I will now go at once and issue a royal decree summoning every contented man in this kingdom and in all neighboring kingdoms to a great feast here in the palace. After the feast we shall have a trial, and Princess Madge is the judge.”
The king rushed away, the pages waiting outside the door trying in vain to catch the end of his trembling robe.
The next day a procession of preachers set out from the gates of the palace with posters hung in the market of each village for patrols around. These were the words in blue letters on a gold ground:

Hoo you! Listen! Hoo you!

On the 23rd of the current month, every contented man throughout the universe is summoned to King Rodolfo’s court for a feast and trial at the hands of Princess Madge. Who among you all will be quite satisfied shall have the princess’s hand in marriage, with half of the kingdom. Each man will be judged by the princess herself. Every man who falls short and does not stand the test will never enter the court of King Rodolfo.

My hand + my seal +.
rodolfo, rex.

The day has dawned, resplendent and glorious. How contented men were scrambling, grimacing, and scolding each other as they streamed through the palace gates! They all gathered together in the banquet-hall, where a splendid feast was spread–roast ox with wild boar, mutton, turkey, and peacock, a hundred kinds of fruits, and fifty kinds of ice water; But as a dinner party it was not a success. The conversation was dull, each man staring at his neighbour, and all seemed eager to end the feast and begin the trial.
It was finally over, and five hundred and fifty contented men gathered in the royal court hall. The king and queen were sitting on their thrones, but the princess was nowhere to be seen. There was a moment of breathless waiting–then suddenly a door opened on the side of the courtroom and Princess Madge entered, carrying Willow the kitten, followed by her porters and maids of honour. She was dressed in a gorgeous white-and-gold front-front gown, behind which frothy trains of sea-green foam hung far from her shoulders. Slowly, majestically, she walked across the room, and came to a stop before a table on which lay her golden hammer. A quick flick of the hammer silenced the small hum that appeared at its entrance. The King looked at the Queen, and they both smiled proudly at their proud daughter. The princess clicked again and began:
“Princes, barons, esteemed, commons of this realm and our neighboring kingdoms, I beg to welcome you. I have come to sue for my hand and my fortune. I know very well, noble men, that if I asked, you would be glad to give me a fine proof of your valor and good–but I ask you not to Taking risks and making no sacrifices. I would only like to know if I could find in any of you the secret of courage and true happiness-contentment. Now let every man of you satisfied, fully satisfied, rise. Remember, there are no degrees in contentment; it is absolute.”
The black-robed crowd grew up—some eagerly, some impatiently, some scornfully, some a few slowly and measuredly—but they all stood and waited in perfect silence.
“When I put the question to the test, if there be any who cannot answer it, let him go quietly out the far door and never show his discontented face again in this court. You say you are content—happy, unselfish, and satisfied with what God has given you. Answer me.” Upon this, why then, stumbling and jostling each other? Why would you want to marry one-at least, a princess who has half the riches of a great kingdom as a dowry, to spoil your happiness, greedy fortune-hunters, you call that contentment?
The contented men stood for a moment in a puzzled silence, then turned, one and all, and slowly walked out of the room. When the door closed to the last of the disappointed suitors, the princess picked up her lovely cat, and, turning to her father and mother, said:
“Would you let me marry one of these? Why, they are not half as satisfied as the common everyday pussycat. Bye!” And she laughed merrily, threw a kiss on the astonished King and Queen, and ran out of the room.

Princess Madge enters

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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