The Prince, like any other prince, was charming and handsome. All the women wanted to be his bride, including Hildegarde. Living near in the hearth of the forest, Miss Hildegarde, as the other forest people would call her, was known for her eccentricities and open thinking. She adored the animals, plants and the sun and moon. She resembled a living mother nature.
The Prince, however, desired a woman with long golden hair, slim hips and a quiet tongue. When Hildegarde first met the Prince, she wore her favorite brown dress, placed flowers in her hair and she spoke up to make herself known.
“Kind sir,” her wiry voice belted. And though he must have heard her speak, he kept his chin high and his eyes forward. The parade, leading him to the ball to select a wife, kept moving, leaving Hildegarde behind.
She stood in the crowd well until after the parade had finished. The music of the ball resounded into the streets until the sun had set. Orange and purple hues fell over the small kingdom, and the women left outside were saddened to know their Prince would soon marry another woman.
Hildegarde didn’t feel sad, however. She had an idea.
The Prince, the morning after, announced his plan to wed the beautiful Cordelia, daughter of a duke from a distant kingdom.
Hildegarde, cunning and careful, slipped into the Duke’s home and severed Cordelia’s hand from her arm. And she left a note.
How shall you take the hand of a fair maiden if her hand is no longer?
The Prince, being a proud man, was nto affected by this lapse. Instead, he announced that he was instead going to marry Matilda. Once more, though the Prince increased security, Hildegarde severed the arm of the new bride-to-be.
This happened twice more.
The Prince, starting to question his staff, had all but four people sent away. The castle doors closed and the kingdom fell dark. The Prince remained inside most days, even when the sun braved the sky.
Then, one day, Hildegarde decided to give the Prince another chance. She approached the steps of the castle with a basket of pears so heavy she nearly dropped it.
“Go away!” the Prince yelled through the heavy door.
“I’ve brought a treat for the wary prince,” Hildegarde spoke sweetly. The Prince, carefully and with distrust, opened the door to see the basket. “This is for you,” Hildegarde smiled. “Something to brighten your day.”
“Thank you kind woman,” the Prince said as he took the basket quick and slammed the door. Hildegarde, knowing there was a great chance that the Prince would not change, had one final trick to present.
The Prince, sitting on his desolate throne, took a pear from the basket and brought it to his mouth. But as the sun peeked through the colored glass window above, the pear suddenly became a hand. And not just any hand. The hand of Cordelia. A hand that the Prince knew well.