The daughter who lived in God’s garden often wondered who lived outside the garden and what did these people do? One day, she felt that she wanted to be beautiful princess. But she didn’t know what a princess was! She asked her parents “What is a princess?” They were not very sure, but they thought a princess was a young lady who lived in a special home called a palace.
That night she asked God, “What is a princess?” God answered, that a princess was a young lady who was preparing to guide and help people, so that when she became a queen she could rule over them wisely and well.
Unfortunately the daughter didn’t know what a queen was, so she asked her parents “What is a queen?” Again her parents were not quite sure, they were fairly sure that a queen also lived in a palace and was married to a king, who was also a ruler. This led the daughter to ask another question, “What is a ruler?” The parents answered that they thought a ruler was a person who led other people along straight paths in life.
That night the daughter discussed the matter with God. She asked God to explain what a ruler was. “Ah”, said God, “I have made your family rulers over all the plants and animals”. “Does that mean that I am a beautiful princess?” asked the daughter. “It certainly does” replied God “You are beautiful in my sight and you are the daughter of the people who rule over the plants and animals who live in this garden.” Somehow this answer didn’t quite satisfy the young lady, she rather thought it would be better if other people told her she was beautiful and these people did the straight things she told them. As she started to think in this selfish manner the voice of God faded away. And so she started to want to be what she was not.
The next morning the young lady woke up still obsessed with the idea of being a real princess. Somehow God’s description of a princess just didn’t seem real enough. Somehow drifting around the garden and tending and caring for animals, no longer seemed very interesting. She went to her parents and told them that she wanted to leave the garden and look outside for a palace so that she could be a real princess. In those days the world outside the garden was still considered to be a safe place so her parents were quite happy to let her go.
It took her three days to reach the edge of the garden. She walked each day and found her food growing on the trees, bushes and shrubs as she went. After each day of walking she was tired, so every night and she lay down to sleep, but she left no time for talking or listening to God.
On the morning of the fourth day, she reached a wide road that ran around the edge of the garden. She waited by this road and presently people started to pass by, most were walking, but some were sitting on the backs of horses; as she had never seen this happen before she thought this rather strange. She was also impressed by the fine clothes the people were wearing. Fortunately for her, language was still quite young in those days and she had no difficulty in understanding what the people were saying.
The passers by looked curiously at the young lady from the garden and quietly discussed her amongst themselves. Yes, she is beautiful they said, but she seems to be dressed in plants. How odd she looks with her grass skirt and leafy top; not like us at all. We have our fine furs and skins to keep us warm and threads to makes us look good. She keeps asking us the way to the palace and as we are going that way we will let her join us. She seems harmless enough.
The girl joined the other travellers and walked along the wide road. As she became hungry, she found it harder to find food on the plants at the roadside, but she managed to keep going without too much trouble. While she was very interested in her new companions she found that they were happy to just walk along without bothering to talk to her. She also noticed that in this new busy world they walked as far as they could each day and then grabbed a quick meal before lying down at the roadside to fall fast asleep. Although she had never been with so many people before she felt quite lonely.
Two days later travellers reached a large stone building that stood out on the top of a hill, the girl had never seen anything quite so grand. Her new friends told her it was the palace and asked her what she was going to do now she had reached the palace. She replied that she was going to live there as a princess. Her friends thought that this was rather odd and told her that she would never be allowed past the guards and into the palace unless she could make herself useful. The girl had never realised that living in a palace could be so difficult, so she asked for advice on how she might get inside. Her friends suggested that she could make herself useful by helping in the kitchen, she wouldn’t be a princess but she would at least be living in the palace. The idea of a kitchen was new to the girl as she had always found her food ripe and waiting for her on the grasses, bushes and trees in the garden. If helping in the kitchen was the only way into the palace, then she was ready to help in the kitchen. After all, she knew that helping people was part of being a princess.
The girl walked up to the guards at the gate and looked at them in awe. Why do they stand there holding sharp pointy things all the time? She wondered. For their part the guards were also puzzled by this strange girl, she looked nice enough, but she was barely dressed properly. What could she be about? The girl felt very shy and decided that it might not be a good idea to tell the guards that she had come to be a princess. As she wasn’t in the habit of lying, she told the guards quite honestly that she had come to help in the kitchen. Oh thought the guards, that explains it then, we know the palace is short of servants in the kitchen so we had better let her in.
Once inside the palace the girl was bustled down the corridor to the busy kitchen. She couldn’t help wondering why everybody seemed to be so busy and yet they were miserable. When she entered the kitchen, she got (the first) shock of her life. There were large fires burning with people busily chopping up pieces of wood to feed these fires. On top of the fires were large containers called pots full of boiling water and plants. As she had always eaten raw food her stomach felt sick at the sight of the boiling mess. But worse was to come; over on the bench was a pile of dead animals and these were being cut up to make smaller piles of red greasy meat and bones which were to be burned over the fires. The poor girl had never seen a dead animal before, let alone seen a body chopped up into small pieces; she thought that she would faint but her desire to be a princess was still strong so she survived to become a scullery maid. She spent all her time cleaning greasy pots and pans and never had a chance to rest until the end of the day.
Like the travellers on the road she fell into her bed under the stairs much to tired to stop and talk with God. As she fell asleep she dreamed of returning back to the garden, but she remained stubborn; she had come all this way to be a princess and a princess she wanted to be! Her other problem was what was she going to eat? She could never bring herself to eat the meat from the animals that she had loved. So she had to eat cooked plants, just to stay alive. While she could not hear God, as she fell asleep each night she was still asking God to show her how to solve her problems.
A week after the young lady had been working in the kitchen, the king’s son (yes the prince) happened to see her as she slipped from her bed under the stairs and ran into the kitchen to start her days work. What the prince was doing wandering the corridors of the palace so early in the morning we do not know; but we can honestly say that he was smitten after once glimpse of our beautiful princess; yes she really was beautiful. Now the prince was not just very handsome, but he was also very gentle and patient. While he wanted so badly to make our lovely young lady his princess he knew that he would need to woo her gently and teach her the refined manners and skills that she would need one day to be the queen.
With this in mind he asked the cook to see that the young lady learned how to cook a good meal, as well as how to set the meal table and serve the food. If she understood these arts thoroughly then he reasoned that she would be able to sit at the highest place at banquet table and not disgrace herself by displaying bad manners. With her simplicity, she would be able to eat wisely knowing which foods were good and healthy and which rich sweet foods should be eaten only in small amounts.
After this the prince asked the seamstress to make elegant but simple dresses that modestly showed the girls natural beauty, without artificial make up or gaudy colours. With these simple but charming clothes the girl was encouraged to walk and talk with modesty so that she was seen to be humble and thoughtful. These are very necessary attitudes for kings, queens, princes and princesses. It might be thought that the other servants would be jealous, but not a bit, they were thrilled that one of there own had been chosen for such high honours and they looked forward to the day when she would rule over them. Because she was gentle and kind she was universally loved and admired.
As the months went by the young ‘princess to be’ grew in grace and favour with the court. Finally there came a great day when the girl was invited to dine with the King and Queen at their great banqueting table. The prince directed that she be elegantly, but modestly, dressed and he came down stairs to personally guide his guest to her seat in the banqueting hall. Proudly he entered the hall and presented the beautiful young lady to his parents and announced for the first time that she was his bride to be. Oh! thought the girl in dismay, he hasn’t asked me yet! Still as a husband he promised to be kind and gentle; and he was so good looking. Then she thought of her own loving parents back in the garden and compared her family with families outside the garden in her kingdom to be. In the outside world, people die from accidents and disease and you never see anyone over the age of one hundred years. Does this mean that my children will all die young and how many children will I be expected to have in this country of death and disease? If I have ten children how can I love and care for them all, at the same time spending most of my time looking after my subjects?
More problems followed at the meal table. While she could eat the overcooked salty vegetables her stomach revolted at the thought of eating the flesh of a lamb; that had been cruelly killed just make nice food for others. Forcing this unpleasant food into her mouth with a pointy thing called a “fork” caused her acute misery. Yet through the meal she had to smile and pretend she was happy. Worse happened when the food made her thirsty and she took drink. The drink was strong wine, it tasted bitter and sweet at the same time and soon the poor girl had a raging headache and was so light headed she felt that if she stood up she would straightaway fall over again. At the same time she was expected to keep talking to the prince and his parents in a sensible and polite manner. But she just felt more and more tired and drowsy. Back in her old home garden she had never ever been sick and now she could feel aches and pains for the first time. Being a princess ‘to be’ was turning out to be a very horrible experience.
After the nightmare banquet she was expected to dance all evening with her beloved prince. For her this was just as bad as the banquet. While she had been taught all the social skills and graces, dancing was something that she never been very good at and besides her head still ached and she still felt sick and giddy. Fortunately by supper time she was excused and was at last able to go to bed. She no longer slept under the stairs so she went back to her new bedroom to try to sleep off her aches and pains.
Back in her bedroom she poured out all her doubts and troubles to God. Of course God heard her prayers but her own fevered mind was far too busy for her to hear God’s answers. Finally she rolled into bed, her face and pillow wet with tears. Then she heard a knock on the door and before she could answer an elderly man came into her bedroom. At least she thought he was an elderly man but in the darkness she couldn’t see him clearly. He told her to dress quickly and take his hand and go with him. Although she was upset and had never met this stranger before, she somehow felt that she could trust him. When she was ready she shyly held out her hand to the stranger and he took it in a warm and loving clasp. Strangely as she held his hand he seemed to become brighter and easier to see; while she noticed that her arm got darker in the gloom so that she could hardly see it.
The girl held tight to her trusty guide as they slipped out of the room and walked quite boldly down the corridor. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw her prince coming down the corridor on his way to bed. To great relief the prince politely said good night to her guide, but he didn’t seem to notice his beloved princess (to be) who was holding her guide’s hand on the other side of the corridor. The same thing happened at the doors of the palace, the guards snapped to attention and saluted the guide, but again they didn’t seem to notice the girl holding his hand. Off they went into the night walking further and further from the palace. The fresh night air soon cured the girl’s aches and pains and she was just so happy to be walking free; it was just like being back home in the garden. Better still, she knew she was going home.
Early in the morning the girl and her guide came to an inn, where they stopped to rest for the rest of the night. To her surprise, her guide seemed to be well known and they received a warm welcome despite the late hour. The girl was given a quiet bedroom where she slept until the middle of the next day. She awoke with the happy feeling that she was going home. After a good meal, mostly raw plants with no meat, they set off on the road again. Their journey was an easy walk and everyone they met greeted them and offered nice food and lodgings when were needed. No one seemed to notice that the girl was the missing princess, even though they met people who had been at the palace and had been asked to look out for her.
After they had walked for five days, the girl and the guide reached the garden where her parents lived. They were so pleased to see her return and listened with interest to her story about life in the world outside the garden. Back in the garden the girl was again able to hear and speak to God. Once she was home the girl thanked her guide from the bottom of her grateful heart. “You have been so kind and good to help me return home, you have been like an angel,” she said. “That is because I am an angel” said the elderly man; and then disappeared.