The girl who wasn’t a princess

This story happened nearly three thousand years ago, when words had different meanings to what they have today.

There was a girl who was not a princess, but she nearly was. You see her father was a king, but that was not enough to make his daughter a princess. In those days a king was just a tribal leader who led the tribe in battles. Instead of having a wife these leaders could have up to two hundred ladies who would mother their children; in turn this meant that one of these old fashioned kings could have many hundreds of sons and daughters. There was nothing special about being a king’s daughter. For instance, if everyone else in your school is also a daughter or son of the same king then everyone at your school would be at least your half-brother or half-sister and they could all claim to be princes or princesses, you would not be particularly special. With one father and all these mothers we can only guess at what it meant to get married or be a wife or husband.

The tribe lived in a city or fortified town, but the members of the tribe lived all around the city so that they could farm and grow food for the tribe. While the king and his best warriors lived in the fortress all the rest of the tribe had to go out and work to produce the food, clothes and weapons that were needed. Even the king’s children lived on farms and had to work as hard as anyone else.

For some reason, that we are not told, the poor girl ended up a slave to the neighbouring enemies. She had to work for the wife (or partner) of the greatest warrior of the next kingdom. We can call her a slave because she was not paid for her work and she had no choices to do anything else. It is thought that the enemies from the next kingdom wanted some more food (or slaves) so they just raided the farm where the girl lived. Her father would have been annoyed, but would not have made any effort to rescue one of his many daughters and her mother. Although she was now a slave She would have been given enough food and clothes to be comfortable but never paid any money. Then, who needs money when there are no shops? Shops had not been invented at that time.

Now as the young girl was hard-working and honest her mistress took a great liking to her and treated her very kindly, just like one of her own daughters. The girl slept with her mistress and even ate the same food. She hardly ever saw her master as he was usually away with the high king or fighting battles.

One day the girl heard to her surprise that her master had come home to stay, he had a disease called leprosy and he had to live alone (near his home) so that no one else could catch the disease from him. As her master could no longer fight in battles he was no longer in favour at the court and he no longer earned any money or goods, so the house hold became poorer and poorer. The young girl often saw her master, lonely in the distance waiting for someone to bring him some food or clean clothes (which they had to leave outside his tent without going in or getting too close to the sick man. Sometime the young girl was asked to leave his food at a safe distance so he could come out and collect it. Although she had never met her master up close she became very sorry for him. She told her mistress that back in her old country there was a man of God who could heal people who had leprosy; perhaps he could heal her master?

Her mistress, who loved her husband, thought that this was a good thing to try so she told her husband what the girl had said. In turn the man sent messengers to his High King asking permission to visit the girl’s country and to get healed there. The High King also thought this was a good idea as he wanted his best warrior back and fit for battle, so he sent his warrior off to the girl’s old country loaded with gifts to pay for the healing from leprosy. The king of that country (the girl’s real father) thought that this was a trick to start a war, how could anyone cure some one of leprosy? That was impossible! But what could he say to this mighty warrior who was demanding the impossible? The king's servants told him to stop worrying, there was indeed a man of God who was supposed to be able to heal sick people, if they sent the warrior to this man then he might be healed, if not they could blame the man of God for failing.

The warrior with leprosy wasted no time in going off to find the man of God. He pulled up outside the house where the man of God lived with all his horses loaded with gifts. To his surprise, the man of God didn’t bother to come out to see him, he just sent out a servant who told the warrior to wash himself in the local river seven times and then he would be healed. The warrior was angry, the local river was quite dirty, why couldn’t he clean himself in a clean river? But his servants calmed him down. “Look, if this man asked you to kill a dragon to be healed then you would look for a dragon and try to kill it, wouldn’t you?” “All the man of god has asked you to do is an easy and safe thing; why not give it a try?” The warrior could see the sense of this so he humbled himself and did what he was told. And sure enough, the water might have been dirty, but it cleaned up his disease and he was cured again; this meant that he could live with his family and go out to war again. The warrior was so pleased that he went back to give the man of God all the presents, but again the man of god didn’t bother to come out from his house. He sent his servant out to say that as God had healed the warrior, then the warrior should be grateful to God not to the man who just told him what to do. The warrior was very impressed by this honesty and he loaded bags of dirt onto his donkey, so that when he got back home he could always worship God on the soil from God’s favourite country.

You might think that the slave girl was at least thanked for her good advice that allowed her master to be healed; but she wasn’t, in fact her contribution was forgotten in all the excitement of her master’s return in such good health. A year later her master saw that she was growing up healthy and strong (she had just turned fourteen) and he asked who she was? When he was told that he was his wife’s slave girl he thought that he would give the girl as a wife to one of his trusty officers, who was getting old and lonely and had retired from active fighting. The poor girl had no say in the matter and in a matter of a few weeks she was the wife of this elderly man. It turned out, that even though he had been a fierce warrior he was really a kindly soul at heart and he loved his new wife deeply. He was always kind and gentle to her and really spoiled her by giving her every thing she asked for. He had been badly wounded after fighting in many battles and the girl felt very sorry for him and comforted him as best she could. After a time she grew to love him dearly because his kindness.

About six years later the girl’s elderly husband died of his wounds, but he died happily knowing that he had a loving wife. The husband left his wife well provided for; this means that she had a house and plenty of money to keep her home and have food on her table. After mourning for her husband, she was still quite young, so she married again. This time she was able to choose a nice young man and they raised a happy family.

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