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This Weeks Featured Children's Story
 
In this section we specially feature one of our many children's stories each week.
 
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The Gift - A Traditional Fairytale
 
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Children's Story: The Gift - A Traditional Fairytale by Elizabeth Solomon
 
Chapter one.
 
Once upon a time, in the far off land of Gondah our story begins.
Young King Oran and his lovely young wife Queen Sheyla are running through the woods.
They are not running because they are afraid or because they are running away from something, they are running because they are playing and having fun.
Now it may sound strange that a King and a Queen would busy themselves with this kind of activity but of course everyone loves to play at times and young Kings and Queens are no different to anyone else in this regard.
 
Children's Story: The Gift - A Traditional Fairytale by Elizabeth Solomon
 
King Oran and Queen Sheyla had been married for about a year and were deeply in love with each other. On this particular day they had decided to take a walk in the lovely woods which lay just behind the castle.
At first they just walked and talked but soon they became playful and began to chase each other.
First Oran chased Sheyla and when he caught her he tickled her and made her laugh.
Then Sheyla would chase Oran.
As they ran and laughed they did not notice how here a flower or sapling (young tree) got trampled or there, a baby bird fell from its nest as they knocked against a tree.
As they ran they did not notice anything they were doing.
Finally the two ran into a clearing in the middle of the wood and collapsed giggling and exhausted to the ground.
Once again they did not notice that they had run through a beautiful fairy ring of mushrooms and that the place where Sheyla sat was in fact on top of a rather ominous (scary, alarming, threatening, sinister)looking red and white toadstool.
 
Children's Story: The Gift - A Traditional Fairytale by Elizabeth Solomon
 
Unfortunately this was no ordinary toadstool.
This was the magical home of Agootha the most powerful and bad tempered witch in the land.
Agootha was over two hundred years old and for at least one hundred of these years she had chosen to live alone in the woods, away from what she called the foolishness of men, (which of course included women too).
Unfortunately, living alone for such long time had only served to harden her heart even further against people.
 
On this day, Agootha had just returned from picking berries for her supper.
As she walked through the woods she noticed the trampled plants and broken saplings.
She stopped to put fallen baby birds back into their nests and she muttered to herself. She wondered at one point if a wild buffalo had come charging through the woods to cause this.
As Agootha walked into the clearing in the wood she was just in time to see how the young King's big foot trampled on the fairy ring, but even worse, how Queen Sheyla had sat right on top of her toadstool home, crushing it.
 
Agootha realised at once that the damage in the forest that day had not been caused by a wild buffalo at all but had indeed been caused by them.
Now Agootha did not care much for people but she did love the woods and the thought of it coming to even a small harm, caused her to fly into a terrible rage.
"You silly, selfish, nincompoops (foolish and stupid people)" she screeched "I was particularly fond of that home. I vow this will not go unpunished".
 
The young King and Queen were surprised and confused.
They were good people at heart and were just having a bit of fun.
They had meant no harm.
 
"We are very sorry" said Queen Sheyla in a small voice "but how can the toadstool be your home" she stammered, "it is far too small."
"A witch can be any size she chooses" snapped the angry witch. "It is not just my home you have destroyed," she yelled pointing to the ring of little mushrooms that lay flattened "you have also ruined the homes of the fairy folk who tend to the flowers and animals around here".
 
King Oran and Queen Sheyla clung to each other terrified as the witch cast an angry beady eye over them.
"Ah" exclaimed the witch, "I see there will be a child soon, a girl it seems, who is destined to be a great beauty".
At hearing this Queen Sheyla was surprised for she did not know she was going to have a child.
 
Agootha pulled out her wand and started to mutter strange words as she waved her magic wand mysteriously.
The King and Queen realised with horror that the bad tempered witch was beginning to cast a spell.
 
"Oh Zaladee ZaZee
Kalah Zaladack
make that which would be seen, unseen
make that which is fair appear foulest black"
 
With that the old witch grasped a beautiful tiny fairy hovering above a flower. The poor little fairy had not been taking notice of what was happening around her for she was busy helping a flower make nectar, when the witch grabbed her and enchanted her into the rest of her dreaded spell.
 
"Fairy beauty small and wise
Hide princess beauty from all eyes
With your power I now bind
Her beauty, let this charm disguise
Where beauty, one would once expect
Let eyes look on with dread - instead"?????
 
She wove the spell into a small green ball of light and threw it at the young Queen.
"A gift" Agootha cackled nastily "from me to the new princess" and with that she disappeared.
 
Chapter two.
 
The shocked and broken hearted King and Queen returned home.
They realised that the witches curse was going to affect their daughter, who was yet to be born.
They understood that this meant that one day when people looked at their child instead of seeing a sweet, lovely face, they would see something ugly and dreadful instead.
 
In the months that followed they summoned (sent for) all the wise and magical people in their Kingdom to help them lift the curse.
Each person they spoke to would just sadly shake their head.
 
Finally they travelled far and sought the help of the great wizard Greyfin, thought by many to be one the most powerful wizards of all time.
If anyone could help them it would surely be him.
The wizard Greyfin listened to their story and then carefully examined the
Queen.
Finally he was ready to give his verdict (what he thought or his opinion, or conclusion about the matter)
"Agootha," he told them, "was indeed a very powerful witch and her spell
was binding and could not be broken.
Agootha had used strong earth magic and the damage done to the forest that day, even though it was not intended or done on purpose, was enough to ensure that the spell remained fixed."
 
At the sight of the young King and Queens unhappy faces the old wizard tried to comfort them.
"There is magic stronger than the spell" he told them "You carry that magic in you and it is up to you to use it, it is the magic of love".
The wizard Greyfin gently took Queen Sheyla's hand into his own and explained to her how love would always be the strongest magic in the universe.
"How will that help us?" asked Queen Sheyla hopefully.
 
Wizard Greyfins face wrinkled up kindly.
"Agootha's magic cannot change what truly is, because truth is also a more powerful magic." Greyfin explained to the King and Queen that Agootha's spell would cause an illusion and an illusion could make the truth look like something else.
"An illusion of ugliness will cover the way your daughter really looks and disguise it" he explained. "The spell cannot take away the beauty that is really there, it can only cover it with a picture or illusion of ugliness." he tried to explain in a way they would understand.
"But, because love is the most powerful force in the universe, anyone who loves the little princess with a true heart will be able to see beyond the false enchantment and will be able to see her as she truly is".
 
Feeling a bit more comforted than before, King Oran and Queen Sheyla returned home for their little daughter would be born soon.
They were determined to make their child's world as safe and as happy as they possibly could.
 
Chapter three.
 
Finally the little princess was born and as the King and Queen gazed upon her little face they thought that they had never seen a more beautiful baby.
Nanny Bridgett, the nurse who was going to help look after the baby, came bustling into the room.
She was a large, good natured woman with a heart full of love.
Nanny believed all children were gifts from heaven and she loved them all.
She gathered the tiny baby girl in her big arms and her broad, cheerful face went pink with happiness.
Nanny announced that the baby was as lovely as a little flower.
The King and Queen were overjoyed for it seemed that maybe the spell had failed to work.
They decided to name the little princess, Leyalee, which meant gift of flowers in Gondahlese.
 
At that moment a lady in waiting came in with a tray of herbal tea and cream and jam scones for the King and Queen.
When she saw baby Leyalee her face went very white, she gave a little gasp, dropped the tray and ran out of the room.
With heavy hearts the King and Queen realised that the spell was indeed working.
From that moment on, the King and Queen became very careful about who would be
allowed to see the little princess.
 
Children's Story: The Gift - A Traditional Fairytale by Elizabeth Solomon
 
Chapter Four.
 
As Leyalee grew the King and Queen kept her in the castle surrounded by the people that knew and loved her like Nanny Bridgett and Cook Jenny and some of the more loving castle maids.
 
The King and Queen were concerned that Leyalee would be lonely but there were many children around the castle. A lot of the people who lived and worked at the castle had children who lived with them too.
 
Children love to explore and are always looking for other children to play with so it was not long before they found Leyalee.
In some cases when the children saw Leyalee for the first time, they would just stare, but before long a game would begin and soon they would be happily playing as friends.
The King and Queen were very delighted to see this and believed that young children's hearts are sometimes more loving and true than some grownups and that was why it was easier for them to see Leyalee as she really was.
 
Because of this, Leyalee had many friends that she loved to play with.
There was Libby who was Cook Jenny's little girl and she loved playing dolls with her. There was Carla the candle makers daughter who always brought her lovely warm toffee that her mom had made; there was also Arthur, Lanny, Chrissy and Johnny and many, many, others.
But her best friend, her very best friend, the one she loved the most, was Timmy the stable boy.
Timmy's mother had died and he came to live with his father the groomsman, who looked after the kings horses.
Timmy was only 3 years old when he first arrived at the castle and that was just about the time Leyalee was born.
Sadly Timmy's father died too when he was 7 years old leaving him an orphan.
He stayed on working in the stables and was loved and cared for by Nanny Bridgett and Cook Jenny.
From the time Leyalee could talk, she and Timmy had been firm friends.
King Oran had noticed early on that Timmy had never reacted badly towards Leyalee and he took that as a good sign.
 
When Leyalee was about 7 years old, King Oran hired Professor von Klank to come and teach her and all the other children in the castle.
Professor von Klank was a no nonsense sort of person who did not much care what children looked like and was only interested in how hard they worked at their studies.
While not all the children were happy about having to go to school, Leyalee and Timmy both proved to be excellent pupils.
Leyalee loved to read and learn new things. She particularly liked hearing about exciting faraway places where people spoke different languages and wore different clothes. Leyalee longed to leave the castle and explore the world.
 
Chapter five.
 
All in all Leyalee's childhood was not an unhappy one.
There were many things to keep her busy.
For example, Leyalee loved animals and had many different pets to play with
and look after.
She did her lessons with Professor von Klank, played with her friends and
sometimes, just as all children do, she would also get up to mischief.
Sadly though, the special holidays and festivals that her friends loved so much were never much fun for Leyalee.
She was always hidden away from sight as the others went to parties or took part
in the plays and pantomimes on the streets of Gondah.
 
Even though the King and Queen did everything they could to try keep Leyalee hidden from the outside world, occasionally a stranger would catch sight of her and would recoil (pull back) in horror.
This would always make the little princess feel terribly hurt.
This together with the fact that she was never allowed to leave the castle walls, sometimes made her feel unhappy.
It was at these times that she would go and find Timmy and he would find a special way to make her smile again.
 
On one of these days when she felt sad, Timmy smuggled Leyalee out of the castle to go and play with him in the woods behind the castle.
He covered her in a cloak with a big hood so that no one would know that it was the princess leaving the castle with him.
Timmy could not understand why Leyalee was not allowed to leave the castle and so did not think he was doing anything really wrong.
 
Leyalee loved the woods with all the trees and flowers.
She watched a wild boar family running through the trees and a mother deer feeding her baby fawn.
She felt the sun on her shoulders and watched in fascination as some sun fairies went about their work of calling to the seedlings so that they would grow up through the soil towards the light.
Now, it is a known fact that not everyone is able to see fairies.
Timmy stable boy for example could not.
Only some very lucky people are able to see fairies and in this regard
Leyalee, who had never seen a fairy before, suddenly found that she was very lucky indeed.
 
When Leyalee and Timmy finally got home, the King and Queen, who had found that they were missing, were anxious and angry.
They both got into terrible trouble that day.
After that Leyalee did not leave the castle but she held the memory of her day in the woods in her heart.
However, after that day Leyalee found that she was able to see fairies
everywhere, including the little house gnomes and so she spent many happy hours
watching them.
 
Often Lelyalee would climb to the highest tower of the castle where she could see the woods in the south and the beautiful hills and lake to the north.
She could also watch the village people going about their work and she dreamed of one day being free to join them.
 
One day when Layalee was about 12 years old, a giant ogre came to the kingdom. He was hairy and had big watery eyes with huge teeth protruding (sticking out) from his mighty lower jaw.
This was not the kind of ogre that spoke with an interesting accent and made
friends with donkeys and cats. No indeed this ogre roared!
He prowled (hunted) around holding an enormous club, looking for babies and small children to eat.
Of course King Oran immediately sent his best knights in their toughest armour to capture or chase the ogre away for ogres are not easy to kill.
But it seemed that the ogre easily evaded (avoided) capture and Knight after Knight got beaten down by the ogres superior (greater) strength.
 
Frightened families in the kingdom shivered behind the locked doors of their homes, forbidding their children to go outside.
One evening a little girl named Poppitt became worried when her cat, Whiskers, had not come home. She was worried that the ogre might catch Wiskers and she loved her cat very much.
Without her parents seeing she slipped out of the back door to see if she could find her. Before she knew what was happening she found herself being lifted up in the grip of a giant hairy hand. Poppitt screamed and screamed!
 
Children's Story: The Gift - A Traditional Fairytale by Elizabeth Solomon
 
From her bedroom Leyalee heard the scream.
She threw a cloak over her shoulders and ran to the castle wall and peered (looked) over.
Leyalee saw the ogre with the little girl not far from the castle wall and yelled with all her might at the ogre,
"I command you to let that little girl go immediately or you will be very, very sorry".
She did not know where her courage was coming from or what she could actually do but she knew she could not just stand by and do or say nothing.
The ogre looked up at Leyalee who was standing at a very well lit part of the castle wall and with his big eyes and good eyesight he could see her
perfectly.
Her face was contorted with anger and rage and it was the most terrifyingly ugly
face he had ever seen.
The ogre had to admit to himself that he had seen a lot of ugly before, not least when he caught his own reflection in water sometimes, but never
something like this.
It wasn't just that it was an unearthly (strange; not of this world) ugly, he
could also smell powerful magic around this small girl and magic is something that makes ogres very nervous.
After all, it could be used to change a big ogre like himself into a small
toad or frog who would then have to wait around until some pretty girl kissed him.
The ogre decided that she was probably a powerful witch who was best obeyed so he put down Poppitt and ran from the kingdom, never to be seen again.
King Oran proud and amazed at his daughter's courage had later joked that if all it took to make the ogre listen was to command him to do so, he would have tried that himself.
 
Chapter six.
 
Time passed and in the eyes of the people who loved her, the princess grew into a very beautiful young woman.
More important than just being beautiful, she was also kind and loving.
As she grew older the King and Queen began to worry.
Their daughter would one day have to rule the land.
It was already a problem that no one in the kingdom had ever seen her, there were dark rumours whispered throughout the land that the princess had been born a monster.
 
The King believed that Leyalee would be happier if she had a good husband who loved her and could help her with the task of one day ruling the kingdom. Unfortunately, he was painfully aware that most men would not stay around very long once they first saw Leyalee.
But he knew too that Leyalee had a very lovable nature and that anyone who
got to know her, could not help but love her.
She had won the hearts of everyone in the castle by this time and the King was hoping that if he could possible persuade potential suitors to wait around long enough they would get to know Leyalee, grow to love her quickly and thereby be able to see her in her true state.
 
A decree went out throughout the land that princes and noblemen from near and far off lands who would wish to seek Princess Leyalee's hand in marriage could call at the castle.
Gondah was a very rich and beautiful land so there was no shortage of suitors who came from far and wide in hopes of one day ruling the Kingdom.
The first most eligible young princes rode up to the castle but when they caught sight of Leyalee they made excuses and hastily (quickly) sped away.
The King tried to explain that it was only an enchantment and offered vast quantities of money to tempt potential suitors to wait around long enough to
get to know the princess.
In each case the end was the same. Before long the prince or nobleman would begin to shudder at the sight of Princess Leyalee and then they would leave. The experience was even worse for the poor princess who hated seeing shock and
revulsion (disgust) in the eyes of all these young men.
Princess Leyalee was about to give up, unable to face another rejection when a tall, handsome man rode up to the castle.
 
Chapter seven.
 
The suitor's name was Prince Buckthorn Snellen and he came from a far off Kingdom where his older brother ruled as king.
As he rode up, Leyalee peered at him from behind a curtain.
She noted his thick black wavy hair and strong jutting jaw.
He was certainly one of the most handsome men she had ever seen and from his manner and actions it appeared that he thought so too.
At first Leyalee did not want meet him for she could not bear to see the look of shock in his eyes.
Finally she agreed to do so and to her surprise he simply smiled and with a low sweeping bow expressed his great pleasure at meeting her.
Later he offered her his arm as they walked in the gardens of the castle. Leyalee could not believe her luck and she felt her heart flutter with excitement.
 
In the days that followed she walked and talked with prince Buckthorn and he brought her flowers and chocolate.
Princess Leyalee felt dizzy with joy and if Buckthorn spoke a bit too much about himself or gazed (looked or stared) lovingly at himself in the mirror, a trifle
(little bit) too often, she chose to ignore it. It was the first time she had ever been courted (dated) and she enjoyed the way it made her feel.
 
King Oran and Queen Sheyla felt a little uneasy about the match but Buckthorn never indicated (showed) that he saw any ugliness in Leyalee.
They thought that this must mean that he was very fond of their daughter and that was the most important consideration as far as they were concerned.
So when a few months had passed and he came to ask for their daughters hand in marriage they gave their consent (said yes).
 
Chapter eight.
 
Timmy stable boy watched unhappily from the stables.
He had loved Leyalee ever since he could remember but he could not tell her this because she was a princess and he was, well, just a stable boy.
He loved her not because she was a princess but because she was kind and funny and usually very wise and sensible, (although he did not think she was being
very sensible at the moment), and of course, because she was also the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
He watched Prince Buckthorn with great suspicion and wondered why Leyalee wanted to marry him.
"Maybe", Timmy thought, "it is because he is a prince and he is handsome".
Timmy had to wonder though if in the end this would be enough to keep her happy?
 
Late one evening, the day before Buckthorn and Leyalee were going to announce their betrothal (their engagement and wish to get married) to the Kingdom, Princesses Leyalee found herself feeling too excited and restless to go to sleep.
She had seen Buckthorn taking a walk in the gardens earlier and she decided to try to find him. As she roamed the gardens looking for him she heard voices and laughing coming from one of the garden sheds.
She peeped into the window and saw with shock that Prince Buckthorn was kissing pretty Maggy the castle maid.
Leyalee's cheeks went red and she let out a little scream.
 
Buckthorn saw her and came out.
Leyalee felt a sharp pain in her heart.
"How could you" she cried "we are to be married. How could you kiss another girl?"
Buckthorn felt angry and embarrassed at being caught out.
"You should just be grateful that I am prepared to be with one as ugly and hideous as you" he growled "no other man has had the stomach to stay and marry you".
Buckthorn, suddenly realising that he might lose the opportunity to finally rule his own kingdom, tried unsuccessfully to soothe Leyalee
"We must be sensible about this" he said pompously (feeling self important) "You need a husband and I need a Kingdom".
 
A short distance away Timmy had heard Leyalee's cry and had came running.
He was in time to hear everything that Buckthorn had said.
"Leave now" roared Timmy at Buckthorn with a strength he did not even know he had, "You are not worthy to be standing on the same ground as her".
 
Children's Story: The Gift - A Traditional Fairytale by Elizabeth Solomon
 
Leyalee ran into the castle and looked with a tear stained face into a mirror. She had been made aware of the spell from a very young age and although she never spent a lot of time in front of mirrors, she had never seen herself as ugly in the past. This time however, when she looked hard at herself, an ugly, monstrous face seemed to stare back at her and she cried out in horror "No wonder he can't love me".
 
Leyalee found her mother and father who by this time had heard what had happened.
The look on Leyalee's face told the King and Queen just how devastated (unhappy, destroyed, broken) she was feeling.
"I don't believe that this is a spell at all' Leyalee told her parents in a tight, cold little voice.
"I think it is just a story you made up to make me feel better because I was born so ugly".
With that she ran off out of the castle and out of the castle grounds.
 
King Oran's big shoulders began to shake and Queen Sheyla watched in dismay as her big, strong husband began to cry.
This was the first time she had ever seen him cry and now they clung to one another and cried together.
Of all the sorrow that Agootha's spell had caused in their daughters life, this was the worst and the saddest of all, for they knew that their beloved daughter could not truly see herself anymore.
They knew this meant that she had lost love and respect for herself and this they knew to be the most important love of all to have.
 
Later it was discovered that Leyalee had left the castle and the King and Queen now worried for her safety.
"I will find her" said Timmy Stable boy "and bring her back to you".
They trusted Timmy and so they agreed.
Timmy knew that Leyalee watched the lake from the castle towers and longed to go there.
He knew Leyalee well enough to know that is where she would go.
So he set out in the dark with the full moon high in the night sky.
 

Chapter nine.
 
Before long, Timmy found Leyalee sitting on the bank beside the lake.
She and the lake were bathed in gentle silver moonlight.
The moon reflecting off the calm waters made the whole lake look like a beautiful, mysterious, shining mirror.
 
"Do not come near me" Leyalee said sharply to Timmy as he started to approach her, "for I am ugly and wish to live in hiding here away from for the rest of the world".
 
Ignoring her command, Timmy sat down beside her and took her hand.
"If you are ugly" he told her, "then I do not understand what ugliness or beauty really is."
He went on speaking from his heart,
"For if you are indeed ugly my princess then there is no loveliness to be seen in that big full moon.
If you are ugly, then there is no loveliness to be found in the way the moon kisses the lake and turns her to silver.
If you truly are ugly then there is no beauty to be found anywhere in this world and all the beautiful things I see every day, like flowers and trees and sunshine do not exist.
For nothing I see is ever more beautiful to me - than you".
 
Timmy looked deeply into her eyes "Look at the lake" he said softly, "do you see ugliness there"?
Even in her despair Leyalee had to admit to herself that the lake in the moonlight was one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen.
"Now look into the lake" Timmy urged her "and see yourself as you truly are. Leyalee looked at her reflection in the lake and saw herself through Timmy's eyes and she saw that she looked beautiful beyond words.
She realised that earlier when she had looked in the mirror she had seen herself through Buckthorn's eyes and that is why she had seen herself as ugly.
She realised that it was now time to see herself through her own eyes.
She took a deep breath and looked again.
This time she smiled as her familiar lovely, gentle face looked back at her.
 
Overwhelmed with relief, Leyalee put her arms around Timmy's neck and began to cry.
She remembered how warm, happy and comfortable she felt whenever she was with him.
Now she wondered why she had wanted to marry Buckthorn in the first place, for she had never really loved him.
"Maybe" she confided to Timmy as they talked "I liked the idea of a prince who courted me with flowers and chocolate, more than I actually liked the prince
himself".
 
She knew in that moment that there was someone she did love and had always
loved... and that someone was Timmy stable boy.
Timmys heart sang with joy as he put his arms around his princess and gave her a long and loving kiss in the moonlight.
Together they returned to the castle. The sorrow of the earlier day forgotten and they both glowed with happiness.
 
Children's Story: The Gift - A Traditional Fairytale by Elizabeth Solomon
 
Chapter Ten.
 
King Oran was very pleased when Timmy returned his daughter safely.
He was also very pleased that Timmy had run the dastardly (nasty, mean, treacherous) Buckthorn off the castle lands.
But, when Timmy asked him for Leyalee's hand in marriage and Leyalee told her
father that Timmy was the only man she would ever truly love and marry, he became very grave.
 
"You must understand that you and your husband must one day rule the kingdom of
Gondah" the exasperated (angry; impatient) King explained to Leyalee,
"The people of the kingdom will want someone they can look up to and respect and the people might not accept a stable boy as their King.
 
Timmy and Leyalee were heartbroken and both the King and Queen felt very sad. They liked and admired Timmy very much and they appreciated the way he loved and cared for Leyalee but what could they do?
"In real life stable boys don't marry princesses, that only ever happens in fairy tales." The Queen told to her daughter.
 
King Oran thought about the problem for a very long time.
He knew that Leyalee would only ever be happy with Timmy.
He also knew that Timmy was a good and honourable young man and he had to find a solution to the problem.
He sat and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
'My people may not accept a stable boy as their king but they will accept a
noble knight' he thought.
With that he knew what he must do and he immediately sent for Timmy stable boy.
"How much do you love my daughter?" the king demanded to know.
"More than anything in the world" replied Timmy.
"Are you prepared to undergo hard work and maybe even great suffering in order to win her hand in marriage?" the King quizzed him.
Timmy assured the King that he would go to the ends of the earth if necessary.
"It is a good thing you say that" the King told Timmy "for I will be sending you on a quest (a long and difficult journey in search of something important), that may well take you to the ends of the earth".
 
Timmy did not know much about what it meant to be a knight and knew even less how to become one.
So the King explained
 
"In order to become a knight in the kingdom of Gondah you have to complete a quest in which you successfully accomplish three important tasks and bring back at least three talismans" (a talisman is an object that gives magical powers to somebody who carries or wears it).
 
The King then described the talismans as follows;
"In lands far away, there is a golden Crown of Wisdom and the one who wears it gains great knowledge and wisdom.
There is the shield of Justice that helps the bearer to protect the weak and make just and merciful decisions.
Hidden deep in the grotto of the mermaids and mermen there lays a mysterious talisman which grants its owner their truest heart's desires.
And lastly, there is the Sword of Courage. The hilt (handle) of this sword is thickly inlaid with precious jewels such as diamonds and rubies.
This sword can only be owned by someone with a heart that is brave and true".
 
"All these talismans would benefit the kingdom of Gondah in some way" said the King.
"Your quest is to bring back at least three of the four talismans I have spoken about." the King went on gravely.
"These tasks will be very difficult and there is no certainty that you
will be successful, but if you do succeed, I will knight you and give you my daughters hand in marriage".
 
And so Timmy set off on his quest.
He took his only horse named Blessing, his meagre life savings (very little money), some food and clothes.
Leyalee was sad to say goodbye to him but they both knew that it was their only chance to be together some day.
 

Chapter eleven.
 
Leyalee waited for Timmy for three long years, never knowing for sure if she would ever see him again but always carrying hope in her heart.
While she waited she decided to get to know the people of her kingdom better. Wearing a cape with a big hood and a veil to hide her face, she would go into the villages of Gondah helping the sick and the poor whenever she could.
This was the first taste of freedom for Leyalee and she learned to love her kingdom and its people.
For three long years she busied herself in this way while she waited for her beloved Timmy to return.
 
The years felt long for Timmy too, without his Leyalee, but in that time he had many strange and wonderful adventures. He saw and did amazing things and faced fearsome dangers - too many to speak of here - for that the subject of another story.
 
Children's Story: The Gift - A Traditional Fairytale by Elizabeth Solomon
 
At last, one evening in the spring, Leyalee saw the familiar, magnificent horse Blessing,tiredly walking up the path towards the castle.
On his steed, tall and strait rode her beloved Timmy.
He had been little more than a boy when he left Gondah.
Now the boy had returned as a man.
Leyalee could see the years of experiences reflected in his handsome young face and it gave him an air of strength and character.
As Leyalee watched him she thought her heart would burst with pride and joy.
 
Before he even got the chance to meet with Leyalee again, Timmy went to the throne room and knelt down before King Oran and Queen Sheyla.
Then he stood up and presented the fruits of his quest.
"Here is the Crown of Wisdom" said Timmy and he told them a little of what he had done to retrieve it (find and bring it back).
He did the same when he presented the Shield of Justice and the other mysterious talisman.
 
Now Timmy looked weary and sad. "I am sorry to say that I could not find the Sword of Courage and I so wanted to bring back all the talismans to prove to you that I am worthy to be a knight and to marry Leyalee".
He went on with disappointment in his voice "But no matter how hard I looked I could not find the sword anywhere. I am sorry if I have failed you and the Princess" Timmy sighed,
"I returned anyway because I had at least three of the four talisman, as you requested".
 
The King looked at Timmy with admiration.
He knew how difficult it must have been for Timmy to complete his quest.
 
"Kneel Timmy stable boy." commanded the King.
The King pulled aside his royal coat and drew from its' shield the sword he always wore at his side.
He lightly laid the shiny blade first on Timmy's left shoulder then on his right.
 
The King's strong voice rang out, "I hereby knight you Sir Timothy True Heart for successfully completing your quest and grant your new name for you have a heart that is brave, good and true.
Now rise Sir Timothy True Heart", commanded the King ""Noble Knight of the Kingdom of Gondah".
 
As Sir Timothy rose the King handed him the beautiful sword he had just used to knight him.
Sir Timothy True Heart noted that the hilt of the sword was encrusted with many precious jewels like diamonds and rubies that shone and sparkled.
 
The King smiled "The reason you could not find the Sword of Courage" he said, "is because it has been with me all the time.
The sword of courage is now yours because you have earned it by being brave enough to go on your quest.
Even if you had returned with not a single talisman, the sword would still be yours".
The Kings eyes shone with pride as he looked at Sir Timothy,
"Courage" he said, "does not just simply belong to those who succeed. It is the mark of all those who venture and all those who try".
 
Now Sir Timothy turned to where Leyalee waited impatiently for him.
All the years apart melted away as he held her close and the only thing that mattered now was that they were together again.
"I think" said Queen Sheyla happily, "it is time to start planning a royal wedding"
 
Chapter twelve.
 
In the years that Timmy stable boy, now known by everyone as Sir Timothy True Heart, had been away, most of the people of the land had come to hear about the difficult quest that a stable boy had undertaken in order to win the hand of their princess.
Over time some stories about his adventures had found their way back to Gondah and Timmy had become quite a legend.
So it was not surprising that the people, like their princess, also eagerly awaited his return.
When they heard that he had been successful in his quest and a royal wedding would take place, they were overjoyed.
 
On her wedding day Princess Leyalee put on her lovely long white wedding dress and sat down in front of the mirror to brush her hair.
The face that looked back at her from the mirror was beautiful and radiant with happiness.
She wanted to share her happiness with all the people of Gondah and was not going to hide away.
She wondered what the people of her kingdom would see when they looked at her on this day.
Leyalee felt so happy that it did not care that some people might not see her clearly or truly.
 
As she brushed her hair she began to think about the spell, cast so long ago by Agootha, and how it had affected her life.
The spell had caused her quite a lot of pain and heartache it was true, but there had been a lot of happiness in her life in spite of that.
She had been surrounded by the love of many people and Leyalee realised that because of this spell she had always known exactly who her real friends were, for those who saw her as ugly were never true friends.
The spell had helped her chase a fearsome ogre from the land and had also helped her see through the vain, faithless Buckthorn.
Because of the spell she knew without a shadow of doubt that her Sir Timothy really, truly loved her.
 
As Leyalee thought about these things a feeling of thankfulness began to rise up in her. It was strange that she could feel this way about a spell that was meant to cause her suffering but in this moment it was difficult to feel resentful (upset and angry) about anything.
Besides, she had to admit that everything that had gone before (happened in the
past), had helped to bring her to this day and her greatest happiness.
 
The Princess smiled to herself, the spell, which had been meant as a curse could also be seen as a gift and today she chose to love what had resulted from it, as a great gift.
 
What the Princess did not know was that Agootha's spell had been weakening over the later years of her life. In the face of her love for Sir Timothy and the love she felt and showed towards her people, the power of the magic grew weaker as it slowly eroded. (to wear away, broken down or be destroy over time)
 
The feelings of love and gratitude that Leyalee felt, now directed at the effects of the spell itself, proved too strong a magic and at last the chains of the spell were completely broken.
 
There was a small "pop" sound as a tiny fairy tumbled out in a sparkling ball of green light.
The little fairly at first looked a bit dazed and bemused (not sure what was going on; confused) and then realised with joy that she was at last free.
The fairy, named Fey, told Leyalee about her sorrow at being caught up in the spell that made Leyalee look like a monster to all who first saw her.
The tiny fairy had watched helplessly as the spell kept the princess a constant prisoner in the castle just as she had been a prisoner to the spell.
 
Fey remembered the day Timmy had smuggled Leyalee into the woods which was the
fairies true home.
The little fairy feeling Leyalee's love and joy when she was surrounded by Nature bestowed on her the only magical gift she could and opened Leyalee's eyes so that she could see fairy folk.
The little fairy regretted that this was the only good thing that she was able to do for Leyalee during the years of the enchantment.
 
Leyalee exclaimed in joy how she had loved being able to watch the fairies as she was growing up and still did.
It had helped to make her childhood and life very special and she heartily thanked Fey for that gift.
 
The wedding was a great success.
People came from far and wide to see the pomp and splendour and join in all the fun.
For most people in Gondah it was the first time they had ever seen their princess.
She looked so beautiful that they all wondered why it had taken so long for her to appear to them in public.
Many people however, had heard stories of the hooded angel, whispered to be the princess, who wondered around the kingdom helping the sick and those in need.
 
The years passed and Princess Leyalee and Sir Timothy True Heart had children and a family of their own.
 
In the fullness of time they became King and Queen of Gondah and reigned over the kingdom for many happy years.
The people of Gondah loved and valued the brave and just King Timothy and as for Leyalee...?
 
She was known for all time as the most wise and most beautiful Queen of all.
 
The End
 
 
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