Ben Langhinrichs

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June, 2006
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Sun 4 Jun 2006, 11:51 PM
Once upon a time, in a far away kingdom, lived a princess as lovely as the wind.  On the whole, she was a happy princess, but there were times when she was sad, for, like the wind, she travelled from place to place as the spirit moved her, and the far away kingdom, while quite nice, was not her own, but just where she happened to be.

Of course, as is the case when a fair princess is sad, there were numerous princes who sought to make the beautiful maiden laugh, and thus win her smile, and perhaps her heart.  Some told entertaining stories, but while the princess listened politely, she didn't smile.  Some played wonderful music, but while the princess applauded at the end, it could hardly be said that she was joyful.  And so the handsome princes went away, discouraged.

But there was one prince who did not give up.  He watched the lovely princess when she was happy, and he watched when she was sad, and decided that what she needed was something no prince would be able to give.  He thought of the kingdom where the princess grew up, and of the king and queen who reigned there, and it came to him that the princess, winsome as the wind though she might be, must be homesick.  

The earnest prince knew he must get the princess together with her royal family, but he also knew that she was busy hosting balls and attending fairs and other princessly activities, so he tried to find a way to get the royal family to come for a visit.  He visited the Court Wizard, but was turned away, as no magic would be strong enough to pull royalty from their own kingdom.  He went to see the King's Sorcerer, but was also turned away, as no enchantment could be found that would bring the two kingdoms closer together.  Discouraged, he wandered in a nearby wood, until he realized that he was close to the cottage of the Mystical Mage, an expert in the art of the Far-Flung Voice.  He shuddered, as he had always feared this strange and mysterious art, but he ventured on.  If the king and queen could be told of the plight of their lovely princess, perhaps they would come of their own free will.

Standing nervously before the Mystical Mage's cottage, the prince had to focus all his courage to knock.  From within, a wavery voice invited him to enter. The cottage was dark and gloomy, lit only by a single candle and a few sickly looking fireflies.  The Mage sat in an ancient rocking chair in the corner huddled in several blankets, while one of the fireflies circled his shiny, bald head.

"So you want to make a call?", the old man wheezed.

"Please, sir," the prince stammered, "there is a princess..."

"I know, I know!", the Mage shrieked.  "Did you think I wouldn't know?  Go to the center of the room, place your hands on the crystal amulet on the table, and make your call.  Be sure to speak clearly!"

Bewildered by the ferocity of the instructions, the prince complied hastily.  He strode across to the table, saw the amulet, and placed his hands on it hesitantly.  Immediately, the amulet began to glow, and a low, feminine voice spoke from within it, "Your call is being placed.  Please wait."  The prince wondered at this, but clearly the amulet knew who he was calling, and perhaps even why.

"Hello?", the deep male voice took him by surprise.  He was not sure he would ever be able to get used to this strange device.

"Hi," the prince said weakly, then with more assurance, "may I speak to the King?"

"Speaking!", responded the deep voice, and the prince's heart sank.  Now what should he say?

Gathering his courage, he started talking to the king, describing the lovely princess and her sadness.  "I just think it would mean so much to her if you and the queen could come visit.", he managed at the end.

There was a pause, and the prince worried that he had gone too far.  But then the voice on the other end spoke again, more softly this time, "Thank you.  We will do our best.  Give our best to the princess, and tell her we love her."

The amulet, which had been growing warmer and warmer, suddenly cooled, and the light inside went out.  The prince put it down, thanked the Mystical Mage, who only nodded curtly, and went off to the princess to tell her what he had done.   He only hoped that his action would make her smile, and that the king and queen would be able to visit their lovely daughter.

To be continued, perhaps...

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