I wrote this for my Chaucer/Medieval lit class. We had to do a modern retelling of a tale or create our own. Mine is a combination retelling of the Wife of Bath’s Tale along with creating my own based on 1 Peter 3:3-4. I’m a bit of a helpless romantic, lover of all fairy tales with a concentration in Medieval/Ren lit. SO here’s an original by yours truly.
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Once upon a time in a far off land there was a Princess. She was not just any princess but a spoiled, rotten, flirtatious princess. She was beautiful, so beautiful that men came from the ends of the earth to gaze upon her beauty. And she, in her vanity knew and used this. She played cruel tricks on the men of the court. Even her own father was under the spell of her beauty and trickery. There came a day when her games had gone on for too long. All the men in the court were sick except for one. He was a new courtier from a kingdom from the Middle East. He dazzled her with his stories and foreign magic. She was smitten. Being the cruel, selfish princess that she was, she decided to trick him into staying in her court.
She used her womanly wiles and snuck into his bed chamber one night. As the courtier roused from sleep he could smell her fragrant perfume near him. He had caught the princess slipping between his bed sheets. “How dare you!?” He cried out. Unabashed, the princess simply bat her eye lashes, “Why whatever do you mean?” she asked coyly. “I know of your schemes! The entirety of the court is almost in ruin because of you! But I am above your tricks and wiles! You are selfish and trying to keep me here longer by slipping into my bed.” The princess had been caught and knew it, but was unaware of how to proceed. She stared at him with wide doe eyes. “Enough! No more will you torture the men of your father’s kingdom or those who come to gaze upon your beauty for you will have it no more!” And with that the courtier spoke in a language unknown to many, and when he was done the princess fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning she awoke with a start! Remembering the night before she looked around to find she was in her own room. She tip toed to her dressing table only to shriek in shock. Her once beautiful milky white complexion was marred by freckles of the peasants. Her illustrious shining smooth hair of deep brown silk had become limp and mousey. Her bright mischievous eyes had become dull and hollow. Next to the mirror was a note-
Not all who are beautiful possess true beauty, and not all who are without are ugly through and through. I will return to court in a years time. It is your duty to find your beauty. Look to the ponds and the swamps and cricks through the land. Look for the frog that possess true beauty and kiss him. It will only be then that you will regain your own beauty and save him from his tragic life of mud and bugs. However, if in a years time you are unable to seek true beauty yours will be gone forever.
Your humble servant-
The princess was stunned. “What am I to do!?” she wailed. No one could see her in this state. She quickly grabbed her cloak and slid through the servants’ entrance, down the terrace and into the court below. She slipped out the side gate to the gardens and beyond. The first place she went was the pond in the center of the gardens. Here as a child she had seen plenty of frogs of all colors, shapes and sizes. After a short time she found a beautiful frog. He was a shining apple green with dark spots the color of holly leaves. She scooped him up and said “How beautiful you are dear frog, are you the one?” The frog opened his mouth and replied “Why thank you my dear, I am beautiful indeed! My croak bellows, my legs are of pure muscle and my colors make others swoon.” Thinking that this was the most beautiful frog she could find, the princess kissed him. And nothing happened. Through the day she continued as such, going from pond to pond through the land around the castle, finding the prettiest frogs she could spot, but to no avail. She still could not return to the castle, so she found herself an abandoned house to spend the night in. The next day she began her search again, and again to no avail. Soon she had searched the ponds, lakes, and creeks all around her father’s kingdom and had found beauty many times over- but none for herself.
She was running out of time. The princess in desperation left the safety of her father’s kingdom to continue the search. After months of searching she still could not find the right frog. Frustrated, angry, and humbled the princess carried herself back to her father’s kingdom. She returned to the pond she had searched her first day. She lowered herself onto a bench and began to weep. A frog hopped out of the pond and onto the bench next to her. “Why are you crying?” asked the frog. The princess sniffed and looked over. There, sitting next to her was one of the ugliest frogs she had ever seen. He was not a beautiful shade of green, and was half covered in mud. He had some warts and no stunning markings like other frogs she had searched for. The princess responded “I was once beautiful and have lost that beauty. I have run out of time.” With endearing eyes and quiet voice the frog gently whispered “I have never been beautiful.” It was then the princess looked at him again. He was an ugly frog, but was the only frog in her quest that had asked her why she was on such a journey. He was the only frog that had stopped to question why she was crying. Reaching down she picked him up and said “You are the most beautiful frog I have ever met.” And she kissed him. Suddenly he croaked, and croaked and continued to croak like he had the hiccups. He hopped off the bench and swam away into the pond.
The princess was sure she had truly run out of time. Her last hope had just swam away. Dejected she entered the great hall of her father’s castle. The noble knights and busy courtiers, ladies in waiting and servants turned and gasped. With head hung low the princess made her way to her father’s throne. Kneeling the princess said “I have been gone for many months. My beauty was taken away from me. My vanity and selfishness ruined me and I was ashamed. I have spent these past months looking for my beauty and have failed in this quest.” Confused the king and all in attendance looked to each other. “My dear,” her father said, “you are as beautiful as ever.” The princess stood and turned to look at a mirror on the wall. In front of her stood the courtier who had cast this wicked spell on her and a stunning stranger. The two stepped forward. “My princess, I am glad to see you in such good health! It has been some time since I’ve seen you.” “I don’t understand,” replied the princess. “My dear, you were a beauty on the outside. Your hair of deep silk, your eyes bright and lively with skin as pure as a young maiden’s; but your heart, your soul, they were ugly. You needed to find beauty within others to find it in yourself.” Dumbfounded the princess gazed at him. “And my I present to you, your beautiful frog-a prince of my kingdom. He could never find a woman to love, for they all rejected his plain looks, no one dared to see beyond into his heart. In trust, he allowed me to show him that one day he would find a beautiful woman inside and out to love him as well, in exchange, I would make him handsome.”
Laughing the princess ran to them both. She finally understood that though beauty is fleeting, and in order to be truly beautiful one must have beauty from within. The courtier left the courts that day, and was never seen again. The princess and her frog prince were married on a fine spring day next to the pond where she had found him. When the time came, the two ruled the kingdom and lived happily ever after.