Monday, October 30, 2017

the princess in the tree

a tale

a beautiful princess was sitting in a tree.

robin hood came along.

he was carrying a big suitcase.

it was so heavy he kept moving it from one hand to the other and stopping to rest.

robin hood, asked the princess, what do you have in that suitcase and why is it so heavy?

it is filled with gold bullion, said robin hood, and i am taking it to the holy land to ransom good king richard from the saracens

at the rate you are going, replied the princess, king richard and the saracens will all be dead of old age before you get there.

you have a point, robin hood agreed, i was hoping to encounter a genie or a magician who would assist me in some way.

you do not say so, said the princess, in that case i may be able to help you out.

do you mean that you know a magician or genie in these parts who can assist me? asked robin hood. perhaps yu are n possession of a magic lamp yourself?

no, replied the princess, but there is a witch in these very woods who might help you out.

a witch exclaimed robin hood, good king richard does not approve of witches, and would not right be right pleased to receive assistance from such creatures.

o but this is a good witch said the princess, and she has received the blessings of st christopher, patron saint of wayfarers, st john the eremite, and st elegius the patron saint of goldsmiths, among many other worthy denizens of heaven.

the patron saint of goldsmiths, cried robin hood, that it is indeed fortuitous, in that case perhaps an exception could be made to king richard’s wishes.

would you like me to take you to the witch, asked the princess.

after a moment’s hesitation, robin hood replied that he would.

the princess hopped down from the tree and led robin into the depths of the forest.

darkness fell as they walked along a dusty road.

a few stars could be seen above the branches of the dark trees.

are we almost there, asked robin hood?

almost, replied the princess.

suddenly they came to a clearing in which stood a large, busting railway station.

the railway station was brightly lit up but was surrounded by dark narrow streets.

the princess led robin hood down one of the darkest streets.

robin hood could see that the streets were little more than alleys and were filled with gin shops and low haunts where congregated some of the scum of the earth.

a couple of ruffians known as billy the barber and java drinking jake watched with knowing smiles from a doorway as robin hood and the princess passed within a few feet of them.

bob’s your uncle, whispered billy , and winkled at jake with his glass eye.

here we are, said the princess to robin hood. she had stopped in front of a crooked little building, little more than a hut, on a corner in front of a large hole in the ground.

there was no light in the hut but the princess entered it and robin hood followed with his heavy suitcase.

although there was no lamp or candle visible, the interior of the hut was faintly illuminated by a strange unearthly glow.

wait here, said the princess. she disappeared behind a curtain.

there were no chairs in the hut, but robin hood, glad to take a load off his feet, sat down on the suitcase and waited.

after what seemed an eternity, the curtain parted and the witch appeared.

robin hood had expected an old crone, but the witch was as young and beautiful as the princess.

she might have been the princess’s sister, but with longer and darker hair, the color of a raven’s dying croak.

and eyes as dark and old as the depths of the sea.

robin hood explained his plight to the enchantress, and asked if he might be transported immediately to the holy land.

i can not do that on such short notice, the witch replied, but what i can do is lighten your load.

she pointed to the suitcase. go ahead, she told robin, pick it up.

robin did as he was told - the suitcase was as light as a bird’s wing!

robin started to thank the witch but she had disappeared.

he decided to say prayers of thanks to st elegius and the blessed virgin instead, and turned and went back out into the street.

billy the barber and java drinking jake were waiting for him.

what’s in the suitcase, country boy? drawled billy.

a picture of my old mother, robin replied, an arrow from the side of st stephen, and a feather from the wing of the archangel gabriel.

country boy’s got a sense of humor, drawled jake.

let’s take a look, said billy, and snatched the suitcase from robin’s hand.

the bars of gold spilled out, blinding billy and jake.

billy was turned into a toad and jake into a mouse and they scurried away whimpering onto the dark shadows.

suddenly the princess reappeared and helped robin scoop the feather light bars of glowing gold back into the suitcase.

let us make haste, she told billy, you have to catch the express to constantinople.

the express to constantinople, exclaimed robin, i have never been on a train before.

the conductor of the train is st basil of cappopdocia, said the princess, and st augustine is the engineer. they will see you safe to constantinople, where you will find the prophet ezekiel waiting for you. he will escort you to the tent of the king of the saracens, where you will deliver the ransom for good king richard. but hurry, we do not have a moment to lose.

they reached the train station without incident, with robin clutching the weightless suitcase.

the princess delivered robin to st basil, just as the train was pulling out.

the express thundered through the night, through cities bright as jewels, forests as quiet as graveyards, and fields dark as the center of the earth.

nobody, not even st basil or st augustine, spoke to robin after he was in his seat, and he fell asleep, with the suitcase full of gold in his arms on his lap.

dawn was breaking when they reached the imperial city.

but the prophet ezekiel was not waiting for robin, nor was anybody else.

with a strange feeling of foreboding, robin decided to check the interior of the suitcase, and ducked into an alley beside the station to do do.

the suitcase was empty except for a small toad, which robin recognized as the fallen angel moloch, and which quickly hopped away into the throngs which were starting to crowd the streets with their hawkers and beggars cries.

it would be many years before king richard was ransomed from the saracens.

but as king richard was the most forgiving of men, as well as the bravest and most warlike, he never upbraided robin hood for his unfortunate adventure, or for losing half the gold of his kingdom, and they both lived to hoist many a golden foaming tankard back in merry old england, in the green depths of sherwood forest.

thus ends the story of the princess in the tree.