Once upon a time, in the kingdom of cedars lived a mighty prince. He loved to hunt in the cedar woods mounted on his steed and surrounded by his nobles. One day he was after a majestic stag that was wearing a big sapphire on its forehead.
The stag was peacefully watching over its head in a clearing. The mighty prince took out an arrow, stretched his bow, aimed, and shot at the stag. The arrow was flying with strength and precision toward the stag’s heart, but to the prince’s surprise it suddenly turned into a tulip as it was approaching the creature and it landed softly at its feet.
– “Mighty prince”, said the stag “I am the Spirit King of the forest and as punishment for your endless hunting of my subjects I will turn you into a poor minstrel. You will wander around to sing to people for a penny and will live in a shabby tiny hut until you manage to tame the smug and lazy daughter of The Green King by using only kindness and wisdom. If you manage to turn her into a dutiful and loving wife you will be made king and she will be your queen.”
In the meantime, in the neighboring kingdom, the astonishingly beautiful daughter of The Green King was as lazy and stuck-up as she was fair. She was growing more beautiful but also more smug and idle by the day.
She was ignorant of virtue and madly in love with her own image reflected in the crystal mirrors of the palace. Princess Klara was spending countless hours pampering and admiring herself in the palace mirrors.
The day the princess turned 18 years old, princes from all over the world arrived at the palace to ask for her hand in marriage. Everybody gathered in the lavishly decorated large throne room in front of the king and his daughter. One by one, the suitors would step in front of princess Klara offering chests filled with gems and jewelry, asking for her hand and hoping they would be the chosen one.
She was offending each candidate with disdain, calling them ugly, grotesque, or hideous.
– How dare you to ask for my hand, you poor souls, kingdoms, and riches can’t buy it, let alone valor or pure hearts. Take your wisdom and good wishes and leave as none of you is worthy of my dazzling beauty.
– Don’t mock the virtues of these noble princes, my child! With this attitude, you’re poorer and uglier than a lump of coal.
– What are you talking about father, I am the jewel of the kingdom. I deserve much better. I deserve everything!
– My child, only when you clear your heart of arrogance will you be happy. And as punishment for insulting all of our guests, I’ve decided to give your hand in marriage to the first traveler that will stop at the palace gates when the moon rises tonight.
A few hours later a minstrel was singing his song under the palace windows just as the night was setting in.
-Who dares disturb the castle’s peace? asked the princess, sticking her head out the window.
– Oh dazzling beauty, allow me to sing a song for you! and the minstrel started singing a ballad.
– Guards, bring the young man into the throne room, said the king. As I promised, I will give him the princess’s hand in marriage.
– Noooo, he’s a beggar covered in rags, guards I order you to send him away right now!
– What’s your name, young minstrel? asked the king.
– Lucas, your royal highness.
– Lucas, my daughter is your wife now. She will be in your charge from now on.
– I am most grateful, your majesty. I shall strive to make her happy and be worthy of such beauty.
In tears, Klara packed a few dresses and had no other choice but to follow her husband to his shabby hut in a small village.
She was shocked at the poverty of her new home. It was furnished with only a bed, 2 chairs, a table, and a shelf with some clay cups and dishes.
– Make yourself at home my darling, I’ll go fetch some brushwood to light a fire.
– It’s so dusty here, whimpered Klara.
– It’s true, the hut needs a woman’s touch.
– I don’t like it, it’s ugly!
– You will make it pretty, it’s your home now…it already looks nicer just by having you inside it, and Lucas went out the door whistling a happy tune. He was feeling lucky to have such a beautiful wife.
Klara was thirsty so she took one of the clay cups from the shelf and was looking at it with disgust.
– What a crude thing, nothing like the crystal glasses from my father’s palace. I hate it here. Why on Earth is this happening to me? and she grudgingly pushed all the clay dishes from the shelf to the floor.
Startled, Lucas came rushing in:
– My darling, are you all right? Only I heard strong noises….oh you dropped some dishes, not to worry I will make new ones tomorrow and you can take them to the fair and sell them so that we can buy some food.
– Me? Sell at the fair? No way!
The next day, at noon, Klara woke up and Lucas was nowhere in sight. She stretched and turned and then dressed up and went behind the hut looking for him. She found him stacking clay dishes and pots freshly taken out of the oven onto a small cart. It seemed he’d been up all night kneading the clay, burning the oven, and painting the pots.
– Good morning my darling, you shine brighter than the sun. Your presence brings unknown joys to my heart.
“He’s sweaty and in rags, but his smile is kind and true,” she thought to herself.
– I just finished these pots. Would you be so kind as to take them to the fair and sell them while I prepare the next batch?
– Never! You can’t force me! I will tell my father…
– We are poor my darling and this is the only way we can earn enough to feed both of us.
– Oh, all right. I protest but I’ll go.
Klara drove the little cart to the village fair. She found a spot near a fruit vendor and, with a sour and disgusted face, started measuring passers-by while waiting for customers. The fair was bustling with noise and movement.
Vendors were advertising their merchandise loudly, and buyers were moving from stand to stand but nobody was stopping at Klara’s cart. Hours passed by and Klara’s stomach started rumbling with hunger.
“If I don’t sell anything again, today we’ll go to bed hungry like usual…”
– Pots…come and buy pots…pots for sale, nice pots for sale, POTS WITH BEAUTIFUL PAINTED FLOWERS, COME BUY NICE CLAY POTS, NICE POTS FOR SALE!
– How much for this one with daisies?
– 5 pennies.
-Very nice, I want two with violets, please.
– Yes, of course.
– I like the one with red flowers…
All of a sudden, Klara discovered the joy of being useful. She felt happy and turned all smiles and kindness toward the people in the market. She sold all her merchandise in less than an hour and hurried back home with some meat and groceries to cook for her husband.
The next day, Lucas worked all night again and prepared another batch of pots for her to take to the market. This time she gladly steered the cart toward the village. On the way, she started humming the tune she heard from her husband while admiring the delicate little flowers he had painted on the pots.
Out of nowhere, a rider came rushing toward her cart as she was making a corner and the horse’s hooves flipped the cart over, turning all the pots to shards.
– Hey! Watch where you’re going, you klutz! said the rider from the top of his lungs.
– Oh no! My husband toiled all night to make these. Oh rider, please pay for the damage you’ve done! she cried in vain as the knight was already far away.
“I am so clumsy, how could I let his toil go to dust so easily? I am not worthy of going back to him. He is so kind and works so hard for us and I wasted all his efforts. I can’t go back…I’ll go find work somewhere and repay him.” Klara thought to herself.
She took a main road looking for a place that needed workers and as she was walking she met an old woman carrying a heavy pile of twigs. The granny was so tired she could barely walk.
– Hello granny, please allow me to carry those twigs for you.
– I live far away, my child, on the other side of the forest.
– It’s alright granny, I will carry them for you there.
– But I am poor, my child, and I have no way to repay your efforts.
– Oh granny, seeing you safe and happy is the payment I am looking for.
– You are so kind, my child. Remember my advice: “kindness and diligence are the keys to true happiness.”
– Thank you, granny, I will always remember your words.
And Klara takes the big pile of twigs on her back and accompanies the granny home. After saying goodbye, she notices a big castle not too far away from the old woman’s hut and reckons she might find work there.
The guards sent her to the royal kitchens to help with peeling vegetables and carrying water. Soon she proved to be very hardworking and a quick learner. She strived to help everybody and soon all the kitchen staff couldn’t do without her. Everyone appreciated her and she brought smiles and happiness wherever she went.
One day, the arrival of the king of the Cedar kingdom together with the Green king was announced at the castle. All the people gathered at the gates to cheer the arrival of their highnesses. Klara was among them as she was hoping to get a glimpse of her father, the Green King, whom she had been missing bitterly.
An elegant courtier announced:
– The cedar king is coming together with his father-in-law! Let the trumpets play!
– Beloved subjects, today I want to present to you my beautiful, kind, and hard-working wife.
– Who is she? Who is she, your majesty? asked the people.
– Klara! Where are you, my beloved? Come next to me, my queen! said the king, looking directly into her eyes and stretching his arm in her direction.
All eyes turned in expectation toward the kitchen maid that they all came to love.
– Who? Me? It cannot be! My…my heart belongs to someone else.
– It belongs to me, said the Cedar king.
– Oh no, your majesty, it belongs to a kind and poor potter. He loves singing, spinning the potter’s wheel, and painting beautiful flowers on ceramics. And he taught me to cherish those things as well.
– I am that man, my darling!
– It cannot be your majesty! You are the king of this land.
– I am the minstrel that sang a ballad for you at the gates of your father’s palace. I am the rider that knocked your cart with clay pots.
– It was you?
– I am the old woman you helped carry the big pile of twigs. I am your husband, the potter, and I also am the king of the Cedar Realm.
– I don’t deserve to be your wife, you are so kind and wise and patient…and I am a stuck-up and lazy woman in rags.
– You were stuck-up and lazy, but you’ve changed. Your heart is pure. You have never been more beautiful. I am asking for your hand and heart in marriage again in front of my people. Will you give them to me?
– Yes! With all my heart!
– You have my blessing, my children, said King Green, with teary eyes. My beloved daughter, I am so proud of you. You learned to value virtue and kindness. You will surely have a happy life from now on!
And a great wedding party started at the castle. It lasted for 3 days and 3 nights and all the neighboring kings, princes and princesses attended the happy celebration. The spirit king of the forest was also invited as an honored guest, and they all lived happily ever after!
Outlines of the images for kids coloring: