The Princess and the Painter
Once upon a time there was a princess who was loved dearly by her people. She was kind and beautiful and her voice was sweeter than bird song, but she would much rather listen to her birds than sing. But what she loved most was sculpting things from clay. She made pots and vases and candlesticks of a quality to rival any master craftsman's, but she never sold or gave away a single one. And neither did she paint them, for the princess was blind.
Each year a painter was commissioned to paint a portrait of the princess, and each year, to the disappointment of the painter and the confusion of her parents, the princess said she did not like it. But how, asked the king and queen, can you not like it? I just don't, she replied, and so each year a new painter came. The best of the best, they would always say, but this year the painter had no such reputation. If our daughter does not like fine paintings, the king and queen reasoned, then perhaps it is only because she does not know anything else. None of the court painters dared paint the princess a second time for fear of being rejected again anyway, so this year it was a common painter who asked the princess to tilt her head this way, and perhaps place her hands here, and cross her legs just so. But, just like all the other years, the princess sat perfectly still and listened.
What do you think of it? asked her parents. It is beautiful, she replied, and while the king and queen looked at each other in utter confusion the princess smiled happily at the painter and requested that he paint for her again. Though she could not see it, the young man smiled in kind and bowed deeply, for he was already quite attached to the princess. However, the painter had never heard the story of the princess and her portraits so he became quite worried when the king and queen interrogated him fiercely after she had gone. What spell have you placed on her? They cried. Our daughter hates painters! And so the painter left feeling greatly discouraged.
Weeks passed, and still the princess inquired after the painter. Her parents, convinced that only ill could come of this, tried to distract her in any way they could. Eventually, however, they saw how unhappy she had become and summoned the painter back to the palace. The princess was overjoyed. What should I paint? he asked. Anything and everything, she replied, and never spoke a single word while he worked. He finally asked her why she loved his paintings so much. I can hear your heart in the brush strokes, she replied, and that you do what you love. That is a quality to be sought after. He laughed, for she really could see the truest.
People from other kingdoms scoffed at the thought of a princess marrying a common painter. Ah, said her people, but she will surely be a truer queen, for greed cannot blind her and she will always listen to her people. And why is that? they'd ask. Her people would laugh and reply, For she loves nothing better than sculpting things from clay and listening to her husband paint.