With thanks to Pete Rollins whose strange and startling stories have inspired me.

Once upon a time a long time ago, there lived a king and queen of a great kingdom. They had one daughter. Like any parent, they did not want their child to suffer. But unlike most parents these two had the power and the money to achieve their aim. They had a huge wall built and their daughter grew up within these grounds. All the servants and visitors were required to be happy and positive at all times. Their daughter grew up blissfully happy. Everyone loved her – they were paid to.

The princess in due course became a very beautiful young woman. One day, out of curiosity she found her way onto the streets. The suffering she saw there overwhelmed her. She wanted to make it all better. Her parents tried to tell her that these people were used to their way of life – they were mostly lazy or brutalised and would not appreciate her warm and caring heart. However to please her they gave her a generous allowance which she spent on the poor. The poor were very grateful.

Then, on one occasion when she was distributing largesse to those in need, an arthritic old man chose to tell her the real problem. Her parents. It was they who were the main employers in the area – they paid low wages and charged high taxes. The princess was so disturbed by this that she couldn’t carry on. She returned home in tears. Her parents were enraged at the old man for throwing their daughter’s generosity back in her face and causing her to suffer. They re-assured her as best they could and only hinted mildly that they had warned her. A number of good citizens came to renounce the old man’s words and to apologise for his hurtful words. As for the old man, he was brought before the court, tried and summarily executed for treason.

The princess chose never to leave the castle grounds again. She married, had many children and lived happily ever after.

© Susie Stead 2014

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