An Eternal Gift
Short tale: An Eternal Gift
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So long ago that hardly anyone remembers where or when, there was a small kingdom ruled by an old ruler admired and respected for his wisdom and strict sense of justice, as well as for his generosity, proverbial, even among the neighboring kingdoms. But even greater, if possible, was the admiration aroused by his only daughter, the young princess, because, in addition to her great beauty, she had a profound intelligence, as well as an exquisite sensitivity that she cultivated through study and the reading of beautiful poetry.
The old king, seeing that the princess did not seem to show interest in any of the numerous suitors who aspired to win her heart, feared, given his advanced age, that he would not achieve his most fervent wish: to see the continuity of his dynasty assured in a son. Therefore, one day, he decided to confide his fears to his daughter.
The princess, who loved and respected her father very deeply, after a few moments of reflection, replied: “Well, father. I agree to marry and thus fulfill your greatest wish. But on one condition. I will marry the one who, noble or vassal, prince or commoner, rich or poor, is able to give me a very special gift. A gift that will last forever”.
The old monarch, who felt hope reborn in him, quickly ordered to fill the streets and squares of his kingdom with pamphlets, proclamations and emissaries to all the neighboring kingdoms, announcing that anyone who wished, whatever his condition, could aspire to the hand of the princess and the throne, if his gift was eternal. Soon princes, nobles, vassals and commoners, all united by the same desire, could be seen rubbing shoulders in that castle.
The most diverse gifts were offered. But all of them, one by one, were rejected, since none of them, it could be assured, was capable of resisting the passage of eternity, since even the hardest carvings of rock crystal were vulnerable to a simple blow or a fortuitous fall, as well as to the action of fire.
Little by little, the discouragement was spreading and as the days passed and the number of suitors diminished, the venerable old man’s uneasiness grew, who, more and more, feared to see his days end without being able to embrace the successor of his lineage.
It had been a long time since anyone had presented himself with a present and no one was confident of seeing the princess betrothed, when a man of humble condition and simple appearance appeared, asking to be taken to the princess to present her with his present. His appearance provoked smiles and comments not exempt of caustic irony. However, the orders were concrete and precise: anyone requesting permission to deliver a gift had to be brought before the princess without delay or excuse.
Once before the princess, to the astonishment and even suspicion of all, he asked to be alone with her. The princess, after looking long and deeply into the eyes of that man, ordered that it be so. Once alone, the man, of humble condition and simple appearance, extracted from under his shabby sackcloth a beautifully bound book.
And his hands, rough and firm, which spoke of hoes and furrows, of hard work in the fields, seemed to become delicate, even ethereal, as they followed a careful calligraphy, while his voice, deep and warm, was reciting the most beautiful poetry ever heard by the princess who, unable to contain the deep emotion that emanated from her heart, felt the flow of an infinite liquid and salty tenderness blur her beautiful and deep eyes.
But when the man finished reading, to the astonishment and perplexity of the princess, he threw the book into the flames of the fireplace. The princess exclaimed: “¿Why do you burn it if it is the most beautiful poetry I have ever heard? ¿No others ever awakened such intense feelings in me, or touched my heart so deeply. Why have you burned it? ¿Why?” Princess, I have burned it, because I do not want anyone to ever change or alter a single one of the words that served to express what you inspired in me, nor the feelings that they reflect and that are the same that you have now felt, because your tears have been the answer to those that I shed before when I wrote them. Therefore, Princess, if you were eternal, they, and your emotional tears, would make me eternal in your heart. The princess called her father and the whole court. And before them, taking the man by the hand and vividly moved, she announced: “This, this man of humble condition and simple appearance, but of such exquisite sensibility, will be my husband… and your king”.
Reflection on the story: The story shows us how true wealth and true value are not found in material and ephemeral objects, but in emotions, feelings and human relationships. The princess asks for an eternal gift, something that lasts over time and that goes beyond mere physical appearance, but no suitor could offer her something that would fulfill her request.
Finally, a humble and simple man gives her a beautifully bound book of poetry and recites the most beautiful poetry the princess has ever heard, awakening deep and lasting feelings in her. Although the man burns the book after reading it, he explains to the princess that he did so to preserve the purity of her emotions and the beauty of the words she inspired in him.
Frequently asked questions about the story An Eternal Gift
¿Who is the main protagonist of the story?
The main protagonist of the story is the princess, as she is the one who sets the condition for marriage and is the one who receives the gift from the humble man.
¿What condition does the princess set to accept to get married?
The princess makes the condition that she will marry the one who gives her an everlasting gift.
¿Why is the old king worried about the princess?
The old king is worried about the princess because he fears that he cannot see the continuity of his dynasty assured in a scion, since the princess shows no interest in any of the suitors.
¿What does the humble man do to win over the princess?
The humble man gives the princess a book of the most beautiful poetry he has ever heard, which expresses what she inspired in him.
¿Why does the humble man burn the book at the end of the story?
The humble man burns the book at the end of the story because he does not want anyone to be able to change or alter any of the words that served to express what the princess inspired him.
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