Once upon a time there was a queen and a lady-in-waiting who each gave birth to a daughter at the very same day and at the very same hour. And as that was really a most unusual coincidence and seemed miraculous it was decided to bring up these two children together as sharers of the same birth-star. And presently, of course, as was only customary on such occasions, a powerful fairy came as guest to dower the little princess with marvelous gifts. Standing at the royal cradle she said:
“When you grow up you shall possess a pure, a faultless, a classical beauty. Further, you shall be a compendium of all the knowledge and wisdom in the world. And finally you shall have a saintly character and be always imbued with a most noble and unselfish love.”
The lay-in-waiting was very anxious that her little daughter, who had been quite overlooked should receive similar qualities. She approached the fairy most humbly and said:
“Oh, dear fairy, couldn’t my little girl likewise have a pure, faultless, classical beauty?”
“No,” answered the fairy, “No,. Such a gift is reserved for those of the blood royal. But I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll make her pretty. Yes, she shall be very pretty indeed.”
“And,” begged the anxious mother, “couldn’t she possibly be a compendium of all wisdom and knowledge?”
“No,” decided the fairy, “that would be too exalted for her station. But, in order not quite to disappoint you, I’ll make her clever and witty instead, and that will suit her very well.”
“But her character,” pleaded the mother, “couldn’t her character also be saintly and couldn’t she, too, be imbued with a noble and unselfish love?”
“No, indeed not,” said the fairy quite impatiently. “Such a character is the prerogative solely of a princess. Your little girl can only have a decidedly feminine character, and as to noble and unselfish love, that too is impossible. But I’ll do this much for her: I’ll make her gay and affectionate. And with this you’ll have to be satisfied.”
Well time passed and the two girls grew up. And in due time the traditional Prince Charming appeared to sue for the hand of the far-famed princess.
However, standing before her in the royal drawing room, he felt quite abashed when he contemplated the many excellencies of this exceptional lady. Her beauty dazzled, her knowledge dumbfounded him, and when she gave vent to her high-minded and unselfish love and displayed her truly saintly character, as she never failed to do, he simply felt like a worm. Just then the daughter of the lady-in-waiting came in, wheeling the tea-wagon, and when the prince saw her he revived. “Heavens,” he cried, “what a darling she is. How sweet, how delicious, how refreshing.” And as neither he nor she was hampered by too saintly a character they eloped forthwith and I am certain that they lived happily ever after. The princess, however, waited in vain for a suitor who felt equal to the task of facing, day after day, her perfect, faultless, classical beauty, and of enduring, a whole life long, her astounding wisdom and her saintly character.