THE REBELLIOUS KINGDOM
Leaving the royal city and choosing a
lower road, the handsome prince quickly entered the
deep passes which wound through the great mountains
surrounding his homeland. Onward, seemingly
ever downward, crossing deep, swirling rivers, hot
deserts and dark forests, he made his slow but
determined way. Then suddenly - though the sun
still shone brightly - it seemed that the way grew
darker. Wearily journeying on, he spied men of
evil visage gliding stealthily through the thorn
bushes and watching him - this stranger who had
dared to enter their forbidden country.
Instantly the prince understood the validity of the
rumours: this far away kingdom had indeed risen in
rebellion against his father - the Great King - and
was even now preparing a revolt to secede from his
Although warning after warning had been sent from
the royal palace, each one had been ignored.
So the king's son, being a youth of great wealth and
of a peaceable and kind disposition, had resolved to
journey to the kingdom with messages of peace and
Continuing on his journey, he felt that he had gone
deeper than the countries of living men and passed
into the regions of the infernal, so fearful and
degraded were the rude villages through which he was
passing. When at last the goodly prince entered the
city of the ruling chief, his brave heart hesitated
in wonder and almost fear, for truly these wicked
ones were a people of the very lowest culture, of
superstitious and darkened minds whose evil faces
revealed the blackest of hearts. Of them he
inquired the way to the dwelling of the chief.
Approaching the chief, the prince introduced
himself, then explained carefully the reason for his
visit. Scarcely appearing any better than his
subjects, the chief welcomed the prince most cooly,
that is, until the latter presented beautiful and
costly gifts which the ruler grabbed with alacrity
but with little gratitude. Because of the
gifts, the prince was given permission to dwell
among these people for a time.
In the days that followed, the prince patiently
instructed the villagers in the ways of cleanliness,
peace and prosperity, encouraging them to submit
willingly to the demands of the Great King, and not
to continue with their plans for insurrection.
Unfortunately, word soon reached the chief that his
people were greatly admiring the good-hearted prince
because of his wise teachings and many
kindnesses. In violent anger he began to plot
the intruder's death, finally arriving at the
conclusion that in the excitement of the restless
activity of a brilliant festival the prince's death
could easily be enacted. But first his wicked
heart conceived a plan to take from the prince any
remaining gifts. On the feast days - the chief
cunningly explained to him - it was the custom of
his people to exchange gifts. "Surely the
prince would desire to honor his excellency with a
royal remembrance, would he not?"
Unfortunately, the chief had not realized that the
prince had brought no other gifts than those already
given. But, after some thought, the visiting
prince wrote a few words on a slip of paper, pricked
his finger, then signed the note in his own
blood. Handing it to the chief, he remarked
that this was the greatest gift in his power to
Hastily and greedily the chief read: "THE BEARER, OR
BEARERS, PRESENTING THIS NOTE TO THE KING WILL
RECEIVE WHATSOEVER THEY REQUIRE." In horror
and lack of understanding, and deeply dreading even
the thought of a confrontation with the monarch
whose rulership he deeply hated and resented, the
chief - whose eyes had been blinded by hatred and
jealousy - completely underestimated the value of
the note. Probably he would be killed as he
neared the palace grounds. Why, then, should
he go? This all must surely be a scurvy trick,
Feeling cheated and mocked, in his frustration he
hastily crumpled the note and cast it under the
table, making awkward attempts at being grateful.
Without fail he must begin immediately to set in
motion his plan for the riddance of this hated
prince. But even as they were shifting each
man to his assigned task, a strange thing
happened. Almost as though having received a
silent warning, the goodly prince suddenly
disappeared. Escaping from the vile kingdom,
he vowed that if he ever returned it would be to
utterly destroy all its evil inhabitants.
When the chief discovered his intended victim's
escape, he was even more angry. Terrible were
his ravings and denunciations as he blamed everyone
but himself for the failure of his plan.
Meanwhile the little crumpled note - now forgotten -
was swept away into the streets and disappeared into
the abundance of the city's trash.
Early the next morning three old and
ugly beggar women came searching for bits of food
and rags among the newly dumped trash, seeking
for anything to help prolong their already miserable
existence. How they scratched, shoved and
searched - these pitiful examples of humanity!
Miserable and wretched, they had banded together in
a pitiful friendship of mutual pain and
misery. Friendless, lonely, embittered by
life's tragedies, perverted in mind, disillusioned
and vengeful, they were nothing but loathsome
lepers. Two were haggard and disfigured old
widows, but the eldest of the trio was the
worst. Without even the pitiful rags of
widowhood to hide her fallen soul, she disclosed by
her very bearing her impossible-to-keep secret; she
had been a woman of the streets. It was
difficult to look upon her without nausea, so far
had the dread disease progressed. Surely she
was nought but a repulsive old hag - a miserable
piece of wreckage vomited up by life's seas and now
lying helpless and putrifying on the sands of
time. For her, death would be a merciful
release - and the tomb a shroud of decency in which
to hide her shame.
As the three were searching, fighting and snarling
over bits of food, the eldest discovered the
crumpled note. Clutching the paper with
claw-like fingers, it was she - the vilest of them
all - who discovered the crumpled note then
excitedly shared its message with her wretched
cronies. Suddenly her voice dropped, and she
hesitated as though remembering something. It
had been late evening when she had seen the prince
walking alone through the dirty lanes near the
burial grounds where the lepers always slept.
The villagers always avoided this path, but the
goodly prince had traversed it. And he had stopped
and looked at HER! His eyes contemplated her
strangely. Could it have been a look of tenderness,
of compassion? Then he moved slowly away and
she had never seen him again.
Shaken from her reverie, she glanced again at the
now grimy slip of paper in her hand. Surging
up from the depths of her being came the conviction
that what she held in her hands was of supreme
value. These were HIS words; this was HIS
signature! This was the name everyone had
called him before his disappearance. This note
surely meant riches, food, clothing, respectability,
Hastily the three set out on the long and difficult
journey to the palace of the king. Although
the trail was long and arduous and the younger
widows were often tempted to turn back, the
eagerness and conviction of the eldest one pushed
them forward. Finally, they saw far off in the
distance the outline of the lofty spires of the
castle. The glowing lights of the royal city
seemed like myriads of tiny stars twinkling far
away. Soon, oh, so soon their lives would
change and they would be possessors of a vast
fortune. With this thought they almost ran the
remaining miles which separated them from the royal
THE ROYAL CITY
Ignoring the cold, disdainful reception
of the wealthy and cultured populace, the three
lepers, desperate now lest they be frustrated so
near their destination, hastened on towards the
At the insistent knocking of the vilest
one the guards opened the gates. Their shock
and astonishment at the daring of these miserable
creatures sent the heavy iron doors clanging
shut. But having anticipated such rejection,
the eldest quickly thrust herself forward waving the
note. As they read it the shocked guards wondered
what such loathsome creatures were doing with a
letter signed by the prince. Then, even though
it was against their better judgement and trembling
in fear lest there be some mistake, they allowed the
foul creatures to come in, warning them to stay near
the portals until the king could be consulted.
One servant called another by ringing a gong-like
bell until the Great King himself drew near.
Trembling with fear and imploring mercy and pardon,
the three old beggars threw themselves at the Great
King's feet, then showed him the paper.
Had he not been a gracious King he would have thrown
the three old ones to the executioner
immediately. But his kindness, overcoming his
amazement and disgust, caused him to consider the
note. He was utterly astonished as he beheld
the loved signature made irrevocable in blood.
Only then did he remember the prince's visit to the
hostile country, the miserable reception, and the
note. But surely he hadn't left the note in
the hands of such loathsome creatures as
these! There was only one conclusion to the
matter: speedily give these miserable old women what
they requested and send them on their way.
The youngest quickly made known her
desire: "Give me many changes of raiment, healing
ointments, a choice from the King's treasury and
citizenship in the royal city." Somewhat
relieved, the king ordered that her demands be met
The requirements of the second were similar to those
of the first: healing ointments, clothing, a diamond
studded crown and permission to live on the palace
grounds. The latter request caused serious
reflection on the part of the king, but he finally
granted it on the condition that she wash daily in
the courtyard fountain and never leave the royal
grounds. With such requests the king had no
misgivings. Evidently these ignorant creatures
hadn't understood the limitless scope of the terms
of the signed note. What were a few rubies,
changes of raiment, dwelling places or even
citizenship to such a wealthy king?
Finally forcing himself to look upon the vilest of
the three, he ordered these same gifts to be given
to her as well. But even as he was speaking,
she interrupted him to refuse the gifts. Then
the heart of the kind king began to know fear.
Did this vile bit of human misery somehow realize
the limitless scope of the note? What more
could she possibly want? He bade her look in the
treasury room, but even as she longingly
contemplated the beautiful treasure it contained,
she chose nothing.
"Well, tell me, what DO you want?" insisted the
King. "Name it and my servants will bring it
Out of the depths of her misery and life-long
regret, out of the hurt of an unwanted soul, out of
a deep, hidden longing she burst out, "Oh, King, I
want a companion. I want a husband!"
Hearing this the King laughed in
relief. Was it a husband she wanted? Easy
enough. He would choose an eligible youth from
his kingdom and command him to marry her. With
that this entire matter could be concluded.
Then the old beggar woman went on to say that only
once in her life had any man ever showed her any
kindness, and it was this one that she desired to
"Tell me, then," replied the King, "who that one is
and I will have him brought to you," now intensely
relieved that the Old One had not understood the
true value of the note.
"Oh, kind King, the one by whom the kindness was
shown to me is your own son - the prince. I
desire to marry him." Speechless and appalled,
the King watched her in utmost dismay as she
continued, "This note says WHATSOEVER... Your son,
sir, is my only desire. I will take nothing
less." Horrified, the King sent immediately for his
son. What would the prince's answer be to such
a preposterous request?
Silence filled the palace grounds as the handsome
prince looked searchingly into the heart of the
Vilest One seeing there all the misery, the
privation and the filth. But suddenly he saw
something else which was strangely out of place - a
brightly burning love. Turning slowly to his
father he said, "I have given my word and that word
I must keep. I will accept her as my bride if
she will agree to fulfill two conditions: first to
bathe in the courtyard fountain, then to follow me
on a journey into the wilderness."
THE CRYSTAL POOL
Thinking the prince's terms easy to
fulfill, the Eldest One eagerly assented. Then
followed the King's servants to his private
Happily she plunged into the depths of
the crystal pool which was surrounded by elaborately
landscaped gardens. As her body touched the
waters she experienced a strange feeling, an
exhilaration as though these waters were cleansing
her whole being. Something seemed to elevate
her into another sphere.
After a long time - too long it seemed to her - she
slowly rose from the pool. As her hand grasped
the edge of the fountain she caught her breath at
what she saw. Her hands were no longer twisted
and gnarled, they were smooth and unblemished.
Suddenly she cried out, startled that her hair which
fell softly over her shoulders was no longer a drab
gray but was a beautiful golden color. How
strange she felt! Was this feeling the
absolute absence of pain? How still the waters
were! And who was the beautiful young maiden
reflected in those waters? Looking around she
saw no one standing at her side. Suddenly the
truth broke upon her, enveloping her in ecstasy -
the beautiful one was she herself! She had
Sleep was impossible that night. Oh, the
wonder of it all! What magic was in those
waters of the courtyard fountain? With great
anticipation she thought of the proposed journey
into the wilderness - the final step to the
fulfillment of her life's desire. Before she
realized it, morning had come. Her journey must
The majesty of the rising sun found her
waiting for the prince at the palace gates.
Looking upon him in all his princely beauty, then
looking at herself now spotless, clean and young,
she felt a fervent love surge up in her heart for
him. Looking lovingly upon her, the prince
sprang upon his charge without a word and beckoned
her to follow him down the path which led out into
the desert. But, how strange! Where was
HER mount? Was she to go on foot?
Perhaps a horse awaited her in the desert.
Obediently she followed him out through
the city gates and eastward towards the rising
sun. On and on she followed him into the deep
wilderness. She walked rapidly to keep him in
sight. On and on without stopping. On
through the sandy wastes and through thorny
thickets. On while the sun climbed higher and
higher heating the desert sands. On she
continued, for the prince neither waited nor
slackened his pace.
Soon the heaviness of noonday descended upon her
tired body. Hunger and thirst called and still
there was no lessening of the pace. Breathing
became difficult and she had to force her weary feet
to run. Still the prince sped on ever deeper
into the wilderness.
Without looking back she gathered every remaining
bit of energy and struggled on under the friendless
sun, gulping in great draughts of super-heated
air. Her tongue began to swell rapidly as
thirst ravaged her being. "Wait! Please wait", she
called out. Seemingly not hearing, he neither
stopped nor turned to acknowledge her call.
Slowing down and faltering she desperately called
once again for him to wait. But what were
these weird visions that played upon her mind?
Was it true that he did stop and look back only to
spur his horse on and flee even faster and further
into the wilderness? Now she was alone in the
solitude of the vastness of the desert; she could
see him no longer.
The gentle young princess who had been so gloriously
transformed from her former miserable state had
struggled valiantly to prove herself worthy. She had
failed! Her weary feet would no longer obey
her determined will; she could continue no
further. Stumbling, then falling, she lay
prostrate on the searing sands where weary, torn and
bleeding, with heart broken and soul in agony she
groaned in despair because of her failure.
Life ebbed swiftly away.
Had she been mocked by her love? Was there no
eye to pity? Was there no help? Had hope
fled? Must she die alone in this dreary
desert? Her only answer was the low sighing of
the drying winds. Surely NOW she would curse
the day she believed this deceitful prince! Surely
NOW her soul would die in bitterness! The love
she believed to have found seemed to disappear as a
mirage in the lonely and silent desert. Death
Circles of tiny whirlwinds danced around her
listening to her final words. Her lips moved
slowly forming the words of a song:
I've loved thee in life; I love thee in death.
I've loved thee as long as thou gavest me breath.
And now, while the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I've loved thee, Prince Jesus, 'tis now.
Was all but the empty hallucination of a mystic
love? Tiny whirlwinds continued to dance
around the form of the dead princess as over the
distant sands the prince returned in haste to where
she lay motionless and silent.
As the roseate sun of the dying day kissed her face
and lit its beauty in rest, the prince looked
tenderly down at her as he bade the tiny winds
repeat her last words. As he listened, a
mysterious smile spread over his face and his
garments began to shine with a glorious light until
his form and face were transfigured by a heavenly
glory. A beautiful radiance surrounded him and he
began to speak:
"Dear sister of mine, my dove, my undefiled, my
spouse, you thought you had failed. Not
so! I find your love true and worthy.
You have followed me into this wilderness, even unto
death, not once turning back nor denying my
love. Surely you knew my earthly name, sung
throughout all the land, but you did not know my
other name. I am the Resurrection and the
Life. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come
And even as he was speaking, the radiant glory light
began to move out and enfold the form of the
motionless princess, shining around her, and like a
living flame kindling within her the same
resurrection glory that enveloped him. She
arose and beheld her beloved, her earthly beauty now
swallowed up in heavenly light and glory.
Before, she had been made beautiful; now she was all
glorious within and without. Tenderly placing the
gentle princess beside him on the horse, he returned
with her to the palace...
"Kiss me and kiss me again, for
your love is sweeter than wine.
How fragrant your cologne; your name is like its
No wonder all the young women love you!
Take me with you; come, letís run!"
(Song of Songs 1:2-4).