Prince Charming, the tear-begotten - (pages 1-2)
Prince Charming, the tear-begotten
In the olden times when men and women as we now behold them were yet in the womb of time and the Lord’s holy feet were still treading the stony expanses of the earth – in those old days there was an emperor, as gloomy and woeful as midnight; and he had an empress as young and bright as noonday.
Fifty years had gone by since the emperor was waging war against a neighbour. The neighbor was dead leaving the hatred and the family feud as an inheritance to sons and grandsons. Fifty long years the emperor alone lived on, lonesome like the aged lion, his strength sapped by wars and worry; he had never laughed, not in his lifetime, nor even grinned at the innocent song of a child, at his young wife’s tender smile, or the ancient yarns and jokes of warriors grown gray in battle and hardship. He felt weak and thought he was dying and there was no heir to his throne. Mournful would he rise from the bed he shared with his young wife – a bed of gold, yet barren and unblessed – mournfully would he go to war ever sorrowful at heart; left behind, the empress bemoaned her loneliness with bitter tears. Her hair, as yellow as purest gold, fell upon her white round breasts, while from her big blue eyes pearl after watery pearl streamed down her cheeks whiter than silver lilies. Deep blue shadows appeared around her eyes and blue veins showed upon her face which was as white as marble.
She rose from her bed and threw herself prostate upon the stone steps of a vault in the wall; here, above a smoky icon-lamp the silver-wrought icon of the Mother of Sorrows kept her vigil. Touched by the prayers of the kneeling empress, the eyelids of the cold icon moistened, and a single tear streamed from the dark eye of our Lord’s mother. The empress rose to her full imposing height, touched cold tear with her dry lips and sucked it deep down into her innermost soul. That very moment she became heavy with child.
One month went by, two months, nine months, and the empress gave birth to a son, as white as unskimmed milk, and as fair-haired as moonlight.
The emperor smiled, the son, too, smiled in its sultry empire, and even stopped its course, so that for three days there was no night, but only fair weather and gladness. The wine flowed from unstopped casks and the shouting and merry-making rose skylight.
His mother named him Prince Charming, the Tear-Begotten. He grew up as tall and straight as mountain fir, his body gained within a month as much as another did within a year.
When he was old enough, he had in iron club made, hurled it up to the skies, caught it upon his little finger and the club broke in two. So he had a heavier one made, hurled it upwards as high as the cloud castles in the moon; this time, when it returned to earth the club did not break against the young man’s finger. So the Prince took leave of his parents, bent upon fighting the army of his father’s enemy by himself. His noble body he clad in shepherd’s garb, with a silk shirt soaked in his mother’s tears, and a fine hat upon his head, decorated with flowers, gaudy with ribbons and beads from the necklaces of princely maidens; he stuck into his green belt a shepherd’s pipe for a sorrowful song, the doina, and another one for dance music, the hora; and as the sun was two furlongs high in the sky, he set out into the wide world, his manly pride and strength full upon him.
On the road he played for joy and sorrow and would throw his club to rift the clouds so that it dropped one day’s walk ahead. Mountains and valleys listened in dumb amazement, the waters quickened their tide to listen, wells would boil deeper into the earth and bubble up that every crest and drop might hear, that they might sing like him when whispering to lowlands and flowers.
The rivers gurgling under lonely stone heights picked up love songs from the noble shepherd; the eagles silently perching upon dry rocky peaks picked up the mournful shriek of sobbing sorrow. All things stood still and wondered as the young kingly shepherd passed by, piping for sorrow and joy. Tears of passionate yearning filled the dark eyes of maidens; the yearning for manly deeds would stir in the breasts of young shepherds, as they leaned against the rocks and upon their clubs.
All things stood still. The Prince alone never stopped, his music keeping time with his heart’s desire, his eyes intent upon his club flashing like a steel eagle, like a shooting star across the clouds, towards the heavens.