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Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter. Here is one Martha Storm’s fairy stories, not published in The Library of Lost and Found. I hope you enjoy it.

 

The Teardrop Necklace

The king had three daughters and they all lived together in a castle. Two of the princesses were quiet and meek. They stayed inside, made his food and washed his feet. However, the third, older, one was different. She wanted to shout rather than sing. She wanted to run barefoot in the fields, not stay cooped up in the castle.

One day, the third princess sneaked out to a local market to buy bread and cheese, which she ate on her way home. But the king was waiting for her. ‘Don’t leave the castle again, or I will lock you away until you learn how to behave.’

But the third princess refused. So the king shut her away in a small room at the top of the castle. He ordered an old woman to deliver food to her, through a tiny hatch in the door.

The room was comfortable with a bed, lots of books to read and beautiful things to look at, however the princess wanted to escape. When she looked out of the window, the people below were the size of ants and they couldn’t hear her when she called out to them.

Even though she was angry and upset, the princess never forgot her good manners and always said, ‘Thank you,’ to the old woman who brought her food.

Each night, the princess tried not to cry, but tears of frustration rolled down her cheeks and she collected them in an empty bowl. By the morning they evaporated, but one day she noticed that one teardrop remained and had turned into a beautiful glass bead.

‘Thank you for the food,’ she said when her food hatch opened and she saw the old woman. She wore ragged clothes and had a kind face. ‘Will you take this pretty bead, as a thank you for helping me?’

The old woman shook her head because the king had told her not to accept anything from the princess. ‘No,’ she said. ‘But I will talk to you for a while.’ She sat on the top of the stairs and made the princess laugh with her stories.

The next night the same thing happened and one of the princess’s teardrops turned into a bead. She plucked a few hairs from her head and threaded the two beads onto them. At the end of a month she had made a beautiful bracelet. When the old woman opened the hatch to push through her bowl of food, the princess took hold of her hand. ‘Kind lady,’ she said. ‘Will you take this pretty bracelet, to thank you for the food?’

 ‘You are very kind,’ the old woman said. ‘But I can’t take it from you.’

At the end of three months, the old woman looked forward to taking food to the princess. She liked to listen to her singing and to watch her dancing. And this time the princess offered her a necklace of beads. The old woman hesitated then took a key from her pocket that she’d taken from the king when he wasn’t looking. She opened the door and the princess reached out and fastened the teardrop bead necklace around her neck. But the old woman handed it back. ‘Even though the king gives me money for clothes and feeds me,’ she said. ‘I’m setting you free because of the kindness you have shown me. The necklace is yours, not mine.’

The princess slipped the necklace back around her own neck. ‘At first I offered you the beads so that you would help me, but then I looked forward to seeing you. Your stories have helped me and I want to hear more…’

The third princess and the old woman held hands and crept down the stairs, past the other two princesses who were washing the king’s feet. They slipped out of the castle and into the crowds outside, mixing with the other people, like ants.