Until one day, a stranger entered the village. He got along well with the other villagers. When he first cast eyes on the princess, his heart skipped a beat. One of the older villagers noticed the stranger’s interest and shook his head.
“Why are you shaking your head?” the stranger inquired.
“She’s not in your league,” the villager responded. “The princess isn’t stuck up by any means. She is very down to earth, always friendly to the villagers. However, she has been through a lot, so if you are going to approach her, you have quite a wall to climb. Plus, what do you have that will impress her parents? They only want her with the best…do you have money or anything of value you can offer to her or offer to the kingdom? If not, then you need to quit while you’re ahead.”
The stranger realized there was wisdom to what the older villager said, but his heart would not be moved. He knew he wanted to be with the princess, but she had yet to even notice him. The stranger decided he would find ways to make himself accessible.
Once the other villagers figured out the stranger’s interest in the princess, they decided to help him, although they believed him to be a fool. Some of them even had wagers as to whether the stranger would end up with the princess. They informed the stranger of the princess’ routines: when she would go out for a walk, go out to eat, and go shopping. The stranger would make himself available. If she accidentally dropped something, he was always there to pick it up. If she was reading something near the beach, he would be nearby building a sand castle, waving to her as she passed.
Finally, after a few weeks of this, she addressed him.
“It is so strange that you are always around wherever I am at. Is it coincidence?”
“Um…I guess,” the stranger shrugged.
“Are you new around here? I know almost all of the villagers and you are not familiar to me.”
“No, I am new…my name is Romeo.”
The princess laughed until she realized he wasn’t laughing.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that was your real name.”
“It’s all right,” Romeo said, “I get it all the time…”
And that is how everything began. As the princess became more comfortable with Romeo, she found herself becoming excited at the prospect of running into him. Their conversations started off light—about the weather, what book she was reading, and their favorite foods.
But as her private life became more turbulent, she needed someone to confide in. She started becoming less comfortable in confiding in her parents. She had gotten in a new relationship, and although on paper and in presentation, he fit the ideal of what her parents’ wanted, she didn’t feel happy with him. On one particular day, Romeo noticed her sadness.
“What troubles you, Princess?”
“Romeo, I hardly know where to begin…”
“Just start anywhere. Your heart looks like it is heavy.”
She wept in his arms as she proceeded to tell the story of her latest relationship and the dilemma she faced.
“My parents love him, but I don’t. I try to respect him, but he doesn’t respect me. I feel as if he talks at me and not to me.”
“Have you talked to him about his behavior? Have you talked to your parents?”
“He thinks I’m being too sensitive. My parents think it’s time for me to marry and to give them grandchildren. They think he is behaving this way because I won’t set a date for the wedding but once I do, he won’t act that way anymore…”
“Do you want to know what I think?” Romeo said. “I think you should do what makes you happy, and if he doesn’t make you happy, you should not be with him. Your parents don’t have to deal with this guy on a daily basis; you do.”
“You are right, but I was alone for so long before this guy….”
“But which is your greater fear, being unhappy or being alone? Once you figure that out, you will know exactly what you need to do,” Romeo said.
Once Romeo left, the princess sat for hours, letting what he said marinate. She went back home and had a long talk with her parents, mapping out all the reasons why she couldn’t stay in the current relationship.
“I know he seems like the perfect guy, but he’s just not right for me. Please try to understand.”
Her mother gave her a hug and nodded. She knew her mom respected her decision. Her father, however, was not as supportive.
“At this rate, you’re going to be an old maid. I’m starting to think you have no idea what you want!” he yelled and stormed into the bedroom.
The princess’ eyes welled in tears. Her mom patted her on the back.
“Don’t worry, dear. Let me talk to him.”
As her mom went to talk to her dad, the princess went to visit her boyfriend to tell him the news.
“Why are you doing this?” he yelled.
“I’m sorry, but I’m just not happy with you. I’m sure you will make a wonderful mate for someone; it’s just not me…”
“But I don’t want anyone else; I only want you!” he yelled.
“I’m sorry, but my decision is final,” she replied, taking off the promise ring and putting it on the counter. “I do wish you well and I hope someday you will forgive me.”
However, the jilted suitor was incensed and his emotional instability would manifest physically. After the encounter, the princess’ movements were calculated and slow. Any hurried ones would cause her lots of pain. She knew she wouldn’t be able to make it back home so she went to her favorite beach to rest her battered body.
When she didn’t come to breakfast, her parents weren’t that worried. On some days, she would spend time with her boyfriend and eat with him. But lunch they always had together. And when there was no sign of the princess, they became worried. The villagers heard of their dismay and rushed to tell Romeo.
“No one has seen the princess since last night. This is highly unlike her. Do you think you’ll be able to find her?”
Romeo went to the beach and found her. She was barely breathing. He could see through her clothing that she was badly beaten. He scooped her up and rushed her to the castle. Her mother began to cry; her father howled in rage.
“Who could have done this to her!” her father screamed. “I want this scoundrel brought to justice!”
Romeo already knew who did it and his hand would be much swifter than justice. Once the doctors were away, he kissed her forehead.
“I will avenge you, Princess.”
He discovered the location of the ex-boyfriend and paid him a visit in the cloak of night.
The next day, he paid a visit to the old villager who gave him advice.
“I have to go away for a little bit.”
“Why, Romeo? We love having you here….”
“Because I could not wait on Justice’s hand to avenge the princess. She confided in me that night that he would be cruel to her emotionally. It would only be a matter of time before he got stupid enough to put his hands on her. She was thinking of breaking up with him that night. My guess is that she went to his place to do so, and he didn’t take the news well at all. So I must go because even though he deserved it, he is still a nobleman and I am still a peasant. And the penalty is still death.”
However, the villagers did not want Romeo to leave. They decided to protect him. The villagers told a different story of what happened to the nobleman, and Romeo was never implicated in the proceedings. The villagers even presented the returned promise ring and the princess’ coat as proof that the nobleman had been the one who hurt the princess.
“Well, he got what he deserved,” said the king. “I am ashamed at how I acted when my daughter said she wanted to leave him.”
“It is all right,” said the queen. “You could not have known what he was going to do.”
“We didn’t even get a chance to thank the man who found and saved her. The doctor said she would have died if he had not found her when he did.”
It took a while but the princess finally recovered. The abuse hardened her heart. Although she was still nice to the villagers, the shine was gone from her eyes. Romeo noticed it, too, but decided not to press the issue. He understood the impact of what happened to her. He understood why she was not as trusting anymore, even with him.
But as they began spending more time together, the shell started to melt around her heart. She began to look at Romeo in a new way. He began to sense this as well and finally mounted up the courage to ask for more. She mapped out she had been in a lot of bad relationships; he said that all he wanted was a chance to mean even a quarter of what the others meant to her. After much resistance, she finally opted to give him a chance.
And this chance is still going strong.
Her parents are happy and accepting of him. His parents are happy and accepting of her.
The villagers love them both. Even the ones who lost the bet believe they make a good couple, so it was money worth losing.
And yet, no wedding bells and no kids.
One day, while the princess was sitting on the beach, one of the wise villagers approached her.
“Princess, may I ask you a question?”
“You have been seeking a prince for a long time. When your parents were looking and when you were looking, everything didn’t go so well. But when you didn’t look, Romeo came along. He wasn’t royalty; he wasn’t rich, just a loyal, honest fella with a good heart. You have to know he loves you; I believe he loves you, too. So why hasn’t he been made a prince yet?”
While she was trying to come up with an answer, the wise villager continued.
“Look if you are happy, and it’s obvious to everyone that he’s happy, I don’t see what the big wait is all about. If you want to do it up fancy, I’m sure you can get together and do it later. But if you are waiting for a supposed right time, that time may not ever come. How do you know the right time isn’t right now? Time is one of those things which does not stand still; you cannot get it back. That other guy almost took your life from you; Romeo gave it back. The only one holding you back is you.”
And with that said, the wise villager walked away.
Is there a real life lesson that can be gained from this fairy tale?