In NI 1 class, we read Eric K Taylor's story about the princess who never smiled. In it, the king summons any young men from his realm who try to make his daughter smile. Their reward would be half the kingdom, but those who failed would be tarred and feathered and paraded through the main square with a bucket over their head. Many students wrote nice endings for the story. Anra from our Monday morning group wrote a very moving ending. It is one of my favorites. The book that contains this story by Eric K Taylor is Using Folktales (Cambridge UP 2000). Many thanks to Lorena Sousa of Cambridge UP for bringing the book to my attention. In the story of "The Princess Who Never Smiled," the author ends the tale with no ending, the readers, or in this case the students of EFL, have to provide their own versions of the ending. I use this technique a great deal both for writing and conversation activities.
THE PRINCESS WHO NEVER SMILED (CONTINUED..)
(…) The next day, the young man went to the palace to meet the Princess. The young man, thought he would find a thousand men who tried to get half the kingdom and so it was. Even after the threat of the King, everyday a lot of men appeared at the gates of the palace.
The young man looked at the men while he was waiting his turn. He was looking how the rest of them were preparing their shows: some were practicing jokes, some were practicing their shows but all men were very excited, nervous because all of them wanted to get the kingdom. The only man who did not do anything was the young man.
Suddenly, an old man who worked in the palace asked him why he did not practice anything and only was waiting seatedhis turn. The young man answered smiling that, “I only want to talk with the Princess.” The old man went away surprised.
When it was the young man’s turn, he came in the palace hall and said hello to the King. Later, he got inside the Princess’ room with the Princess. Five minutes after, the King opened the door and he looked at something amazing: his daughter was smiling slightly and crying at the same time. The King could not believe it and he did not understand anything: Why was his daughter smiling and crying at once? What happened? He was very shocked. Then, his daughter told him, “Dear daddy, I am so sorry. Please, forgive me to worry you about me. I have wasted my time.”
The King asked her very confused, “What?”
The Princess started to talk: “This man is poor; he must work very hard every day to earn money to buy food for his family; his mother was ill; his father is old and cannot work; and he has to look after his three siblings. Despite all these woes, he never complains. Moreover, he came here worried about me and he asked me what was wrong. This is the only man who worried about me and not about my money or your promise. He asked me why I have never smiled if I am pretty, kind, wise and I have a concerned father.”
Then, the King asked so excited to his daughter, “And then? Why have you never smiled, dear?” The Princess answered smiling, “Because I was waiting for a special man who worried about me sincerely and finally I found him.”
Suddenly, the young man started to cry for the first time in his life and he told the Princess, “I was waiting for the special woman who I show my soul, my tears to her.” The Princess wiped the young man’s tears away and kissed him. A few months after, the young man and the Princess married and their families lived together and happy in the Palace. --- by Anra of Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura, Spain
*Anra's Moral: You decide how to live your life, do not mind if you are poor or rich, tall or small, beautiful or ugly, you decide if you face life with a smile or with tears, even if you are alone, because being with a partner is a decision, not a necessity… Carpe diem!