Prince Charming, the tear-begotten - (pages 7-8)
In the tick, impenetrable darkness, the Prince could see a phantom gleaming silvery-white, wandering with loose, golden hair, arms raised in panic. He went up to her and took her in his arms; she sank, more dead than alive, upon his chest, nestling her cold hands inside his bosom. He kissed her eyelids to bring her around. The clouds were chasing each other in the sky and a feverish moon showed here and there through the clearings. The Prince could see two blue stars opening upon his breast – his bride’s eyes. He picked her up and started running through the storm. She nestled her head on his chest and seemed to be asleep. Having almost reached the Emperor’s garden, he laid her in the barge carrying her across the lake as if in a cradle: he plucked grasses, scented hay, and flowers from the garden, made up a bed and placed her in it as if in nest.
The sun rising in the east looked tenderly upon them. Her clothes, soaked by the rain, clung to her sweet rounded limbs; her face, pallid and wet, looked like white was; her small hands crossed upon breast, her loose hair spread out on the hay, the large eyes closed and deep-set, all looked beautiful, but the maiden seemed dead. The Prince strewed a few blue flowers upon that smooth white brow, then sat himself down beside her and began softly piping. The clear sky, boundless as the sea, the sun, a fiery face, the humid smell of the reviving flowers caused her to sleep a long peaceful sleep; the course of her dreams kept pace with the weeping voice of the flute. When the sun was at the zenith, nature was breathless. The Prince was listening to her peaceful breathing, warm and moist. He gently leaned over her and kissed her cheek. Then she opened her eyes still full of dreams, and sleepily stretching out, she murmured smiling:
«So you are here?»
«No, I’m not, can’t you see I’m not?» he said with tears of joy.
As he sat by her she put out her arm and placed it around his waist.
«Come, get up,» he said, fondling her. «It’s broad daylight. »
She got up, pushed her hair back from her brow and down her back; he put his arm around her waist, she put hers around his neck and thus they walked among and the flowerbeds and entered the Emperor’s marble palace.
He took her and showed her to the Emperor, telling him she was his bride. The Emperor smiled, then took the Prince’s hand as if wishing to impart some secret. He led him to a tall window looking out over a broad lake. He said nothing, but just gazed helplessly upon the smooth waters and his eyes filled with tears. A swan had raised its wings like silver sails, and, ducking its head in the waves was rippling the lake’s still surface.
«Tears, Your Highness?» the Prince said. «What for?»
«Brave Prince,» the Emperor said, «you have done me such a great deed which I could only repay you with my eyesight, no matter how precious that is to me. Yet can I ask even more of you.»
«What is that, Your Highness?»
«Look at that swan, how she loves the water. I am young, so I too, should be in love with life, yet so many times I was about to kill myself... I love a beautiful girl, with thoughtful eyes as sweet as the dreaming sea. She is the daughter of Genario, a proud, wild man, who spends his time hunting in primeval forests. He is as hard-hearted as the girl is beautiful. Every attempt at kidnapping her was in vain. Won’t you have a try?»
The Prince would rather have stayed, but sworn brotherhood was sacred to him, as to any young warrior, dearer then his own bride.
«Most high Emperor, of all the fair chances you’ve had this one is greater than all - having Prince Charming as your sworn brother. Come, I’ll go kidnap Genario’s daughter.»
He provided himself with swift horses, steeds with soaring hearts and was about to leave. His bride, Ileana was her name, gave him a sweet kiss and whispered in his ear:
«Never forget, my lord, that while you’re gone I will be forever weeping.»
He looked at her tenderly, fondled her, but tore himself away from her embraces, jumped into the saddle and rode off into the wide world.
He crossed lonely forests and snow-capped mountains. The moon would occasionally come up from behind ancient rocks, somewhat pale, like the face of dead maiden; he would then imagine a gigantic rag hanging from the sky, throwing its tattered hem over some mountain top, a haunted night, a decayed vanished past, a castle in ruins, just stones and broken walls. Day broke at last. The Prince saw that the mountain range opened upon a wide green sea, alive with thousands of glimmering waves, gently and musically crossing the expanse of the sea, away into the distance of blue sky and green waters.
At the extreme end of that mountain range, a grand rock descending sheer into sea was mirrored in the waters. A stately castle stood like a white nest upon it, shining silver-white. Encased in the arches of the walls were tall windows; one window was open and among the flower pots you could see a girl’s face, dark and dreamy like a summer night. It was Genario’s daughter.
«Welcome, Prince Charming», she said, jumping and opening the gates of that stately where she dwelt alone, like a genius in the desert. «Last night I thought I was talking to a star and the star told me that you’re coming on behalf of the Emperor who loves me.»
In the hall of the castle, in the ashes of the fire-place, a seven-headed Tomcat was watching. If one head bellowed, it was heard one-day’s distance away and if all seven did, you could hear the bellowing seven days away.
Engrossed in his savage hunting, Genario was one day’s distance away.
The Prince picked the girl up in his arms placing her on his horse and they both flew along the sands by the sea like two hardly perceptible creatures of the air.