Prince Charming, the tear-begotten - (pages 9-10)
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Nevertheless, Genario, tall and strong, had a magic horse with two hearts in his chest. The Tomcat in the castle caterwauled, one head this time; Genario’s horse gave a strong deep snort.

«What is it?» Genario asked his horse. «Too much of a good thing, hey?»

«It’s nothing to do with me, it’s trouble for you. Prince Charming has stolen your daughter.»/font>

«If we make haste, will we be able to reach them?»

«No great haste, for we can catch up with them.»

Genario mounted and flew like an old terror to catch the fugitives. He soon overtook them. The Prince could not fight him because Genario was a Christian, so his strength came not from the powers of darkness, but from God.

«Prince Charming», Genario said, «you’re very handsome indeed and I am sorry for you. This once I’ll spare you, but if you try again... Mind what you are about.»

So placing the girl by his side, he vanished upon the wind as if he had never been.

The Prince, however, was undaunted and knew the way back. He went once again and found the girl alone; her face paler and tear-stained, but she looked even more beautiful. Genario was out hunting, two day’s ride away. The Prince picked out fresh horses from Genario’s own stables.

This time they left by night. They glided like moon rays over the deep sea waves; they hurried through the cold, dreary night, like two delightful dreams. As they ran, they could hear the long-drawn-out double-throated meowing of the Tomcat in the fireplace at home. Suddenly they seemed unable to move, as in a dream when you want to run and cannot. A cloud of dust then descended upon them as Genario was coming at top speed. His face looked terrible, his eyes were cruel. Without another word, he seized the Prince and flung him into the black stormy clouds of heaven. Then vanished, maiden and all.

Consumed by lightning, the Prince dropped a handful of ashes, upon the barren fiery sand of the desert. Then his ashes turned into a spring of fresh water that trickled upon the sands, bordered with tall lush green trees, shedding a cool, scented shade.Had you understood the brook’s murmur you would have realized that it was pining, in low mournful song, for Ileana, the Prince’s fair-haired bride? Anyway, who was to understand the brook’s voice in the heart of a desert, so far untrodden by the foot of man?

Those days the Lord God still used walking over the earth. One day, two men could be seen walking through the desert. One had a luminous face and clothes resplendent like the sun’s white light. The other looked more humble, somehow like the shadow of the shining one. They were the Lord and St. Peter. Scorched by he desert’s sands, they bathed their feet in the clear cool streamlet that flowed from the spring. They walked upstream; their ankles sunk in the waves up to the shady spring, where the Lord drank of the water, washing his luminous face and his wonder-working hands. Then they both sat down in the shade, the Lord thinking of his Heavenly Father, Saint Peter listening to the dirge of the weeping brook. As they rose to go, Saint Peter said:

«Let this brook turn into what is used to be, Oh Lord.»

«Amen,» the Lord said raising his hand, after which they made for the sea without looking back.

The brook and the trees vanished, as if by magic. Prince Charming, waking as if from deep sleep, looked around. He then saw the Lord’s luminous face as he trod the waters of the sea, the waves lying low before him as if he were walking on dry land; he saw Saint Peter too, who, unable to resist his human nature, kept looking back and nodding his head to Prince Charming. The Prince never lost sight of them until Saint Peter’s figure vanished in the distance and you could only see the Lord’s bright face shedding a streak of light upon the shining waters, so that, had it not been noontide, you might have thought the sun was setting. The Prince grasped the full meaning of his wondrous resurrection and fell upon his knees facing the setting of that godly sun.

Then he remembered having promised to steal Genario’s daughter, and a warrior’s promise is seldom left unfulfilled. So he set out and as night was falling, he reached Genario’s castle that glimmered in the darkness like a giant phantom. He went inside...

Genario’s daughter was weeping. On seeing him, her face brightened as a wave brightens beneath the sunlight. He told her how he had come to life; then she said:

«You won’t be able to kidnap me, unless you have a horse such as my father’s, for that horse has two hearts inside of it. I will ask father tonight where he got his horse, so that you too can get one like it. Meanwhile, I’ll turn you into a flower so that my father won’t find you.»

He sat upon a chair, she whispered some sweet charm and as soon as she kissed his brow, he turned into a red flower, as dark-red as a ripe wild cherry. She placed it in the window among her flowers and sang for joy so that the castle echoed.

Just then, Genario came in.

«Cheerful, my child? Why should you be so cheerful?» he asked.

«Because there is no Prince Charming to steal me,» she answered, laughing.

They sat down to dinner.

«Father,» the girl said, «who gave you the horse that you ride when you go out hunting?»

«What is that to you» he said, frowning.

«I just want to know, that’s all, you can be sure,» the girl answered, «since there’s no prince to steal me.»

«You know I never go against your wishes,» Genario said. «Far away, by the seashore, dwells and old woman who has seven mares. She hires men to watch over them, by the year, though the year with her lasts only three days; if a man is good at his job, she lets him choose a colt for his pay; if not, she kills him and hoists his head upon a pole. But even if a man keeps good watch she’ll still cheat him, for she takes the hearts out of all he horses and crams them into a single one, so that the man will more often than not choose a heartless horse which is worse than an ordinary one... Are you satisfied, my child?»

«Quite,» she answered, smiling.

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