Beauty Is Only Skin Deep

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

The King wanted his daughter married off, he didn't realise what would happen next...

 

Black clouds, rain and thunder had rumbled in and planted itself above the King’s castle in Slowdonia. It gave an air of misery to the whole land no one was happy, least of all the King. He was pacing up and down in his third wife’s bedroom.

 

“It’s only a matter of weeks,” he was saying, and threw his arms out from his body in a sweeping movement. “Weeks,” he repeated. There was silence. He turned to face his third wife Gisellda. “Well what have you got to say woman? I’m a few weeks away from utter disaster and all you can do is stitch.”

 

Gisellda began to shake her head. “Why are you asking me? I’m only the third wife, you haven’t asked me important things like this before.”

 

The King stopped and gazed through the white net out of the main window. He placed his left hand on his hip. With his right he swept another arc in the air. “You know Secrecia is with child I can’t trouble her with these matters.”

 

“And what of the young Derverna?” Gisellda enquired. “She isn’t – is she?” The green in her eyes twinkling in the fire glow from the burning logs.

 

“She is only seventeen and a half,” the King said, his voice rising an octave.

 

Gisellda sighed. “Yes, as old as your daughter of whom we speak.”

 

“Exactly,” the King said, the triumph in his voice echoing around the room. “You’re nearly 39 and are much wiser - having seen a lot of the world. Remember she is your daughter too. In a few weeks she must be married or it’s the end for me. The old laws say if she is still a maiden when she is eighteen she accedes to the throne. I can’t have that, I’m only 56 I can be King for years yet. But who will marry her? She has your crooked nose and flat chest. She’s been wined and dined by the most handsome bachelor’s in the land but none have asked for her hand.”

 

He sank into a plush armchair legs akimbo and his head buried in his hands and moaned. Gisellda continued her cross-stitching without looking up she said, “Why don’t you offer some money, men will do anything for that?”

 

The King continued moaning then stopped and a beaming smile broke from within his overgrown ginger beard. He stood up and began pacing the room again. He reached the door grabbed the handle and tugged it open. “You’re right,” he shouted as he swept into the open corridor, in his wake several servants in white stocking legs ran to keep up. Gisellda stabbed her needle into her pattern and smiled.

 

***

 

The next day town criers sang out the latest royal proclamation. The King would grant titles and land to anyone who could steal the Princess Derverna’s heart. All would be theirs as long as it was done in the next 4 weeks. Furthermore he would pay for the wedding.

This message drew large crowds into town and village squares throughout the kingdom. Men of all ages began discarding their wives and girlfriends, and mothers spat into handkerchiefs and rubbed dirt from their son’s faces. The whole country was gripped by the King’s generous offer.

 

The King ordered his senior lawmakers to ensure that local meetings were held where the contenders were to be sorted. He didn’t want any men with good looks to be permitted to get through that stage of the process. “They must be ugly,” he shouted at the judges whose triangular hats trembled with fear. “Sort them out,” he raged. “And bring me the two ugliest you can find.”

 

After hundreds of meetings and ten days of searching two miserable wretches were brought before the King. One of the men was bent over double and was obviously nearer death than birth. He could only stagger with the aid of the broken branch of a tree, his hair was a dirty grey and his clothes were filthy rags. The King knew at once even he could not get Derverna to have anything to do with him. He held his nose and screamed, “Take him away.” As his guards dragged him out the old man breathed his last. “And bury him quickly.” The King added. This left him with one very ugly man. He was tall with matted hair and big red sores all over his face. His ears were mangled and the few teeth he had in his mouth were black and rotten. Not much of his broken nose could be seen because it was covered in several large warts, so big they nearly blotted out his eyes. The King examined him close up and walked around him a couple of times, while the judges held their breath. Under his breath the King muttered ‘perfect’. To the judges he said, “He’ll do. Take him to the Princess.”

 

 

It was an anxious time for the King. He spent many days peering out of palace windows at Derverna and the ugly one as they walked and chatted. He was delighted when he was told she had not rejected his choice of suitor. The more he saw them together the more convinced he became she would consent to a marriage. His Kingship was safe. As soon as the union occurred he would send them away to some far corner of the kingdom to live out their lives. The good news came two days before her birthday. The ugly one had proposed and Derverna had accepted. Only two things Derverna asked was that they be married in Joysville, his hometown about 12 hours ride away, and they celebrated the nuptials on her birthday. The King was so overjoyed he agreed.

 

***

 

Friday of the second Passover came and all the wedding plans had been made. The King’s entourage with his first, second and third wives in their own carriages followed the King out of the iron gates. As was the custom the bride would leave twenty minutes later. The groom, of course, had left the night before to be there when his wife-to-be arrived.

 

When the King arrived in Joysville he found the town bedecked in flags and bright coloured bunting hanging from every building. Masses of people lined the streets as the procession made its way to the circle of stone. Cheers rang out as the King passed. He looked at the sun it was nearly overhead. ‘Not long now’ he thought. Dignitaries from all over the country were waiting along with nine druids, the number required for a royal wedding, as the King took his place at the head of the congregation.

 

He was reassured to see the ugly one sitting opposite waiting for his bride.

 

The sun had moved from the left hand side of the stones to the right hand side when the King began to get worried. He glanced over at the ugly one but his place was empty. It was then the King knew something was wrong. Derverna had not turned up either.

 

Twelve hours later the King arrived back at his castle the gates were down and locked. “Open these gates,” he shouted. “This is the King.”

 

The sweet voice of Derverna came floating through the black night, “I’m sorry father you’re no longer King. This land has a Queen now with an ugly consort. You are banished to the border country for the rest of your life. Goodbye.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: May 25, 2020

© Copyright 2021 PikerUK. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Ian D. Mooby

This isn't bad. I wasn't very funny in my opinion, but it has potential. The daughter tricking the father out of his kingdom was a good plot twist.

Tue, September 29th, 2020 12:05am

PikerUK

Many thanks Ian for your comments. At least I know someone has got a comment, good bad or indifferent!

Tue, September 29th, 2020 8:41am

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