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The Heart of a Princess

by Miss Ashley Smylie

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Once upon a time, long ago, there lived a good king who had but one child, a young daughter who was both fair and lovely, having thick, long hair the color of darkest night, and round, wide eyes as green as grass in the summer. She was a sweet and loving child, and kind-hearted indeed. She was courteous and sociable with her maids and friends, as well as with anyone else she chanced to meet. As a result of all this, the entire kingdom loved and adored the girl, and treated her very much like a celebrity.

And so lived the young princess Shamarra, going about and doing this and that and living as a young princess ought to. In the midst of it all, however, the princess was properly brought up and taught important values by her caring father.

When the time came to celebrate Shamarra’s sixteenth year, much time was spent making many great preparations for a large, lavish banquet, and all the royal kingdom was commanded to attend, for the king delighted in his daughter and wanted only the best for her. The servants were all in a great rush, cleaning and preparing the large palace from high ceiling to gold floors. The cooks were rushing madly about the kitchen chamber, preparing every food ever imagined to serve at the banquet.

But indeed, no one was more frantic than the king himself, who was quite in a dither. He hadn’t a gift for his daughter, and as her father, he was expected to present Shamarra with the largest, most expensive, wonderful gift she could ever dream of. Because of this, as well as his great love for her, the entire kingdom would be anticipating his gift to the princess, yet still he could think of absolutely nothing.

On the evening of the banquet, when the whole kingdom was gathered into the king’s best dining chamber, with all the beautiful decorations hung and the food set out, the king proudly announced his daughter. Princess Shamarra gracefully descended the red-carpeted royal staircase, dressed in a long, trailing gown of evening blue silk and wearing lovely pearls. All the kingdom applauded for her and showed their respect, for each of them loved her for her kind-heartedness and beauty.

After formalities had been exchanged, each guest presented Shamarra with a gift. Each gift was different, special in its own way; they ranged in value depending upon the social status and amount of money possessed by the giver.

When it was the time at last for the king to present his gift to the princess, all the guests gathered around in anticipation to discover what the gift would be. With thousands of curious eyes watching, the king set before Shamarra an elegantly wrapped box with an enormous gold ribbon tied around it. Gently, with much grace, the princess removed the ribbon and the wrappings from the box and reached her delicate hand inside to find what the wonderful gift would be.

A gasp rippled throughout the dining chamber when she lifted out the gift; it is not to be said whether this gasp was one of surprise, joy, or disappointment -- perhaps it was indeed a combination thereof -- for there in the hand of the princess lay a small, pretty little heart, made of pure gold. As Shamarra turned questioning eyes to her father, the king explained to both his daughter and the entire kingdom that this heart represented her own heart and true love, and she was to present it as a gift to her husband on the day they were wed. It was a priceless gift, he solemnly told, and she must guard it as she would her own real heart. Shamarra vowed to indeed do so, and decided to carry the thing always in a little pocket safely inside her gown.

Now, by and by, the day came that Princess Shamarra chanced to meet a young prince from another kingdom. They were introduced at a dinner, and Shamarra was promptly taken with the stranger, for he was tall and handsome and polite. As they conversed, she began to feel at ease and friendly with this Prince Harold, and through the following days as the two visited often, Shamarra was certain she was falling in love.

Her father warned her to be cautious and reminded her again to keep special care of the gold heart she carried with her. But sadly, the princess paid no heed to these warnings, and one evening as she visited with her handsome Prince Harold, she pulled the pure gold heart from her pocket. Remembering the king’s command that she was to give it on her wedding day, she hesitated thoughtfully. Harold must know how great was her love for him, but she would not give him the whole heart just yet.

Without a second thought, Shamarra carefully broke off a piece of the precious heart and placed it in Harold’s hand as a token of her love. The prince promised to keep safe the nugget of gold, but, unbeknownst to Shamarra, he carried it home that evening and laid it away carelessly in a drawer, soon to be forgotten.

Now although Shamarra’s love for Harold was great, not many days passed before the prince returned to his own kingdom. Shamarra missed him terribly, and longed each day to see him again.

Imagine the poor princess’s sorrow when, only a fortnight later, she received news of Prince Harold’s betrothal to a princess from a nearby kingdom! Shamarra wept mournfully day after day for her lost love and her broken heart, for she greatly regretted giving away a precious piece of the golden heart.

Days passed, and eventually Shamarra recovered from her sadness. But it so happened that not many weeks later, she was introduced to yet another handsome prince. Known as Prince Albert, this young man delighted Shamarra with his refined manner and charming talk.

Now, one would expect the princess to have learned a valuable lesson from the unfortunate experience with Prince Harold; nevertheless, she had soon fallen in love once again and given Albert a piece of the priceless gold heart. And once again, after they parted, the prince paid no heed to the precious thing entrusted to his care, and was within a few days infatuated with another young princess.

Poor Princess Shamarra was devastated! Not only had she lost her love, but another portion of her golden heart was gone forever. Shamarra remained in her personal chamber for days, weeping bitter tears and vowing never to fall in love again.

But alas, vows hastily made are soon forgotten, and not much time passed before a visiting prince called Leonard had charmed his way into Shamarra’s heart. The two spent time together each day, and Shamarra was certain that Prince Leonard was the man she would wed. Having not a doubt, she was both confident and delighted that he truly loved her. For indeed, when she gave him a piece of the golden heart as a token of her love, he did not abandon her as the other princes had, but instead presented her with a gift in return.

One fateful evening, as Leonard and Shamarra walked together in the romantic moonlight, Shamarra was so overcome by her love that, without thought, she gave Leonard the precious remainder of the pure gold heart. Because of her certainty that he loved her, she had faith that he would take mindful care of the priceless gift.

Tragically, though, the very moment Prince Leonard had the gold piece in his hands, his true motive was revealed, and he hurled the little heart to the ground. With a terrible sound, the fragile heart shattered into dozens of beautiful golden shards, sparkling on the moonlit pavement. Shamarra cried out desperately, for she felt as though her own heart inside of her had shattered as well. She turned pain-filled, searching eyes to Leonard, but the prince offered only a heartless smirk before turning and disappearing into the night.

Collapsing to her knees, Shamarra grasped a single golden shard between her delicate fingers, then letting it fall once again, covered her face with her hands and wept in utter despair. For she had been unjustly deceived and used, and now her pain and shame were nearly too much to bear.

When the sun rose the following day, Princess Shamarra collected the pieces of the broken heart and, with a heavy spirit, came before her father the king. He questioned her as to why her lovely face appeared so sad, and, with tears coursing down her fair cheeks, Shamarra fell to her knees and confided in her father all that had taken place. Her story complete, she presented the gold pieces to her father and bowed her tear-stained face in humility and submission.

A moment later, the kind king stretched out his hands and gently lifted his daughter to her feet. His own eyes were filled with tears as well as he gazed into her beautiful green eyes with fatherly love, and inquired whether she was willing to entrust her precious gold heart into his care. Readily, the princess agreed, and the king rose and led her into a chamber adjoining the throne room. Inside this chamber, a hot fire was roaring, and a sturdy pot hung over the flames.

Presently, the king placed the broken pieces of Shamarra’s gold heart into the pot, where they promptly began to melt. When Shamarra realized what was happening, she burst into tears once again and begged her father not to destroy the precious thing. But he was not destroying it, the king assured her, only refining it in order to make it perfectly pure once again.

When the gold was completely melted, the king poured the liquid into a mold, where it solidified into a tiny heart, much smaller but just as pure as the original. At last, the king lovingly presented to Shamarra the new heart, which she accepted tenderly. Overcome with gratefulness for her father’s mercy and the second chance she had been given, Shamarra dropped to her knees once again, thanking the king for what he had graciously done for her.

But how, she questioned, raising her eyes to meet his, could she keep this precious new heart safe, not giving it away as she had before? Could he help her?

In reply, the king gently inquired whether Shamarra would desire to continue her own search for a suitable prince, or allow him to bring one to her. Uncertainly, the princess clasped the golden heart against her chest. Could she place her full trust in her father to bring her a suitable prince? What a difficult decision to come to! And yet, hadn’t the king just given her a new golden heart as well as a second chance? Besides, thus far she had not been very wise in choosing a prince.

Finally, Shamarra responded to her father; yes, she would give him her trust to bring her a prince. Smiling, he bid her wait patiently, for he had in mind the perfect prince for her.

For a week, Shamarra waited, wondering what kind of prince her father had in mind. Would he choose one handsome and loving? Or would he bring one unappealing to her? At times the princess became anxious, but upon talking with her father, she became at peace again, for the king assured her that everything would be fine.

At last, one lovely morning, the king summoned his daughter and introduced her to a young prince named William. Prince William was indeed handsome, and loving, as Shamarra had hoped, as well as gentle and kind. As they became better acquainted through the following weeks, Princess Shamarra and Prince William found themselves falling in love, but Shamarra took extreme care of her precious golden heart, guarding it as her own heart, as her father had instructed.

Finally, the prince and princess approached the king and inquired of him concerning their love for each other. And indeed, it was with great pleasure and joy that the king gave his daughter and her prince his blessing to marry.

On the day of their wedding, dressed in a flowing white gown, and with the entire kingdom happily watching, Shamarra joyously presented to William her tiny gold heart, pure and unbroken.

And they lived happily ever after.

This is a short story that Ashley wrote for the Bob Jones University Short Story Contest.  She placed first in the 11th-12th grade category.  Her story was published in their "winner's" magazine.

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Happy is the man that findeth wisdom,and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandising of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than find gold.She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared with her.    Proverbs 3:13-15

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