Pretty Ugly

It was the first time that a ball at the palace was organized with invitations to all the ladies in the kingdom. Many said it was so that the Prince could find his bride.

Most of the people had already arrived. Then, a girl entered the hall. She wore a beautiful dress and looked very pretty but there was something on her face which we all couldn’t understand. As she entered the ballroom, all eyes looked towards her but they soon turned away in disgust when they saw the pretty girl’s distorted face. She looked very enchanting but her face, it just sent the chills down one’s spine. One wondered what went wrong with the girl’s face.The ladies at the ball could be heard whispering to each other in hushed voices – “What happened to her?” “Poor thing, looks so beautiful and see her face, takes away all the magic.” She sat at the far end all evening, no one even caring to ask her for a dance.

Finally, it was time for the Prince to enter the ballroom. He looked dashing, and he should, it was his 18th birthday and he was about to inherit the kingdom after all. People gathered around him to admire his fine clothing and congratulate him. All the girls swooned over him but one. That girl with something on her face just sat where she was. When the Prince sat at his throne so that he could view his audience, he spotted the girl at the other end. “Who is she?” he asked his aide. “Your Highness, do you want me to throw her out? She’s ugly but we couldn’t stop her as you invited all the ladies in the kingdom,” replied the aide. “No, no, let her be. I was just enquiring,” said the Prince hastily. He couldn’t remember who she was, but he was sure of having seen her earlier. “Where have I seen her?” he said to himself.

The evening passed and many a bewitching ladies asked him for a dance; but he wouldn’t move for his eyes were fixed upon that ugly girl in the back. Dinner time it was and all went to eat. The Prince said he was not feeling hungry but had to go after much coaxing by his mother, the Queen. He ate little at the dinner table, his eyes wandering here and there in search of that girl. Unable to bear the annoying chatter in the dining hall anymore, he went back to the ballroom, searching for that girl. But she had disappeared.

The Prince immediately went outside to find her. He searched here and there but in vain. He was tired and didn’t have the strength to face the party in the hall. So, he just went towards his chambers. As he was about to enter, he saw a shadow under the lamp post. He went ahead, only to find that girl sitting on the bench, sobbing. He sat down near her and asked, “Oh dear! Crying? Now that’s a little difficult to handle, isn’t it? Care to tell me your name?” “You know that already,” she replied in between sobs.

At that moment, it all came back to the Prince. That sweet voice, he could never forget it; now he remembered, he remembered it all crystal clear. In fact, he felt ashamed of himself for forgetting the girl who saved his life. The pretty girl, with the pretty face, whom he met at the village one day when he dressed as a beggar. He found her sweet, how she gave him part of her own food. She was gentle and helped others. She didn’t think twice before saving him from the fire that started at the poor people shelter even though it burnt her face. “Of course I do, how can I ever forget you after you did so much for me when you neither knew me nor the fact that I am the Prince,” he said to that girl. “Well, at least you remember me for who I am. All my friends turned away from me after the fire. Even my fiancée broke our engagement after he saw how badly my face has been disfigured,” she said, breaking into a sob again. “I’m really sorry for your loss Miss. I wanted to thank you and present you with a reward but you disappeared after the incident,” said the Prince consolingly. “I had to leave. My parents took me to the best doctor they could afford but I was a hopeless case they all said,” she told him.

“I knew you might come to the ball so I sent an invitation to all the girls in the state. But why didn’t you come to me? Why were you sitting all alone at the end?” he asked her. “I wasn’t sure you’d remember me. And I didn’t want to attract attention. It’s bad as it is with my face looking like this. And I, who always helped others, couldn’t summon the courage to ask you for a job,” she tried to reply in between her sobbing. “A job? You need a job?” he asked her in disbelief. “I really do. No one will hire me because of my face. It’s not much I want. I’d be happy to be your maid or gardener,” she said. “You talk about a job? I’m thinking of making you my Princess,” he said. “But aren’t you too good for me?” she asked; after all, he was THE PRINCE. “No, I don’t think so. If anything, you’re better than what I deserve actually.”  And that’s how it ended.


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