The Orange Princess

The prince wished to marry someone with a sunny disposition

The prince wished to marry someone with a sunny disposition

So, there was this Belgian prince who found the young ladies of the court too pale and uninteresting. They looked as if they were made of mist and you could put your hand right through them. He wished to marry someone with a sunny disposition. Someone who would make his heart go boom-de-boom-de-boom.

One morning he walks through the market and sees some unusual fruits piled up as a pyramid and glowing like little suns. He asks the trader about them and is told they are oranges – a delicious fruit from the sunny lands of the south, once tasted, never forgotten.

And to prove it, the trader peels the skin from the flesh. The prince’s nose quivers, his mouth waters; he sinks his teeth into the fruit, his tongue tingles as juice dribbles from his chin and his throat zings.

What zestinessio, what vitalitayto, what zinglingdashio!

If only he could find a wife who smelled so tantalising, who was so juicy and glowed like an orange and made him feel such va-va-voom.

So the prince buys three of the fruits and puts them in a bowl beside his bed. That night he dreams of an orange tree in a garden beside a white castle somewhere in the sunny south. When he awakes he is sure that in one of the oranges on that tree he will find the wife he desires.

The next morning he sets off on his quest. He travels for days and weeks and months. He finds many orange trees in many orange groves but not a single orange tree in a garden near the white castle of his dream.

One evening he meets an old man and tells him of his quest. The old man gives him the directions to the castle with the warning that the gate to the garden won’t open unless he oils the rusty hinges, a ferocious dog will savage him unless he throws it a bone and a wicked witch will gobble him up unless he kisses the black wart on the tip of her nose.
He also tells him to pick three of the orangest oranges from the tree and to make sure that when he peels them he’s next to a fountain.

The next day the prince arrives at the white castle. The gate to the garden won’t open but the prince quickly oils the rusty hinges and it opens wide. A ferocious dog leaps towards him but the prince holds up a tasty bone which is snatched from his hand and gratefully gnawed. Just as the prince picks three of the orangest oranges the sky darkens and a voice from above booms. ‘Kill the orange thief.’ A witch with a black wart on the tip of her nose hurtles towards him. He kisses the wart and it hops off her nose and runs away. The witch forgets about gobbling up the prince and chases after the wart dashing around the garden.

The prince rushes away with the three oranges but before he’s gone too far he stops and peels the first orange. An orange canary flies out of the fruit and circles his head singing,

“ I am so thirsty and you musn’t blink
Before I have had some freshwater to drink.”

But there is no fountain nearby so the canary flies away.

The prince continues homeward bound but before too long he can’t resist peeling the second orange. Once again an orange canary flies out of the fruit and circles his head singing,

“ I am so thirsty and you musn’t blink
Before I have had some freshwater to drink.”

But there is no fountain in sight so the second canary flies away.

The prince doesn’t want to make the same mistake again so he determines not to peel the third orange until he reaches a fountain close to his home in Belgium.

After many months he arrives at the fountain and peels the third orange. Again an orange canary flies out of the fruit and circles his head singing,

“ I am so thirsty and you musn’t blink
Before I have had some freshwater to drink.”

Quickly the prince scoops a handful of water from the fountain pool and the bird lands on his finger tip dipping its beak to drink. Then the orange canary flutters its wings, whistles a tune, hops up in the air and transforms into a beautiful young woman, glowing orange and with a smile radiant as the sun.

This is the woman he desires. She makes his heart go boom-de-boom-de-boom.

He asks her to wait by the fountain while he goes to to tell his parents about his good fortune and to prepare for the wedding.

A while later there’s a rustling in the undergrowth and thinking it might be a wolf, the orange princess climbs a tree overhanging the fountain.

She sees a servant girl who looks as if she was born sucking lemons approach the pool. When this girl looks into the water she mistakes the reflection of the princess above for her own.
She almost swoons at the thought of being so beautiful but realises her folly when she leans closer to the water and sees her own churlish face.

She asks the young woman above what’s she’s doing in the tree. The princess says that she was once a canary who came out of an orange and she’s to be married later that day. The sour faced girl offers to comb her hair if she comes down and sits with her beside the fountain.

As the servant runs the comb through the pretty woman’s orange hair she becomes more and more jealous and combs faster and faster, harder and harder until she scratches the scalp and a tuft of hair is pulled from the princess’s head. Immediately the princess turns into a canary and flies up into the tree.

The prince returns to the fountain and is surprised to see the bitter faced girl sitting by the water. She tells him that if he believes a canary can come out of an orange and turn into a beautiful woman surely he can believe that she is still the same person who has happened to change into someone who looks as if they were born sucking a lemon, and that just as soon as the wedding ring is slipped on her finger she’ll turn back into the orange princess.

The prince doesn’t disagree and very soon the bells are ringing in the cathedral and all the young ladies of Belgium turn even paler and faint to the floor when they see the sullen faced bride sitting beside the handsome prince in the royal carriage.

Just as the prince takes the wedding ring from his pocket a canary flies into the cathedral – an orange canary with feathers missing from the top of its little head – it circles above and sings,

“ We’ll build a nest – together we’ll sing
If only you’ll give me that gold wedding ring.”

He offers it up to her and she takes it in her tiny feet, flies three times around him and the prince changes into an orange canary too. Together, they fly from the cathedral and back to the orange tree beside the white castle.

The nest was built. The eggs were laid. And that is how a story’s made.