What You Shall Give Me? (Bulgarian Folk Tale)

In a far away Kingdom, the King and the Queen had a lovely little daughter… They loved her so much, that they were unable to refuse her anything. That means, they always gave her all she asked for, and ever since she was a baby all her desires were granted. No wonder, her first words she pronounced were not “mamma”, or “papa”, but “GIVE ME!”

As years passed, she wanted all kinds of things, and every time she got what she wanted. She got so used to this, that whenever someone asked her to do something, her first words in reply were: “And if I do, what shall you give me?

So, her parents gave and gave, until everything they had in the Kingdom became a possession of the Princess.

One day, as the Queen was busy with her fine embroidery, she dropped her silver needle, and couldn”t find it on the carpet.

“Daughter, dear!” she said, “will you please help me find my silver needle? I dropped it somewhere around, and I'm so afraid someone might step on it by chance.

“Help you?” the Princess answered back “I may, but if I do, WHAT SHALL YOU GIVE ME?”

“I have nothing left to give.” the Queen said “I have already given you all I had, and you took all: my jewels and my make ups, my clothes and my shoes, my flowers and my vases, my rooms and my gardens…everything… If we don”t count this old shabby dress I have on, I really have nothing more to give.”

“It”s not quite true”, the Princess said. You still have your crown, and it”s time to give it to me!”

“My crown!” the Queen exclaimed. “But it”s a Queen”s crown. You can not wear it. You are not a Queen yet, you are still a child!”

“And what about you?” the Princess shouted. What a Queen are you, when you have nothing? You”re not better than a street beggar!”

“That”s true.” the Queen sighed. “I don”t feel like a Queen any more. Maybe I really don”t need this crown. Take it.”

The princess grabbed the crown from her mother”s head and rushed away to try it in front of the mirror.

At this very moment, her father, the King, who was reading the morning paper on a rocking chair by the fireplace, all of a sudden dropped his eyeglasses. He could see nothing without their help and was very much afraid he could step on them if he tried to search around. So he called the Princess, and asked her for help.

“No problem!” She said. I can see them right now, but before I tell you where they are, you must say WHAT SHALL YOU GIVE ME?”

“I have nothing left to give.” The King said. “You know very well, that I've already given you everything. You even own my horses and my carriages, and the whole palace with all its towers is already -yours…”

“O, yes!” the girl said. “You have one more thing left. Your crown! Have you forgotten about it?

“My crown!” the King moaned.

“Yes! Give it to me!”

“But it”s the King”s crown! You can”t wear it. You are just a little girl!

“And what a King do you think you are?” the Princess mocked. “You have nothing, but a crown. And it”s not very much, is it?”

“You are right.” he sighed. ” I'm not a real King any more. I'm so poor now, and I really don”t need this crown. Take it.”

The girl took her father”s crown, and said: “Here are your eyeglasses, right in front of your left toe. Just bend down and take them yourself. And be careful not to break them. You”ll need them to find your way out…

The King bent down to take his glasses.

Now, put them on your nose”, the Princess commanded. “Then go, find your wife. I want both of you out of my palace. I don”t need you around, since you have nothing left to give. And don”t worry about the Kingdom. Now I'll be the King and the Queen here!”

The King took his wife by the hand and they both left the palace in silence. They followed a narrow pathway, that lead them high in the mountains, where they found a lonely hut to dwell in and care for each other…

Alone at last, the Princess stood in front of the mirror and enjoyed herself trying to place both crowns on her head one after the other. The Queen”s crown was a little too big and slipped to one side. So the girl took it off and replaced it with the King”s crown. This one was even bigger. It slid down her face, the ears, the neck, and stopped when it reached the shoulders.

The Princess tried to take the crown off her head, but it wouldn”t slide back. She pushed and pooled, as if the crown had become smaller, or the girl”s head had grown bigger. The crown wouldn”t move an inch. After long and hard efforts, the girl realized she wouldn”t be able to take the crown off all by herself. But whom could she call for help, when she banished away her parents and all their servants had fled the kingdom long ago, because they didn”t like the way she treated her parents. The girl was really frightened. She could see nothing from within the heavy crown. She also realized she wouldn”t be able to eat and drink. In her despair, she rushed blindly from room to room, banging her crowned head in walls, doors and furniture, loudly yelling for help after each bang.

At that very time, as if out of nowhere and old woman appeared and stopped by the gates of the deserted palace. Following the voice, the woman entered a room and saw a big crown moving violently around, supported by the thin shoulders of a little girl.

“Help me! Help!” screamed the Princess as she heard footsteps in the room.

“Stop shouting!” the old woman ordered. “And tell me what”s going on here.”

“Take this crown off my head!” the girl commanded.

“I might,” the old woman said. “But what shall you give me?

“I'll give you one of my mother”s dresses!”

“Too little for such a tiresome job.” the woman laughed.

“I'll give you all her dresses, even the newest ones!”

“I don”t need new dresses. I like the one I have.” the woman replied.

“Then take all the jewels!” the girl whined.

“I don”t use jewels.” said the woman.

“Then take whatever you like!” the girl pleaded: “The carriages or the horses, the vases, or the furniture. Just choose something and I'll give it to you!”

“No! No! No!” The old woman sounded irritated. “I don”t need any one of those!”

“Then, what is it you want?” the girl asked in a faint voice.

“Are you really interested to hear it?” The woman teased.

“Please!” the girl cried. “I want this crown off my head. Tell me what do you want!”

“Well, if you”re serious about it, I'll tell you: I want all!”

“All?” the girl gulped.

“Yes, all.” the woman confirmed. “Everything ! And all at once!”

“But then… there will be nothing left for me… I will have nothing…”

“Just like your mother and father. They also have nothing left, but I'm sure they”re happier now, where they are, than they were here, with a child like you.”

“And what if I don”t agree?” the girl asked.

“In that case, I'll go my way and leave you here to spend the rest of your life all alone, with no one to talk to. With this big crown over your head, your face, eyes, ears, nose and mouth locked in a cage of solid gold and velvet. You will not be able to go anywhere and do anything at all. You will not be able even to sleep, eat or drink…But you will have your kingdom, and everything in it will be yours forever…”

“Oh, no! Say no more!” The girl cried. “I don”t want to live like that. Please, take everything, but help me get rid of this awful crown!

With just a snap of her fingers, the old woman, who was a fairy in disguise, made the crown jump off the child”s head.

The girl looked around. She could now notice all the things she had broken, or turned upside down, while she rushed through the rooms being unable to see. Then she said: “Thank you very much. I think you opened my eyes twice today. You did not only help take off the crown that shadowed my sight, but you also made me able to see things one can only see with his heart. You may take all I have. I don”t need it any more… But, please, will you help me one more time?”

“What is it you want now?” The Fairy asked.

“Nothing, or maybe it”s too much?” the girl said doubtfully. “I want to see my dear mother and father again, just to tell them how sorry I am.”

“That”s not impossible,” the Fairy said, “but you must be ready to meet them. This can not happen right away.”

“What do I have to do?” The girl asked.

“Come with me. I live in a hut deep in the forest. There is plenty of work to be done there. Too much, even for a Fairy like me… Come, and try to do your best. If you help me with my work, then I'll help you too. .”

“I'll come wherever you take me, and do whatever you say.” The girl said. “… But what shall you do with this palace? It”s yours already.”

“Oh, the palace?” The fairy smiled. I don”t think I need it, but since you say it”s mine, I'll try to make it a better place.” And she snapped her fingers again.

In an instant the palace turned into a beautiful garden, with lots of wonderful trees, blooming bushes, bright coloured flowers, sparkling springs and waterfalls, mirror like lakes, and many sweet creatures, running, flying and crawling happily around…

Amidst the garden, a pretty white house stood, with flowers on the balconies and white lace curtains on the windows.

“How beautiful everything is now!” The girl said. “What a pity we have to leave all this behind!”

“You may come here again, but this can only happen if you find your parents and get their forgiveness. If that happens, the three of you may come and spend the rest of your life here.

“I'm ready to do all that”s needed. Let”s go!” The girl urged.

So they went to the fairy”s cottage. The Princess feared no work and soon became very skilled not only in cleaning, washing and sweeping, but also weaving, knitting and sewing, as well as caring about animals and plants in the fairy garden…

In a short time the girl learned to do so many things, and did them so well, that the fairy was extremely pleased.

Day after day the Princess was preparing for meeting her parents. She had knit a thick sweater for her father and a warm jacket for her mother. She also sewed a nice white shirt for him and a lovely light blue dress for her. The fairy liked them very much.

“Now you are ready,” she said. “With such wonderful presents for your parents. Pack your presents, and follow this pathway through the forest and up in the mountains. Before dark you”ll have reached the little hut where your parents found shelter since they left the palace. The rest is up to you…

The Princess reached the hut and found the door unlocked. There was no one in, but the girl lost no time waiting for her parents to come back. She cooked a tasty meal and baked fresh bread. In the meantime, she swept the floor, and cleaned the modest furniture. She also arranged her presents on the bedside. The girl had just time enough to finish everything, when she heard from outside the voices of the people she loved so much.

When her father opened the door, he let her mother in, and for an instant they both stood at the threshold dumb with surprise. They couldn”t believe their eyes, seeing their daughter, the table served with hot meals and fresh homemade bread, and all the lovely presents she had brought.

“Dear mother! Dear father!” The girl swallowed her tears and tried to smile: ” I love you so much! I've learned a lot since we parted… I promise I'll never be so bad in the future. Please, will you forgive me?”

“We love you too.” Said her mother. “And we forgive you. Don”t we, father?”

“We”ve already forgotten all the bad things. Let”s leave them in the past.

Then they hugged and kissed, and smiled, and laughed, and talked so much, that they nearly forgot to try the tasty meals on the table. When they finally did, they liked everything very much. They went to bed late that night, but got up very early the next morning. Mother and Father put on the fine clothes their daughter had made for them, and the happy family walked down the mountain pathway to visit the Fairy and thank her. The Fairy was very glad things were going on so well. She gave them the key for the pretty white house amidst the garden that was once their palace, where mother, father and their loving daughter lived happily ever after.

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