Beauty and the Forty-Two
The land of Howard was not much different from any other settlement in the area except for one thing, the prince hadn't yet found a princess for him to share the rest of his life with. Remember that these were the days of knights and jesters and castles, and a prince had to travel far and wide in order to find a wife.
It should also be said that this particular prince was no ordinary prince; of course he had ten fingers and ten toes, but he also had eleven other fingers and eleven other toes that had grown in some rather odd places on his body. The fingers were coming out of the top of his head; just like someone was making moose antlers on his head, only there were -- yup, you guessed it -- eleven fingers. What's even scarier for the prince is that the toes were protruding out of his right hip. It looked like the prince had a roll of coins in his pocket. Sometimes a princess would ask: "Is that a fat wallet in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
Despite all the defects of this seemingly frightening prince, he happened to have a heart of gold. He was always kind and genuine in everything that he did and everything that he said. This man could be held by his word, which was as solid as gold. He also happen to be a hunk, if you ignore the defects which could easily be hidden from a princess, but not for long. And so the story began back in that town of Howard…
~~~~~~~~~~"Damn him!" Yelled the fat and angry king while the prince took his time choosing a princess to marry. He undid his robe as he and his queen were having a few words before heading off to their respective chambers for the evening.
"Why can't he just pick some ugly broad and have it settled? It's not like he has to be attracted to her or anything like that. After all, they just have to live together. If he ends up hating his wife, he can always just avoid her like the king and queen of Noran do or like we used to do until we got lonely for the company of a member of the opposite sex."
The queen hated it when he referred to their relationship like that. She brushed her long blond hair several times before answering in a low tone. "I want our son to be happy. That's the least we can do for him. Neither of us are dying anytime soon, so I would rather our son be picky and be happy for the rest of his life than just get it over with and be miserable. Being miserable is no way to go about life."
And that ended that conversation. Just like usual, the queen had made her point which was always more logical and wiser than the king's. Now it was just up to the prince who felt like there was no hope at all.
~~~~~~~~~~"The princess of Hirasala is here to see you, Prince Richard." The servant bowed low before the prince, leaving him to check his appearance once more before heading out to see this princess. And just like always, the prince touched all his gross eleven toes and eleven fingers for luck. After all, you never know when you're going to need that extra touch of luck!
When the prince arrived in the large and extravagant room of the castle where the princess was waiting, he was blinded by the warm summer sun that was setting under the window. He had to squint away before eagerly looking for this princess he had heard so much about. Where was she? All the couches were empty as were all the chairs. Finally he caught a glimpse of a tall slim figure standing with her back to him. This figure was very womanly with dangerous curves and a dainty frame. Her silky hair was swept back with a ribbon and curled just so it would suggest a little more body than what it naturally had. When she turned around, Prince Richard's breath caught in his throat. He couldn't speak a word, all he could do was spit and sputter and search for some kind of gesture to say hello. Finally he had found his breath and thought up something to say to this unspeakably beautiful woman. "Pleased to meet you." sputtered the prince. He could tell he was flushed in the face from his nervousness by how hot it felt. She seemed to be nervous as well, Richard could tell, for when their eyes met, she had to clear her throat as well to mutter a kind greeting back to the prince. "What a beautiful day outside!" she managed to say strongly despite her sweaty palms. She noticed that she had also removed all the rings from her finger one at a time and mindlessly put them each on different fingers than what they were on before. They were both nervous as could easily be seen by any nitwit.
The two had a gallant supper that evening in Richard's special party room. This room was only used for special occasions, but Richard could sense that this woman could grow to love him for him. As the five-course supper was being served the eager servants were noting the prince and princess' every move to each other because they knew of the prince's search for a bride. All the servants could see were the two making goo-goo eyes at each other and all they could hear was flirty laughter from the princess and the prince telling brave encounters of times when he had to defend himself in hopes to woo the princess.
And that it did! The prince was also wooed by how the princess had such respect for her servants and the prince could also see that she had a passion for life and enjoyed everything about it. She wanted to make their kingdom a more loving place and so did the prince.
As they continued to court, they grew to love one another more and more each day. However, the prince always had that shadow of a thought where he had to eventually show the princess what he kept hidden under his crown that never left his head or what it really was that looked oddly rolled up in his right pant pocket.
The night arrived where Richard decided to tell his beautiful bride-to-be. They first had an enchanting candlelit dinner and after that they took a walk around the surprisingly romantic moat of the castle. He began; "Honey, there's something that is different about me and I feel that you deserve to see what I have been hiding from you."
"What is it? I love everything about you and don't think that anything could change it." Said Princess Hirasala.
Richard removed his crown to unveil the protruding, whole fingers and then pulled his pants down just far enough for the princess to see the toes there. He shut his eyes and waited for her response but he heard nothing, just silence. Richard then opened his eyes and couldn't believe what he saw. Hirasala had pulled her sleeves up and showed Richard her own gross deformities. She had a nose growing out of her right shoulder and she had an ear on the left. "They're so hard to take care of! If I have a cold, I have to blow two noses! And when I got my ears pierced, I pierced this one too so it would be equal. I am so ashamed, but I see that we are two peas in a pod."
"That we are!" exclaimed prince Richard and then he picked up Hirasala, held her high, and they celebrated their love by a long kiss under the moonlight by the moat of the castle.
"Anything that makes us different from all those other so-called-good-rulers is something that we shall cherish forever." vowed princess Hirasala.
A month later they were wed outside Richard's castle next to the unusually beautiful moat with clear waters, no alligators, and flowers everywhere.
~~~~~~~~~~~Even Richard's parents were proud that their son married for love, because they realized that it keeps a marriage strong and a kingdom loyal. So there you have it. The two were the first royal couple to actually have love on their side in their rein together. Born to Richard and Hirasala were four beautiful girls and four strapping, young boys. What they had started was a legacy of future rulers who would demonstrate their love to the world, just as their wonderful parents had done for them. They were also taught to look beyond the eleven fingers and eleven toes and the awkwardly placed ears and noses.
Acknowledgments: I would like to say thanks to everyone in the class who participated in proofreading my far from perfect story, Professor Heller who always picked my little uncreative mind for better ideas, and also Ashley who clarified a little anatomy question I had about giving birth!