Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Prince and the Bridge - Chapter 1 of 6

Once upon a time there lived a handsome prince. His hair was dusky brown, thick and lively, his face was chiselled like a precious stone, his body muscular and fit, and his eyes were oceanic blue, one glance reducing women to swooning fits. Everyone wanted to be his friend, laugh at his jokes or blush at his romantic advances.

Everyone, that is, except for ugly little Cecil the servant. Imagine the complete opposite of the handsome prince and you would get an idea of what Cecil looked like. His back crooked, his eyes squinting, his face like a squashed potato, he would boil with jealousy towards the prince as he did his chores around the palace. Sometimes, when the prince was showing off to his sycophant friends, he would force Cecil to the ground and use him as a footstool, his band of followers falling about in fits of laughter.

When Cecil went home, tired and hurt, he told his mother of his humiliating day. His mother, who happened to be a rather powerful witch, concocted a plan to get revenge on the prince, the boil on the end of her nose twitching with delight. With her cauldron boiling on the fire, shadows and fumes fluttering madly, she prepared a magic potion, cackling as she outlined her vengeful scheme to her sniggering son.

The next morning Cecil sidled into the prince’s ornate bedchamber, groaning under the weight of a huge cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, black pudding and fried bread.

"Lovely day, my liege," he said, grinning a mischievous grin as he swept back the purple velvet curtains.

"Oh, is it?" Yawned the prince, squinting in the bright sunlight.

"Oh yes, sir," replied little Cecil. "It’s so nice outside you can see a perfect reflection of yourself in the river. Oh, it would be marvellous to see a face as handsome as yours glistening in the water." The cogs began to turn in the vain prince’s mind.

"Do you know what? I think I’m going to have a walk down by the river this morning, as it’s such a lovely day."

"I though you might have that idea," said Cecil, trying his hardest not to giggle. After washing and dressing, the prince strode out of the palace and down to the river, Cecil scuttling after him.

"Look how handsome I make this river look," said the prince his chest puffed out with pride as he gazed at his reflection in the sparkling water. He did not notice Cecil creeping up behind him. With all his might, Cecil shoved the prince off the riverbank. As his master fell, Cecil opened the flask containing his mother’s potion and threw the contents down after him. With a puff of acrid smoke the prince began to change. His arms and legs stretched out across the river, grasping the muddy verges. His back arched up high. His whole body stiffened, turning to stone and wood. Where the prince once was, there was now a bridge!

"Ah ha!" Cried Cecil with glee. "Now we’ll see who walks on who!" With that, he stamped triumphantly across the prince and ran off to tell his mother of his success, leaving the young man stuck in mute, unmoving rage.

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