The Princess Who had Ideas

 Once upon a time there was a princess who was treated so poorly she was forced into a tower to keep from ever being seen. The reason behind this villainy was so simple, it might make you laugh: it was because she had 'ideas.'

    Prior to her imprisonment, she had, in fact, ideas about everything, from the chore rota at the castle, to the stories behind the tapestries that covered the stone walls, to the layout in the dining room (that didn't seem to provide maximum warmth of dishes to human consumption... in her opinion). She had ideas about the castle garden, ideas about the castle herbs, and ideas about the castle cutlery. But, worst of all, she had ideas about how to run the kingdom.

    At first her thoughts were considered quaint among the castle nobles. Some even thought them particularly 'princessy.' But when they found that she was in earnest, the complaints rolled in waves before the king, and suddenly she was considered a 'problem.' At first the king was irked. Then he was irritated. And finally, when he realized the princess couldn't stop herself with these 'ideas,' he threw her into the tower.

    But that is not the end of the tale, because that would be a stupid story.

    A princess who has ideas is nothing if not resourceful. Over time, she softened wax to make a false nose, and sewed bits from her bedding to make a scarf. With charcoal from the fire, she traced lines about her eyes and chin, and bathed her hair in her tea's honey until it faded. Thus, she slipped out from behind an unsuspecting maid, down the castle stairs, and into the city itself.

    It was there that she met with sorrow that drew her mind a blank. The poor were much poorer than she had imagined, the sick much sicker, the distressed, harassed and despairing so much more than she had ever had an idea about. 

    But a princess who is prone to ideas does not have a blank mind for long. It began with bread. And then some medicine. She sat with the sick, and learned to make them potions from the city witch's herb stash. She found homes for the orphans, and encouraged those with too hard of labor. She did all she could, with idea after idea — and word got around.

    The city sang her praises so loudly that she was called to an audience before the king to receive an award for her services.

    It was then, as she stood before the king, that she could have cast off her disguise. She could have strode through and claimed her due and watched the faces slide from all the noble people in the room. But just as she was going to take off the false nose and whip the scarf from her head, she had an idea. It was an idea about her heart. For it was the same whether she was a princess or an old woman. Maybe, she thought, the princess thing didn't matter so much. Maybe, proving them all wrong wasn't quite the right idea. Maybe, instead, it was about watching people change their minds just from someone doing the right thing.

    So, she smiled, and watched the king's mind change a bit. He could appreciate an old woman's ideas. And that was something that mattered.

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