Calaf and the Princess
The story is fiction, the Palace providing inspiration is in Rhodes, Greece.
Suitors come from across the continent to propose marriage to the beautiful, olive complexioned Princess.
The man who answers her three questions correctly will have her hand in marriage.
If they get it wrong, then it's off with their head, so her long, brown, plaited hair and large brown eyes bring risks to consider before seeing her in the Palace.
Calaf is King of a neighbouring province and, as such, he has Generals and armies to protect his lands and people.
Calaf is on good terms with the neighbouring King of the Palace.
When visiting, he has seen the Princess from afar. While never introduced at affairs of state, she is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.
He has long enquired about her and sent letters, but never disclosed his identity as King.
If he finds love, let it be as Calaf, not as King.
He has no reply to his letters.
Calaf's advisers warn of an attack planned on his neighbouring Palace by a barbaric General known for slaying large numbers in battle.
Calaf and his Generals decide to move an army into place to help protect their neighbour.
They march from Calaf's castle for a week and set up with the army of the Palace.
Now in position, all they can do is wait.
Calaf has heard stories of the Princess and her three riddles.
He asked local people what she does after sending a failed suitor to their death.
"She goes to the kitchen before returning to her Throne room" he was told.
Calaf enters the Palace dressed as a soldier to keep his identity secret.
In the Throne room he sees the Princess asking the three riddles of a suitor.
Calaf walks casually down a corridor where he finds the empty kitchen and he waits.
The Princess sends the unsuccessful young man away to meet his untimely fate.
Impatiently, she steps down from the throne and into the corridor, passing her headdress and royal robe to a lady in waiting as she goes.
She enters the kitchen dressed quite normally.
Calaf is standing by a table laden with food for tonight's feast.
She approaches noticing how tall and handsome he is and says, "What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to marry the Princess. I'll be seeing her in the morning" says Calaf.
"Really. And what does the Princess think of that?" she asks.
"As the first man to answer her three questions, she may want to know more about me and I about her" he says.
"Who are you?" asks the Princess.
"I'll not reveal my name until the morning and I'll tell it on the lips of the Princess." and he picks up a cheesecake from the table.
"Put that back. Those are for the feast tonight" she says.
He moves the cheesecake towards her and pulls it back, teasing, "Do you want this? You can have this".
Then he brings the cheesecake towards her mouth but she pushes him away.
As they push and pull he leaves a blob of cheesecake on the end of her turned up nose.
They both step back. He has a cheeky grin and she looks unruffled as she wipes part of it from her nose.
She raises her eyebrows and says, "Oh, you want to play" and she takes a handful of icing sugar and throws it in his face.
He is white all over his face, hair and the front of his shirt.
They both stand still for a moment and she feels more brave, "Ha!" and she starts to smile as he wipes the flour away from his eyes.
The kitchen maid walks in on them and looks surprised.
The Princess says to her, "We were just, um, cooking."
The kitchen maid replies, "Very good ma'am" and scampers out.
That afternoon, one of the soldiers tells Calaf he's needed at the Palace gate as the enemy is approaching and they must prepare for battle tomorrow.
In the evening, the Princess can't see him at the feast.
She wants to know who he is and announces, "As no one will tell me who this man is, I will send my guards through the village asking for information. Any person who will not answer will be killed".
Calaf lies on a bed in his tent readying himself for tomorrow's battle.
His thoughts are also of the Princess.
He knows they are searching for him in the village and he thinks of her lying in the Palace, looking up at the stars from her cold room.
Calaf is driven with passion to win tomorrow's battle.
He must protect the villagers of the Palace from the enemy and from their own Princess.
He must protect his own land and people and survive this battle to ask for the Princess' hand in marriage as he loves her so.
He summons his courage for the coming day, "I will win! I will win! I will win!".
Play the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs-p1oEvuGg
Nobody shall sleep!...
Nobody shall sleep!
Even you, oh Princess,
in your cold room,
watch the stars,
that tremble with love and with hope.
But my secret is hidden within me,
my name no one shall know...
On your mouth, I will tell it when the light shines.
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!...
(No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.)
Vanish, o night!
Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!