Once upon a time in a land far far away, there lived an ugly prince. He was neither handsome nor athletic, he could not wield a blade or fire an arrow. He was not gifted with a straight back and his physique was that of a young ladies, his hair was a shaggy mop of strawberry blonde madness and his freckled face often scared the women of the kingdom, he was, for all the world a toad in the body of a prince. That was until one cold winter’s night when he spotted a shooting star crossing the sky and decided to make a wish.

‘I wish, I wish upon a star that I would be the most handsome man in the kingdom.’

That night while lying in bed, he took a long look in the mirror and prayed to whoever would listen that his wish would be granted. He lay his mirror down and closed his eyes, picturing  a face that was yet to be born.

The next morning could not have come fast enough for the prince, who, despite his best efforts, due mainly to the terrible nose bleed he’d had for the majority of the night, had barely slept a wink. As he dove for the mirror on his bedside table, he noticed not only that there was blood all over his pillow and sheets, but all of his strawberry blonde hair had fallen out. He hesitated momentarily before raising it up to his face.

He gasped, ‘Such beauty,’ he said. ‘My wish, it came true.’ He couldn’t believe it, the flowing blonde locks that now fell down over his shoulders, accentuated the dazzling blue eyes on his perfectly proportioned face. His chin was large with a cleft and his cheekbones were sharp, he had the physical attributes of a God and his voice was much deeper than it had been.

He was perfect in every way, all his dreams had come true––he was finally complete.

What to do first, though? He thought. That was a simple question though, Matilda, he would make her his wife. After finding some clothes that would show off his new beauty, he made for the back entrance to the castle, not yet wanting his father or stepmother to see him. That would be a surprise for dinner.

It did not take long for the looks of the Kingdom’s finest ladies to start finding his perfect face. Some swooned and fainted, others simply begged at his feet for a single kiss. No one knew it was the prince, this was all because of his new face. He was, for all the world, the most perfect specimen that God had ever created. He began to blow kisses as he went, waving to his admirers, who began to throw their underwear at him as he passed. When finally he reached the house at the end of the street, that of the Mrs Matilda DeCore, he paused to check his breath, then …

One knock, two knock, three knock four, ‘The most handsome man you’ve ever seen is waiting at your door.’ He leant against the outer frame and waited. Finally he heard a click and the door opened, the woman, whose beauty matched his perfectly, smiled when she beheld the true marvel that was Prince Umph standing at her door. Umph was the noise his father had made when he first lay eyes upon his new son, so that was the name he was given.

She blushed deeply and asked for him to come inside, explaining that her father was out for the day and her bed was very cold. Everything was coming up peaches for the prince as he gave her a wink and disappeared inside the house. What a day, first the face he’d always dreamt of, then the girl that no man could get, he whispered softly to himself that his day could not possible get any better. After three hours of naughty business in Matilda’s chambers, the prince revealed his true identity, explaining the events of the previous night. She was over the moon when he asked her to marry him, insisting they go back to the castle immediately to inform his parents of the arrangement.

The trip back took not but an hour, women still doing their very best to prise the prince away from his new fiancé. Of course, in the midst of his new arrogance, he continued to blow them kisses, even stopping once or twice to sneak a kiss from a few of the more desirable women. This understandably had annoyed Matilda, though she said nothing, she was about to become a princess, all the money and jewels she could ever want and a husband that was dashing and beautiful. She could tie him down, change his ways once they were married, so she endured the advances of the other women and even smiled. What a day for her, this morning she was simply the daughter of a farm hand, she was beautiful which was the most important thing, but now she was rich. She whispered to herself that there was no way her day could get any better. She smiled and held tight to the prince as he stole one last kiss from one of the female kitchen maids as they came through the back entrance of the castle.

‘Are you ready?’ he said to Matilda with a confident wink.

She nodded and they made their way into the main dinning hall. Sitting at the far end of the table was his stepmother and father, arm in arm, crying. Around them a guard of at least fifty soldiers stood, heads slunk low.

‘Stepmother,’ he started, but was cut off by his father’s most trusted adviser.

‘That’s the man, that one there. He’s the one I saw stumbling out of the prince’s room this morning. He’ll be the murderer.’

Murderer?

‘Bring him to me,’ said the king frantically. Prince Umph turned just as two soldiers grabbed him by the shoulders. They dragged him and Matilda through the room and dropped him at the feet of the king, who demanded he tell him what he had done with his son.

‘I am your son,’ he said, pleading for his father to see him. ‘It’s me, Umph.’

‘You are not my son, look at you. My son looked no better than a bag full of old leather hats, you are beautiful.’

Umph pleaded and pleaded with his father, explaining what had transpired with the star and the wish, but his father could not see him. No matter what he said he would not believe him. His mind was set, this man had murdered his son, the blood in his room, the hair on the floor and the man who had been seen leaving his room was all the evidence he needed.

‘Kill him,’ the king insisted to the guard to his right. ‘And the girl, she must be in on it.’

The guard drew his sword and struck down the prince and his would be fiancé, killing them on the spot. Upon their deaths, Umph’s looks vanished and he once again became the ugly prince that everyone knew. His father broke down, unable to believe that he’d had his only son and heir to throne, killed. He pulled out a dagger from his belt and drove it through his own heart. As it turned out, the prince’s stepmother was a witch and had heard him make the wish, she had concocted a potion and slipped it in his mouth as he slept. She’d always hated him and had wanted rid of him. She had persuaded the guard to watch the prince’s room for anything suspicious. When he informed the king of what he’d seen the blind rage of the king overwhelmed him. That and the fact that he had not spent more than a few moments at a time with his son his entire life, had meant that there was nothing Umph could say to make him change his mind. His death was a bonus for the queen, who took over as sole ruler of the kingdom and lived for another fifty years.

The moral of the story, looks are not everything, be happy with the face you see in the mirror everyday, do not strive to marry the man with the beautiful face despite him being an arse, just so you can attain wealth. Make sure you get to know your children inside for one day there life could depend on it, any father who payed attention will know their child’s true form, and finally, make sure to check that your stepmother is not a witch, because there is a very good chance she will be.   

The End

T.H. Williams

Facebook Comments