When Jack and Rose were five years old, we decided to take the journey to the village where Rapunzel had been born. The twins were old enough that they could walk most of the way but small enough that we could carry them a ways if they got too tired. Even so, we went slowly, much slower than my trips alone had been. We had to camp for the night. Rapunzel and I nestled the children into warm blankets and then Rapunzel began to sing to them. Her lovely voice carried out into the early evening air. Even after the twins were asleep, she continued to sing.
Riders approached our camp and we soon saw that they were carrying the colors of the royal family. The children were so tired; they didn’t stir in their slumber. Rapunzel and I stood. We saw the prince was on a horse, which was being led by another. The prince cast sightless eyes around and his manservant said, “It’s two women, my lord.”
“Is it Rapunzel?” the prince asked. “Rapunzel? I would recognize her songs anywhere.”
I looked over at Rapunzel and couldn’t read her expression. She was standing up straight and tall but she looked like the slightest breeze would knock her over.
“It is I,” she said.
The prince gasped. “Help me down,” he commanded his servant. The prince was assisted from his saddle, and with his hand on the shoulder of his servant, he approached Rapunzel. The prince had his other hand extended in front of him and when he got close enough, Rapunzel reached her hand out to him. The prince held her hand in both of his and moved his fingers over the top of Rapunzel’s. I knew he felt the rough skin and calluses of a woman who worked to support herself. Rapunzel’s hands were like my own, rough from digging in the soil and from the harsh lye soap we used.
Rapunzel’s face gave little away but I could tell she was uncomfortable. Perhaps she was remembering how soft and ladylike her hands had been the last time she’d seen the prince, when she was still just a songbird trapped in a tower.
“Rapunzel,” the prince said her name softly as he dropped to his knees. “I’ve thought of little else. Your lovely face is the last face I ever saw. And a baby! You were carrying our baby.”
“Twins actually,” Rapunzel whispered.
“Twins?” the prince marveled. “I was wrong,” he continued, “I took advantage of your innocence. I love you though. I have always loved you.”
“You were married,” Rapunzel said simply.
“Yes,” the prince said, beseeching her face with his blind eyes, “But I loved you.”
“This all may have mattered five years ago,” Rapunzel said, “Now I find it meaningless.”
“You won’t forgive me?” the prince looked shocked.
“There’s nothing to forgive,” Rapunzel said with a sigh.
“But I was so young,” the prince exclaimed, “Surely you can’t hold that against me?”
“I was so young,” Rapunzel countered. “I am grown now though. I have two lovely children and have no time for a married prince.”
Clearly he wasn’t used to being opposed. “You would deny your prince?” he said haughtily, rising to his feet.
“You were never my prince,” Rapunzel said and she turned on her heel and walked away from him, toward her sleeping children. The prince of course, couldn’t follow. His servant stood looking confused as to how to proceed until the prince finally had the man assist him back onto his horse.
Rapunzel was shaking ever so slightly when I returned to her.
“Well,” I said.
“Well,” she said. “I don’t think we need to go to the village of my birth after all. Tomorrow let’s just return home to our cottage.”
And that is what we did.
We hope you enjoyed the story of Rapunzel re-invented. Check back Monday for a new story!