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The Princess Who Learned to Smile
by Evelyn Van Gilder Creekmore
Once upon a time there was a little princess who lived with her father the king in a beautiful kingdom by the sea. Now the little princess would have been very beautiful if it had not been that she usually looked so cross and ill-tempered. There was almost always a frown on her face, and she seemed to find fault with everything.
In the morning when her good nurse brought her breakfast on a golden tray she would fly into a rage, no matter how many good things were on the tray.
"Take it away!" she would cry, stamping her foot, and pushing the tray away, "I do not want oatmeal. Why did you not bring me boiled wheat? And look at that toast. It is not brown enough. I do not like that dish that my egg is in. Take it all away and bring what I want."
All day long she said mean things to everyone around her and complained of everything. Even when the king would give her a present, instead of thanking him, she would grumble and ask why he had not brought something more.
In the same kingdom there lived some little brown dwarfs who loved the king very much. They saw how sad it made him for the princess to behave so badly, for he loved his little girl and wanted her to be happy. So the dwarfs decided that every time the princess was cross or unkind, or thought a mean ugly thought they would plant a, seed on the hillside not far from their camp.
The seeds grew up quickly into tall trees and before long the hillside was covered with a dense forest.
One day the princess became very angry about something and decided to go out for a walk all by herself. She walked and walked, and before she knew it was lost in the deep thick forest on the hillside. Night came on and the little princess began to cry for she could not find the way out of the forest. How she wished now for home, and for all of the things she so often complained of before. She was hungry but she could find nothing to eat in the woods except some bitter berries on one of the bushes. Finally, being so very tired, she curled up on the hard ground and went to sleep.
Early the next morning she was awakened by someone calling her name. Sitting up quickly, she looked around and beheld the dwarfs. "Princess," said the leader of the dwarfs, "we have come to tell you how you may get out of the forest."
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The princess clapped her hands, "Oh, do," she cried. "Please tell me how I can find the way home, for I do not like it here in the forest, and want to go home as soon as possible."
"How quickly you can leave will depend on how well you follow our instructions, " said the dwarf, for there is only one way to get out.
"Oh, I will do anything," replied the princess.
"Well, then," said the dwarf, "first let us tell you where you are. Each tree in this forest is a cross word or unkind act of yours. These thick, tangled vines are the complaints that you have made. Now the first thing that you must do is to stop complaining and to praise everything. You must learn to smile, to look for the good in everything, and to feel happy. Try to make other people happy and do kind things for them. As soon as you do these things, the trees will disappear one by one, and then you can get back to the kingdom where your home is."
It was very hard for the little princess to do as the dwarfs had advised, but she disliked the forest so much that she decided to try. She stopped complaining about the forest and started praising it. Beginning by praising the bush where the bitter berries grew, she was amazed to find that at her words of praise the berries which had been so bitter changed to big and luscious ones before her very eyes.
Astounded and happy at the result of the first experiment she began to smile. She remembered the instructions to do something kind for other people, and decided that since the dwarfs had been kind in telling her how to find her way home, she would do something for them.
After much thought she decided to build them some beautiful little houses where they could live. Gathering rocks and sticks, and using clay for mortar she built some of the most attractive rock houses imaginable, and carefully lined the inside of them with soft leaves. Outside she made rock gardens and planted in them all sorts of wild flowers.
The princess was so happy in her work of building that she did not notice that many days had passed since she had first come into the forest.
At last the houses were finished, and they were so lovely that she could scarcely wait for the dwarfs to come and see their new homes.
The next morning she woke up with the sun shining very brightly in her eyes, and sitting up quickly she looked around. To her surprise the dense forest had disappeared, and the brown dwarfs were standing before her smiling, and looking very happy.
"Hail, Princess," they cried, all saluting her. "You have dissolved the forest. Look, you can see the palace on the next hill. Go, for the king awaits you."
The princess jumped up joyfully, and after thanking the dwarfs for teaching her how much more fun it is to smile than it is to frown, she ran happily home, determined that she would never be cross or unkind again.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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