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Kingfisher

Chapter One
<p
Chantelle, the Princess Who Couldn't Sing
<p
Joyce Dunbar
<p
Once upon a time there was a princess named Chantelle. She was as
beautiful as she was good, as good as she was graceful, and as graceful as
she was kind. But the most enchanting thing about her was her voice, and
people loved to hear her sing.
<p
When the princess reached the age of 15, a party was held in her honor. All
of the guests came with good wishes. All except one—an ill-tempered aunt
who was jealous of Chantelle. "Why should this slip of a princess have so
much?" she grumbled to herself. And instead of giving her a good wish, this
jealous aunt cast a spell so that when the princess started to sing, her
beautiful voice was spirited away and let loose out a window.
<p
"There," cackled the aunt.
<p
"Sing away!"
<p
From that day on, the princess could not sing at all. Not a high note nor a
low note, not a la-la nor a tra-la: whenever she tried to sing, the sound that
came out of her beautiful throat was flat, as flat as a doormat.
<p
"I can't understand it," said the queen.
<p
"She used to have such a sweet voice," said the king.
<p
As for Chantelle herself, it was clear from the way that she screeched and
squawked so happily around the palace that she simply did not realize it.
She had become completely tone- deaf. The king and queen hired the best
music teachers, but they all gave up in despair. And rather than offend her by
telling her to be quiet, the king and queen and courtiers covered their ears.
<p
Now, it so happened that a handsome prince came to seek Chantelle's hand
in marriage. He had heard all about the beautiful princess with the beautiful
voice who loved to sing so much. But because no one talked about it, he
hadn't heard that she could no longer sing.
Chapter One
Chantelle, the Princess Who Couldn't Sing
Joyce Dunbar
Once upon a time there was a princess named Chantelle. She was as
beautiful as she was good, as good as she was graceful, and
as graceful as she was kind. But the most enchanting thing about her was
her voice, and people loved to hear her sing.
When the princess reached the age of 15, a party was held in her honor. All
of the guests came with good wishes. All except one—an ill-tempered aunt
who was jealous of Chantelle. "Why should this slip of a princess have so
much?" she grumbled to herself. And instead of giving her a good wish, this
jealous aunt cast a spell so that when the princess started to sing, her
beautiful voice was spirited away and let loose out a window.
"There," cackled the aunt.
"Sing away!"
From that day on, the princess could not sing at all. Not a high note nor a
low note, not a la-la nor a tra-la: whenever she tried to sing, the sound that
came out of her beautiful throat was flat, as flat as a doormat.
"I can't understand it," said the queen.
"She used to have such a sweet voice," said the king.
As for Chantelle herself, it was clear from the way that she screeched and
squawked so happily around the palace that she simply did not realize it.
She had become completely tone- deaf. The king and queen hired the best
music teachers, but they all gave up in despair. And rather than offend her by
telling her to be quiet, the king and queen
and courtiers covered their ears.
Now, it so happened that a handsome prince came to seek Chantelle's hand
in marriage. He had heard all about the beautiful princess with the beautiful
voice who loved to sing so much. But because no one talked about it, he
hadn't heard that she could no longer sing.
As soon as the prince and princess met, they immediately fell in love with
each other and get engaged. A celebration banquet was held, and everyone
ate, drank, and was merry. It seemed that there could never be a happier
couple.
At the end of the banquet, the prince turned to the king. "Your majesty," he
said, "I cannot tell you how happy I am to be marrying your lovely daughter,
who is so renowned for her lovely voice. You know that my court is famous
for its music, and as you can see I have brought my lyre. What could be a
more fitting end to this occasion than that the princess should accompany
me in a song?"
An embarrassed silence fell upon the court. But the princess wasn't
embarrassed, not at all. Smiling, she rose to her feet. The prince began to
play, and the princess opened her mouth to sing . . . but, oh, what a dreadful
noise she made—it was flat, as flat as a doormat.
The prince stopped his playing in astonishment. Then a pageboy began to
giggle, then a serving maid, until the whole court fell over laughing. But this
was no joke. While the princess trembled and blushed crimson, the prince
frowned. He could not possibly take such a princess as his bride—she would
turn his court into a laughingstock! Muttering his excuses, the prince decided
to return home. "I'll come back in a month," he said, "but make sure that the
princess has some singing lessons."
Poor Chantelle ran from the palace in tears. She found a hiding place among
the bulrushes that grew by
the royal lake and sobbed and sobbed, until at last a frog heard her and
asked what was the matter.
"A handsome prince wants to marry me, and he asked me to sing for him.
But he didn't like my singing. Neither did anyone else. I can no longer sing a
note," she sobbed.
"Don't you worry," said the frog. "I have a very fine voice myself. Meet me
every morning at daybreak, and I'll soon teach you how to sing again."
And so, at dawn for a month, the princess had singing lessons from the frog.
She made excellent progress, and when the prince made his promised
return, the frog told her that she was sure to please him.
Once more a banquet was held, and this time the prince brought his lute. He
plucked a few notes, and the princess began to sing. But the sound that
came out of her beautiful mouth was . . . well . . . a passionate, full-throated
C-R-O-A-K!
Of course the whole court fell over laughing—all except the frog king, who
followed the sound from the royal pond and immediately fell in love with the
princess.
Again, the prince made his excuses, promising to return in a month, while
Chantelle ran away in tears. She hid herself in a rose arbor and sobbed and
croaked her heart out, until the kitchen cat came by and asked her what was
the matter.
"I'm in love with a handsome prince who wants to marry me. But first I must
learn to sing, as I can no longer sing a note."
"Don't you worry about that," said the kitchen cat.
"I have the best voice for miles around. Meet me at moonrise each evening,
and I'll soon teach you how to sing again."
And so, by the light of the moon, the princess had singing lessons from the
kitchen cat. At the end of the month he pronounced her perfectly in pitch and
said that she was sure to please the prince this time.
Well, you can imagine what happened. The prince began to play his flute,
and the princess started to sing. But the sound that came from her mouth
was an ear-piercing, spine-shattering H-O-W-L!
And the court laughed until their sides ached. The prince did not laugh, but
departed as before, vowing that he would give the princess only one more
chance. And the king of cats did not laugh either. He followed the sound from
the other side of the forest and immediately fell in love with her.
This time the princess ran away to a forest where she could cry her heart out
in peace. But she woke up an owl, who asked her what was the matter.
The princess told her story. "We'll soon put that right," said the owl. "I've got
a voice that charms the birds off the trees. Meet me at midnight every night,
and I'll soon teach you how to sing once more."
So, every midnight in the forest, the princess took singing lessons from the
owl.
"There," said the owl at last. "You, too, can charm the birds off the trees. You
should certainly be able to charm a prince."
At the next banquet, when the princess opened her beautiful mouth to sing,
the sound that came from her throat was the shrillest, sharpest TOO-WHIT-
TOO-WHOO!
Although they tried to stop themselves, everyone fell off their chairs, howling
and hooting with laughter. They laughed until the tears rolled down their
cheeks, cruel tears of mockery. How the princess blushed! How humiliated
she felt!
But the owl king in the forest heard her and fell right off his treetop in love.
This time the princess ran so far into the dark forest that she was lost. Now,
this part of the forest was enchanted, and it was there that the princess, worn
out with misery and hunger, fell asleep.
The frog king eyed her from an enchanted pool. The king of cats gazed at her
from beside an enchanted stone. The owl king blinked at her from an
enchanted tree.
Then a strange sound began, a clear and beautiful sound. It was a human
voice! It sang so finely and so sweetly, a melody as light as air, that it woke
up the princess. Although Chantelle did not know it, it was her own voice.
Stolen by the ill-tempered aunt and let loose out the window, the voice had
sung its way to the enchanted forest. Now it worked its charm on the
princess, and she could truly hear again.
"Oh, I would give everything to have a voice like that," the princess said with a
sigh.
"Be mine and you will!" croaked the frog king, wishing that she was a frog.
"Be mine and you will!" howled the king of cats, wishing that she was a cat.
"Be mine and you will!" hooted the owl king, wishing that she was an owl.
In that instant the lovely voice was hers again. But in this enchanted forest,
wishes had a dangerous way of coming true. As she sang, she changed.
She lost her human form. Instead, she was the color of a frog, with the fur of
a cat, and the shape of an owl! Only her eyes were her own.
The owl king screeched in dismay, the frog king croaked in disgust, and the
king of cats slunk away in distaste. When Chantelle went to drink from the
enchanted pool, she wept to see what she had become.
Now she could sing better than any human being alive to the lyre, to the lute,
and to the flute. But what prince would want her now? What use would she
be to anyone? With her own wings, she soared through the forest, her
singing more beautiful by day than the lark's and more beautiful by night than
the nightingale's.
It so happened that the very same prince went hunting with his men in the
forest one day. He was full of remorse at the disappearance of Princess
Chantelle and had given up all hope of finding her. So, when he heard this
beautiful voice, he made a vow.
"I gave up the princess I loved for a voice," he said to his men. "Now, here is a
beautiful voice. Whoever owns it, whether she is young or old, wise or foolish,
fair or foul, I will marry her. Catch her by whatever means you can." And
because it was an enchanted forest, where wishes strangely came true, the
huntsmen caught Chantelle in the first trap that they set and brought her
before the prince, so changed that he did not know her.
She sat in a gilded cage, singing and singing, a creature so weird and
wonderful that the prince could only stare at her in appalled fascination. But a
prince must keep his word. Without further ado, he married the strange
creature and took her back to the palace.
But she did not sit on the throne as his princess. Instead, she was locked in
a tower at the very top of the palace, there to sing her heart out, filling the
palace and its grounds with her beautiful melodies. The prince listened and
was enchanted, for in the sound was a vision of the beautiful Princess
Chantelle.
"If only I had married her," he kept saying to himself. "How happy I should be!
But I asked for everything. So now I have my just reward. I am married to a
voice, nothing but a voice. I have to make the best of it."
Because the prince could not bear to look at the strange creature, he hired a
keeper to take care of her. And it happened that this keeper was none other
than the ill-tempered aunt who had cast the spell on the princess. She
recognized the eyes and the voice of Chantelle, and she had an evil thought.
"What a waste of a handsome prince! What a waste of a beautiful voice! If
only I could steal the voice for myself, the prince might marry me instead.
But first I must get rid of this monster."
She fed poisoned food to the strange creature, day after day, little by little,
until at last the creature fell into a deep sleep from which nothing could
awaken it.
"We must take it back to the heart of the forest where we found it," said the
prince. "There, it might revive."
They went in a solemn procession, the princess carried on a bier to the
middle of the enchanted forest and the ill-tempered aunt keeping watch.
"One last dose of poison," she said to herself, "and all that is hers will be
mine."
But the owl king in his treetop heard her. The frog king on his lily pad heard
her. The king of cats in the undergrowth heard her.
"You want what the princess has," they said, "and you will have it!"
Because this was a place where wishes had a dangerous way of coming
true, no sooner was this uttered than the strange creature turned back into
Princess Chantelle, as warm and alive and human as on the last day that the
prince had seen her. At the same time, the ill-tempered aunt's neck began to
bulge like a frog's, her voice began to hiss like a cat's, and her face became
as sharp as an owl's. She screamed with rage and tore through the forest,
never to be seen again.
The prince looked at his beloved princess and said, "What a fool I have been.
Can you ever forgive me?"
<p
As soon as the prince and princess met, they immediately fell in love with
each other and get engaged. A celebration banquet was held, and everyone
ate, drank, and was merry. It seemed that there could never be a happier
couple.
<p
At the end of the banquet, the prince turned to the king. "Your majesty," he
said, "I cannot tell you how happy I am to be marrying your lovely daughter,
who is so renowned for her lovely voice. You know that my court is famous
for its music, and as you can see I have brought my lyre. What could be a
more fitting end to this occasion than that the princess should accompany
me in a song?"
<p
An embarrassed silence fell upon the court. But the princess wasn't
embarrassed, not at all. Smiling, she rose to her feet. The prince began to
play, and the princess opened her mouth to sing . . . but, oh, what a dreadful
noise she made—it was flat, as flat as a doormat.
<p
The prince stopped his playing in astonishment. Then a pageboy began to
giggle, then a serving maid, until the whole court fell over laughing. But this
was no joke. While the princess trembled and blushed crimson, the prince
frowned. He could not possibly take such a princess as his bride—she would
turn his court into a laughingstock! Muttering his excuses, the prince decided
to return home. "I'll come back in a month," he said, "but make sure that the
princess has some singing lessons."
<p
Poor Chantelle ran from the palace in tears. She found a hiding place among
the bulrushes that grew by the royal lake and sobbed and sobbed, until at
last a frog heard her and asked what was the matter.
<p
"A handsome prince wants to marry me, and he asked me to sing for him.
But he didn't like my singing. Neither did anyone else. I can no longer sing a
note," she sobbed.
<p
"Don't you worry," said the frog. "I have a very fine voice myself. Meet me
every morning at daybreak, and I'll soon teach you how to sing again."
<p
And so, at dawn for a month, the princess had singing lessons from the frog.
She made excellent progress, and when the prince made his promised
return, the frog told her that she was sure to please him.
<p
Once more a banquet was held, and this time the prince brought his lute. He
plucked a few notes, and the princess began to sing. But the sound that
came out of her beautiful mouth was . . . well . . . a passionate, full-throated
C-R-O-A-K!
<p
Of course the whole court fell over laughing—all except the frog king, who
followed the sound from the royal pond and immediately fell in love with the
princess.
<p
Again, the prince made his excuses, promising to return in a month, while
Chantelle ran away in tears. She hid herself in a rose arbor and sobbed and
croaked her heart out, until the kitchen cat came by and asked her what was
the matter.
<p
"I'm in love with a handsome prince who wants to marry me. But first I must
learn to sing, as I can no longer sing a note."
<p
"Don't you worry about that," said the kitchen cat.
<p
"I have the best voice for miles around. Meet me at moonrise each evening,
and I'll soon teach you how to sing again."
<p
And so, by the light of the moon, the princess had singing lessons from the
kitchen cat. At the end of the month he pronounced her perfectly in pitch and
said that she was sure to please the prince this time.
<p
Well, you can imagine what happened. The prince began to play his flute,
and the princess started to sing. But the sound that came from her mouth
was an ear-piercing, spine-shattering H-O-W-L!
<p
And the court laughed until their sides ached. The prince did not laugh, but
departed as before, vowing that he would give the princess only one more
chance. And the king of cats did not laugh either. He followed the sound from
the other side of the forest and immediately fell in love with her.
<p
This time the princess ran away to a forest where she could cry her heart out
in peace. But she woke up an owl, who asked her what was the matter.
The princess told her story. "We'll soon put that right," said the owl. "I've got
a voice that charms the birds off the trees. Meet me at midnight every night,
and I'll soon teach you how to sing once more."
<p
So, every midnight in the forest, the princess took singing lessons from the
owl.
<p
"There," said the owl at last. "You, too, can charm the birds off the trees. You
should certainly be able to charm a prince."
<p
At the next banquet, when the princess opened her beautiful mouth to sing,
the sound that came from her throat was the shrillest, sharpest TOO-WHIT-
TOO-WHOO!
<p
Although they tried to stop themselves, everyone fell off their chairs, howling
and hooting with laughter. They laughed until the tears rolled down their
cheeks, cruel tears of mockery. How the princess blushed! How humiliated
she felt!
<p
But the owl king in the forest heard her and fell right off his treetop in love.
This time the princess ran so far into the dark forest that she was lost. Now,
this part of the forest was enchanted, and it was there that the princess, worn
out with misery and hunger, fell asleep.
<p
The frog king eyed her from an enchanted pool. The king of cats gazed at her
from beside an enchanted stone. The owl king blinked at her from an
enchanted tree.
<p
Then a strange sound began, a clear and beautiful sound. It was a human
voice! It sang so finely and so sweetly, a melody as light as air, that it woke
up the princess. Although Chantelle did not know it, it was her own voice.
Stolen by the ill-tempered aunt and let loose out the window, the voice had
sung its way to the enchanted forest. Now it worked its charm on the
princess, and she could truly hear again.
<p
"Oh, I would give everything to have a voice like that," the princess said with a
sigh.
<p
"Be mine and you will!" croaked the frog king, wishing that she was a frog.
<p
"Be mine and you will!" howled the king of cats, wishing that she was a cat.
<p
"Be mine and you will!" hooted the owl king, wishing that she was an owl.
<p
In that instant the lovely voice was hers again. But in this enchanted forest,
wishes had a dangerous way of coming true. As she sang, she changed.
She lost her human form. Instead, she was the color of a frog, with the fur of
a cat, and the shape of an owl! Only her eyes were her own.
<p
The owl king screeched in dismay, the frog king croaked in disgust, and the
king of cats slunk away in distaste. When Chantelle went to drink from the
enchanted pool, she wept to see what she had become.
<p
Now she could sing better than any human being alive to the lyre, to the lute,
and to the flute. But what prince would want her now? What use would she
be to anyone? With her own wings, she soared through the forest, her
singing more beautiful by day than the lark's and more beautiful by night than
the nightingale's.
<p
It so happened that the very same prince went hunting with his men in the
forest one day. He was full of remorse at the disappearance of Princess
Chantelle and had given up all hope of finding her. So, when he heard this
beautiful voice, he made a vow.
<p
"I gave up the princess I loved for a voice," he said to his men. "Now, here is a
beautiful voice. Whoever owns it, whether she is young or old, wise or foolish,
fair or foul, I will marry her. Catch her by whatever means you can." And
because it was an enchanted forest, where wishes strangely came true, the
huntsmen caught Chantelle in the first trap that they set and brought her
before the prince, so changed that he did not know her.
<p
She sat in a gilded cage, singing and singing, a creature so weird and
wonderful that the prince could only stare at her in appalled fascination. But a
prince must keep his word. Without further ado, he married the strange
creature and took her back to the palace.
<p
But she did not sit on the throne as his princess. Instead, she was locked in
a tower at the very top of the palace, there to sing her heart out, filling the
palace and its grounds with her beautiful melodies. The prince listened and
was enchanted, for in the sound was a vision of the beautiful Princess
Chantelle.
<p
"If only I had married her," he kept saying to himself. "How happy I should be!
<p
But I asked for everything. So now I have my just reward. I am married to a
voice, nothing but a voice. I have to make the best of it."
<p
Because the prince could not bear to look at the strange creature, he hired a
keeper to take care of her. And it happened that this keeper was none other
than the ill-tempered aunt who had cast the spell on the princess. She
recognized the eyes and the voice of Chantelle, and she had an evil thought.
<p
"What a waste of a handsome prince! What a waste of a beautiful voice! If
only I could steal the voice for myself, the prince might marry me instead.
But first I must get rid of this monster."
<p
She fed poisoned food to the strange creature, day after day, little by little,
until at last the creature fell into a deep sleep from which nothing could
awaken it.
<p
"We must take it back to the heart of the forest where we found it," said the
prince. "There, it might revive."
<p
They went in a solemn procession, the princess carried on a bier to the
middle of the enchanted forest and the ill-tempered aunt keeping watch.
<p
"One last dose of poison," she said to herself, "and all that is hers will be
mine."
<p[
But the owl king in his treetop heard her. The frog king on his lily pad heard
her. The king of cats in the undergrowth heard her.
<p
"You want what the princess has," they said, "and you will have it!"
Because this was a place where wishes had a dangerous way of coming
true, no sooner was this uttered than the strange creature turned back into
Princess Chantelle, as warm and alive and human as on the last day that the
prince had seen her. At the same time, the ill-tempered aunt's neck began to
bulge like a frog's, her voice began to hiss like a cat's, and her face became
as sharp as an owl's. She screamed with rage and tore through the forest,
never to be seen again.
<p
The prince looked at his beloved princess and said, "What a fool I have been.
Can you ever forgive me?"