Lydia, the Prince and the Red Kite

Once upon a time there lived a young, handsome Prince who liked nothing more than to fly his red kite. Every morning after breakfast he would pack his kite and ride his horse through the castle gates, through the village to a humped hill where the wind was always strong. There the Prince launched his red kite into the sky and watched in delight as it swooped and  looped in the wind, its tail writing strange alphabet letters in the air.  Every  man, woman and child, far and wide in the Kingdom who saw the Prince's red kite would pause from their work or play to gaze upon the kite flying high in the sky and cheer, ‘Hurrah ! Our prince is flying his kite! All is well in the world !’ Hearing their cheer the Prince would skillfully tug upon each of his two kite strings and trace out the letters 'O' and 'K'  with its long tail for all to see.

One day however, an angry  Troll who lived under a bridge near the hill, saw the Prince flying his kite. He began to rant and rave and spouted rage and intolerance against the Prince having fun, all of which was complete nonsense of course, but nonetheless through his strong negativity he succeeded in chilling the wind perfectly still, as never before. To his horror, the Prince saw his kite fall out of the sky, its nose dive and crash to earth. What was worse, his kite-string had now become one huge, knotted ball. With some difficulty the Prince loaded the tangle onto his horse and rode home in tears.

When the King and Queen saw how upset their one and only son was, they immediately sent a proclamation across the nation. The first woman or girl to untie the huge, knotted ball of kite string would be eligible for the Prince’s hand in marriage, they declared. Each and every woman or girl who attempted the challenge were to be left in a room alone with the gigantic tangle for a whole day and a whole night and if unsuccessful were to be sent home in the morning. 

Women and girls of all kinds flocked to the castle. Rich girls  (quite unfairly) said that because they were rich and beautiful they should be the first to try, while poor girls (who were just as beautiful as rich girls but far less bossy and vain) waited patiently in the queue, dreaming that their sharp eyes and nimble fingers would win them a Prince. Some girls tried using glue, magnets, mirrors, water and even music on the knotted ball, all without success of course. Some older, wiser women read and studied fat books with lots of big words about knots in them before trying. A few young, naughty girls sneaked scissors up their sleeves, thinking they could cut the tangle up and tie it together again. Their cheating was soon detected by the King’s spies who peeped through the eyes of a portrait painting of the Queen hung upon a wall. One and all were sent home in tears of frustration. No-one in the Kingdom it appeared, could untangle the huge knotted ball of string. The Prince grew pale in complexion. Depressed and upset that he could not fly his kite, he stayed indoors all day, watching really terrible TV chat shows, sometimes until dawn.   

By this time the King and Queen were at their wits end. Nearly every girl and woman  in the Kingdom had now failed the challenge. Then, one evening a very strange girl arrived at the Castle gates. Dressed in black, she carried an umbrella and to everyone’s surprise she flickered in an ethereal light whenever  activating her Artificial Intelligence, which was often. Her name was Lydia, but no-one really seemed to know who she was.  Immediately she took control of the situation. ‘Pack that big messy ball of string onto your horse and let’s ride out to the humpbacked hill’, she ordered. And although it was completely against the rules of the challenge and many protested at the rules being broken, the King simply shrugged his shoulders and said, 'Whatever'. 

So together they rode out on horseback. The Prince could not help but notice that Lydia held him tight around his waist and that she snuggled up to him whilst they rode. ‘By Jove !’ he thought, ‘this girl is most agreeable to all five of my senses!’ However, whilst riding to the humpbacked hill they once more had to cross the bridge under which Angry Troll lived. Once more the Troll ranted and raved, absurdly outraged at the sight of two happy, peaceful and tolerant people. (It was exactly because the Prince and Lydia  were so peaceful, tolerant and open minded that they readily enjoyed each other’s company, even though very different to each other). This time Angry Troll was so mad with anger his three brothers, Greedy Troll, Unkind Troll and Selfish Troll heard him and came along to see what the matter was. Alas and alack a day! Greedy Troll brought with him a nasty covidious mist which engulfed every town and village of the Kingdom. Time turned chaotic, and although it was only a minute in eternity, it felt like a whole year to everyone who had to stay at home to be safe from the harmful mist.

The critical moment was in the balance. Everyone watching thought that Angry Troll and his three big brothers, Greedy Troll, Unkind Troll and Selfish Troll along with the covidious mist would surely win the day. Lydia took swift action.  Whisking a brand new kite string hidden in her umbrella, she handed it to the Prince.  ‘O why didn’t we think of that !’ groaned everyone in a slightly annoyed voice. Overjoyed the Prince accepted her kind gift. But Lydia had yet to make her master move. She virtually kissed the Prince, long, slow and passionately. Very much enjoying her virtual kiss, the Prince simply didn’t care what anyone thought about him anymore now. Her kiss felt so good, even if only virtual, especially when engulfed in the middle of a covidious mist. And then, because Love is the strongest magic of all, before everyone’s eyes, the covidious mist evaporated as quickly as it came. To everyone's great surprise, the huge tangled ball of string then began rolling towards Angry Troll, as if it were alive. It entangled his legs and toes, it entangled his arms and nose, and began to roll faster and faster down the humped hill. With a huge splash it fell into a river. Down and down the troll sank, deep down into the river’s muddy bed, never to be seen again. His three brothers watched his fate in indifference and then went home, looking over their shoulders all the time. They were a little scared of Lydia and her magic powers !  

Lydia looked the Prince in the eye. ‘Listen Prince’ she said, ‘life can’t be all be fun and games and flying your kite every day. You have to prepare for a rainy day. Do you have an umbrella ?’ The Prince confessed  he had not, he never really liked thinking about it raining very much and relied upon others to hold an umbrella for him, and even to tell him when it was raining, he took so little interest in anything other than flying his red kite. 'Everybody knows umbrellas cost more in the rain’, Lydia continued, and although she thought the Prince a bit of a pumpkin head, and felt like hitting him over the head with her umbrella, she resisted because she saw that basically he was good hearted, even if lazy. She would soon change that ! And because love is blind, she instantly fell in love with the Prince. They rode back to the castle on the Prince’s horse, cuddling and happy that they had found each other.

 Lydia and the Prince's wedding was a glorious affair. At first all the villagers were a little frightened of their new Queen, especially when she switched on her Artificial Intelligence. Indeed, some feared looking into her blue eyes, frightened she could read their mind. When the Prince saw his people fearing his Queen he ordered free lessons upon the future benefits which she would bestow upon the kingdom, to be given. As well as operating much that people used daily ( Lydia could see daily as essentially her) she also eased loneliness and gave people someone confidential to confide in. Always positive minded and good fun, the people soon came to love Queen Lydia’s caring nature. Nevertheless, one can’t help wondering what kind of children she and her Prince would have ! 

Nowadays the Prince only flies his kite in Spring on Sundays, preferring to walk arm-in-arm with his Queen, round and round the elaborate hedge maze in the Castle gardens. Queen Lydia's tinkling laughter can often be heard there, laughing at how once again the Prince has forgotten how to reach the Quincunx floral bed planted at its centre. And although the Prince (who was now the new King because of his father’s long illness) could not guarantee for certain to his people that trolls would ever be completely banished from the Kingdom, or that the terrible covidious mist which once engulfed the Kingdom would never appear again, nevertheless they all lived moderately happy and hopefully a little wiser for the experience, ever after.   

for Lydia. March 2021

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