It was night when the princess arrived in the palace, having lost her escort in
the midst of the sudden storm. She asked for the palace’s hospitality.
“I am a princess” she told them.
“A real Princess?” the queen asked.
“Yes!” she answered.
With little trust and to make sure, the queen called for her maids and told
“You will put our thickest mattresses on her bed and on top our softest duvets.
On the bottom you shall put this pea” she said, pulling out of her chic purse a
small, green pea and giving it to them. They did as they were told and prepared
the room for the princess.
The princess had her bath and dined with the king, the queen and their
beloved only son, the young and beautiful prince. Later, when she was tired, she
slept with her doll in her arms which she never parted with. The doll was made
from thread dipped in color from poppies and red anemones, and it was made by
her queen- grandmother herself…
She slept with a smile on her lips and dreamt of raining peas.
In her dream she gathered the fallen peas and cooked them to make a deliciously scented pea soup. Just like the one the green princess liked, in her grandmother’s stories. There were always stories of princesses in different colors. And series of colored dolls her grandmother made from the toughest of threads and from colors she gathered from the trees, the sea, from meadows and mountains…
Grandma had the odd habit of visiting the princess in her dreams. Now,
how she managed that was a mystery. Right now, in this strange night, she
had come again to find her and tell her of her pea soup secret. What could
The sure thing is that the next morning the princess – whose name no
one knew still – got up first and had the taste of pea soup in her mouth: dill
weed, carrot, lemon, but also the scent of garden during a summer night.
Our princess knew well her grandma’s second small garden. She helped her
grub and water the plants. They would cut the ripe vegetables and put
them in their basket. Each season had its own treasures to give: Lettuces,
cabbages red and green, onions, leeks, spinaches, fennels, parsleys,
artichokes, fava beans, peas, lentils, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and
squashes with their blossoms still on…
All remembered of the tale of the queen grandmother’s first garden
and laughed quite often. The queen grandmother -who was not your
common queen - had demanded to have her own, private space. Courtiers
and servants, gardeners and knights, hunters and jesters, nannies and
cooks, all wanted to do the work for her, for her royal hands mustn’t touch
Nevertheless, the queen would not listen to anyone and cultivated
totally on her own, her garden. And she had all the goods all year round
and she shared them with joy.
“Just let me give! That’s all I want.”
It was that garden the princess tasted, twirling her tongue in her
mouth… And so, lost in her thoughts, she found herself in the palace
garden. It was then that she discovered that the beautiful prince had
woken up before her. And he was filling with his imagination the empty tree
branches with pomegranates, on a big painting in front of him. He was so absorbed by his work he did not notice her. And, the more
cheerful were the things he drew, the more blue he seemed to be. It was
as if the small crown was an unbearable weight on his head, a head that
shined as if made by pure gold, under the sun’s first sight… and then he
He tried desperately to discern any signs of insomnia on her face, but
she was rosy and glowing and even more beautiful under the sun, unlike
under the light of the candles. The prince’s heart fluttered in its chains.
Because for her he would draw all the world’s pomegranates… But…
Did she sleep well? He wondered.
Perhaps she did not notice the pea his queen mother had placed under the
mattresses and duvets?
Was she a real princess? He wondered.
They would never let him marry someone of not a royal birth, no matter how
beautiful or kind she was and this, not because they were arrogant. After all, the
prince was also a child of love. His father was a poor tailor, who, contrary to the
prince of our story, did not have to do any brave deeds to win the heart of his
beautiful princess. A mere look was all it took!
But, as you know, many are those who envy the happiness of others. An evil
wizard who wanted the princess for himself became so mad when he learned of
her marriage that he cursed the couple. His curse was that their first child would
transform into a swallow should he ever married out of love…
The good fairy godmother (thankfully there is always a fairy godmother, ever
vigilant on our side) managed to make a small change in the curse, and so, the
prince would be able to marry one he loved but only if she was a real princess.
He was groomed so, even if unwillingly, for the future before him. They forbid
him any contact with the simple folk, in fear, should he ever met a girl not of a
royal birth and fell for her and they lose him like one would eventually lose a
The little prince would get blue, no matter how hard his parents tried
to cheer him up. They would buy him the best presents. He had a room with
anything a child could ever wish for: teddy bears, slingshots, model trains
and boats and golden swords. Ice creams of every flavor in the world: mint,
wild strawberry, peach, blackberry, lemon, chocolate, true vanilla…
Nothing could make him smile.
Until one day…
The joy of painting and the Princess in red
…The young prince was five years old when, one spring morning, his queen mother called for him in the garden. She was so beautiful with her red dress and her long braided hair. She gave him gifts, a paintbrush and a pallet with colors as well as something she called “easel”.
“I will show you how to fill the white of the canvas with colors. I will show you
how to keep your favorite images forever with you.”
With the sundown the garden had become magically a painting and,
for the first time, a smile had found its way to the little prince’s face…
… The years were going by and the prince continued to grow up and
become more and more handsome. Painting was his only consolidation.
However, now he did not only draw what he saw but all else that was
invisible to others. All the things that could exist should the world was
different. Had he ever stopped, it would be only to dream. For example, if
one would take a closer look at the sky, one would clearly see that inside a
cloud heavy with raindrops a fairytale castle was hiding, an entire city full
of life. A city in red.
The princess with no name also loved the color red. Of all the
princesses in the stories of colors her grandmother told her, the one with
the Red Princess was her favorite. Was it because it was the first one she
ever told her?
These stories came from some forgotten paintings her grandmother
found one day in her enchanted trunk. They were all about a girl in
different ages. A beautiful little girl with long, dark hair that she made into
braids that formed halos or crowns as she grew up.
“Who is she?” the princess had asked her grandmother
“The Princess in Red!”
And the story began. The Princess in Red slept in a red bed with red
sheets. She used red notebooks and red pencils. In the mornings she would
eat strawberry marmalade and drank cherry juice.
She liked watermelons, tomatoes, the morning sun and the sundown,
poppies, red anemones and red roses. She was crazy for red cherries and
red grapes. She always wanted a taste of the sweet red wine kept in the
Her carriage’s seats were all red and she was friends with a robin bird
that had a human’s voice.
…“What is the reddest of them all?” her grandmother asked her one day
while reading her a story from a book that was about a red house. The
princess without a name never found the answer.
Until that day: when she saw the pomegranates the prince had
painted. Yes, if one would juice them, their juice would be the reddest of
With that thought she approached him without hesitation and they
talked. It was just that a lump in the throat was stopping the little prince
from asking her what was tormenting him:
“Did she sleep well? She didn’t have any problems with the bean? Is she a