A time of Kings. What images come to mind when you think of kings? Stories of Kings include pageantry, honor, ceremony. They include stories of building, great temples, palaces, and roads. These stories may describe great feats, or moral illustrations. And these stories may seem to be parables in nature too.
The King's Highway
Once upon a time, a king had a great highway built for the people who lived in his kingdom. After it was completed, but before it was opened to the public, the king decided to have a contest.
He invited as many of his subjects as desired to participate. The challenge was to see who could travel the highway the best, and the winner was to receive a box of gold.
On the day of the contest, all the people came. Some of them had fine chariots, some had fine clothing and fancy food to make the trip a luxurious journey.
Some wore their sturdiest shoes and ran along the highway on their feet to show their skill. All day they traveled the highway, and each one, when he arrived at the end, complained to the king about a large pile of rocks and debris that had been left almost blocking the road at one point, and that got in their way and hindered their travel.
At the end of the day, a lone traveler crossed the finish line warily and walked over to the king. He was tired and dirty, but he addressed the king with great respect and handed him a small chest of gold. He said, "I stopped along the way to clear a pile of rocks and debris that was blocking the road. This chest of gold was under it all. Please have it returned to its rightful owner."
The king replied, "You are the rightful owner."
"Oh no," said the traveler, "This is not mine. I've never known such money."
"Oh yes," said the king, "you've earned this gold, for you won my contest."
"He who travels the road best is he who makes the road better for those who will follow."
King Author Must Choose
Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.
The question?... What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.
He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.
Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer.
But the price would be high; as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.
The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first.
The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend!
Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.
He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur.
He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table.
Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered
Arthur's question thus:
What a woman really wants, she answered... is to be in charge of her own life.
Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared.
And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.
The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened.
The lady replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth, be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.
Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day... or night?
Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments?
What would you do?
Lancelot consider his answer carefully, then declared, he would allow her to make the choice herself.
Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.
What was your choice?
Yes, there is a moral to the story:
If you don't let a woman have her own way . . . things are going to get ugly.