The day of the wedding had arrived. Having paid the highest price, the king entered the city he had made and chose a bride from among his own people.
Dressed in white, her beauty needed no paint or powder. The work of heavenly hands, her smile and soft perfume radiated throughout the adoring crowd as she made her way through the city square.
As she approached the gate the king took her hand and there in a garden of olives the two became one.
He made a home for her and her children and gave her good and wise words to live by.
After some time, the king’s father called his son home to give an account of all that he had done for his bride and also for the city which he had made beautiful.
Having seated his bride beside him on the throne he called his friends to stand before him. There he charged them that they should lead his bride day by day to the city hill that she might tell of the king’s commands and remind them of his love. He charged them to guard her purity and her beauty with their own lives and he opened the storehouse of his treasures that they might have everything needed for the task.
And so they did.
Day by day and year by year the kings’ friends led her to the hill and so honoured the king among the people. She sprinkled them with clean water and called them to her feasts. She reminded them of the king’s commandments and taught them of his power and strength. She gave generously of the king’s bounty and served as a maiden to her master for all who were in need.
But the people grew weary of her. Little by little, they stopped coming to her feasts and no longer listened to her words. Some complained that her beauty no longer pleased them. Some said her words did not satisfy.
The king’s friends began to worry. Fearing their own place in the king’s court they stripped her of her white robes, painted her face and paraded her before carnal men in order that she might please them.
They took away the words of the king and urged her to speak of pleasure and wealth and ease to delight the people of the king.
They gave her the commandments of men and urged her to take other lovers that she might win back the people.
The king’s friends marvelled at their success. They dismissed the perfumers and lined the streets with the music of kings from other lands and so the people were pleased.
But some of the king’s servants mourned that the beauty of his bride had been stripped. They grieved that her perfume no longer filled the streets. But the king’s friends had grown to love the stench more than the bride’s simple yet stately beauty and cast those servants outside the city walls.
One day, quite unexpectedly, the king returned home. As he passed the city gates his servants rose up to meet him, singing with tears of joy. But upon entering the city square and seeing his bride made hideous, he called his friends to himself and reaching for his sword, he took them all outside…