Sunday, 24 March 2013

Saint George - 16. The Princess

Into this state the nation had now come and one is to wonder what would jolt this already over-excited people with a still heavier excitation. What on earth might thereto still happen?
And yet it happened. One day, the whole nation was immersed into a daze of great rejoicing. All around was singing, dancing, drinking and kissing. What could be the cause of this common bliss?
The lot had befallen the king’s daughter!
It was as if everyone had hit the jackpot; as if the envy of ages, at once, had met with full satisfaction.
For the whole week, the revelling never ended.

The king who had presided at every council meeting where decisions to this end had been taken, including this latest one, now could hit himself over it. Never for a single moment, had he considered his little daughter and even if he had, he would have brushed aside the very thought, instantly, in the firm conviction that the people would never allow his princess to be eaten.
In this, how wrong he would have been. Every street had been festooned. From every dwelling, there was music and singing. Nobody was working. The stands had been turned into the likeness of flower gardens.

And the young princess herself?
To her, the role of a prima donna had nothing special to offer. The most gorgeous dresses and the most sumptuous meals, they had been her birthright. And the attention, everywhere, had been more of a nuisance to her than a joy.
She felt utterly miserable. Although she and her family were as much moved by the emotions on the stands as everybody else, never had she, like her father, entertained the idea that it could happen to her personally.

Aside from being highest in station, she also was one of the most beautiful girls in the land. To think of these slender arms, this slim neck, these newly budded breasts, soon to become feed for that horrible monster; that by next week, it would be lying at the bottom of its lake digesting them, she couldn’t bear it. But she was unable to think of anything else; she simply had to, caressing every part of her young body as if bidding them a farewell and giving them solace for what lay in store for them.

The daze got no hold on her. On the contrary, she was all but overwhelmed with sorrow, onto the brink of insanity.
Her family was crying all the time.

English translation by Ronald Langereis © 2013
from the Dutch, "Sint Joris" by Belcampo, 1983

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