Once upon a time there lived a lovely young lady named Isabella. She was charming, witty, intelligent, and beautiful everybody loved her. Legend had it that she had never shed a tear. Her parents had spoiled her but Isabella was not spoiled. She wasn’t from a royal line however she was daddy’s princess and he was not about to let just anybody marry her.

The suitors had to vow never to make her cry and to put a smile on her face every day of her life. If the vow were ever broken terrible things would happen.

Everybody was taken with her and wanted her hand, they would beg her father, but there was only one man that she wanted a real prince charming no less and he couldn’t refuse his little girl. Since the day she was born he had done everything he could to make her happy. So the lucky prince took the vow and what followed were days of feasting and dancing culminating in the wedding ceremony. Everyone in the town was invited to share in the jubilation.

The prince was attracted to all of her qualities however he hated all of the attention that she received even in his native country. How could his wife be more popular? So he did the unthinkable and decided not to honor his vow.

There was a big reception held to welcome the newlywed couple. Isabella was of course delightful and charming; she kept her guests in stitches. In the carriage on the way back to the palace, Isabella was beaming and gushing about the wonderful night they’d just had and how lovely all the guests were. Hardly anyone had spoken to him all evening and his jealousy was catching up with him. He used a tone that the poor girl was unfamiliar with to inform her that nobody liked her and that the only reason they laughed at her jokes was because they were scared not to because of her status. He said that they found her demeanor to be coarse and unseemly, in fact she was an utter embarrassment and he was a laughing stock. For the first time in her life Isabella cried and the first terrible thing happened, Isabella lost her joy it was washed away with the tears never to return.

Isabella stopped socializing and buried herself in books. A few weeks later a great visited the kingdom, he conversed with the princess at great length about faraway lands, art and science. The prince had never had an aptitude for such things and once again jealousy reared its ugly head. After the scholar had left he used the same tone but with a louder voice to tell her how stupid she was and that the scholar was bored to distraction. He warned her never to embarrass him like that again. Isabella could feel hot tears welling up and the second terrible thing happened, Isabella lost her confidence it rolled down her cheeks never to return.

The girl was a lot quieter now and the twinkle in her eye had gone. She no longer talked to him about interesting subjects or told him jokes. All things that he loved when they were in private but that infuriated him in public. What was wrong with her? She never laughed anymore, she never smiled and she didn’t even talk to her maids in waiting, but she was still the most beautiful woman that anyone had ever seen. She had a new dress made hopeful that it would please her husband and she did look breath taking. She showed it to him just as they were about to leave for the ball. Isabella looked so amazing that he couldn’t take his eyes off her, then he thought about all of the other men at the ball and he got jealous. He furrowed his eyebrows, raised his voice louder than ever before and began to insult her hair, the dress, and the shoes in fact anything and everything about her. The fragile girl began to shake, her eyes became red rimmed and she cried, however this time it wasn’t just a few silent tears, her whole body was contorted with wracking sobs. She threw herself on the floor and lay in a ball. Right before his eyes /as he looked on his bride started to disappear. Everything touched by tears disintegrated. He was sorry this time and tried to mop up the puddle with his handkerchief; it was soaked within seconds and gone. He snatched the blanket from the bed and covered her with it trying to quell the flood. He could barely keep hold of her; she was convulsing he apologized and told her that he loved her and never meant all of those horrible things. He held her close and rocked her gently until she stopped moving. Sure that it was over he removed the wet sheet but she was gone never to be seen again.

Martina McCullough

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