Once long ago, a Queen sat embroidering by her palace window. It had been a long winter with many frozen tales to tell, however the first signs of Spring began to show in the palace gardens below.
The Queen worked steadily on her embroidery, but looked up when a little bluebird landed on the windowsill and sang a beautiful song which brought a smile to the Queen’s face. The little bird was delighted that it pleased the Queen with its song, so it stayed on the sill throughout the afternoon. While the Queen enjoyed her new companion’s song, she noticed that the first daffodils had bloomed outside the window in the garden under the beautiful blue sky overhead. As the afternoon wore on, clouds gathered, and a gentle Spring rain fell to coax the rest of the flowers in the garden to follow the bloom of the daffodils.
The Queen sighed and spoke to her friend. “Oh, little bluebird, how I wish I had a daughter with a voice as sweet as your own, eyes the blue of an endless sky, hair the yellow of a daffodil, and the sweet nature of a gentle Spring rainshower.,”
The bluebird listened to the Queen, for it was enchanted and had the power to grant wishes. Although the bluebird could not completely understand the Queen’s language, it understood in general what she asked for and said to her, “I will grant your wish, oh kind and gentle Queen.” The Queen did not hear the bluebird’s words since the Queen did not understand the language of birds, and it only sounded to her like the bluebird’s song.
And indeed, the Queen’s wish was granted for the next Spring, a daughter was born to her. The King and court rejoiced, and the little princess was presented to the King in her cradle. Only her eyes and hair were visible above the blankets.
The King smiled broadly.“Her eyes are the blue of an endless sky, and her hair is the color of a yellow daffodil.” But when the King pulled the blankets down so he could see his little princess better, he was shocked. The little princess’s baby skin was a light green color.
“Why...with her yellow hair and green skin, she looks just like a daffodil, itself!” He exclaimed to the Queen. The King’s voice startled the little princess, and she began to cry in her cradle by the open window. A small cloud formed outside and a gentle rain fell.
The King and Queen saw the rain and looked at their little princess. They wondered how this could be, until the enchanted bluebird landed on the windowsill. It sang its song to the princess, to which the princess opened her tiny mouth, and the same bluebird’s song came out of it.
The Queen immediately recognized it. “By all enchantment, my King, this bluebird answered a wish I had last Spring only too well.” she said in amazement.
The King and Queen looked at one another, confused as to what to do about their strange and unusual baby. But when a raindrop splashed on to the little princess’s face from the open window, the Queen picked her up and lovingly wiped the raindrop away.
The Queen smiled and said to the King, “We will call her Raindrop, for she is as sweet and precious to me as the sweet rain that brings forth the flowers in Spring.”
The King nodded and from that day forward, Princess Raindrop was the light of their lives.
The nursemaids and ladies in waiting that attended Raindrop were all sworn to secrecy as to the strange appearance of the little princess, and the Queen decided that Raindrop would be covered completely and wear a veil under the pretext of modesty when she was amongst others. The King and Queen wanted to spare their little princess from the unkind natures of people who would not understand or look past Raindrop’s unusual outer appearance to see her true sweet and gentle nature.
Years passed quickly, and no one in the vast kingdom knew what the mysterious princess really looked like. They went about their lives and did not question it.
Raindrop always wore her veil and performed her royal duties throughout the kingdom, but was happiest when she was alone in her own private garden that was bordered by high hedges. In her garden, she did not have to worry about prying eyes when she shed her veil. She understood the language of birds and spoke to them there, and she learned to call forth a gentle rain whenever she wanted. All the birdbaths throughout the kingdom were constantly filled with sweet, clear rainwater for the birds, and the kingdom never suffered from drought, for Raindrop was able to send rain where it was needed. She read books and learned many things in the time spent in her special garden, and she grew into a most interesting princess with rare talents that no one ever saw.
It was finally time for the princess to be married, but the King and Queen worried that no prince would accept Raindrop’s light green-skinned appearance, let alone her ability to understand and speak to birds or her ability to bring forth gentle rain and cherish her like they did.
But Raindrop said, “Do not despair, my dear parents, for I have devised a series of riddles for a prince to answer. If they can solve a puzzle of words using their wits to see beyond that which most cannot comprehend, then I will know he will be able to understand and accept me for who I am.”
The King and Queen agreed to allow Raindrop to determine her future husband in this manner, for they desired that Raindrop be happy and loved by a prince that was truly worthy of her uniqueness. Secretly though, Raindrop hoped she would never have her riddles answered because she had grown quite used to her life the way it was.
And with that, the King and Queen let it be known throughout the land that they would be holding court on one special day. All eligible princes could come then and seek the hand of the princess by answering her riddles. The prince who could answer them all would win her hand in marriage.
Many princes came from far and wide with their entourage for the chance to answer Princess Raindrop’s riddles. Each prince was called into the main courtyard, one at a time, so that the mysterious, veiled princess could ask them the same four riddles.
Many princes did not understand why they had to answer riddles. They thought their handsome looks would make the princess choose them without having to answer even one. These princes were turned away immediately, while other princes attempted to answer, but failed.
Raindrop was quite pleased with herself that no one could answer her riddles and most gave up before trying. She thought that no prince could understand her if they could not even match wits with her.
Finally, there was only one prince left. He entered the courtyard in a grand fashion, dressed in the strange custom of his land. He was covered from head to toe in robes of white with a large hat that hid his face. His mother, the Queen of his land, had accompanied him on his journey and was offered a seat next to Raindrop’s mother, out of respect.
The prince bowed low to the princess and said, “I have travelled far from my kingdom to answer the riddles of the mysterious Princess Raindrop, and seeing that I am the last one, I know that no one else has answered correctly. I would like to try to win your hand in marriage, so please, ask me your first riddle.”
Raindrop nodded her veiled head. “Here is my first riddle, oh prince. How can you see into forever with no beginning or end?” she asked.
The prince took some time thinking about the riddle. He stood still, lost in thought, then suddenly looked up and answered, “By looking up into the cloudless blue sky. It has always been there and will last forever. It has no beginning or end.”
Raindrop was surprised. He was the first prince to answer her first riddle.
“Yes, you have answered correctly,” she said. “And now, I will ask you my second riddle, oh prince. How can the sun be in two places at once?”
This riddle took longer than the first for the prince to think about. He sat down and stood up several times, then realized the answer was along the edge of the courtyard all along. He laughed and answered, “A daffodil, with its bright yellow flower, brings the yellow of the sun to the ground. It is both in the sky and at your feet, so it can be two places at once.”
Raindrop was shocked that the prince’s second answer was also correct. She thought that surely he would never be able to answer the remaining riddles.
“Here is my third riddle, oh prince. How can music be heard, but not played on any instrument?” she asked, her worry rising because the prince was half way to claiming her as his bride.
This riddle took even longer than the previous two riddles for the prince to think about. He paced back and forth in deep thought. He turned his head this way and that, trying to bring forth the right answer. Finally, he shook his head in defeat, until a sound caught his attention. He laughed once again and answered, “The song of a bird is music that is all around us and is not played on any instrument.”
Raindrop stepped back at his correct answer and spied the bluebird the prince had seen on a branch near her in the courtyard. She thought to herself that it was only by chance that he guessed correctly, and it would not happen with the last riddle.
“You have done well. There is only one riddle left to answer,” said Raindrop, the sound of fear rising in her voice.
“Princess...if I answer the last riddle correctly, will you remove your veil, so that I may see your face?” the prince politely asked.
Raindrop knew that he would never answer the final riddle, so she nodded in agreement and continued. “My final riddle for you, oh prince, is my most difficult one: What is a tear most pure?”
The prince stood as still as a statue, thinking on this final riddle. He knew this was the most important riddle of them all, for he would claim the Princess Raindrop if he got it correct. He stood there until Raindrop thought he had fallen asleep standing, when he suddenly laughed more heartily than before.
“That is the easiest question you have asked, princess, for the answer to your riddle is hidden in plain sight. I will not only answer in words, but I will also show you.” And with that, he moved his hands and made a small cloud appear between him and the princess. A gentle rain fell between them in the courtyard.
“A tear most pure is a single raindrop, for it is clear and sweet without the salt that is present in a princess’s tear. The answer to your final riddle, was your own name. It was hidden in plain sight, and that is the best kind of riddle.”
Raindrop started to tremble. She knew what this meant and she must keep her promise. She lifted her veil, revealing her eyes the blue of an endless sky, hair the yellow of daffodils and her light green skin.
“Do not fear, my princess,” the prince said tenderly. He reached up to remove his hat, which had hidden his face, to reveal his own red hair that stood straight up, and most wondrous of all, his light green skin. He called to the princess in the song of a bluebird and Raindrop, who understood the language of birds, answered his call of love in the same manner. They both rushed together to embrace in the gentle rain the prince had created in the courtyard, never to be parted from that day forward.
The prince’s mother, who was seated next to Raindrop’s mother, leaned over and whispered to her, “My favorite flower was a red tulip in Spring.”
The two Queens nodded and smiled to one another.
And the bluebird, who had saved its most beautiful song of love for a moment such as this, sang on.
Amanda's bio: "I am a science fiction/fantasy writer with stories published by Darkhouse Books (Stories from the World of Tomorrow) and World Weaver Press (Frozen Fairy Tales.) I love all things pop-culture--paint and write daily--read obsessively--and the interior of my mind looks like vintage fairy-tale-art."