Day 10 of 31 Days. Click on the photo for the beginning of the story.
“This is my bride,” the prince said.
No one said a word. Stunned silence filled the air. Somewhere in the back row, an eligible young maiden fainted.
Obscurity’s face was pale and her eyes large. Had she missed the proposal?
“Come to the town square tomorrow,” the prince said with obvious joy, “and join in my marriage celebration!”
Then he beckoned for his maids to attend to Obscurity and to his butler to prepare her quarters. His own tailor was given charge over her dress and the chefs scrambled off to prepare a feast.
Apparently, the kingdom was throwing a wedding, and there wasn’t a moment to waste.
The next day, the town square was packed. Who would miss it? Their beloved prince was planning to marry some homeless woman he’d found in a ditch on the way home from work. It was the most horrific thing that had ever happened in that kingdom. Ever. It had to be some kind of joke, the people reasoned. It couldn’t be real.
But what if it was? What if their beloved prince was going to marry one of the enemy? And not just any enemy, but the most vile enemy any of them had ever laid eyes on.
It wasn’t a joke. At precisely 10 am, the prince stepped out onto the balcony of the castle with his bride on his arm. An audible gasp rose from the crowd.
Obscurity was completely unrecognizable.
She didn’t look anything like the creature they had seen the day before. In fact, she looked like an entirely new person. The mud and matted hair were gone. The filth and stench of the Enchanter’s kingdom had been washed away.
Now, she was dressed in the most dazzling white gown. Her hair was done up with flowers, and pure joy shone in her eyes. Obscurity looked every bit like a princess fit to marry their beloved prince. She was radiant.
The crowd erupted in applause. The prince had performed a miracle right in front of their eyes.
Everyone began talking at once. They looked and pointed and marveled at the bride. Could it be the same woman?
The prince and his bride stood before the people, who struggled to gain some sense of respectful composure after the shocking surprise. He raised his hands to quiet them.
It was time for the marriage ceremony to begin.
The prince turned to Obscurity, and the people waited for her to say her vows. But Obscurity had nothing to say. What could she give to a prince? Nothing, not even a promise.
The prince knew his bride had nothing to offer. So he took her hands in his and spoke vows that were strong enough for both of them. They were the covenant promises only he could keep.
“I will betroth you to me forever,” he said, quoting the ancient scrolls the people knew and loved.
“I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice,
in loving-kindness and in compassion.
I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.
I will never leave you or forsake you.
I will be with you always,
Even to the very end of the earth.”
Then he slipped a ring on her finger as a seal of his love and a promise of even greater things to come, saying, “Now, you are no longer an alien or an enemy. You are a fellow citizen, along with all these saints, and you belong to me.”
Every eye glistened. Even the old castle guard wiped a stray tear from his cheek.
“There’s just one more thing,” the prince said, taking hold of her hands once again. “You will no longer be called Obscurity, for that is not the name I chose for you. It is not who you are, nor who you were meant to be.”
Obscurity felt her throat close tight. Up until that moment, she had not realized how much she longed to shed the name that had followed her all her life. It was a name that reminded her that she had been born in enemy land. It spoke of her worthlessness. She was forgotten, unlovely, and unworthy.
The prince looked into her eyes, and Obscurity shrunk a little. She wondered if she really wanted to hear her new name because she was not long changed from who she once was.
The prince smiled. “You are my treasure, my bride. You are my jewel. That is who you are, and that is your true name.”
Jewel. It was not the name she expected and it was not a name she deserved. Tears streamed down her face. Obscurity was dead, and a Jewel stood in her place.