Today's story for (LoStoWriMo) Local Story Writing Month is based upon the Grimms' fairy tale "Love Like Salt." I welcome comments that indicate you read the story, but you need not write anything more complicated than "Marked as read." I won't respond to the comments except to thank you at the end of the day, but I will visit your blogs if you have them.
GOLD, SILK AND SALT
A king had three daughters with three set of skills. The eldest daughter worked with precious metals and designed necklaces, rings and diadems for the nobility. The middle daughter sewed silks and velvets into dresses and capes for those who could afford the costly fabrics. The youngest daughter had studied as a chef, and could prepare exquisite meals for the dignitaries and diplomats who often came to visit. However, the king’s favorite dish was a simple concoction of lentils, rice and caramelized onions flavored with olive oil, mint and a sprinkling of salt.
One day, the king called his daughters before him. “Someday, I will die and one of you will rule after me. You all have skills that prove you are willing to work for the good of your kingdom. My question to you is, how much do you love me? For by loving me, you reveal your love for the kingdom.”
The eldest daughter, who was the metalworker, said, “Father, I love you like gold.”
“That is good,” the king said, quite pleased.
The middle daughter, who was the seamstress, said, “Father, I love you like silk.”
“That too is good,” the king said, beaming.
The youngest daughter, who was the chef, said, “Father, I love you like salt.”
The king frowned. “From you I would have expected saffron. Salt was once valuable, but now it is common. Salt causes heart problems and kills people. Your love is not worthy of this kingdom. Henceforth, you are banished.”
The youngest daughter was sorrowful, but it did not matter. The king’s word was law. The youngest daughter dressed herself for travel, gathered her spices and herbs, and left the kingdom.
The king divided his kingdom between his eldest and the middle daughters to see how they would lead the people in his absence. The eldest daughter, whose love was like gold, ruled with a devotion untarnished by ambition or greed, but proved to be too malleable to the demands of the nobles and gentry below her. The middle daughter, whose love was like silk, made sure that everyone was well-clothed, but the people grew resentful that the clothes given to them could not be easily washed and suspected the middle daughter of having a special arrangement with the dry-cleaners.
Through all this, the king watched and kept himself apart despites the pleadings of the kingdom for him to intervene. He was listless and gloomy, and if anyone dared to suggest that his sorrow lay in the banishment of his youngest daughter, the king would grow furious. Nonetheless, the king occasionally allowed himself to wonder where his youngest daughter had gone. As the years passed, he reconciled himself to the certainty that she had gone to heaven.
One day, the king and his daughters were invited to a wedding in a neighboring kingdom. At the banquet, a wide array of sumptuous delicacies made their way around the table. To the king’s surprise, one of the dishes was his favorite concoction of lentils and rice. He took a generous helping and lifted the fork to his mouth.
Something was not right. The king took another bite. The lentils were bland, the rice was tasteless, and although the mint and thyme were blended thoroughly, something was wrong with the seasonings. As the king took a third bite, he realized that the lentils and rice lacked the sprinkling of salt that made the dish complete.
The king began to weep. His two daughters left their seats to comfort him, but he could not stop crying. “Now I understand what my youngest daughter meant when she said she loved me like salt. I have wronged her, and now she is lost to me forever.”
“Not lost,” said a voice near his ear. “Not forever.” The king looked up and there was his daughter, wearing the clothes of a chef and smiling down at him.
The king hugged his daughter. He asked, “Can you ever forgive me?”
And because this is a fairy tale, the answer was as simple as “Yes.”