Illustration: Viviana Škrabec
The kitchen of the castle was swarming with busy servants preparing the great ball in honor of the princesses who came from various kingdoms to meet the noble prince Ludvig who had the age for getting married. However, although his parents were showered with offers of kings that offered their pretty daughters Ludvig didn’t want to hear about getting married to a stranger ignoring the pleading of his parents that the time has come to affirm the kingdom.
So, on this festal day, he ran away on his horse to the forest and wondered the meadows of his beautiful kingdom enjoying the nature and the humming of the birds. He was thirsty so he went towards the spring. While approaching it he noticed that someone was already there so he dismounted from his horse to come close as silently as he could. He heard a beautiful voice singing and saw an equally beautiful girl that was washing something in the water and talking to someone and next to her, he saw a beautiful stallion tied to a treed nearby. Ludvig was curious, and he tied his horse to a tree and sneaked closer to hear the girl better.
– I’m not going to marry anyone! I want to fall in love first! – she was talking to her horse who indifferently nibbled on grass. She continued:
– Mom and dad are unreasonable and they refuse to listen to me! They keep mentioning that is the way they got married. It’s not fair! don’t they realize how lucky they were? Rufus! Are you even listening to me? – she said to the horse who calmly chewed on his meal watching her. The girl went on and Ludvig was more and more interested.
– I knew we have to run away. What do you think, how long till they realize we’re gone? I guess we’re OK till afternoon when they’ll come to my quarters to try to force me into a dress and try to turn me into a princess so that I could charm some stupid prince who must me ugly too because he needs such events to meet someone…
Ludvig laughed at that loudly, came out of his hiding and went towards her. The girl was surprised but she gathered herself quickly and reached for her sword she was carrying tucked to Rufus’ saddle. In a blink of an eye, the blade of her sword was already on Ludvig’s neck.
– Hey, wait a minute! What did I do to deserve this? – he asked her and deeply gazed into her eyes. She was stunned as if the time had stopped too, and she felt like the ground underneath her disappeared and she was falling into his deep brown eyes that were looking at her as someone who had always known her. She put down her sword, fixed her hair and said:
– I’m sorry. It’s not your fault. I’m upset with my parents who brought me here to get married. They plan to show me off like a parade horse and I didn’t even see this prince…
– I understand – Ludvig said, – and what is your name if I may ask?
– Baleta. That’s how people call me because I both love fencing and dancing. Some say it looks as if I’m doing it at the same time.
– I see. You’re swift and agile as a ballerina. And dangerous too!
They both laughed at that. The prince continued:
– I’m Ludvig. And I hope I am not as ugly as you thought I was. And this ball tonight… it’s my parents’ doing. They are trying to get me to marry someone but I am not ready yet. I don’t want a business contract. I want love. Do you understand?
Oh, how Baleta understood! This young man was talking like her. And he wasn’t ugly at all, on the contrary! They started to talk. Baleta felt like he was a soul mate, a friend and not a stranger whom she just met. Hours have passed and the time came to return to the castle and get ready for the ball. They had to say goodbye for a while but they promised each other to continue this as soon as they can.
On the ball, everyone noticed that Ludvig has eyes for only one princess. No matter how many beauties arrived from all over, he didn’t pay them more attention than one dance and the instant he finished he was looking for her for one more dance. Baleta’s parents were contently watching them from them from aside and when Ludvig’s father invited them to join his table they were sure something is going to happen!
But that evening no proposal or contract happened – a multitude of princesses went home empty-handed and sad because they fancied Ludvig, but it was in vain. And both Baleta’s and Ludvig’s parents concluded that they should give their children time to get to know each other and to see for themselves how things will unfold. They both agreed that different times came when love is on top of priorities. And Baleta and Ludvig were inseparable. Sometimes people would tease them what is there to say to each other after so much talking but they didn’t care about people’s opinions. They became best friends and soon fell in love and they couldn’t and didn’t want to hide it anymore. A year later, on the anniversary of their meeting, there was another great ball in honor of their wedding. I heard that that ball became a tradition and that they still live happily ever after and as in love as they were since the day they got married.