There was once a king and queen who lived happily together until the king and his men were captured in battle. After three years, the king found a way to send his wife a message, commanding her to raise a large army and money for ransom to secure his release and that of his men.
The queen thought the plan was not sensible. Too many months would pass before she could raise the money to fund an army and pay the ransom. She decided to make her own plan. Without telling the king’s advisors, she transformed herself from queen to troubadour. Taking only her lute, she started to walk. After a short time she met up with a band of pilgrims who invited her to join them.
When her path diverged from theirs she joined a group of merchants, leaving them to climb the steep mountains that surrounded the kingdom where her husband was being held captive. She approached the castle playing her lute, singing in a sweet voice. She soon attracted the attention of the guards who took her to the king.
At his command she sang songs of love and loss. The king was much taken with her music and asked, “Sweet troubadour, from where do you come?”
The queen answered in a man’s voice. “From far away. I wander as I will, earning my way by singing and playing for those who would listen.”
The king was so entranced by her performance he said, “Play for me for seven days and when you must leave, ask what you will of me. I will grant your request.”
When seven days had passed, the queen said, “The mountains are steep. The way is often dangerous. Perhaps you would allow me to take one of your prisoners to keep me safe company.” And so, when the queen was ready to leave, she was taken to the dungeons where she found her husband. Because she was dressed as a man he did not recognize her.
Safely home, the queen changed into her womanly garments and welcomed her husband home. He was displeased. “You have done nothing to secure my release. I asked you to raise an army and a king’s ransom. You ignored my command. Had it not been for a brave troubadour I would still be languishing in a cold, dark, prison.
The queen excused herself and changed into her troubadour’s clothing. She approached her husband who greeted her with grateful ceremony. Then the queen removed her disguise to reveal her true identity.
The king did not understand.
The queen sang a song about the time and effort the king’s plan required. She sang of missing him too much to wait so long. She sang of wanting a kingdom of full coffers to rescue the king and his men, of healthy people to greet him on his return. She sang of the plan she devised to rescue him with no loss of men, time, or money.
The king bowed his head in shame and begged her forgiveness.
The king understood.
Wit and wisdom from around the world and through the ages. Tales by Nancy King.