The Black Prince

In ancient Egypt, there was a boy who was ugly, stupid and lazy. The only thing he cared about was playing his homemade flute. He would play it all day. His mother also thought he was worthless.  “Oh, that ugly stupid, lazy boy” she would sigh “he would probably just fall into the river one day and drown.”

One day the boy roamed into a part of the city that was unfamiliar to him and he climbed a wall that was also unfamiliar to him. On the other side was a beautiful garden. But more beautiful than the garden was the girl sitting by a pool in the centre of it trailing her fingers in the water.Black Prince_Princess

He knew that no one as ugly stupid and lazy as himself would make much of an impression on her, so he sat on the wall and began to play his flute. He played out all his dreams and hopes and fears to her.

The next day he did the same and the next. She never looked at him or acknowledged him, but simply sat there day after day by the pool. He dreamed of sliding off the wall one day, taking her in his arms and whisking her away to a little hut by the river where they would live happily ever after. But he didn’t’t.

One day he heard some villagers talking about the daughter of the Pharaoh and they described the garden where she spent her days. The boy realized that he had fallen in love with a princess. A princess would never love a poor boy that was ugly, stupid and lazy. Heartbroken, he wandered all night.

At dawn he passed some merchants talking. One of them said “you know the magician Habeebee? He can do anything”.

“Anything? The boy asked. “Can he change a man’s soul?”.

“Habeebee can do anything”

“Where do I find him?”

“If you walked in that direction for three days, you will find him”, said the man pointing into the desert.

Black Prince_identity With nothing but his flute, the boy began to walk out into the desert. He walked three days without stopping until he came to a little hut by an oasis. He knocked on the door. An old little man opened. “Are you Habeebee?” asked the boy.

“I am”.

“Can you change a man’s soul?”

“I can, but it is not cheep and once done, it can never be changed back again.”

“All I have to offer is my flute”.

“That’ll do” said the old man holding out his hand.

Without hesitation, the boy gave the magician his home made flute. After a few days, the boy’s mother assumed he was dead, thought he had fallen into the river and drowned. She held a little funeral.

Three years passed. During this time the Pharaoh’s enemies attacked him and he lost most of his land and half of his wealth. Desperate for the war to end, he got up one morning and went outside, ready to surrender. When he looked up over the desert, he saw a handsome, powerful man dressed in black riding across the desert into his camp. He told the Pharaoh that he was the Black Prince and if the Pharaoh would let him lead the army, he would win back the Pharaoh’s lands. In return he asked only to be given his heart’s desire. The Pharaoh agreed. Within weeks, the Black Prince  did as he promised and the Pharaoh was restored to power and wealth.

The Pharaoh was pleased and asked the Black Prince to visit him in his palace. He would gladly give him whatever he wanted even half of his kingdom and all the wealth the Prince won back. “I will be back in one month”, the prince said, and left.

At the appointed time, the Black Prince arrived. The girls had been preparing for weeks, buying new dresses, putting on make up and picking out their finest jewelry. The young boys had been playing with their wooden swords taking turns to be the Black Prince slaughtering his enemies. As the Prince rode into the city the women scattered flowers at his feet and everyone gathered to catch a glimpse of the powerful warrior – or hoping he would catch a glimpse of them.

When he arrived at the palace, he saw the princess seated next to her father. The Pharaoh once again thanked the prince and offered the Black Prince all the wealth and power he wanted. The Prince said he only wanted his heart’s desire. When the Pharaoh asked what that was, the Prince said that he would like to marry the Princess.

The Princess stood up. “I will do as you command, Father,” she said and turning to the Black Prince continued,  “but I must warn you, I could never love you. My heart belongs to another”. And then she told them her story.

Black Prince_end“Three years ago before the war, a young boy came to my garden to play to me on his flute. Every day I would listen to him wondering how his music could express so clearly my own dreams, hopes and fears. I used to wish he would slide off the wall, take me into his arms and whisk me away to a little hut by the river where we would live happily ever after. One day he stopped coming and I had my servants enquire about him. They found out that he had drowned and his mother had given him a little funeral. I could never love like that again.”

The Black Prince looked at the Princess “I knew love like that once,” he said “I couldn’t love me either if I were you”. He turned and left the palace, never to be seen or heard from again

3 Replies to “The Black Prince”

  1. It interested me greatly that no one’s rewritten ending to the story included the prince finding his flute again. Only the story written by Johan, who played the prince, hinted at the idea that he might go and make himself a new flute. All the others ended with the prince and the princess somehow finding each other. Why this is interesting to me is because I would have hoped the workshop somehow communicated that our happiness never lies outside of ourselves in someone else, but inside ourselves – in our own music. I would love comments on this.

  2. I think we have been raised to always wish for a happy ending and I think especially with relationships. You always fear to lose someone close to you, because you shape your life around the anothe person. I thnk the ‘penny will drop’ in all who attended the session. Satuday’s session is lingering in the back of my mind….

  3. Hello, I am a professional storyteller (amongst other things) in Melbourne, Australia. I have been telling this story for years now. It never fails to hit its mark. I have never seen it written down, but had it passed on to me by a teller, who passed it on from a teller. My version is only slightly different, the ending similar, though not the same. When telling this story to secondary students they often comment on the fact that the lovers don’t recognise each other and live happily ever after. They make great comments about the fact that the Prince is no longer the boy and that in surrendering his flute he has given up part of himself that he can’t retrieve. We discuss the kinds of forks in the road in life that we may encounter where the choices will have great weight. Thanks for your site! Most interesting. Every best wish, Niki

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