Then came the great moment. Prince Aron led his ballerina to the party.(1) (2) The treasurer had ordered lustrous light-thaler of pure gold be brought in to brighten the festival hall like a bonfire. But when Papillon entered the hall, the sun rose. Her fairy-like aura shone brighter than the light-thaler and, literally, took the sunlanders' breath away. A gossamer fabric, strewn with tiny, gold butterflies, quivered like delicate, glittering wings about this unique figure. A diagonally folded ribbon of shiny white silk was draped over her body and right leg. Her appearance gave the impression of an encounter with a two-legged butterfly.(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) An exquisite tiara (1) (2) crowned her gleaming black tresses. A gold-rimmed saffron crocus (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) of uncommon beauty sparkled on the precious headband. Larger than any crown, it became all the rage among the Nubians. What a spectacular entry. Papillon conquered the sunlanders' hearts by storm so they had only eyes for her. The effect of his ballerina did not escape Prince Aron's attention and his cheeks glowed with pleasure. Papillon drew the people's gaze toward her like a lamp attracts a moth to its light. Thus it was hardly surprising that she overshadowed even the prince in his splendid Solino attire even though the official for velvet and silk had taken great care with last-minute adjustments to make it fit the prince's now larger size. But who would have known? The ballerina fanned herself constantly with a peacock feather, a clever way of intensifying her mystic.
“Who is this mysterious beauty at the side of the prince?” the curious found no end wondering.
The king with the queen at his side opened the great light-thaler thanksgiving feast in the festive Apollo hall. The seductive splendor of the sun palace made the heart beat faster. From the ceiling streamed a painting depicting the sun god Apollo, who is seen traveling in his stallion-drawn chariot from the east sea to the west sea to proclaim his glory. The wall panels, strictly sectioned by pillars and doors, were emblazoned with magnificent ornaments in the shape of seashells. The long tables were liberally laden with the finest fare. The official for roast pigeons had wielded a mighty effort so all the aromatic culinary creations were, it was hard to believe, were daubed in gold. A more opulent table the sunlanders had never seen.
Behind all these refinements was the hand of Papillon. She had let the official in on her mother's recipe, who would, on special holidays, cover the dishes with a lustrous yellow mass of saffron thus giving them a golden look. Anyway, it seemed that Papillon was especially fond of saffron, for her butterfly dress gleamed “red gold” and she had even rubbed her body in a saffron salve. However, the particular mystery bond that tied Papillon to saffron she still kept to herself. The right moment would come soon enough for her to disclose this secret. The official for roast pigeons was elated over the ballerina's gracious gesture. As a sign of his affection, he placed cinnamon ice cream and cinnamon stars, the dancer's favorite dessert, on the superbly decked out tables. The king was very pleased with the official for roast pigeons.
During the meal, he leaned over to his son, who was now always at this side, and said: “I shall establish a foundation that will be my legacy for posterity. You know we have much to lose: our wisdom, our bravery, our justice, and our moderateness.” Aron was eager to hear more and did not interrupt his father. The king continued: “Before a new Ozelot will be able to threaten our land, I shall increase the good thoughts just as my angel had enjoined me to do a long time ago. For we need courage of the heart and mind.”
“And how will you go about it? Thoughts are free,” said Aron, who was puzzled over how to solve such a problem.
“I shall dot the sunland with ivory fountains as if with a protective shield. Then the sunlanders will admire the virtues in every hour; they will come to love their enchanting visions and call them by their names. For virtues are the fruits of angels. The heavenly joyfulness will always reverberate in the collective memory and inhabit the human heart. The Nubians will internalize their most precious qualities so that, at the decisive moment, they will side with the virtues against the deadly forces. Then we shall have won. The citizens won't be virtuous merely for fear of punishment anymore, rather they will do good without thinking twice because they see the good that is done every day.
“It's that simple? You sow the angel fruit in the heart of men to endow them with even more steadfastness against the antagonisms in life?” said the prince astounded. Suddenly, Ozelot's dragon-snake throne room appeared before his mind's eye. He had gotten to know the effect of the evil seven. He knew what awaited those who get involved with them. And he remembered how the evil eye brushed against him at the abyss of the soul and he swore in his despair, if ever he was to see the light of day again, yes ,then he would quell evil with good for all time to come. And it was exactly this oath which his father was about to put into action. What a papa, what a king, Aron marveled.
“We have to do all we can to resist an even more powerful Ozelot.” Aron thought it prudent to ban the evil right away as a precaution and he guided it with his pointer and little finger into the ground so it couldn't do him any harm. “One day it will be big enough and try to subjugate the sunland. When this day comes, we Nubians will be ready. We, therefore, must further all wisdom especially in our land, for it ranks most highly among the nations. Wisdom is the virtue of virtues. Only those who are wise can also be brave, just, and moderate. A moderate person (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)would never violate the laws because they keep the precise balance between good and evil. I am sure you can imagine that, can't you?” the father asked his son. Although normally his respect for the king did not permit him to be facetious, this time Aron mocked: “I presume they place every decision on a golden scale.”
The father overlooked the son's remark and stated: “Of course, they don't carry a scale around in their pockets, but certainly in their hearts they do. Seen this way, what you say is true. For those who tend toward exaggerations also tend to forget moderation and will be beset by the dangerous seven.”
Then the king continued: “But the best example we have is you, yourself. Without wisdom you would not have been brave enough to withstand Ozelot.”
“How do you mean?” asked the prince as he heartily tucked in the food. “I only know that I frequently had to make decisions and was often unsure I was doing the right thing. Ozelot had many tricks up his sleeve with which to hoodwink me.”
“He thought of ever new ruses,” Miss Monti chimed in while slinking around Aron's legs. In the heat of the conversation, the prince did not hear her faint little voice.
“For if one wants to make the right decision, one first has to know what would be the wrong one,” Aron considered.
“Wisdom (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) is the art of doing the right thing. You mastered it because you have the ability to form your own judgment from which you derive your decisions.” From the king's words spoke pure pride of his son. But rather than hoard the recognition for himself, Aron wanted to pass it on to a higher being. “It was my trust in my angel that guided me in making the right decision.”
“All the better,” the king praised him. “You permitted yourself to be guided by good and not be mislead by evil. Only that counts. People who are wise have an easier time in life. They use their reason before letting themselves be swept away thoughtlessly, and later rue the day. Once you have tasted the fruits of the angels you will gain strength in the battle against temptation. A strong character protects against the impressive deception the evil seven present and their it's-not-all-that-bad mask. That's why ivory fountains against forgetfulness will be set up all over the realm to help the sunlanders make wise decisions. An art that will reach its the highest flowering in our land,” the king laid out the plan for his foundation. He was absolutely certain that his seed would bear fruit. The sun king already saw the virtues rushing through the flower waterfall and magically conjure up a magnificent rainbow. This created such enchantment that the sunlanders' heart beat faster. A twinkle flitted through the king's eyes.
“Lucky fountain alleys will shoot out of the ground like mushrooms and will give each town a buttress,” the king embellished his plan further.
“This will be a challenge for wish official,” the prince gloated.
The king took a sip of fine wine, then turned to prepare Prince Aron for the essential.
“A sun king's noblest task consists in protecting the High Order.(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) But you also must know, my son, that it is impossible ever to achieve the virtues in their most perfect form. Yet, it is a matter of life and death for our people to strive for them. A seafarer may not reach the North Star,(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) but he needs it to chart his course. Even I made mistakes,” added the king. “But there is one I shall never make again, that is, disregard the path of the virtues. I endangered not only our family but the entire sun realm.”
Aron gave his father a respectful smile. The lights of the heavenly bodies were not unfamiliar to him, but the lights of the mind he encountered for the first time. His father had ignited them. The prince was happy that his father took the time to let him see the world through the eyes of a king.
“One more thing, my son. I shall enrich the High Order with what is most august.” Aron sat on pins and needles. The king lowered his head somewhat mysteriously. Then he whispered: “The Golden Rule,(1) (2) my son, the golden rule, the soul of the High Order. It represents everything for which my heart beats.”
“What does it say?” Aron wriggled impatiently in his chair. The king spoke slowly and thoughtfully, deliberately choosing every word: “Treat others the way you would like to be treated. That's what I call imperial wisdom.” These were truly royal thoughts which were always only guided by the good. This king had greatness. Prince Aron esteemed his father and the wisdom of a king.
But after that, Aron had only eyes for Papillon who just then sent a longing gaze over the rim of her open fan (1) in his direction, which meant: “I miss you!” Prince Aron was completely enchanted by Papillon. This delicate figure, the likeness of a butterfly, where do I know you from, my fairy, the prince once again racked his brain. But the fuzzy soft thought left Aron's memory without revealing its secret. The king asked for the guests' attention to introduce the comely stranger as far as possible for not even the sun king was able to uncover Papillon's secret. Now everybody was waiting for this moment with abated breath. But Papillon took her time. She wanted to tell her story only to Aron and his companions, as they had agreed upon. The slight fluttering of her closed fan underlined her intention: “I shall keep my promise!” Papillon had complete command of fan-speak. But about her own life she wouldn't speak so easily. So the sunlanders had no choice but to wait.
Only Aron couldn't wait any longer. He swept his ballerina off her feet and ran with her to the lily pond. Arriving there out of breath, he wished for a bridge over the little lake. He led Papillon to the only lantern and, to her surprise, he pulled out a padlock on a golden thread from his pocket. He opened the latch and espied in a split second the bottom of the soul of his princess. Then they both clasped the keys with their hands and whispered as in a single voice: “Forever and ever!” They locked up their vow with the padlock (1) (2) (3) and tossed the key into the pond so that no one would ever find the key to their hearts. Prince Aron hoisted the sign of their love on the lantern for all the world to see. The lilies held their breath in complete silence. When the two embraced, they sank into a cloud of sweet cream. Nobody had missed them at the banquet. The world was still turning and yet, for a moment, it had stood still.
What a glorious evening! Gold mirrored in the candle light and recreated the light of the sun. Exquisite, colorful gleaming veils, redolent with cinnamon and jasmine oil, streamed through the castle garden. The air weighed heavy and light at the same time, the scents and sounds (1) (2) (3) mingled in a magic way. An oboe, a harpsichord, and a flute released their harmonies into the balmy evening wind. Harps were plucked and viols caressed. A gondola swayed in the water and savored the sweet scent of Madonna lilies only to vanish forthwith in the water labyrinth. Sparkling glasses in hand, the guests ambled past bubbling fountains. Enchanting Aurum! This is how the triumphal return of the ruling family was celebrated. The wish official made sure that after the lavish banquet everybody found a light thaler in his coat pocket. It wasn't long before the fireworks began.
Rockets shot up into the sky and painted white lilies, the prince's favorites, onto the night blue roof of the earth. Gold-spraying suns and glittering waterfalls plummeted onto the people below, giving the impression of a thousand gleaming stars falling from the sky. Suddenly all held their breath and stared into the sky above. A larger than life image of their crown prince lit up the dark night.
“Viva El Dorado! Viva El Dorado!” Shouts of enthusiasm set the mesmerized throng into motion. The prince blinked one eye whereupon his beaming eyes rained down a mass of light thaler. Two gold gleaming streams of light thaler poured over the Nubians who couldn't extend their hands fast enough toward the sky and gather up their skirts wherein to catch the gold rain. Then a golden heart rose into the night from Aron's glittering crown. The sunlanders couldn't get enough of any of this. Lustrous sun wheels gushed forth from the towers of the palace and spilled onto the gleaming roofs while the palace was daubed in sparkling crimson. Above the unfinished tower flew a banner in the gold rain: “Tower of Growth.” Bangers competed with the sunlanders in leaping over the pavement causing a huge ruckus. But that wasn't all by any means. The wish official, out of pure zeal, had a fire dragon sweep over the palace whose hot breath spit out a spray of light thaler. Shouts of “ah” and “oh” or “bravo” and wild applause filled the air. Children searched the ground for light thaler; each wanting to do the other one better. They took them to their parents, stroked the candle with their little hands so their wish would come true. And since the wish official was no longer plagued by sleeplessness and was so overjoyed by the return of the prince, he decided to do something nice this time for the common children of the sunland.
Accompanied by exploding crackers, a terrible chaos broke out. The poor parents hardly knew what was going on. Shepherd girls rode on the fire dragon over the palace and poured out torrents of light thaler. Fisher boys chased barefoot over the surface of the castle pond and stuffed their pockets with huge goldfish. Some children had heard about cold white rain in the north land, which is called snow. Suddenly it started to snow in the castle garden. The lilies were so shocked they covered their eyes with their leaves and shivered in the cold. But the children asked for furs, boots, and mittens. They built snowmen and slid on the bottom of their pants down the avenue. It was all great fun and, still incredulous, they let the snow run through their fingers again and again. When it got too cold for them, they ran into the palace to warm themselves. What a surprise! The west wing overflowed with toys so fabulous most children could only dream of. But the best was that each child was allowed to take his favorite toy home with him. The sun palace kindled the children's fantasies in the most varied ways. Many set their sights on the prince's fineries. Just once to slip into the leggings and capes, to feel like a prince, what a sensual high that would be. All dignified they pranced about moving a step closer to the stars in their noblesse.
They asked for rattles and mallets, firecrackers, and anything that made noise. The parents were the ones who suffered the most from the noisemakers. Some of the children jumped about on the keys set in the ground so the sounds of a harpsichord tumbled about randomly. But the children were unperturbed and squealed with each new sound. Other children asked for pocketsful of candies until they walked crooked under the weight. The wish official endowed those who seemed forgotten by the crowd with brilliance, admiration, and a proud gait. To make the children's happiness complete, school was canceled the next day. And all those who were shy and modest for once had a chance to deride the bullies and the arrogant.
Then the game was over and everything returned to what it was before. Except for one thing: sunlanders who gently stroked their light thaler to make a wish, didn't exist before. Since it strained the strength of the wish official, the wishes of the commoners remained unfulfilled. But the day came when the Nubians decided to collect the light thaler and fulfilled their own wishes. Yes, the sunlanders were a really clever bunch and that was due to the ivory fountains.
The story of their prince, which was the talk of the land since the light-thaler thanksgiving feast, had shown them that all the treasures in the world couldn't bring him happiness. And thus, the sunlanders had the amazing idea that what was important in life was not to get rich but to be happy. From then on in, they resolved, they would unfold their lives like a flower. The Nubians discovered their own talents by asking themselves for what their hearts beat most fervently and the official for good thoughts made sure that each one was put to use according to his individual gifts. What a joy it was to see the Nubians expressing what was best in them. And they felt good in their land which the little prince had so bravely saved from perdition. The sun king was more than satisfied with the state of his people's mindset, which he, of course, attributed to his generous foundation.
“The ivory fountains have served their purpose. Our subjects are refining their character day by day because they have internalized the beauty of the virtues,” raved the king. And thus it was in reality. The sunlanders had long taken the good thoughts to heart. They were well on their way to doing good without giving it a second thought because they always saw only good around them. The lucky fountains made sure of it. In the end, the Nubians found their happiness in the virtues. Wherever they turned, the seven gifts blossomed and enriched life. Nubians who felt with their head and thought with their heart were honored as wise even by the learned peacock. They found the world's riches in a noble soul.