IN A KINGDOM BY THE SEA -
a fable of royal marriage
 
 

Long ago and far away, in a kingdom by the sea, there lived a beautiful princess who longed to be a queen. Many suitors came to ask for her hand, but none was acceptable to her parents. After all, she was their daughter, and deserved, so they felt, as good a realm as the one over which they themselves reigned! So many came and went, but none was allowed to court the princess.

 
One day, sad and weary of waiting in vain, the princess went for a walk by the shore of the sea. The sound of the waves, rolling in and breaking on the sand, was soothing to her ears, and she walked on and on.

Finally she came to a place where the shoreline curved around a high sand dune, and followed it around the bend, still entranced by the sound of the sea. Lo, there she beheld a strange and wonderful sight! Seated on the sand was an Oriental mandarin with a face as round as the moon, dressed in rich robes of purple and gold, gazing far away, out to sea. Seated beside him was a great brindle dog with white chest and feet, gazing up into his master's eyes with his faithful brown ones!

 
The princess knew instantly that she was in the presence of a great scholar and holy man, in spite of the foreignness of his appearance and garb - for in her country, all men wore only brown clothing! She sat down beside him (on the other side) and began to sing. Her song, although she did not know it, was a magical one which had been taught to her by her grandmother when she was very little.
 
Its effect was amazing. The mandarin removed his gaze from the distant horizon and looked at her. The look was brief, but told her volumes. She knew at once that this was indeed her husband to be, and told him so immediately. He looked a trifle surprised, and turned to his dog for consultation. The dog began to pant eagerly. So the mandarin rose from the sand, took the hand of the princess and walked with her back to the palace, the dog following behind, wagging his tail.
 
Well, the effect of the entry of this nuptial pair on the palace household was electrifying. Whatever inner doubts the king and queen might have had were swept away by the unassailable credentials of the mandarin! For he carried with him a great scroll which listed all the scholastic achievements he had acquired at a great school for mandarins back in his own land, and they could not help but be impressed by its contents, to say nothing of the grandeur of his presence.
 
And so the marriage was arranged, and went off splendidly. Out of respect for the mandarin's personal habits of self-denial and inner discipline, the ceremony was a simple one devoid of religious significance, but all went well, and the guests drank many toasts to the health and happiness of the royal pair in rice wine served in tiny, handleless cups - for this was the custom in the homeland of the mandarin. It wasn't bad!
 
Well, the home of the mandarin was far, far away, over many mountains and deserts, and of course the king and queen were concerned for their daughter's safety and comfort, so they invited the pair to reside in the palace, which was very large, with many wings. They were to have the use of an entire wing and servants of their own, so they agreed, after the mandarin had had a brief consultation with his dog. The dog was busy eating his supper, and so, only glanced up at his master and woofed, then went back to his food, so it was arranged.
 
That night the newlyweds went to bed in their high, intricately carven four poster bed with its silken canopy and curtains embroidered all over with dragons and exotic birds and flowers in brightly colored silks. Unknown to them, however, one of the dragons was a sacred dragon whose power for good or evil fortune depended on the harmony or disharmony of the new couple. Thus, it was his function either to bless or to curse the union of new couples. The queen, who had failed to learn some of the customs of her own land, particularly where marital matters were concerned, did not know of the sacred power for either good or evil of these bed hangings when she had ordered that they be put upon the nuptial bed. She only knew that these were hangings designed to dress a royal bed!
 
And so, the couple lay together in the dark of this splendid and sacred bed, and the princess thought to herself, at last I have a husband with whom I can enjoy the pleasures of the flesh and with whom I can beget my children! She was very happy. The mandarin, however, unbeknownst to her, felt incomplete and unsure of himself, for his dog had chosen to spend the night in the palace kitchen close to the warmth of the great hearth and to his doggy bowl of delicious food! And so, when the princess began to feel the stirrings of her body and turned to her husband, he lay very still, wondering what to do! And thus they lay together for what seemed an eternity of anticipation, neither of them knowing what was happening.
 
Suddenly, there was a great sound of roaring above them, as of fire, although it was without heat. The fire shot out from the dragon above their heads, curled around them and lit up the whole room. Gazing in wonder and terror at each other, they beheld an appalling sight! For no longer were they a princess and a mandarin, but instead, each beheld a strange creature lying beside her/him. The princess beheld a great hulking gorilla, and the mandarin beheld his faithful dog, still licking his chops, his doggy breath smelling of dog food! Naturally, neither of them felt inclined to pursue the pleasures of the body with such alien partners - the princess with a fearsome animal, the mandarin with the faithful companion of his bachelorhood but hardly appealing as a wife!