There was once a prince who fell in love with a free spirit maiden of the forests near his castle.
The prince was noble in some ways but lacking experience in others. He meant well but he was not always able to express how he felt.
He courted the maiden and despite the maiden realising that the prince was interested in her and found her beautiful, she did not know the depth of the prince's love for her...because he never told her.
For a few months the prince tentatively wooed the maiden but, afraid and embarrassed to show the true nature of his feelings....his intentions were not known by her and eventually her eye was caught by another prince.
The first prince was sad. He loved the maiden but had been too afraid to tell her. He became aloof and did not contact her any more. He told himself he didn't care but deep down he knew that he still loved her and hoped his feelings would fade with time.
Eventually he made contact with the maiden again in the forest. She was happy to see the prince. They walked together and talked. The maiden said she was now with the other prince who was an honourable and fine man. He took her to visit his family. He liked to sing to her. He wrote her poetry. He was above all a reliable man. The first prince walked her to the door of her forest home and then kissed her goodbye. She walked away and the prince savoured the sight of her in the sunlight, her beautiful hair catching the rays, her lovely smile, and her slim body moving. Above all he loved her brown eyes...although in the dusk he could have sworn they were green.
Weeks later the prince had too much red wine after a royal stag hunt and sent a messenger with a note for the maiden. The maiden sent the messenger away but the prince sent him back. The maiden gave a note to the messenger which said "I am with company." The prince sent one final message that read "Have fun. How's the poetry?"
Next morning the prince was feeling unwell after so much wine and he believed he had done a terrible thing. He had insulted the maiden and been less than chivalrous. The prince's imagination ran riot. He imagined that the maiden would never want to speak with him again. That he had upset her and that she would now hate him. He also worried that he had spoiled her life.
The prince then decided that he should not see or even think about the maiden ever again. He had a wall built. A wall that ran the length of his side of the forest and too high to climb. It was also very deep so that no sound could penetrate it. The prince was sad but satisfied when the wall was finally complete. Now he could forget about the maiden and continue with his life.
Days became weeks, became months, became years. The wall became covered in moss and vines. It was pelted by rain and hail. It was beaten by the sun. The prince imagined that all manner of horrors lay on the other side. That the maiden hated him so much that she would never forgive his stupidity and drunken rudeness.
The prince believed that as his love and adoration of the maiden had been so strong, then the maiden must have equally strong, yet negative feelings for him.
In the prince's mind the wall kept back the hatred and loathing that he believed the maiden must feel towards him. He still cared about her and knew deep down that if he had the wall demolished, then he could find out exactly how she felt about him. But he kept the wall in place. Not knowing how the maiden felt meant that he would never have his heart broken by finding out that the maiden hated him, or worse...had forgotten him.
Eight years later the prince had explored the idea of courage and dignity. He realised that he could not live pretending to be honourable and brave if he did not have the courage to face the one thing that he was most afraid of. Finally he ordered the wall taken down. When the last stone was gone, the prince looked out over the forest. It looked exactly the same as it had all those years before. There were no monsters there, no men-at-arms hired by the maiden or her family to attack the prince, nothing except the beautiful forest.
The prince had trembling hands as he wrote a note to the maiden. It said he was sorry for his behaviour and that he hoped the maiden would forgive him. He added that he was also sorry it had taken so long for him to ask for her forgiveness. He despatched a messenger with the note.
Later that day the messenger returned with a note from the maiden. The prince shut himself in his chambers and when he knew he was completely alone he broke the seal on the note and read it.
"How lovely to hear from you again. How are you?"