This is not This.

Once upon a time, a little princess was born, that received a lot of gifts.
From her nephews and nieces, uncles, aunts, kings and queens from countries close and far away. And, naturally, from seven fairies; this goes without saying.

The first six fairies didn't give things so special: A lot of luck, some wishes, and fairythings alike. But the seventh fairy (the one that in fact had not been invited) gave her three needles and spoke:
"He that can explain to you the difference between these three needles will be your husband".

The little princess' parents, the King and the Queen, felt that the fairy had pulled a lousy trick, because instantly they saw that there was no difference. But there was no escape from the seventh fairy, a fact of life they had learned from the queen's mother (who had been married to the grandson of Princess Aurora, better known as the Sleeping Beauty, who had been in trouble with the same fairy.)

So they had photographs of the needles spread over the entire kingdom, publicized by television, even on the radio they were discussed; on the pop-channel as well.

At all universities and basic schools the problem was severely approached. The needles were put under electron-microscopes, children did their school-writing about them and created beautiful drawings, but all had to conclude that there was no difference.

Once a week there was a consultation-hour in the palace, where paragnosts, lunatics and Rosicrucian's were welcomed to give their opinion on the needles. The most far-fetched theories were presented, like the idea that the needles, in ultra-violet light, while singing specific songs from the Middle-Ages, would spontaneously bend into three different characters in Ming-Chinese. Yet, as much as one did honestly try out all these theories, none of them resulted in anything.

In the mean time, the princess grew prosperously. Under the influence of horseriding and tennislessons, she became more and more beautiful, and by winning many quizzes on television she also became more and more intelligent on top of that.
Soon here fame hd grown to such measure that a second consultation hour a week had to be organised at the court, and when she became nineteen even one a day was needed.

The princess became melancholic. As things were going, she started to foresee that she would never get married. Especially the princes that she thought rather cool, weren't able, in the midst of all the intellectual power that was unleashed on the needles, to offer more than some hopeless sighs. And when she was thirty finally, the princess had become a sour and mean woman but since everybody sympathized with her, nobody did mind.

One day she noticed how in her presence one of her maidservants was so unashamed as to shine with happiness. In a mean tone of voice she asked what was going on with that ugly lass. The poor kid turned white when she admitted that the new tailor's apprentice had stolen her heart.
Indeed the princess coldly ordered this boy to be brought to her.

"What is the difference between these needles?" The princess asked as soon as the boy was presented to her between two of her guards. The boy watched the needles for a moment, and spoke: "Well, it's very simple," He took one of the needles and broke it. "it is the same difference as between all needles in the world: when I break one, the next one is still intact."

The Princess fainted, and so did the maidservant. The boy was terrified and bent over his girl-friend. When she regained consciousness, he asked why she was so upset. She told him about the three needles and that he would now marry the princess but the boy said that he would not think of that.

Also the princess had returned to consciousness, and heard the boy's words. The sour angles at the corners of her mouth disappeared and a thin smile took their place.
She forbade all present to speak about the riddle's solution and within a year she succeeded her father to be the Queen.

Unmarried she stayed, and to the seventh fairie's dismay she died without children, as a consequence of which her country was announced a republic and the seventh fairy has been jobless ever since.

M.J. Trapman

Index Writing