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A Prince and a Princess were still celebrating
their honeymoon. They were extremely happy; only one thought
disturbed them, and that was how to retain their present happiness.
For that reason they wished to own a talisman with which to protect
themselves against any unhappiness in their marriage.
Now, they had often been told about a man who
lived out in the forest, acclaimed by everybody for his wisdom and
known for his good advice in every need and difficulty. So the
Prince and Princess called upon him and told him about their heart's
desire. After the wise man had listened to them he said, "Travel
through every country in the world, and wherever you meet a
completely happily married couple, ask them for a small piece of the
linen they wear close to the body, and when you receive this, you
must always carry it on you. That is a sure remedy!"
The Prince and the Princess rode forth, and on
their way they soon heard of a knight and his wife who were said to
be living the most happily married life. They went to the knight's
castle and asked him and his wife if their marriage was truly as
happy as was rumored.
"Yes, of course," was the answer, "with the
one exception that we have no children!"
Here then the talisman was not to be found,
and the Prince and Princess continued their journey in search of the
completely happily married couple.
As they traveled on, they came to a country
where they heard of an honest citizen who lived in perfect unity and
happiness with his wife. So to him they went, and asked if he really
was as happily married as people said.
"Yes, I am," answered the man. "My wife and I
live in perfect harmony; if only we didn't have so many children,
for they give us a lot of worries and sorrows!"
So neither with him was the talisman to be
found, and the Prince and the Princess continued their journey
through the country, always inquiring about happily married couples;
but none presented themselves.
One day, as they rode along fields and
meadows, they noticed a shepherd close by the road, cheerfully
playing his flute. Just then a woman carrying a child in her arm,
and holding a little boy by the hand, walked towards him. As soon as
the shepherd saw her, he greeted her and took the little child, whom
he kissed and caressed. The shepherd's dog ran to the boy, licked
his little hand, and barked and jumped with joy. In the meantime the
woman arranged a meal she had brought along, and then said, "Father,
come and eat now!" The man sat down and took of the food, but the
first bite he gave to the little boy, and the second he divided
between the boy and the dog. All this was observed by the Prince and
the Princess, who walked closer, and spoke to them, saying, "You
must be a truly happily married couple."
"Yes, that we are," said the man. "God be
praised; no prince or princess could be happier than we are!"
"Now listen then," said the Prince. "Do us a
favor, and you shall never regret it. Give us a small piece of the
linen garment you wear close to your body!"
As he spoke, the shepherd and his wife looked
strangely at each other, and finally he said, "God knows we would be
only too happy to give you not only a small piece, but the whole
shirt, or undergarment, if we only had them, but we own not as much
as a rag!"
So the Prince and the Princess journeyed on,
their mission unaccomplished. Finally, their unsuccessful roaming
discouraged them, and they decided to return home. As they passed
the wise man's hut, they stopped by, related all their travel
experiences, and reproached him for giving them such poor advice.
At that the wise man smiled and said, "Has
your trip really been all in vain? Are you not returning richer in
"Yes," answered the Prince, "I have gained
this knowledge, that contentment is a rare gift on this earth."
"And I have learned," said the Princess, "that
to be contented, one needs nothing more than simply - to be
Whereupon the Prince took the Princess' hand;
they looked at each other with an expression of deepest love. And
the wise man blessed them and said, "In your own hearts you have
found the true talisman! Guard it carefully, and the evil spirit of
discontentment shall never in all eternity have any power over you!"