Princess Never-A-Smile lived in the supreme lap of luxury. She lived in a lofty palace with even loftier riches. Everything was there for her. All she had to do was ask and it was hers. But, she never smiled and she never laughed. It was as if nothing gave her joy.
It made her father, who just happened to be the King, very upset to see her this way. So, he opened his palace to men of all countries far and wide. "Try and make the Princess laugh," said he. "Anyone who succeeds will have her hand in marriage." Great numbers of suitors began to gather at the palace. From morning to morning, they ALL showed up. Among them were other kings, princes, boyars and nobles. There were soldiers and common folk of every appearance you could possibly imagine. Feasts were held and try they did. Not one of them made the Princess smile!
In a very distant part of the King's realm, there lived an honest man. He was a simple working man. His master was a rich man, but a just one. He always paid him promptly. One day, the worker's year of service was up. His master put a bag of money on the table. He said to the worker, "Help yourself, take as much as you want!" And then the master left the room.
The honest man went up to the table very confused. His mind was racing. After a few minutes he picked up a single coin. Later that day he was dipping his hands into the well when the coin fell out of his shirt pocket and sunk to the bottom of the well. The man was penniless again. He had to work for his master for another year! The man worked three times as hard! At the end of the second year, the man met with his master and the same bag of coins. Again, the master said, "Go ahead! Take as much as you want!" When the master left, the man went up to the bag and studied it. After much thought, he took only a single coin!
Returning to the well to wash his hands proved a similar fate as before. As he bent over the well the coin fell into the water and sunk to the bottom. Another year of work was about to begin.
That third year was followed by an identical meeting between the man and his master. Again, the man would take just a single coin! He returned to the well to get a drink and was very surprised as to what he saw! Both of the coins he dropped were now floating on the surface! He now had three coins! The man knew he had been rewarded for the hard work he'd completed. The man would now leave his master and travel in order to see how other folks lived...
The man was walking across a grassy field when he noticed a Mouse running towards him! "My good man," offered the Mouse, "give me a silver coin and don't worry about it. Some day I may do you a favor?" The man gave the Mouse a coin and moved on. As he entered the forest, the man saw a Beetle scampering towards him. The Beetle asked, "Please kind sir. May I have a silver coin for my journey? Maybe some day I can reward you with a favor?" The man gave the Beetle a silver coin with no effort at all.
After a bit more walking, the man saw a Sheatfish swimming in a murky stream. The fish asked, "My good man, kind sir. May I have a coin of silver? I just might be able to do you a favor some day?" The man didn't hesitate, giving the Sheatfish his last coin!
After several more miles the man came to a huge city, teaming with activity it was. The man was so befuddled by the multitudes of people that he did not know where to look first? And then before him arose the King's palace. Up high in the tower window was Princess Never-A-Smile. She was looking right at the man! Her beauty made him veeeeeery diiiiiizzy! The man was so disoriented that he fell right into a puddle of mud! And lo and behold, like it was right out of thin air, his friends came calling! The Mouse, the Beetle and the Sheatfish! They rushed to the man's aid. The Mouse began to brush off the man's coat, the Beetle his shoes and the Sheatfish used his giant whiskers to brush away the flies!
Princess Never-A-Smile sat there watching in amazement! It was so funny that she burst into a raucous fit of laughter! "Who has made my daughter laugh?" Belted the King. People all over the crowded streets began claiming it was they that made her laugh. "It wasn't any of them," the Princess said. "It was that man there!"
She was pointing at the working man. He was gathered up and led to the palace. He looked as brave and bold as ever. The King kept his word, as I have heard, and let him wed his daughter Princess Never-A-Smile. It was no dream. Laughter was indeed the best medicine...