My little niece, McKinley and myself used to sit together and take turns making up stories to the paintings of Nicoletta Ceccoli. We would spend hours doing this. So I am going to just spontaneously make believe to this painting.
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Once upon a time there was a beautiful castle of alabaster high upon a hill. When the sun shinned upon the stone it was so bright you had to cover your eye’s. The castle had a king and a queen but sadly the queen was barren and could not have a child. Queen Liona was so very unhappy and this distressed the King, who loved her so very much.
She sat upon a chair gazing out the window to the grounds below. The King tried everything to cheer her, he brought in the most renowned minstrels of his kingdom and had them sing only happy songs. He bought her fine jewels, and had the cook make her rich pastries…..nothing helped. One day while off in the kingdom, King Lars came upon a set of the most exquisite swans in a pond of the manor of a wealthy lord. The king thought these beautiful creatures would surely bring back a smile to the face of his queen. The lord of the manor was fond of the swans but even fonder of his liege, and quickly acquiesced to gift them to Queen Liona. The king was very grateful and paid the lord well in gold.
In front of the castle there was a lake of the bluest blue. Queen Liona often cast her gaze into its depth and considered herself floating on its surface and then sinking to its unfathomable bottom. She allowed her maids to dress her on this morn, like every other morn. They brushed her long golden hair and twisted it into an elaborate plait, then placing her small crown gently on her head. She stood in trance as she stepped into the heavy brocade gown, her maids pulling tight the laces. Once dressed as usual she drifted to her chair in front of the window. Sitting to gaze yet another day into the valley and the lake. Something caught her eye, something white was moving upon the water of the lake, she shifted in her chair, she sat up and leaned forward to see better, “Swans,” she says softly aloud. She stood and leaned out to see even better, suddenly she turned to face her handmaids, “Swans,” she says a little louder. Mia her lady in waiting was sitting near by working her needle point, Your king has brought them for you, Your Majesty. He does so love you.” Mia did not want to get to excited but she was delighted that the swans had elicited a positive response from her queen.
“Mia, accompany me down to the lake. I wish to see them,” says the queen. Mia was quietly exuberant and knew the kings heart would be lifted. The queen practically ran down the stairs, to the entry of the castle. “Careful my queen, please be careful, Mia cries trying to keep up. The bellman at the massive door were startled by the movement of Queen Liona as she rushed toward them, they fumbled to quickly open the doors for her.
The wind burst in with the sun at the opening of the massive portal. Ladies and maids scrambled to keep up with the pace of the queen, many just gobsmacked at this new behavior. Mia had sent one of the maids to alert the king. Liona stops, to the relief of her entourage, as she reaches the lake, Some were certain she would not. She gazed as the pair of swans glided effortlessly side by side on the glassy water. The swans danced upon the water intricately making circles as they came toward the queen. They swam close enough to see her eyes. They dipped their heads in a manner of a bow which brought an audible awe from the ladies. To the observers it was as if a silent communication was occurring between the monarch and the fouls, they just looked at one another. After a long, long while the swans again dipped their heads and swan away, looking back several times.
The king was away and could not be told of how his gift had affected the queen, and the castle was abuzz with anticipation of his return. That night the moon light spilled into the Queens chambers, and if one were looking, they would have seen a star descend upon the water. If truth be told there was a legend of a magical undine of the lake, she had long flowing hair of gold like the queen and a tail of a fish. It was said that a human had killed her lover and that she was angry, and if you came into the water she would drag you to its bottom and drown you. But I assure you that this is not the truth. The undine Irmelin had lost her love to a human but she was not angry, but like the queen was sad and lonesome. The kings gift of the swans had become companions to her and made her existence magical once more. On this night she had called upon her sister Melinda of the sky to send her a spark to aid in her magic. It were a wondrous sight had one witnessed it. In the chamber the queen had witnessed it, in her dreams.
The following morning Queen Liona leaps from her bed and startles her maids as she dashes toward her door. “Your Majesty, your majesty,” pleads her maid, as she grabs the dressing gown and rushes to robe her sovereign. “I cannot wait to dress, hurry follow me now!” the queen orders. The ladies the butlers, the footman the maids all frantic at this chaos follow the queen as she hurries beyond the castle door, outside to the lake. On the shore of the lake in the foliage is a large shimmering, iridescent egg, it is white with shades of blue, pink and purple. It is very large indeed, the queen kneels beside it and places her ear to the shell. “Quickly give me your walking stick,” she says to a footman. She gently taps the shell thrice. The shell cracks making and opening, the queens eyes brimming with tears, “It’s true, it’s true, my dream is true,” for inside was a beautiful girl child cooing. Liona reaches in and retrieves the baby girl., holding her gently to her chest. The crowd around her is silent, not even a whisper is heard. She stands and sees the swans across the lake, they look to her and dip their heads. “Thank you,” she says softly to them.
The King returns and is told of the magical turn of events, he is delighted and rushes to meet the new Princess, who has been named Irmelin after the magical undine of the lake.
Some years later, the swan like neck of the delicate princess, was noted, Irmelin always loved the lake, and was always seen in communion with the swans. Her mother and father did not mind at all, the castle was a happy place and all lived happily ever after.
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