Princess Celestine


The old woman spun her silks in moonlight, and in the warp and weft, a story was written. Some believe a person’s story cannot be changed. But restless fingers can pick at the threads, and what was written becomes changed forever. That is what happened to the story the old woman was weaving of the Princess Celestine of Gothmidland, who was favored by the stars, and intended for Prince Elgar the Northman. A thief’s fingers picked at the threads, and her story was changed forever.

One day, the Princess Celestine boarded the ship, Starspun, headed for the shores of Northland. At that moment, the ship’s Captain was off buying barrels of oranges from sunny Spain. A thief cut his purse strings, but missed his money. Captain Ferdinand had cleverly hidden that under his waistband beneath a thick leather belt. Instead the thief made off with his gold astrolabe. The oranges were duly delivered, and the Captain returned to his ship without noticing his loss.

Meanwhile, the first mate had been so busy yelling at the ship’s boy, Leo, to carry the Princess’s bags, and bowing repeatedly to the beautiful princess that he failed to taste the water being siphoned into the tanks below the deck.

Princess Celestine admired the last view of Parvenue Harbor as the ship passed out of the narrow opening into open water, not knowing that she would never reach her destination.

After several hours promenading on the deck, Princess Celestine called Leo for water, and he brought it to her. He bowed deeply, and presented it with great pride. He was quite surprised when she spat it all over the deck. She called hoarsely for the Captain.

Captain Ferdinand instructed Leo to bring him some water, and he too spat it all over the deck. “It’s briny,” shouted the Captain. The first mate, who had hoped to distinguish himself, and someday captain his own ship, found himself thrown in the brig. He blamed the princess for the fatal moments of distraction, but his part in the story was already woven.

The winds blew, and the skies cleared that night. The Captain reached for his purse, and his astrolabe, but it was long gone, already sold from hand to hand on the waterfront and now on its way to Verona in the hand of a fat Captain, too fond of chocolates. Captain Ferdinand yelled for Leo, his nephew.

“Leo, have you learned your constellations?” Captain Ferdinand was sweating, despite the raw sea wind. Leo found Cassiopeia and Polaris without pausing for thought. Unfortunately, the planet Mars was in the wrong quadrant. The astrolabe would have shown the correction to make, but instead, the Starspun took a tack not a gyb. The ship ended up in Scotland rather than Northland, sailing down the Firth of Forth. An easy mistake, the captain later tried to explain to the King of Gothmidland, especially after having to divert for fresh water. The king was not impressed.

Princess Celestine was handed ashore in Edinburgh by Leo, whose smile had enchanted the Princess. The Duke of Edinburgh’s younger son, Reginald, greeted the Princess in Edinburgh Castle.

The Scots held a tattoo to entertain her, and the military bands played bagpipes, and the soldiers marched in colorful formations. She walked the Royal Mile with Reginald by her side.

The Princess saw a miniature of Elgar the Northman, who was said to be over seven feet tall and hairier than her fur cloak. She had never been formally betrothed.

Two weeks later, Reginald and the Princess married, and in the course of time, they became King and Queen of Gothmidland.

A grateful Princess Celestine replaced Captain Ferdinand’s astrolabe, and waved from dockside at the Starspun sailed away, laden with haggis, venison and tartan for trading. Leo sailed the seven seas with his uncle until his uncle retired. That day, he gave Leo his astrolabe and Starspun, his ship. Leo always carried his astrolabe under his leather belt with his money. The first mate was never heard from again.

Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham

9 thoughts on “Princess Celestine

  1. I enjoyed reading this fairy tale, you wove it well. It had its knots that were needed to create a challenge to overcome, with a great resolution. I am so glad to hear of your special trip to Scotland and Edinburgh. My sister in law, Susan, goes often with her Baldwin Wallace students. She is so lucky and I am blessed, she has brought me a few beautiful scarves and my grandson, Skyler a sheep made of Scottish wool and a Loch Ness monster with a little Scottish beret on his head for Micah. Now, this October, she will be going again, my brother has gone a few times but not this year. He got a teaching job at Cleveland State (I think I told you, he taught Master’s degree students at BGSU, but it was an interim position for 4 years and he was not rehired. He came back to Cleveland and is renting the BG home. He had spent those years coming home almost every weekend, except for the few that Susan would go his direction.)


    • I would go back to Scotland in a heartbeat. It would be so fun to take the kids hiking there. Maybe in a few years… I hope your sister in law has a great time.


  2. Pingback: ABCs of Fairy Tales | friendlyfairytales
  3. I adore Scotland. Everything about it. The food, the whisky, the stories, the culture, the music. Okay, and to be wholly fair, it’s all bound together for my love of men in kilts.
    Lovely tale.


    • I love Edinburgh and Scotland. August 1997, I visited and every day was warm and sunny, (except one day), the hillsides were purple with heather and the air was so clean. The Scots were all fanning themselves and telling us it was never that sunny and hot. To us it felt like home, except that it never seemed to get dark.


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