This is a story I wrote when I was 16, presented with minor alterations in spelling and grammar, etc.
Once upon a time there lived a young girl who everyone agreed was nearly a perfect princess. She had long flaxen hair and deep sapphire eyes. She could ride horses, swim, cook, sew, and even hunt with the best of her father's court. She could speak and write in three different languages. Men and women all over the kingdom spoke of her poise and grace, but each compliment invariably ended with, "in spite of her nose."
It was impossible to ignore her nose. It protruded from the center of her face like some weather-beaten crag off the side of a cliff. Far from being cute and petite, her nose had more bumps and divots than the thirteenth hole at the royal links. The nose's crowning centerpiece was a large discolored wart.
Her father, King Henry, tried in vain to shelter her, his only daughter, from shame and embarrassment about her inglorious proboscis. To point at, stare at, or comment about the nose was expressly forbidden. Of course, the laws only served to make the princess more self-conscious than ever. Everywhere she went, she thought she heard whispering about her nose. She took to wearing veils in public, eventually becoming so self-conscious that she stayed in her quarters all the time, leaving only for meals and solitary horseback rides.
Since she was his only heir, the old king was anxious to see the princess married before he died. As his health declined, the king's efforts to find her a suitor increased. On the eve of her twenty-first birthday, despite the princess' protests, King Henry assembled a large group of bachelor princes in the Great Hall. From these, he hoped to find a suitable husband.
At first, the princess refused to leave her room and meet the guests. Only after much pleading and promises did she go downstairs. Prince Nelson was waiting at the table.
Prince Nelson of Hormuz was, quite simply, an arrogant, snooty prig. He believed himself to be quite an attractive catch. In fact, Prince Nelson cared not a whit for marriage. He had only trekked to the castle in hopes of gaining control of the kingdom. He showed his true colors very early on. as the princess descended the stairs, Nelson's eyes went directly to her beak. He guffawed loudly, then ran from the room singing, "Princess Big-Nose, Princess Big-Nose, ha ha!"
The princess sat down, very upset. King Henry toddled over to console her, assuring her that the next prince, Eric of Sweden, was very kind, although rather simple. The princess took a deep breath, composed herself, and agreed to continue.
Prince Eric came in and sat down without a word. At this point, royal protocol called for me to test the knowledge and personalities of the suitors with a series of questions.
"Tell me, Prince Eric, who is the king of Druidia?" I inquired.
"Uh...jeez...tip of my tongue. Aw, who knows?" was his reply.
Had he said "who nose"? the princess wondered. Perhaps this prince too was mocking her. For her father's sake, she benefit of the doubt.
"All right, the next question concerns language. How does one say 'good-bye' in Spanish?" she asked cautiously.
Eric responded with the only Spanish phrase he knew. "Yo no se"
"Nose" again, the princess thought. Her feeling of paranoia increased. Remembering my father's hopeful face, she resigned myself to ask at least one more question. After all, Eric was a rather simple man and it could have been a coincidence.
"Next question. What is Europe's most popular game?"
This was the easiest of all the questions. Anyone who was anyone in Europe played checkers. Unbeknownst to the princess, Sweden had its own fads.
Eric responded, "That's easy. It's dominoes."
Domi-nose? Domi-nose? The open mockery enraged the princess. She ordered him out and returned to her chair.
Before the princess could order the doors shut, in burst Lord Matthew of Montenegro. He sensed immediately that she was upset. Matthew approached her and gently took her hand. Instead of talking about the kingdom or saying the dreaded "N-word," he invited her to a picnic.
The princess was touched by this bit of kindness. His offer brought her to tears. Matthew, ever the gentleman, reached into his pack to get his handkerchief. What he pulled out, however, was his large checkered picnic blanket.
To the princess, this was the most painful insult of all. To have feigned kindness, and then imply that a nose as large as hers required a huge tablecloth to blow it, now that was cruelty. The princess slapped Matthew as hard as she could and ran up to her room, swearing never to leave.
It was three days later when the princess received her first letter from Prince Albert of the Netherlands. At the time, she knew little of him besides his brilliant exploits on the field of battle. He always fought furiously, armored from head to toe. For this he earned the monker, "Prince Albert in-a-can."
In reality, Prince Albert had much in common with the princess. He had enormous ears, of which he was very self-conscious. Unlike the princess, Albert had success in hiding his deformity. His long shaggy hair and ostentatious hats (worn to conceal the ears) became stylish among the Dutch. The heavy armor of battle his his ears as well. Still, Albert was very shy. His greatest fear that someone would see his ears and tease him.
Thanks to the Royal Pen Pal program, Albert and the princess began an involved postal relationship. They were each afriad to meet in person, for fear their deformities would be seen and they'd be rejected. They never would have met had it not been for the white boar.
The princess was riding, veiled, with a hunting party one day when we spotted an exquisite white boar. She pursued it deep into the forest, but there she found a greater prize. She spotted a horseman in a large hat. On his coat was a seal she'd seen hundreds of times on letters. Just then, the behatted rider turned.
Without speaking, they each had a moment of recognition. Albert and the princess walked slowly toward one another. Forgotten was the hunt. As they met, he swept off his hat and the princess lifted her ever-present veil. Still, their eyes remained locked on each other. It was the first time anyone had not stared at the princess' nose upon meeting her.
The princess called out, but Albert instantly shushed her. He said that he loved her, and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. The princess was overcome.
"Oh, Albert!" she cried. "I've waited long years to..."
He cut off her words with a snarl.
"Long ears!?! Long ears!?!" he exclaimed. "I hate you... Princess Big-Nose!" And with that Albert was gone, gallopping furiously away.
He died one month later in a freak mutton-related accident.