The Invisible Princess


September 19, 2001|By Faith Ringgold

Editor's note: Slaves call upon supernatural powers so that they can be free.

Long ago, in the tiny Village of Visible, way down in the deep Deep South, there lived two slaves called Mama and Papa Love. They were called that because of the great love they had for children, though they had never had any of their own for fear that Captain Pepper, the mean old slave master, would sell their child and destroy their loving family.

One day, the Great Lady of Peace came to tell Mama Love that in spite of all her fears she was soon to have a baby girl, who would be so beautiful that she would be the envy of all who saw her. The Great Lady of Peace promised that this little girl would grow up to be a princess who would bring peace, freedom and love to the slaves' Village of Visible. Mama Love was very happy, but she was frightened, too, for she knew that if Captain Pepper got wind of this, he would want to make the baby princess a slave. So Mama Love begged the Great Lady of Peace to hide her baby and protect her freedom.

And so the Great Lady of Peace asked the Prince of Night to conceal the beautiful princess in his great cloak of darkness and keep her forever safe from human eyes.

As the beautiful baby princess came into the world, the Prince of Night appeared and spread his great black cloak across the sky, turning day into the blackest night. The sudden darkness woke the Terrible Storm King, who flew into a thunderous rage, releasing tumultuous rains and hurricane winds on the Village of Visible. It was during this storm that the Prince of Night wrenched the beautiful newborn baby from Mama Love's arms and disappeared with her tiny body into the stormy night.

One day Patience, Captain Pepper's blind daughter, was playing in the cotton fields and saw a little girl her own age. It made her so surprised and happy that she could see the girl that she ran home and told her father.

"Patience, my little blossom, you cannot see," said Captain Pepper.

"But, Father," said Patience, "I can see her."

"What does she look like?" asked Captain Pepper.

"She has nut-brown skin, shiny brown eyes, long black curls and the most beautiful smile!" said Patience. "Everything around her glows. I know she must be a princess. Don't you believe me, Father?"

"No," growled the mean old slave master. "I have never seen a beautiful slave, and neither have you. You must promise me never to go to the cotton fields again. Enough about this Invisible Princess!"

"Yes, Father," said Patience, thinking to herself: "That is just who she is - not a slave, but an Invisible Princess."

Captain Pepper didn't want Patience to know it, but he had heard about the beautiful baby who had been born to Mama Love in the cotton fields, and now he was beginning to believe it. "But could there really be a beautiful slave, an Invisible Princess? Well, if there is, that slave is mine!" shouted Captain Pepper. "And I will find her."

Hearing her father's vow, Patience went to warn the Invisible Princess that her parents were in danger.

The Invisible Princess realized she had to warn her parents. She found Mama and Papa Love. "I have come here to help you," she began. "The Great Lady of Peace saved me just as you asked her to, Mama. But now you and Papa Love are in danger," she said. "Captain Pepper has threatened to sell you to plantations far away," she went on, tugging at her mama's apron.

"You were just a newborn baby when we lost you. Where have you been?" asked Papa Love.

"The Great Powers of Nature take care of me, Papa. The Giant of the Trees made me a beautiful castle high up in his branches. And the Dream Queen visits me each night and brings me sweet, sweet dreams of freedom, Papa, dreams that one day will come true."

At that, the Great Powers of Nature made themselves heard. "Hear! Hear!" they chorused. "No one will harm any of you ever again. And from this day on, all of the slaves of the Village of Visible will be free!"

"But Captain Pepper is a very mean and powerful slave master. How can we ever be free of him?" asked Mama and Papa Love.

"I will make a batch of fresh-baked honey cakes with my special bittersweet honey," said the Queen of Bees. "Anyone who is stung by my bees and then eats my fresh-baked honey cakes will become invisible."

"And I will spread my great black cloak over the day and make it into the blackest night," said the Prince of Night. "And the slaves of the Village of Visible will disappear."

"Then the Invisible Village of Peace, Freedom and Love will be born," said the Great Lady of Peace. From THE INVISIBLE PRINCESS by Faith Ringgold. Copyright M-) 1999 by Faith Ringgold. Reprinted by arrangement with Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House Inc. New York, New York. All rights reserved.

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