Once upon a time there was a king named Dappy who lived a life that others envied. Not only was he the best king to ever rule, he was also blessed with good looks, a sense of humor, and a castle. He had all that his money could buy, including a faithful servant or two. The king would frequently show himself to the people and smile and wave and do the kingly thing. And all of the people wished that they could be him. But what they did not know was that King Dappy did not have everything. For as much as he did have, the king's heart had a constant ache, for his true love he had yet to find.
In the past, there had been times when he thought that he had found true love. But each time it turned out that it was only an evil spell cast upon his heart…because his love was taken and used and his heart was torn apart. No lady had ever truly given her heart to him. So King Dappy continued his search, knowing he would never be truly happy until he found his one true love. He sent out an invitation to every lady in his kingdom to come to the castle on a given day and time. In his invitation, he requested that each person bring her three most cherished items to share with him.
In one corner of the kingdom, there lived Lovely Lady…and she was bound by all but true love. And just as it had with the king, true love had eluded her. She went about her daily life guided by her duties but also guided by the hope that one day, love would fine her.
When the king's messenger arrived at her door with an invitation, she was breathless with excitement, and she began gathering her most treasured items as her king had requested. Soon her day came to go to the castle. With her, she carried a bag containing the items the king had requested. She entered the castle and gasped at the opulence of it. She was led though the entryway and along several corridors into a large room. The room was empty but for a table containing three items. She walked over to the table where there was a sign saying, "Pick one item to keep as your own." Lovely Lady looked closely at the items before her, examining each one closely. There was a beautiful pearl necklace, a writing tablet of the finest parchment with a feather pen, and a beautiful comb for her hair. She picked up her chosen item and was then taken into another room.
Upon entering the next room, Lovely Lady was shown three paintings of various landscapes, and was told to pick her favorite. She was to choose between a portrait of the seashore, a castle on top of a mountain, or a valley filled with green, rolling hills. She made her decision and was led outside to a waiting horse and buggy.
"Where are we going?" Lovely Lady asked the driver.
"Soon you will find out, Dear," the kindly older gentleman replied, with a smile on his face.
As they made their way to the unknown destination, she grew more and more excited. When the buggy finally came to a stop, Lovely Lady found that they were at the seashore….the very spot in the portrait she had chosen. She could smell the salty air and hear the waves crashing upon the sandy shore. The breeze caressed her and she felt so alive. She got out of the buggy and ran over to the shoreline, removing her shoes. She laughed like a child as her toes squished in the sand and the waves lapped at her ankles.
"Hello there." Lovely Lady turned and looked to see where the spoken words were coming from. Standing behind her was a handsome man and he seemed to be laughing at her as she danced in the sand.
"Hello," she replied, blushing.
"You seem to be having fun," he commented.
"Well, I love the ocean," replied Lovely Lady. "Its my favorite place in the entire world."
"Yes, I gathered that much since it was your first choice of the portraits," he replied.
"Oh, do you work for the king?" she inquired of the handsome stranger.
"You could say that," he smiled. "And which of the three items on the table did you choose as your own?"
"Why, I chose the tablet and feather pen," Lovely Lady answered.
"Hmmm," said the man. "I find that curious. I would think that a beautiful woman such as yourself would have picked either the necklace or the comb for your hair."
Lovely Lady smiled. "Well, they are all beautiful, but only something for me to keep for myself. With the pen and paper, I can write and give it to someone and they can have a special part of me always."
"I see," the man said. "And the king asked you to bring your most three cherished items with you. What did you choose?"
Lovely Lady smiled and said, "None other than the king himself may see the things I have brought with me."
The man thought for a moment and said, "I see. Well…what would you say if I told you that I am, indeed, the king?"
Lovely Lady laughed and the man raised an eyebrow. "Oh…funny, is it?"
She could not seem to stop laughing. "I'm sorry. It is just that you do not seem very kingly."
"And, what, may I ask, am I lacking?" he asked her.
"Well, if you really want to know…you are far too common acting to be of noble birth.
You are not dressed at all kingly. I seen no servants around you. I mean, for goodness sake, look at how you are talking to me. The king would never just talk with a commoner such as myself."
The man smiled at her and looked into her eyes. "Perhaps he speaks to her because he finds her enchanting."
Lovely Lady smiled and said, "Well, I cannot imagine the king wanting someone like me when he could have any woman he wants."
The man smiled and said, "Perhaps he likes her sense of humor, or her sensitivity. Perhaps he likes her romantic spirit. Or perhaps he thinks she is the most beautiful creature that he has ever seen."
Lovely Lady blushed under his gaze and felt a strange warmth in her heart for this stranger. "You speak to me as if these are your thoughts and not those of the king."
"And I told you that I am the king," he replied.
"If you are truly the king, they why are you here at the ocean with me?" she asked. "Why are you not at your castle?"
He looked solemn and deep in thought before speaking. "For many years, I have searched for my true love. Time and time gain, I thought I had found her. But as fate would have it, my heart was always broken. All I waned was a woman to love and to share my life with. What I had to offer was never good enough. So my search continues. I am searching my Kingdom, and I made a request of each lady in it. So far I have narrowed it down, and the search has brought you and I to this place. The final step is to see what items you have brought to share."
Lovely Lady looked up at him and whispered, "So, you are truly the king?"
He smiled and said, "Yes…I am King Dappy."
Immediately she curtsied and said, "Oh, please forgive me, my lord…for being so outspoken."
King Dappy smiled and said, "Please rise and no need to apologize. I find your honesty quite refreshing.."
Slowly, Lovely Lady arose. "Now, may I see the items you have brought to share with me?" asked King Dappy.
Lovely Lady handed the bag to the king. He took his time opening it. Slowly he reached in and pulled out the first item. In his hand he held a beautiful seashell. "That shell is from my very first visit to the seashore, and it was on that day that I fell in love with the sea. It always draws me back ," she told him.
King Dappy smiled, and reached into the bag, pulling out the second item. In his hand he held a heart made of clay. "That is symbolic of my heart," Lovely Lady told the king. "My heart is the only gift I have to offer, and it is soft and, like the clay, can be molded."
King Dappy reached into the bag a third time and pulled out a key. Lovely Lady said, "That is the key that will unlock the chains that bind me. But the key will not work unless my one true love uses the key."
The king looked at her and said, "But, Lovely Lady…I see no chains. You do not appear to be bound."
"The chains by which I am bound are not visible chains," she sadly replied. "They are unseen and I am bound by a heart that is untrue."
"Then where am I to place the key if there is no lock?" asked King Dappy.
"The key represents a kiss," Lovely Lady shyly replied. "When true love's kiss is placed upon my lips, my heart will know and the chains will be unlocked."
King Dappy looked deeply into her eyes. He moved slowly closer to her. And as the waves crashed around them and the sea breeze caressed them, they kissed. And at the exact moment, both King Dappy and Lovely Lady felt the power of true love touch them. King Dappy realized that his search was now over. And Lovely Lady's chains were unlocked and she felt free to embrace the true love that she had found.
The two of them built a cottage by the seashore, and they spent most of their time there. Lovely Lady wrote beautiful poetry for her love. And King Dappy spent many days fishing and bringing the bounty home to his queen. They walked on the shore and watched the sun rise and fall. They laughed and loved and made up for all of their years of loneliness. King Dappy and Queen Lovely lived happily ever after.
Many years have passed since the first telling of this story. Some wonder if it be truth or legend. But visitors to the seashore where King Dappy and Lovely Lady met have reported seeing a ghostly couple walking hand-in-hand along the shore on many a moonlit evening.