La Princesse des Papillons

It was a warm summer day in Nîmes. The sun’s warm rays seeped through the tree leaves and played with the shadows on the ground in the park. Birds sang beautiful melodies in the sky and landed on the street to enjoy some left-over crumbs from Monsieur Boulanger’s prosciutto baguette sandwich. Beside the old man, on the other side of the park bench, sat a little girl. Sophie was her name. She was told by her two older brothers to wait on the bench for a couple minutes while they ran to the ice cream shop. The park was Sophie’s favorite place; she loved the colorful flowers that were planted along the path and the butterflies that fluttered from flower to flower. As she watched the little travelers, slowly her eyelids grew heavier and she fell asleep...

 

Sophie woke up to someone yelling her name. As she opened her eyes, a maid in a white silk bonnet came running to her, telling her that the guests had already arrived at the palace. To Sophie’s surprise, it was her birthday and she was a princess, daughter of King Gustave of France! As she put on her favorite green dress, Princess Sophie ran to her father and greeted the guests. The day was spent in laughter and excitement.

Everyone was happy and enjoying the beautiful day -- everyone but the little magic troll, who lived in a hidden cave house in the shadows of the palace garden. He was not invited to the birthday party. No one even knew that he existed. From his cave he could see the palace and the dancing crowd behind the glass windows. Unable to bear the grief, he decided to seek revenge using his magic powers...

 

The little troll knew that every evening after dinner, princess Sophie came to the gardens to feed the birds with crumbs left over from the royal dinner table. Then she played with the butterflies and took care of her favorite flowers, the pink rose hips. This evening, using his evil powers, the troll’s plan was to turn the little princess into a butterfly herself...

As the birthday dinner came to an end, Princess Sophie ran to the gardens with a bowl in her hands. Her face beamed with happiness as she put the bowl on the grass and hundreds of birds flew to be fed. The princess then watered her favorite pink rose hips and looked at the crystal clear sky. But suddenly, heavy clouds darkened the sky and a fierce wind blew all the crumbs and birds off the path. The storm calmed down in a few minutes, but princess Sophie was no longer there -- the evil troll had turned her into a butterfly. “This evil spell can only be broken if your father, the King, recognizes you,” he told Princess Sophie.

 

Back in the palace, the King and the court began to wonder at the long absence of their princess. They searched for her in the palace, the gardens, and the nearby towns. Princess Sophie was nowhere to be found. The King became desperate. He refused to eat or sleep. Every evening he took a bowl of bread crumbs and went to the gardens to feed the birds as his daughter did. The birds did not come, however. Flowers hung low to the ground, and only one butterfly circled above the bushes of the pink rose hips. The next day, as the King came into the garden, the same butterfly sat on the petals of his daughter’s favorite flowers. Every time the King noticed this little butterfly, and one evening he said sorrowfully , “This butterfly loves the pink rose hips as much as my daughter did.” Hearing these words and seeing the love the King had for his daughter and the sadness this evil spell brought to him, the troll sitting in his cave could no longer hold back his tears at what he had done. He had never felt so miserable in his life. His guilty heart had grown too heavy these past days.  The spell had to be broken!

A gentle breeze swept through the gardens and...

Sophie woke up. She was sitting on a bench in a park in Nîmes. Monsieur Boulanger had not yet finished his lunch. Birds were still pecking crumbs on the path, and she noticed across from her a bush of pink rose hips, just like the ones in her dream...