World Folk Tales – The King has Donkey’s Ears
When a king is arrogant about his appearance, an unexpected event occurs that changes his life forever!
Once upon a time in Ireland, there was a king by the name of Marcus. Marcus was in his bedroom and he was posing in front of a mirror. He twisted and turned and admired his own good looks in the mirror for a long time. He was so obsessed with himself that he did not notice a fairy entering his room through the bedroom window.
The king continued to admire himself as the fairy watched on. Soon, the king grew so enamoured with his own beauty that he said to himself that he will send out soldiers around the world to make sure that no king was as beautiful as him. This was when the fairy realised that the king had crossed all bounds and was becoming very arrogant. He decided to teach the king a lesson and so, swinging his wand, he converted the king’s ears to donkey ears. The fairy then flew out from the king’s room.
As the king turned about, he saw the donkey ears in the mirror and panicked. He called out to the guards from within his room and asked them to send in a barber. He also made sure to specify to them to send the barber into his room alone. The guards then fetched the barber and sent him into the king’s room. As soon as the barber saw the king’s donkey ears, he grew scared and ran out of the room. The king then ordered the guards to catch the barber and put him in a dungeon. So the guards threw the barber in the dungeon and he was never heard from again. Like this many barbers were called upon individually and they all met the same fate.
One day, a barber named Bryan was called by the guards and when he entered the king’s room, he was at first shocked to see the king’s ears but managed to remain calm. The king then told him to make a wig that would cover his ears. So Bryan made a big wig and gave it to the king. The king wore it over his head and felt very happy as he saw that his big donkey ears were no longer visible. The king then paid him 10,000 gold coins and told him not to utter anything about this to anyone.
That night, Bryan was at his home and was looking confused. His wife then came up to him and asked him what was the matter. To this, Bryan said that he could not reveal the secret and for this his wife suggested that in order to relieve himself, it would be best if he went and shouted into a hollow tree which was cut. Bryan thought this was a good idea and so he went in search of a hollow cut tree.
Bryan then went into the forest and there after finding a suitable tree, he peeped into the hollow trunk and shouted – “The king has donkey’s ears”. After this,he felt relieved and went home. Some days later, a woodcutter came in search of wood. He saw the same tree into which Bryan had shouted and considering it was ideal for his purpose, he chopped it down. He then took the bark of the tree to the city. There, the wood went to the hands of a music instrument maker. He carefully carved the wood into a drum and after much work, it was delivered to the king’s men.
The king was returning from outside the kingdom and all his men started to blow trumpets and beat the drums to welcome him. As all the drums were being struck, one of the drums didn’t sound like a usual drum. Instead, it made a noise saying – “The king has donkey’s ears”. The noise was so loud that everyone around heard it, including the king. The king panicked and did not know what to do. In his fear, he jumped from the horse and the wig fell down as well. His donkey ears sprang out and all the people laughed at him. Not being able to withstand the shame, the king ran off into the forest.
As the king sat down in the forest, brooding and sad, he realised something. He finally let his pride and ego vanish and he embraced something much more beautiful, which was being kind. At this moment, the fairy came again and with a swish of his wand, he converted the king’s donkey ears back to human ears and vanished. The king felt very happy but was still reluctant to go back to his kingdom. After many days, the ministers sent out soldiers looking for the king in all directions. One group of soldiers found the king in a deep part of the forest and they brought him back to the kingdom.
Moral – Appearances can be deceptive.