When, in a queendom far away and long ago, the Queen gave birth to identical twin girls, a soothsayer was summoned to say the sooth.
Regarding the infants with his deeply knowing eyes, the soothsayer said, ‘They must be parted before they reach the age of ten, never more to meet again.’
The Queen said, ‘What is this nonsense? What do you mean? Tell me more if you would leave this palace alive.’
The soothsayer said, ‘The sooth has been said.’ And so saying, the soothsayer disappeared in twin spires of smoke, one spire green, the other blue.
It took all the skills of the chamberlain, the domo, and even the cook to soothe the Queen’s wrath at the sooth said by the soothsayer. Peace was restored to a manageable degree in three weeks time, and work on a great wall separating the queendom into halves was undertaken. With tenderest care, plans were drawn for an eastern palace to be built for the Princess Mandy to occupy on her 10th birthday. At the same time, plans for Princess Sally’s western palace were also scriven on the finest vellum.
The pair of princesses passed the years as inseparable companions. They were kind and loving, a delight to one and all. The Princess Mandy always wore blue. The Princess Sally always wore green. Such was the single way to tell them apart. For their startling orange hair and deepest blue eyes fair brought all who saw them an initial gasp followed by a quivering in the knees.
At last separation day was almost upon them, and they met in the garden.
‘We will meet again,’ whispered Mandy.
‘We will meet again,’ whispered Sally.
Ten years passed. Princess Mandy brooded in the eastern palace. Princess Sally brooded in the western palace. Despite their frequent efforts, the great wall had triumphed in keeping them apart.
Carrot, Mandy’s jester, worried about her kind mistress. While mending a tunic, Carrot suddenly stood up from the bench and said, ‘I will do something about this!’
At that very same instant in the western palace, Celery, Sally’s jester, flung down her knitting and cried, ‘I will do something about this!’
What did the two jesters do? They each went to the wall and requested a jester exchange. The wall official saw no reason to deny the request. Celery went to Mandy in the east. Carrot went to Sally in the west. And cleverness blossomed in the two palaces when the jesters changed identities with the pair of princesses.
Mandy approached the wall, trembling in the pale togs and raggedy boots of Celery. On the other side of the wall, Sally, for her part, quivered in the orange patch silks and green boots of Carrot. The wall officials yawned and opened the doors to the passage, one on each side. The sisters rushed to embrace.
The flames tore around the queendom, consuming it to the last leaf, the last twig. Arms around each other, blended, slender, the sisters sat joyous in the charred landscape.