The Mountain of the Rising Star

A Story by Gilles Côté

 Please Note: This is but the rough outline of a story. It is not written to be read, but to be told.

"We were made for you O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."
Saint Augustine

     "You will seek me and find me  when you seek me with all yur heart."          
      In spite of all the efforts made to cheer her up, a princess is very sad. The king and queen become alarmed when they see that this sadness is affecting her health.

      The wisest counselor in the kingdom tells them that the only cure lies at the end of a journey to find the Mountain of the Rising Star. No one knows where this mountain is located, but when the princess hears of it she wants to start off immediately to find it.

      The king insists that she be accompanied by a large contingent of soldiers, servants and an almost inexhaustible supply of provisions, clothes, riches.

      Not knowing what direction to take, the general who is charged with protecting the princess asks her which route she wishes to take. She points towards the desert. The general is taken aback and reminds the princess that "the enemy" lies in wait in the desert. The princess replies, "I must follow my heart and find the Mountain of the Rising Star."

      In the desert, as the general anticipated, the caravan very soon encounters the enemy. Most of the soldiers and servants are killed and all of the goods are taken together with the camels carrying them. Only a handful of people survive.

      But, in spite of this, the princess will not turn back. The few remaining soldiers and servants die one by one of different causes. The princess finds herself alone and still she pushes on. With no water, no food, burned by the sun, exhausted, she finally collapses. She has decided to give up. At that very moment, on the horizon, she sees them: the mountain - the star! In her heart she knows that she has found the Mountain of the Rising Star. She somehow finds enough courage and energy to reach the mountain, to climb it and to go down the other side. There, she loses consciousness.

      Several days later, she awakens in a simple hut. The peasant who discovered her had taken her in and are nursing her back to health. They do not know she is a princess, nor does she feel she needs to tell them because she can see they love her and accept her as she is. As she heals physically, a transformation also takes place within her. The sadness is slowly replaced by joy.

      When she is completely recovered, she is perfectly content living with the peasants and has no desire of returning to her former life. Yet, out of a sense of deep gratitude, she seeks out the king of the kingdom in which she has found happiness. She wants to thank him for the kindness shown to her by the king's peasants.

      At the castle, she is ushered into the great hall and, in the manner of peasants, she enters bowing her head before the king and queens. Then, she hears a familiar voice saying, "You have come back to us!" She looks up and sees her father the king and her mother the queen seated on their thrones.

      She had, unknowingly, gone full circle and returned home.


©Gilles Côté, 2001
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