Tell Me a Story

Once upon a time in the Medang Kingdom in Indonesia, there lived a king who had a beautiful daughter named Dewi Arum. Of all the things she loved, Dewi Arum most loved to swim. She swam whenever she could -- in pools, ponds and streams. Whenever she swam, her worries dropped away. She swam for hours and hours, forgetting everything, especially her duties.

Her parents worried about her and warned her many times not to swim for too long. "You'll grow too tired," her mother said. "Your skin will suffer. You could drown."

But the king was firmer. "You are a princess and have many duties. When you swim, you forget all your duties and let me down."

Dewi Arum loved her parents, but she could not resist the water, and so she ignored their warnings. For many years, all was well. The village was peaceful and happy, and no one suffered much from Dewi Arum's neglect.

But one day, everything changed. A strange malady made its way through the village. One by one, the illness felled people, sending them to their beds with fevers, sores and breathlessness. People began to die in great numbers, and the king grew more worried and more distraught. He sought healers to cure his people, but every healer grew sick, and they, too, died.

Not knowing what to do, the king turned to prayer. He went to the temple and prayed for the wisdom to help his people and to restore their health.

One night after he had prayed, the king fell asleep and had a vivid dream that seemed so real, he wondered if he was awake.

In the dream, an old man came to him.

"Your people can be cured," the old man said. "All they need are the flowers in the pond deep in the rainforest. And your daughter must pick those flowers."

The king woke and knew this dream was true. He called the princess to his chambers and told her all about his dream.

"Will you go pick these flowers?" he asked. "I will send your ladies-in-waiting to keep you safe. The pond is far away, deep in the jungle, and there are many dangers. But our people depend on you."

"Of course," Dewi Arum said. She did not want to let down her father or her people, and she was not afraid.

The next day, she and her ladies-in-waiting set off. The journey was difficult, the weather hot. The forest was thick with vines and strange beings and noises that filled the night.

At long last, they reached the place where no one had ever set foot.

Everywhere they looked, there were animals -- jungle cats and bats and birds, snakes and lizards and orangutans. The ladies-in-waiting were terrified, but Dewi Arum insisted.

"We must find the pond," she urged. So the ladies who never disobeyed their princess carried on. Still, they were doubtful.

They finally arrived at the most beautiful pond they had ever seen. The water was crystal clear, and it was surrounded by the softest silt and sand.

In that moment, Dewi Arum forgot her mission. She could not resist this water. Without saying a word, she dived in and began to swim. She could not stop, even as the ladies-in-waiting surrounded her. They called out, "Don't forget our mission. You must pick flowers and bring them back to your people. We must return home."

But Dewi Arum had forgotten the sorrows back home. She thought only of the joy of swimming.

Back home, the king waited patiently, but his wife was afraid.

"Where is our daughter?" she asked. "Why did you send her on this dangerous mission? We may never see her again."

"We need the flowers to cure our people," the king argued. But after many days had passed with no word at all, he decided he must go find her.

With his servants to guide him, the king set off. Like the ladies-in-waiting, the servants were terrified, but they carried on, true to their king.

At long last, the king and his servants reached the pond and saw the ladies-in-waiting calling to the princess as she swam.

"Dewi Arum!" the king roared. He was shaking with fury. "Our people are dying! You must perform your sacred duty as their princess. You must stop swimming now and pick the flowers of the pond and return home. Now!"

As he reached out toward her, he was amazed to see her vanish from sight. "Where has she gone?" he called to his servants and to her ladies. His fury dropped away, replaced by fear.

Everyone stared. No one could imagine where she had gone. In the next moment, a string of flowers floated across the spot where she had been swimming,.

"Dewi Arum!" the king called out in sorrow and fear. "Please come back. I will not punish you for disobeying me."

But he was too late. Dewi Arum could no longer come back to the palace, for she had transformed into the lotus blossom.

The king picked the flowers himself and carried them home, and it was these flowers that cured his people -- the legacy of his daughter, the lotus flower.

"Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder," the third CD in the audiobook series, is now available. For more information, please visit www.mythsandtales.com.

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