Now it came to pass, about nine hundred years ago, that there was a king who wished to find a wife for his son. Therefore, this king commanded that a census be made of all the virgins in the city. When this census was completed, it was known that there were forty women that were available for the king’s son.
Whereupon the king called in his son and said, “My son, you must go out among the people and select a wife for yourself.”
“Father I will go,” replied the young man, whose name chanced to be Collin. “And I will return with her afterwards.”
So saying the father and son took leave of each other, and the boy departed for to seek a wife.
Now the father had prepared an escort for the son, which included twenty and five soldiers and four servants. These accompanied the prince and carried a list of names of the women for whom to speak to.
The first was the daughter of a rich landowner. She wished to be excused so that she might inherit her father’s land.
Another was a rich merchant who loved the riches of the city rather than that prince’s love.
And so the search continued for many days. Some wanted nothing to do with the prince. Other some wished only to get into the castle, but wished to live their own life. Some wished to finish their own plans before joining the prince, and still others didn’t see a need of change in their lives.
And so the names on the list were blotted out as the search continued. As the names on the list dwindled in number, the chances became smaller for the prince to find a wife.
Now it came to pass on the last day of August, that the search reached its thirty-first day. All the names on the list had been blotted out save one: a girl by the name of Cornelia.
Now Cornelia at twenty-one was a year younger than Prince Collin. She was the daughter of a poor farmer whose wife had been a harlot, and whose son had been a thief. As Cornelia was their only daughter, she was tenderly loved by her parents.
Now this same Cornelia had been placed on the bottom of the list, the king’s scribes supposing that the prince would not want to see her. But Collin persisted in fulfilling the mission, and so went to see her.
Upon arrival to the place, Cornelia’s father came out trembling. Falling on his knees before the prince, this same farmer asked that the prince spare the family and not grieve them worse than what had already befallen them.
“I came,” said Collin, “out of mercy. I request to speak to your daughter Cornelia.”
“But sir,” spake the farmer, “you will not want my daughter for your wife. She is much too poor to join you in yonder castle.”
Nevertheless the prince prevailed with the farmer to speak to Cornelia, and the farmer brought in the prince to see Cornelia. The prince expressed his desire of marriage.
“Nay,” said Cornelia, “I cannot be your wife. I am too poor to join you and have no garment fit for the castle.”
“Nothing is required of you, dear girl, but to love me with all of your heart and soul and mind and to follow me withersoever I lead you.”
At this one of the servants shewed a garment which was as white as snow. “This garment shall become yours,” said Collin.
“If you can love me,” said Cornelia, “then I will love you.”
Therefore, the day was set for the wedding, and the two arrived at the castle three days afterwards.
The two were very happy, as was Collin’s father, the king. Cornelia was accepted by all of the servants, and many were certified that this same poor girl had become the king’s daughter.
But it came to pass after three years had gone by that Cornelia was taken in the act of stealing by one of the servants. When asked what he would do, Collin requested to speak to Cornelia privately.
“My dear,” said he, “what is this that I hear of thee? Thou art said to have stolen money.”
“My lord,” said she, weeping bitter tears, “I am sorry. The door was there and no one was watching. I wanted a little extra money; forgive me.”
“I truly believe thou art repentant,” said he, kissing her fondly. “Thou art forgiven.”
Now some indeed thought Cornelia should be put out of the castle, but Collin refused, saying that she had been forgiven.
But in the process of time, Cornelia was brought to Collin. “Your wife,” said a servant, “was taking a silver cup from the café.”
Collin again spoke to her, upon which she repented and was forgiven.
But when Cornelia was apprehended stealing a silver spoon from the kitchen, Collin placed her in ward for a week.
“My dear,” Collin said when he released her from prison, “take heed what you do. Forty lashes shall be given you if this occurs again. Steal no more, for worse punishment shall be given you.”
“Sir,” asked one which worked in the court, “why do you not divorce your wife and bar her from the castle?”
“Because,” said Collin, “she is my wife, and shall always be. I love her, and she truly loves me and does not want to steal. It is a battle for her to resist it. I believe she will not be found to steal again.”
Now it came to pass in the process of time that as Cornelia was walking along the fields that she happened upon some wildflowers. “How pretty,” said she, as she began picking them. “These would look nice on our table.”
Now a certain robber was also on the trail and traveling towards that castle. This same robber happened upon Cornelia as she was carrying her bouquet to the castle. Seizing her by the arm, the robber demanded her money, and threatened to slay her if she refused.
“Help!” cried Cornelia. “Collin, help! A robber!”
Collin immediately appeared with his sword drawn, while two other soldiers were not far behind. “Leave her alone!” he called out, “lest I smite thee.”
Whereupon the robber quickly withdrew, leaving the two in peace.
“Oh my love,” Cornelia said, “Thank you.”
“Thou art surely welcome,” said Collin. “Thou never needest to be afraid to call upon me. I will always be there.”
“And I, my lord,” said Cornelia, “shall always remember this day, and shall never again put my hand to steal.”
“I believe you, my love,” said he, kissing her.
The two walked home in peace.