Rabbits and Pearls

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Questions, Intuitions, Revisions: Storytelling as Inquiry

2005 Web Report

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Rabbits and Pearls

Jenny Lee

Once upon a time, there was a young girl in a large kingdom. Her name was Gwenevere. She liked to play outside with other children of the kingdom, but she never got to play with the Princess. The princess played with certain children of the kingdom when she pleased, but Gwenevere was never chosen. This saddened Gwenevere a little because she never knew what it would be like to play with the Princess. But she was a happy child with few worries.

One day, she met an enchanted rabbit outside her cottage. To her astonishment, it spoke only to her and seemed to be wearing pearls around its neck. It told her that the pearls were Pearls of Wisdom that it would share with her if she so pleased. How could she resist? So little Gwenevere asked her new rabbit friend, "When will the Princess decide to play with me?" The enchanted rabbit twirled the pearls gently with his paw and said, "Dear little Gwenevere, you are not to be chosen by the Princess, but you will choose to play with her." Gwenevere was bewildered by this strange answer. How could she, of all people, choose to play with the Princess? Befuddled by the rabbit's answer, she asked, "Will the Princess play with me once I have chosen her?" The rabbit only nodded once and happily hopped towards the woods. Gwenevere thought, "What a strange little bunny!" and decided to forget the encounter.

So little Gwenevere went on playing with the other children, waiting to be chosen by the Princess. Each day, she was disappointed and a little saddened. But then she remembered what the enchanted rabbit had told her and reconsidered whether it might be true or not. Still, thought Gwenevere, how would she choose the Princess as a playmate? Was it as simple an act as asking? Or were there certain obstacles to overcome? While Gwenevere pondered, she hadn't noticed the rabbit hopping on the corner of her bed anxiously. When she noticed it, she jumped a little in surprise. The rabbit said, "Hello, little Gwenevere, why did you call me over so suddenly?" Gwenevere hadn't realized she had called for him, but she was glad enough because she had plenty of questions for him anyway.

"Mr. Rabbit, I don't know how I can pick the Princess as my playmate. Could you be so kind, and help me?"

The rabbit seemed surprised at her request and, after twirling the pearls with his paws, replied, "Dear little girl, I cannot help you at all. I can only tell you that the Royals play with those who are as Royal in money, power, or pride." With this, it hopped out through a hole in the wall.

Poor Gwenevere had neither money, power, nor pride. However, she thought, maybe she could trick the Princess into thinking that she was a Royal by dressing like one. So little Gwenevere spent days and nights making pretty dresses and practicing her courtsies. Little did she know that by doing this, she was gaining a little pride in herself.

Gwenevere had finished after spending two fortnights sewing and courtsying, so she left her cottage in her pretty dress. No sooner had she reached the other children of the kingdom than the children watched her in awe. No one knew who she was because she was so radiant in the bright sunlight of the day. Gwenevere played with the other children as she would on any occasion until the Princess' carriage arrived.

While the other children continued to play, Gwenevere stood up and waited in the shade of a tree. As the Princess stepped off her carriage, Gwenevere slowly and skipped towards the princess. Before the Princess could open her mouth, Gwenevere said sweetly, "Princess, would you like to join me beneath the shade for a cup of tea?" The Princess could not refuse such a sweet invitation, and so they had tea.

After this one incident, Gwenevere and the Princess became close friends. She would often spend nights at the castle, happy as could be. Gwenevere came to know the King and Queen, as well as the other members of the King's court. As the Princess' friend, she was taught lessons by the same tutors, had her dresses tailored, rode ponies, and made to feel like a little Princess herself. Why shouldn't I be a princess, too? thought little Gwenevere. She had been taught the same lessons, fed the same foods, dressed and played the same as the Princess, so why wasn't little Gwenevere a princess as well? As soon as these thoughts had entered her mind, the rabbit hopped onto the castle grounds and appeared before Gwenevere.

"What pearls shall I share with you today, little Gwenevere?" asked the rabbit.

"Mr. Rabbit, I do not want to be jealous of the Princess, but tell me why I am not a princess even after I have been treated the same as she," she sadly asked.

"Oh ho, Gwenevere. Why indeed aren't you a princess? Think for yourself why you are not like the Princess when even the King and his court treat both you and the Princess alike," it said in a meaningful way. "You will be able to answer your own questions soon enough, little Gwenevere. I'm afraid this is all I can tell you." He hopped away seeming more content with his answer than the girl.

Gwenevere was not any less confused than before. Still, she thought and thought about what the rabbit had said. Afterall, he hadn't been wrong so far. Little Gwenevere saw that there was nothing different between the Princess and herself beside the title of "Princess." What importance does this title have when, with some effort, Gwenevere had earned herself the very same name for herself? Unable to understand what was happening to her, Gwenevere wandered around the castle. In a study, she found her Tutor poring over mountains of books.

Once she entered the room, she asked of him, "Sir, there is something that I cannot solve, and I wonder if you could find the answer." This startled the Tutor because he hadn't seen Gwenevere standing before him. When he had realized she had asked him something, he replied, "Ah, Miss, you may certainly ask whatever your heart desires. There are few things in this world that I cannot explain, but I will do my best."

"Sir, I do not know why I am different from the Princess when we are actually the same. How can I become a princess?" questioned the little girl.

The Tutor smiled a little and said, "If you wish to be a princess, you must have royal blood in those veigns that are inside you. However, you can learn all the ways of a princess and treat yourself and others as a princess would. This is most important, Miss; you are capable of learning to be anyone you please, and you can call yourself whatever you want." With this, the Tutor went back to his books.

Without making a sound, Gwenevere left the study, back into the hall, through the corridors, up to her room. Then, as she lie in bed, she learned that she was Princess Gwenevere if she knew how to be a princess, which she did. And so could any other child of the kingdom, whether or not they would be formally titled Princes or Princesses.

Little Gwenevere returned to the other children of the kingdom the next day to tell them of what she had learned. Some children were interested in Gwenevere's tale, others not at all, but in the end Gwenevere had picked up a few Pearls of Wisdom that she would never lose.

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