A long time ago, in a country where sweets did not exist yet, and where children, to play, ran one after the other, climbed trees or hunted butterflies, lived Abigail. She was a princess of great beauty; as if the good god had used the most beautiful colours available to make them an unheard work. She was very distinguished, and all men only saw, spoke, and dreamt with their eyes wide open only on her.
The princess had a maid and companion named Nancy. She was the same age as her. She had just her age, for it could not be seen whether she was beautiful or not. She was so poor and, worse, her family was in such misery that she gave them all the ecus she touched in order to provide for their needs. Nancy was impressed by the princess’ elegance. Every time the princess had to put away her beautiful dresses, Nancy would put them on her and look at herself in the mirror, then fold them delicately while dreaming with her eyes open.
On the feast days of the harvest, men and women were busy to appear in their best clothes in the presence of the princess. Nancy, the servant, with her dress which was already several winters old and which reached her knees since she was growing up, did not go to parties. She stayed at the castle to take care of the affairs of the princess. She folded, unfolded to look, touch, then folded the beautiful clothes. The pain in her heart and the desire to see herself beautiful and to see boys watching her pinched her heart, but hey, she was a girl of endurance without and equal. To see her family with full bellies was, according to her, more important than anything else. She had to finish putting away the winter dresses and make all the summer dresses and accessories that went with them ready: brooches, bracelets, scarves, shawls and everything that adorned Abigail’s dresses. When she had only a few clothes left in the wardrobes, she sat on the edge of the bed. She felt like a puff through her body. She was exhausted and got carried backwards. The princess’s bed was so soft and comfortable that she fell asleep.
“The scarf with three colors, blue, red and gray, is very beautiful; in addition, it is silky, a noble material.” One day, she put it around her neck and looked at herself in the mirror: “It goes well with my complexion. I’m sobeautiful with it.” She took it, lifted her knee-length dress, so much had she grown up, and hid it underneath. She, serenely, began to contemplate all these wonders for she was alone, and no one was there to give her orders or disturb her. She opened the jewel box, saw the blue brooch glittering in the light of the day wonderfully, seized it, remembered that the princess was wearing it with the scarf she had appropriated, and thought: “The brooch goes with the headscarf. If the princess sees it, she will ask me to bring her the headscarf. It is better that I take it. With all the jewelry she has, it is not the disappearance of a brooch that will make her unhappy.” She lifted her knee-length dress, so much had she grown up, hid it underneath and went back to work. At night, she laid down on her bed, then got up, put on the scarf, the brooch, looked at herself in the mirror, smiled, and examined her dress …
The following day, with a decided step, she went to the princess’s suite since the latter was at the party that lasted for days, took the dress that went with the scarf with the blue, red and gray colours, lifted her dress that reaches her knees, so much had she grown up, hid it underneath and returned to her room while thinking, “It’s a winter dress. By the next season, she will not remember it anymore considering all the dresses that she receives from her suitors in addition to the dresses she makes herself”. The envy has no limit. Nancy went back and opened a closet that the princess rarely used. Her eyes were dazzled by the sparkle of precious stones adorning an embroidered dress. Wonderful! But what Nancy did not know was that the princess was finally going to get married and had brought this wedding dress from Persia. She said to herself: “Given the number of expensive dresses she has, she will not even notice it.” And from a scarf to a simple brooch, to a dress among many, to jewelry, to many other dresses and all the finery that went with it. Nancy could not stop taking what was not hers and, at each theft, there were justifications to answer her conscience.
Months had passed, and the day before her wedding, Abigail asked Nancy to bring her the neatly tucked dress from the closet which she rarely used! No dress! Furious, Abigail sent her guards to search everywhere and bring back the thief, tied up. Nancy was scared. She finally realized the seriousness of her behavior. She became pale and confessed everything. The princess, red with anger, said firmly: “Do not believe I’m fooled. I saw that my belongings were missing. And considering my clemency and my generosity, I said to myself: it’s only a scarf, it’s only a brooch, it’s just a golden jewel, it’s just a dress, two dresses, but you put your hand on my wedding dress! The best day of my life! You only deserve the guillotine! Tomorrow morning, my wedding day, bring me her head! She finished her remarks as she turned to her guards. The next day the executioner complied shouting in her ear: “Once a Thief, Always a Thief!” And SLASH !!! The blade of the guillotine fell stiffly on Nancy’s neck. She jumped up from the princess’s bed with her face dripping with sweat and her heart throbbing with fright. Then she came to her sense and said to herself: “I will not take anything, even if it is only a tiny thing which I judge to be unimportant. Once a Thief, Always a Thief.”
Fortunately, it was just a dream, but a bad dream that taught her a good lesson …