Once upon a time in the world of both rich and poor, there was a baby girl born to parents in a village in a kingdom ruled by an old and established royal family. This baby girl, quite exquisite of face and form, was christened, adored and fawned over by parents and a large family of aunts and uncles and cousins.
As she grew, she became each year ever more beauteous and also clever beyond her years. In her childhood, she had cleverly taken to saying that something - anything - was “simply not good enough.” This was because she had heard her mother say it to her father so often when she was very little, that the girl had concluded that it was a most useful expression to have. And she, exquisite of face and form as she had learned, was more clever than her mother, for whom such words were like unto a mere axe in the woodcutter’s hand, and not like the fine instrument upon which she would cleverly play such sentiments.
When she would play with dolls and imaginary tea-parties with her little girlfriends, and when things did not go exactly the way she had expected them to go, she would say that the tea-party was “simply not good enough,” and all her friends tried ever so much harder to please her. Or that the doll clothes were “simply not good enough,” and her friends would lie awake through the night, sewing new and more elegant clothes for her dolls. Who would have need of the faeries with such words as these, immediate and powerful?
When she was offered something to eat, whether for breakfast, dinner or even supper, she would try the phrase again and again, being clever enough not to say it so often that she would be found out. And so, from time to time, she would say that the food was “simply not good enough.” Her mother, who believed her to be the most special of all children on the face of God’s earth, said to her husband, “You see, our daughter is becoming so refined, that she requires meals prepared with the greatest of exquisite care and love.”
When old enough, the girl who was now a maiden was offered an apple from a potential young beau, she would say it was “simply not good enough,” and the beau would double and then redouble his efforts to please her.
A rival beau would pursue her with such great enthusiasm and effort that all the beaus tried to outdo each other in presenting her with gifts of the most extraordinary kind they could manage, for it was a small village, and its people mostly poor.
There was a parade of young men vying for her attention with ever larger bouquets of flowers from the fields, and sizable baskets of fruits from the harvest, and even old pieces of heirloom jewelry which all her beaus had weaseled from an old aunt or even older grandmother under one pretext or another. All because what had been given before was “simply not good enough.”
In time, it was known the shires ‘round that there was a young lady, beautiful and clever, who was of such refinement and extraordinary taste, that only the most exquisite of things could move her to their appreciation. For not every ordinary thing in this world was good enough. Simply not good enough.
When the time of sincere courtship came calling, her suitors pressed upon her gifts beyond their means, sometimes far beyond their means. And very often, a gift was “simply not good enough.” But the girl, now maiden ripening for marriage, had so built her reputation for the finest things, that she withstood many offers that were “simply not good enough,” and waited for what would someday come to her.
And in that someday, the someday which comes to the persistent and the clever, the word of a beautiful and clever maiden had spread as far as the castle, where talk of her became frequent. There was a young prince, and a suitable arrangement for marriage had been tried with neighboring kingdoms, but to little avail. For the princesses of the neighboring kingdoms were found to be a little too dull, or a little too commonplace in their royalty for this spectacular prince.
“What of the maiden for whom so many are simply not good enough?” asked the Queen of her King. “She must be enchanted, or perhaps a princess from another time - another life. For there are so few in this world with the taste and sensitivity to seek out the very best of the very best.”
And so, the royal court in its entirety assembled, and in magnificent splendor carriaged down to the little village where the maiden for whom much was “simply not good enough” lived. It was easy to find the house, for it had become decorated through the year by the competition for the maiden’s attention by young men who were carpenters and masons and roofers and stone carvers and wood carvers from all around the little village. It was itself quite regal, in a village kind of way.
With all the commotion of the regal entourage, the village’s folk had all begun to crowd the streets, filled with anticipation and wonder. The regal procession had to make its way slowly through the streets, the royal guard clearing the way with horse and halberd.
“Here it is,” cried the Knave who had led the royal procession. As the royal court dismounted, the Prince rushed ahead, and found the beautiful and clever young lady at the door, for she had come to see what the commotion was about.
“Maiden,” the Prince asked with all the sincerity he could muster, “may I court you?”
She looked him quite squarely in the eye, having refused to bow, and replied, “I will have to think.”
“How proud she is. How regal in her bearing,” said the Queen to the King in a hushed voice. The courtiers overheard, and pretended not to hear, but agreed in the privacy of their thoughts. How regal. How proud.
The maiden repeated, “I will have to think a while, for you may be simply not good enough.”
The King whispered to the Queen, “You see, that’s what I have sometimes thought, too.”
“Speak quietly or you shall be over heard,” said the Queen. “She seems most regal, having come from such surroundings. Perhaps she is enchanted after all. A princess from another lifetime. Or perhaps a princess stolen from distant kingdom, and found in the forest by these kindly peasants.” This must have been so, for regal bearing could not have arisen from the peasants themselves, she was convinced, for such sensitivity and understanding of the finer things of life could not simply arise from the common folk. “Yes, she must be an enchanted princess of some sort.”
And so a proper courtship was arranged. In time, though not too soon, the maiden accepted an offer of marriage from the Prince. After much negotiation, naturally.
The arrangements for the wedding soon became the most lavish that this or any kingdom nearby had attempted, for much was “simply not good enough.” Six horses to pull the bridal carriage had to become eight, and the six hundred guests had to become a thousand. The archbishop had to invite several other princes of the church to officiate, and the cathedral was to be scrubbed from floor to steeples, for everything was to be the best. Or else it might be deemed “simply not good enough.” The ceremony and trumpets and choir singing were stunning lavish, complex and expensive, all in order to measure up to this regal maiden for whom so much was simply not good enough.
In time the magnificent wedding ceremony was over. The reception was as lavish as could have been imagined, certainly by the lowly parents of this wondrous maiden, now princess and wife. In the course of the reception, gifts from kingdoms all around were offered, and, as had come to be expected, some were simply not good enough. From the banquet tables, foods and delicacies were sometimes simply not good enough. And all marveled at the new princess’ taste, refinement and exquisite sensitivities. For all had to be of the finest quality for a princess for whom so much was simply not good enough.
The new princess took to her new station and status quite naturally, as if born to be royal. The King and Queen were now most reassured in their hearts that she was enchanted, or perhaps a princess from another time - another life. For there are so few in this world with the taste and sensitivity to seek out the very best of the very best.
The very best of the very best was what was demanded, not so much with shouts and angered words, but with the simple elegance of a phrase, that this feast or that tiara, this turn of phrase or that courtly gesture was “simply not good enough.”
Until, in the fullness of time, her husband ascended to the throne, as the old King died. As new Monarch and King, he still found himself servant to his Queen’s taste and refinement for which most things were “simply not good enough” as soon as they were acquired. And he redoubled his efforts in the passing years to engage the finest and most expensive artisans to create for her, anew and anew again. As the treasury was emptied in service to the Queen’s utter and never satiated refinement, taxes had to be raised from a populace, who at one time had held pride in the refinement of their Queen. For those who could not pay or at least could not pay promptly, enforcement had to be meted out, and the knights of the realm became more insistent, and finally harsh in their collections.
The King grew less at ease with the demands for better, for regularly all that he gave to his Queen was “simply not good enough.” As his councilors pressed him to a more sensible, even frugal, life, in order to not crush the people under new taxes, his heart grew weary, and the demands from the Queen became more vexing.
He decided finally, after much turmoil in his heart, to try to rein in her demands, but his commands and even his pleas for sense were met with “simply not good enough.” The Queen would not, yea could not, see that her heightening sense of culture and refinement were at all a problem for the King, much less the nation’s folk.
In the fullness of time and in consultation with the privy councilors, bishops and knights, the King finally decided to put away the Queen, in a tower. Aghast, she had little more to say as she was led in chains that this treatment was “simply not good enough.” Her plaints grew wild, and her heart cried aloud such that it became the advice of all that the King summon the executioner, and a time of a private but exquisitely regal execution was set.
The greatest among the gentry, clergy and royalty were assembled behind castle walls. At the block, the Queen was placed on a board, and her neck bared for the axe. As the executioner tested its sharpness, she asked that it be yet further sharpened, for so regal was she, that the sharpness of the blade was simply not good enough for her.
As the executioner honed still sharper the blade, she again sought to examine it. Yet, they made no difference to the end of her short life, which was simply not good enough. Her last words were predictable.