Encore: The Queen’s Gift18:21

(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

What’s something you like to make?

Maybe you enjoy drawing pictures or writing stories or baking muffins!

When we create something all by ourselves, it can make us really happy — and really proud.

In this story, we’ll meet a Prince who learns how to create something very particular... and it just might save his life.

Story continues below

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Versions of “The Queen’s Gift” originally come from the Middle East, parts of Africa, and the mountainous region between Asia and Europe, known as the Caucasus.

Voices in this episode include: Evan Casey, Adam Mastroianni, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Delores King Williams and Jake Borelli. Grown-ups, you can see Jake on Grey’s Anatomy on ABC.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Jessica Alpert. Our original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

This episode originally aired January 15, 2019.

Coloring Page

("The Queen's Gambit" by Sabina Hahn)
("The Queen's Gambit" by Sabina Hahn)

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening

Think about a skill you’d like to learn. Maybe you’re interested in baking bread, sewing or drawing your own comic strip. Whatever it is, is there a grown-up in your life who could teach you that skill?

Reach out to that person and ask if they’ll take you under their wing. Even though they’re the ones doing the teaching, I’ll bet there’s an awful lot they can learn from you as well!

(Courtesy: Shannon Bettridge)
(Courtesy: Shannon Bettridge)

Musical spotlight: The Clavichord

In Latin, clavis means “key,” and chorda means “string.” As it happens, the clavichord uses both keys and strings: every time you press down a key, a brass blade on the end of the key pushes up against pairs of strings. The clavichord was especially beloved in the late Middle Ages, then through the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical eras. Because of the clavichord’s stately sound — and its popularity in the days of queens, kings, princesses and princes — we chose it to underscore “The Queen’s Gift.”


NARRATOR: There once was a Queen.

But the Queen wasn’t always royalty.

Before she joined the royal family, she was a weaver: a humble weaver in the village, who happened to meet the King while she was delivering a set of carpets to the palace.

The two of them fell in love... and before you knew it, they were married!

The pair grew older… the king passed away… and the Queen was left alone with their only child: the Prince.

The Queen missed her husband dearly, but the Prince kept her spirits up. She loved watching the good-natured young fellow as he played in the royal gardens with his friends, cracking jokes and making up stories about the grand things he would do when he became King.

But one day, the Queen called the Prince over, and sat him down at the long table in the enormous banquet hall.

QUEEN: My son. You are the joy of my life. I don’t know what I’d do without you - especially now that your father is gone! (beat) Still, I can’t help but feel... uneasy.

PRINCE: “Uneasy,” Mother? Why?

QUEEN: Well.... look around you. Here in the palace you have everything you could possibly want! Fancy clothing, sumptuous foods, servants to answer your every beck and call. But you never know when all of that… may change.

NARRATOR: The Prince shrugged his shoulders.

PRINCE: Why would it change?

QUEEN: Fortune plays tricks, my boy. One day you’re a commoner... the next you’re a Queen!

NARRATOR: The Prince thought for a moment.

PRINCE: You mean… like you! You once were a weaver, then you were royalty!

QUEEN: Exactly! Like me. But, you see, my child... it can work the other way around, too.

PRINCE: You mean, you could go from being a Queen, to being a weaver again?

QUEEN: I could! And that is why I’m so glad I know how to weave! (beat) Riches may come and riches may go. But a profession, a trade — that lasts a lifetime. We all should be able to create something useful. Something that will help us in times of need, or danger.

NARRATOR: The Prince’s eyes grew wide.

PRINCE: “Danger”?!?

QUEEN: You never know! My point is… you may be a Prince now… but who knows how long that glory may last? That is why, dear boy, it’s time you learned how to make a living by your own hands. It’s time you learned… a trade. (beat) The only question is… which one?

NARRATOR: The Prince stroked his chin as he glanced around the banquet hall. He saw the sparkling candelabras on the walls... each one forged by the silversmith in the village. He saw the high-backed wooden chairs surrounding the banquet table... each one hewn and chiseled by the carpenter.

Then the Prince’s eyes fell upon… the tablecloth. Woven throughout the bright white linen was an intricate pattern of flowers. In the middle... woven in fine, gold thread... was the crest, or symbol, of the royal family.

And can you guess who had woven that tablecloth?

I’ll give you a hint:

She was sitting right across the table from the Prince!

PRINCE: I know! A weaver, Mother! I want to be a weaver! Just like you.

NARRATOR: The Queen grinned.

QUEEN: An excellent choice, my son. An excellent choice. (beat) We’ll start our lessons first thing tomorrow!

NARRATOR: And… they did.

The Queen showed the Prince everything she knew about weaving. He paid very close attention, and before long, the Prince was weaving the most beautiful carpets you ever did see… all by himself!

The Prince made each of his rugs more colorful than the last. He also wove in all sorts of decorations and patterns. But every carpet he produced had one thing in common: in the very corner, the Prince would use fine, gold thread to weave the family’s royal crest.

While sitting at his loom one day, the Prince realized... the Queen’s birthday was coming up! In just one week! He wanted to give his mother the most exquisite rug he could possibly weave. But he wanted this one… to be different.

PRINCE: I know! What if I use a new kind of thread?! Something I’ve never woven with before?! That would make this rug extra-special!

NARRATOR: Up until now, the Prince’s servants bought all of his thread for him. So he decided he’d sneak off to the marketplace himself, and see what else the vendors sold.

Early the next morning, the Prince slipped out of the palace. He was dressed like an everyday citizen, so as not to draw attention to himself.

But just as he and his horse entered the forest on the edge of town, the Prince did draw someone’s attention.

A whole bunch of someones!

THIEF 1: Not so fast, mister!

THIEF 2: Don’t move a muscle!

THIEF 3: Get down from your horse. You’re coming with us.

[theme music in]

Who do you think the Prince encountered in the woods?

And what will happen to the Queen’s special birthday gift?

We’ll find out, after a quick break.

[theme music out]


[theme music in]

NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir. Welcome back to Circle Round. Today our story is called “The Queen’s Gift.”

[theme music out]

When we left off, a Prince had become a master weaver. He’d learned everything from his mother, the Queen. And with her birthday just one week away, the Prince decided he’d surprise his mom... with a brand new carpet.

But when the Prince snuck out to buy new yarn at the marketplace, his mission was interrupted… by thieves! Thieves who marched him and his horse deep into the woods… to their shadowy hideout inside a cave!

You may recall that the Prince... wasn’t dressed as a prince. He had disguised himself as a commoner. So the thieves had no idea he was royalty as they huddled around him.

THIEF 1: Alright, mister. Listen up.

THIEF 2: With those clothes, it’s clear you don’t have much money.

THIEF 3: That’s for sure!

THIEF 1: But that’s some horse ya got there!

THIEF 2: A real beauty!

THIEF 3: So we’re going to steal it.

THIEF 1: And we’re going to make you…

THIEF 3: ...join our crew!

NARRATOR: The Prince’s mind raced a million miles a minute. He didn’t want to lead a dangerous life of crime! How could he get himself out of this mess?

PRINCE: Listen, folks. You’re right. I could do as you say... and join your crew... and help you rob and steal and swipe and swindle this entire kingdom. Yeah. I could do that. (beat) Or…

NARRATOR: His lips curled into a smile.

PRINCE: ...I could do something even more valuable!

NARRATOR: The thieves leaned in closer.

THIEF 1: “More valuable,” you say...?

THIEF 2: We love “valuables”!

THIEF 3: Tell us more!

PRINCE: (cooking up a plan) Well, you see, I’m a weaver by trade. I can weave the most beautiful carpets you ever did see. So beautiful, in fact... they’re worthy... of a Queen!

NARRATOR: The thieves’ eyes gleamed.

THIEF 1: “Worthy of a Queen,” eh...?

THIEF 2: That does sound valuable!

THIEF 3: What do you need?

NARRATOR: The Prince requested a loom. He also asked for some yarn and thread. One of the thieves rushed out to get them.

PRINCE: Alright, folks - here’s the deal. Give me one week, and I promise: I will weave a rug so splendid, it will bring the Queen extraordinary happiness. (beat) From there, who knows what fortune might bring?

NARRATOR: The thieves let out a cackle.

THIEF 1: (cackling) Mmmmm — ‘fortune’!

THIEF 2: (cackling) We like the sound of that!

THIEF 3: (cackling) Get to it, weaver!

NARRATOR: And… he did.

Hour after hour, day after day, the Prince wove his carpet inside the cave. He worked by candlelight, pausing only to grab some sleep, or to nibble on bread crusts the thieves tossed his way.

When a week had gone by, the prince removed the carpet from the loom.

PRINCE: (showing the thieves) Ta-da!!!!!

NARRATOR: The moment the thieves saw the rug, their jaws dropped open. They didn’t know a thing about weaving, but they were blown away by the elaborate patterns and decorations the Prince had included in his newest creation.

THIEF 1: (impressed) Are those little tiny suns?!?

THIEF 2: They are! And look at those moons!

THIEF 3: And stars! Check out those stars!

THIEF 1 / THIEF 2 / THIEF 3: Wow!

NARRATOR: Now, what the thieves didn’t notice was that suns, moons and stars weren’t the only patterns and decorations on the Prince’s rug.

Tucked away in the corner… woven in fine, gold thread… was something the Prince included in all of his carpets.

Do you remember what it was?

That’s right!

The royal family’s crest.

And inside that crest, the Prince had stitched four tiny letters: H-E-L-P. “Help”!

PRINCE: (faux-humble) Thank you for the warm words, friends! (fondly) I learned my trade from the finest weaver I know. She’d be pleased to hear such praise. But enough dilly-dallying! Go ahead and take this carpet to the palace! I said I’d weave a carpet worthy of the Queen, and now... I’ll prove it!

NARRATOR: So the thieves rolled up the rug and scurried to the palace. When they unfurled the carpet for the royal gatekeeper, he was so dazzled at first glance that he immediately summoned the Queen’s advisors. The advisors were so impressed, they led the thieves straight to the Queen’s chambers!

Remember: by now, the Prince had been gone an entire week. When he disappeared, the Queen sent troops to scour the kingdom on horseback and bring him home. But they never found the thieves’ cave.

So at this point, the Queen was sick with worry. And when the thieves walked in carrying the Prince’s rug, it was the first time she had smiled all week.

QUEEN: (happily) Oh my! What a spectacular carpet! This weaver must really know the craft!

NARRATOR: The Queen took the rug and inspected it carefully.

QUEEN: Have you ever seen such tightly-woven thread…?! Or magnificent colors…?! And take a look at those splendid suns… and moons… and stars… and - (gasp!!!!)

NARRATOR: Her heart caught in her throat as she noticed the corner of the rug.

THIEF 1: Well, Your Majesty...?

THIEF 2: The weaver of this rug told us it was worthy of a Queen!

THIEF 3: Was he correct...?

NARRATOR: The Queen stared at the royal crest... woven in fine, gold thread… and the four tiny letters inside, H-E-L-P: “Help”!

QUEEN: Well… the weaver was correct… and he wasn’t. (beat) You see, this rug is worthy of a Queen. But it’s worthy of a Prince, as well! A Prince whom you have kidnapped! Guards! Arrest these scoundrels! They are holding my son captive!

NARRATOR: The frightened thieves confessed everything… including the location of their hideout. The Queen’s troops galloped off into the woods, and when they came back with the Prince, the young man rushed into his mother’s arms, and the two wept with joy.

That night, a celebration was held in honor of the Queen’s birthday. There was a grand feast, music, and dancing.

There also... were presents. The Queen was grateful for every gift she received. But in her mind, the most precious gift was the return of her one and only son, the Prince.

Meanwhile, the Prince believed he had been given the most precious gift… even though it wasn’t his birthday.

Because he’d been given the wise advice of a loving parent.

And what’s more?

He had been wise enough... to listen.

Rebecca Sheir Twitter Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.