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  Once Upon a Time in Poland

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How Princess Wanda saved Krakow

There was once a good, old king Krak who ruled the city of Cracow and the lands around it. He was very popular among his subjects, as a man of honour and kind, loving heart.

His wife had long been dead and he had no son who would take the throne after his death, but he had a beautiful and brave daughter called Wanda. She was in love with a young prince, who ruled the lands close to the Baltic Sea. Even though they were often separated by the long miles of thick forests, the two happy people did not despair and kept making plans for the future together.

Unfortunately, the time finally came when the old king died. The nobles of Cracow started thinking how to ensure the safety and stability of the land. They thought that the best way would be to marry the princess off to some brave knight who could protect the land and its people.

They sent their messengers to all neighbouring kingdoms and soon a mighty knight from a fighters’ tribe, very hostile towards Wanda’s nation, came to the Cracow castle and demanded Wanda’s hand in marriage. Wanda, scared of the knight’s brutality, refused, especially that she was still hopeful to hear from her seaside prince.

The knight, however, was not so easily discouraged. “I will now go back to my land”, he said, “but I will be back soon, with my numerous, well trained and well armed hosts. If you do not agree to have me as your husband, we will destroy your country with swords and fire and slay all your subjects. The choice is yours.” With these words, the knight left. Poor Wanda had never felt so lonely and helpless in her life before. Her prince gave no sign of life and day by day people came to her castle, begging her to marry the cruel knight and save her land. She knew, however, that under such a rule, her people would never again feel safe and free.

Finally, the day came when the knight and his army were approaching Cracow. Wanda knew that her prince would not come in time to protect her and her land. She knew she had to save her people without anybody’s help. She put on her most beautiful dress and picked up some flowers. She went to the top of the Wawel Hill and looked around to admire her lands for the last time. “If I cannot marry the man my heart has chosen then I shall marry no one,” she said with a sad smile. “And I will never give anyone a reason to attack my country and hurt my people. If this is my destiny, let it be so.”

With these words she plunged down the cliff, straight to the Wisla River.

 
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