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In a far away Kingdom, life went for years as usual, a strange event happened, that threw everyone in distress. The young Prince had caught a strange, unknown and unheard off disease.

One morning he woke up and felt his stomach swollen like a watermelon. Or, should we say like a pumpkin? So big and round it was.

"Mother!" he screamed. "Mother, come quick! My stomach aches!"

The Queen rushed into his room, and saw his stomach had grown really big.

"Are you sure you haven't swollen a football recently?" she asked in a troubled voice.

"No!" he cried. "Don't stare like this! Go, call the doctor!"

One after the other the famous and not so famous doctors from all over the country came to see the Prince. But as no one of them had ever come across such a strange disease, no one knew the cure for it. They nodded their heads, scratched their chins, wrung their fingers, but with no result. The stomach of the Prince went on growing, and his screams were heard throughout the whole Kingdom. Soon everybody knew about the Prince's strange disease and that no medicine whatsoever could help him so far.

One day, a stranger knocked at the gates, and asked to be shown to the royal family.

The King and the Queen met him in the Prince's bedroom.

The stranger observed the boy's stomach, and after clearing his voice from the dust of the roads, said:

"May I suggest something?"

"Go on, if you think your knowledge will be helpful," the Queen said.

"Come on! Quick! Speak!" whined the Prince.

"I have heard from my grand mother, who had heard from her old grand-grand mother, who…"

"Could you, please spare us the details?" The King asked impatiently, but as politely, as he could afford.

"From unremembered times," the stranger went on," up in the mountains and deep in the woods, lives an old lady. She picks herbs and prepares medicines for illnesses, which doctors can not cure. Maybe she can help now."

"Bring her here!" the Prince cried.

"Sorry," the stranger said. "She doesn't pay visits to anyone. All who need her help have to pay her a visit."

"Then we have to go there." Mother Queen said.

Soon the king's carriage was ready. On the front seat father King and mother Queen were seated, and on the back seat the whining Prince, wrapped in soft cushions. The stranger sat on the driver's bench, to lead the way.

When the carriage finally stopped in front of the old lady's little house, the stranger jumped from his seat and knocked gently on the door.

"Come in, it's opened!" They heard from inside.

The King and the Queen followed the stranger, as he entered the neat, old-fashioned room. There, by the burning fireplace they saw an old lady in a long gray robe, with snow-white hair. They spoke in one voice, trying to tell her at once how bad the Prince's illness was, how helpless the doctors, and how desperate they, the parents were. She listened quietly, with an air of a faint smile on her wrinkled face, but when they begged her to come out and see their son in the carriage, she said:

"Sorry, but he must come here himself. Otherwise, I won't be able to help him."

Mother Queen opened the door and implored:

"Please, son, make an effort and come to the house. The lady wants to see you."

"He might need some help…" the King added.

"Get inside, both of you, close the door, and wait for him here." the lady said softly, but firmly.

The Queen joined the others in the room, and all of them sat in silence, waiting for the Prince to come.

The Prince also waited for someone to lift and carry him in, but as no one came, he rolled out of the carriage, and holding his enormous belly with both hands, made the few steps to the door. Then, in his anger, he kicked the door open, and shouted:

"Come on! Give me the medicine! Don't you see? My stomach aches!

"I see," the old lady said. "And I think I know what your illness is. But just to make sure, before I give you the medicine, would you please, go out again, and try to come in once more?"

The Prince had no choice, but to do as she said. He slammed the door behind his back and shortly after, kicked it open again.

"Here I am!" he shouted." Give me the medicine! Quick!"

"Just a moment." the lady said calmly. "I don't have the cure.

Everybody was stunned with surprise.

"But," she went on "You have it. Let me tell you, that yours is a very rare and very bad disease. Uncured, it might lead to a very bad outcome. But it's up to you to cure yourself.

"How"? the Prince screamed. "What is this bad disease and how can I cure myself?"

"If you go on like this" the lady continued, "your stomach will soon grow so big, that it will fill the whole room. You will never be able to go out, and no one will be able, or willing to come in and visit you. Do you want to go on like this?"

"No! No! No!" the boy cried. "What do I have to do?"

"Let me first tell you what your illness is, and then it will be up to you, to decide how you can cure yourself."

Everyone listened in solemn silence.

"There are some very good, and very important words, which everyone has to use, when communicating with other people… When you meet someone you have to greet him with words like "Hello", "good morning", good evening", when you part, you have to say "good-bye", "see you soon", or something like that. If you hurt someone by chance, you have to say "sorry", if someone gives something to you, you have to say "thank you!"…"

"I know all that." the Prince said impatiently. "So what?"

"It's not enough to know these good words. You must also use them." the lady said." But I'm afraid, you never used them, that's why you swallow them each time you have to let them out, and they pile up in your stomach. And since none of them ever came out, your stomach grows bigger and bigger…"

"Thank you!" the Prince said in a changed tone. "I think I understand now."

"That's good," the old lady smiled. "The first aid to an illness like yours is understanding. But just to make sure you've really found out the way to cure yourself, go out again, please, and then come in once more."

"Yes!" the boy smiled in return. He went out quickly, closed the door softly, then after a short while he knocked gently on the door, saying: "May I come in?"

"Yes, please!" the lady answered.

The Prince opened the door and said: "Good morning, Lady, Hello, mother, hello, father, nice to meet you, stranger! I'm very grateful to you all, for helping me find the cure for my disease. But most of all, I want to thank you, dear lady, for opening my eyes And please, accept my apology, for being so impolite before. I'm really sorry…. I'll never swallow the good words any more. I'll always say them when needed."

Everyone remained still. Their eyes wide open with surprise. It was not the sudden change in the Prince's behaviour that surprised them so much, but the way his stomach became smaller and smaller with every new good word he said. At the end of his speech, the stomach of the Prince was no bigger than that of any boy his age.

Finally, the King and the Queen spoke in one voice:

"Thank you, dear lady!"

"You deserve the greatest reward! the King said.

"Come to live with us in the palace!" the Queen added.

"No, thank you." the lady answered. "I feel very well here."

"Then ask whatever you want!" The King offered.

"I'm perfectly happy with what I have." the lady said. And the greatest reward I get is when I'm able to help people. A moment ago your son, has not only cured himself, but he also rewarded me doing that.

"Thank you, once more!" The Prince said. "I'll never forget you and the medicine you gave me!" and he hugged the old woman.

"Good-bye!" she said "And now, that you know the cure, you may also help others, if someone else caught the disease."

"I will" the Prince promised.

"What Shall You Give me?"
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