A long time ago, in the kingdom of Kampuchea (Cambodia), there was a princess named Amaridevi. As is standard for such folk tales, she was, as the kids say, the bomb dot com1. Smart, funny, pious, beautiful — you name a superlative, she was rocking it.
However, four Kampuchean ministers failed to be impressed by any of her superlatives save “rich,” which led to some Bad Things. While each of these four stooges wanted to marry her (and get her money), she had already chosen a husband: a young man named Mahoseth Pandide, whom none of the tellings give any personality characteristics. Let us assume he was a very nice young fellow. Maybe he had a third nipple. Who knows. It’s not important.
Jealous of Amaridevi’s gentleman suitor, the minister quartet schemed up Mahoseth’s hasty exit. Over the course of months, they repeatedly hinted to the king that Mahoseth just might be disloyal traitorous scum, but who knows! Finally, they ginned up enough false evidence to get him exiled. Thus exits Mahoseth from the story. Bye Mahoseth! You were nice. Probably.
With Amaridevi newly single, the ministers gave her two weeks to mourn, since they were trying to be gentlemen, and then began hitting on her, since they were in actuality human trash fires. Amaridevi was not exactly falling for their pickup artistry. Pacing back and forth, she muttered to herself: “Oh, you greedy, wretched monsters! I will find a way to punish you. I will never be your rich puppet-wife. I will find a way to have my Mahoseth returned to me. I will find a way to teach you to respect and honor a woman’s mind and heart.”
“I will find a way to punish you. I will never be your rich puppet-wife.”
Now, remember how the ministers only paid attention to her riches? Not her smarts or her interests? They’d neglected to take into account that she had been educated in music, painting, poetry, government, law, the sciences, and, most germane to this story, civil engineering.
She called servants in for a rush construction job. She supervised the digging of a huge pit in her back parlor, instructing the workers how to dig so as to prevent a cave in. She then ordered other servants to prepare a special concoction of her own making, mixing mud, hot water, and sticky rice into a viscous mess, which she poured in the pit. Lastly, she designed a trap door and a rope-pull system to operate it. All this in a single day.
The ministers forgot she had a degree in civil engineering. This proved to be a major mistake.
The next morning, she and her servants fished the ministers out, tied them up, and brought them to the royal court. Fishing out the stolen jewels from their pockets, she proved they were liars and thieves, and ruined their reputations Her beloved (and probably very sweet, who knows) Mahoseth was allowed to return, and she tied the villainous ministers to elephants and paraded them through town. As you do.
Moral of the story: don’t mess with engineers. They can build death traps.
- The kids may not actually say this. Maybe they say on fleek. It’s a mystery for the ages. ↩
- Her headpiece she’s wearing is meant to evoke a construction hard hat, with additional adornment. She’s also carrying a birch bark book as blueprints.
- Her appearance is based off old pictures of Cambodian princess Buppha Devi, who is probably the most photogenic royal I’ve come across in all my research.
- The background is based off a digital reconstruction of Angkor Wat as it would have looked like back in the day. Given that this story has no indications of when it took place (aside from saying it was in Kampuchea as opposed to Angkor), I went for a traditional Cambodian background.
- As a comic relief companion, she has an Asian house shrew. Thought it only proper for her to have an indigenous digging animal to help her out.
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Next Time on Rejected Princesses
A spooky Halloween folktale for you next week!
This lady of the lake cries for what she’s lost.