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10. Prince Amri from Amrikabad
Prince Amri was a tall, broad-shouldered prince who believed in the ancient Sanskrit dictum that the human body was a sacred sapling needing special care, and so he nourished and exercised his own regularly. His muscles bulged through the royal maroon tunic that he wore, and his entire bearing was that of a man in excellent physical condition and at the peak of health. The princess had heard stories about the prince’s prowess in the traditional Indian martial arts, practised with long wooden sticks. Yet she looked for mind as well as muscles in a partner, and soon after they exchanged greetings she turned the conversation to matters concerning the welfare of the people, to find out whether he would be able to govern wisely beside her. This would have far-reaching consequences, not only for Amrikabad but also for her country. Despite his considerable physical charms she was not prepared to accept him as her future husband if he were unable to show at least a minimum grasp of the issues of the day.
‘A beautiful body, yes,’ she muttered to herself, ‘but do you also have a beautiful mind, Prince Amri?’
It turned out, however, that Prince Amri was at ease whilst discussing matters of state, and he showed considerable knowledge of the customs of her country that she would never have expected from a foreigner. He was also full of ideas of how to better the living conditions of his people, and his thoughts on how to combat the menace of the bearded gangsters were rather more focused and crystallised than those of Prince Ash.
She listened to the steady flow of words. He gazed at her with such intensity that it appeared that for him no one else existed in the hall. She was flattered by his attention and impressed by his body and mind. ‘Yes,’ she thought to herself, ‘he seems to be the…’
And just then before she had finished voicing her thought a passing waiter carrying refreshments collided with the prince and spilled drink over his tunic.
‘Offspring of an owl!’ shouted the prince, a common term of abuse. His face turned red and his brow creased in anger, and although the harried waiter dug out a napkin and attempted to dab at his uniform, the prince continued to berate him. ‘Don’t you ever look where you’re going? Are you blind?!’ And then he pushed the waiter aside, shouting, ‘Get going, you idiot! Leave my royal dress alone!’
As the waiter left, he seemed to regain some control over himself, but he still mumbled and grunted in anger as he took out a handkerchief and continued to wipe and dab at his clothes. It seemed that he had forgotten that the princess was standing in front of him.
All at once Prince Amri remembered his manners and attempted to smile at the princess and engage her once more in conversation, but Roopali was upset and didn’t want to stay a moment longer with him. As has already been said, the princess had a most delicate temperament and quailed at the very hint of violence.
She quickly whispered goodbye to him and went away distraught, yet recollecting that sundown was near at hand and that courtesy and convention both demanded that she spend a little time with prince number fifteen, the bearded Prince Regis of Newadabad.
It now looked to her as though Prince Amri was the only suitor she could consider marrying, but it would be difficult for her to forgive him his display of excessive and unwarranted anger.
11. The Bearded Prince
She did not have to look for him at all, because as soon as she turned she saw that he was only a short distance away and had in all probability been watching the incident with the waiter. Now there was no longer the sardonic smile on his lips as there was when he watched her having the discussion with the Royal Astrologer; instead, his expression was smiling yet serious. It also seemed to her that he was now waiting for her.
Still flustered with her encounter with Prince Amri, and with her thoughts whirling about in her head, she went up to Prince Regis.
He took her hand and kissed it gently.
‘I must apologise for dashing off a while ago when I saw you coming towards me,’ said the prince.
‘Why? When?’ The princess didn’t really know what to say.
‘I saw an elderly lady slip on the floor,’ continued the prince ‘and I simply had to rush to help her. Do you forgive me for rushing away?’
‘Of course,’ said the princess, and she thought to herself that clearly she was mistaken in thinking badly of him. This was a kind-hearted prince who didn’t think twice about coming to the aid of an ordinary guest.
‘But since I attended to her, I have been waiting for you,’ continued the prince, ‘and I am pleased that I am the last of the princes to meet you.’
‘And why should that give you pleasure?’ said the princess gravely.
‘I have observed that often those who are last in a queue are the most deserving,’ he replied lightly. ‘By this I don’t mean to boast about myself, but I believe that politeness and grace are more important than ambition.’
Princess Roopali was not sure what the prince was talking about, but whatever it meant it sounded sensitive and sensible. She was becoming more intrigued with the Prince of Newadabad than she had anticipated. Momentarily at a loss for conversation, instead of a casual remark about the weather, which she generally used as an opening gambit, she blurted out, quite unceremoniously and ungracefully, ‘Why do you keep a beard, sir?’
Prince Regis smiled.
‘Thank you for being so frank,’ he said. ‘It is often the first thing that strikes someone when they meet me for the first time, but often people hesitate to ask me directly about it.’ He rubbed his chin with the palm of his hand. ‘I am sure that you are well aware of the series of armed robberies that have been committed over the past couple of years by a gang of armed desperados?’
‘Who isn’t!?’ said the princess.
‘Well, exactly.’ said the prince. ‘You may also be aware that the police in the kingdoms that have been threatened by these bearded marauders often pick up ordinary citizens who keep beards and take them for questioning?’
‘I suppose they have to carry out their investigations,’ said the princess.
‘Most certainly,’ said the prince. ‘But unfortunately often those who are picked up and taken to police stations are taken there not on the basis of information collected or as the result of any investigation, but merely on the strength of their possessing a beard.’ His brow furrowed. ‘This was also happening in my kingdom until a few months ago.’ He paused. ‘Now, there are many people in the world who keep a beard on account of religious reasons or simply because they want to do so. There are artists, painters and other creative people who don’t care for a clean-shaven appearance. The police do not draw any distinction between such people and criminals, and take the easy option by targeting any person with a beard. My understanding is that while it is important to catch those bearded gangsters and have them punished, it is even more important to ensure that no person in my kingdom should be persecuted merely on account of possessing a beard.’
‘And how can you ensure this happens?’ asked the princess, her curiosity provoked.
‘A simple solution,’ answered the prince. ‘I decided that I would keep a beard myself, so that the young men of my country would feel free to grow beards, despite any opposition from their families because they could always cite me as an example to their parents. My keeping a beard would also make the bearded gangsters feel less important, for beards would no longer appear to be so fearful. Again, if I kept a beard it would also send a powerful message to all those connected with the maintenance of justice that they could not any longer treat someone as a suspect and torture him merely because he had a beard.’ He paused again, as if recollecting something. ‘It took time, but now the situation is much better for honest men with beards.’
‘And how do you know this?’ asked Roopali.
‘Religious leaders came to me several months ago, complaining of persecution. The same people have come to me recently and have told me that the persecution of bearded people has now stopped. Now we even have young policemen making applications to their superiors for permission to grow a beard.’
‘I have to say that I am impressed,’ said the Princess, stirred in spite of herself. ‘In truth I would never have suspected that there might be a high motive behind someone growing a beard.’ She was thoughtful. ‘Forgive me for my bluntness, but although you appear to have kept your beard from the best possible motives, I have to confess that I have the impression that many people who keep beards, especially chin-straps such as yours, are somewhat pretentious.’
‘As a young lad, I thought so as well,’ said the prince smiling – and the princess saw that his smile was very beautiful – ‘but I no longer think so. I thought at first of growing a full beard, but I think a smaller beard is tidier and suits me more. I am not pretending to be anything I am not, and believe me when I say this – I am far from being pretentious.’
The princess was about to ask another question but as soon as she opened her mouth, the bell rang signalling the end of the swayamvara. This of course meant the end of any further conversation with Prince Regis, so she politely took her leave.
The question she meant to ask the prince was this. Was his decision to wear a blue jacket and a blue rose for the swayamvara deliberate because he too loved the colour blue, or if it was a mere chance?
12. The Princess Garlands Herself
The assembled guests all stopped their conversation and stood aside to let Roopali pass. The princess walked past with a smile on her lips but with her brow furrowed in thought. No, she said to herself, it was impossible to be certain! She would have to announce that no prince had been found suitable – or, rather, good enough.
The king and queen waited patiently for their daughter, as in this last phase of the evening’s ceremony the king was required to pass on the garland to his daughter and she would have to determine what to do with it.
A hush fell over the hall, as all those assembled for the grand occasion, whether prince or invitee, were breathless with suspense waiting for the princess’s decision. Indeed, the king and queen were no less anxious. As the old king picked up the marigold garland that lay beside him, his eyes searched his daughter’s face for some clue as to what her thoughts might be. As the years had rolled on his little girl seemed to have become a stranger to him in some respects. Roopali made a small bow and took the freshly prepared, shining garland from her father’s hands – and then she saw the expression of anxious hope on his face and her heart sank. She could not disappoint him now, she realised, whatever the cost to herself.
She took the garland and turned to face her audience.
There were three options that lay before her.
The first was to turn around to face the king and return the garland to him. This meant that she had decided that none of the princes was found worthy enough to be her partner. She almost turned, but remembering the expression on her beloved father’s face, she didn’t.
The second option was to walk straight ahead and put the garland around the neck of the prince whom she deemed worthy to be her future husband. Indeed, several of the princes were waiting nervously, hoping that she would come to them.
But they all waited in vain, because Roopali elected to exercise the third option. She took the garland and placed it around her own neck. This meant that she would select one of the princes gathered together to be her future husband, but that the announcement of who she would choose would be made the following evening at a separate function after she had been able to sleep on her decision.
A cheer went up at the gathering, and soon everyone was clapping and hugging each other. The king and queen were receiving congratulations from all their assembled relatives. The princess would marry, after all. She would decide. They only had to wait until the following evening to know which prince had captured her interest and her heart.
13. A Painting with A Flaw
The king stood up from his throne. Everyone fell quiet, for it appeared that he was going to make an announcement.
‘On this grand occasion of this swayamvara,’ he said, a tear glinting in the royal eye, ‘I want to unveil a portrait of the queen and myself painted by our daughter, Princess Roopali, two years ago when she turned eighteen.’
And everyone saw that there was a canvas placed behind the king’s throne covered with a piece of golden cloth. This was now brought forward, and with a flourish the king himself removed the cloth to show a complimentary, though accurate depiction of the king and queen sharing a quiet, happy moment together.
‘It will be framed and mounted tomorrow,’ said the king, ‘after the final ceremony is over, and it will mark the arrival of a new royal couple in our kingdom.’ Once he had said this, he immediately sat down again.
The unveiling of this grand painting brought forth a second bout of clapping from the gathering. All were amazed except Roopali herself, because she suddenly realised that the painting, though one of her better efforts, was in one respect flawed. It captured the likeness of the king and queen very well and even their expressions were fairly typical, but it showed the king wearing his double-band gold ring, worn down the generations for at least five hundred years, on the wrong hand.
It should have been on the right, Roopali thought angrily – for the princess was self-critical as an artist and also a bit of a perfectionist – and I’ve gone and put it on the left hand. It doesn’t matter, she told herself, I will correct the mistake tomorrow before the ceremony begins and the picture is mounted.
14. The King and Queen Question The Princess
The gathering slowly dispersed, with guests talking excitedly about whom the princess would choose to marry, for her preferences were not at all clear to most of the guests. At least seven of the princes who had been invited to the ceremony left completely convinced that they had hit it off with the princess, and that they would have the garland around their neck within twenty-four hours’ time. Gradually the news spread across the kingdom, and the general public was all excited. Many people didn’t sleep that night. The word also spread to the neighbouring kingdoms, from whence the princes hailed, and there, too, there was excitement and anticipation that perhaps it was their prince who was the chosen one.
After the guests departed, the king and queen were left alone with Roopali, and they eagerly asked her who it was to be.
‘The choice is clear,’ said she. ‘It will be either Prince Amri or…’
‘Or…?’ repeated both her parents at once.
‘Or … someone else,’ she said gaily. (In truth, she felt anxious and far from gay.)
Her parents looked at each other and smiled. They knew Roopali better than to press for a decision at once. They would know when they would know, and they both realised that most likely they would only know that moment when she actually placed the garland around the chosen one’s neck.
15. The Princess is Sleepless
The princess slept poorly that night. The choice was between Prince Amri and Prince Regis, the prince whom she had dismissed at the very beginning as being completely unsuitable and even less worthy than those who were not considered on account of purely physical criteria.
It would have been Prince Amri, she realised, were it not been for the incident with the waiter. She abhorred violence in any form, and although she knew that the prince would think carefully before he lost his temper with her, were they to get married, that was besides the point. No, she could not accept a husband who would become enraged without sufficient cause. She realised that although she admired physical strength in a man and looked to a man for protection, at the same time she wanted her husband to be angry and violent only with those who would not learn otherwise. In other words she had strict requirements as to the occasions when the muscles she admired so much could actually be used.
Her thoughts then went to the other prince. Prince Regis was tall and strong, but his muscles most certainly did not bulge, and he seemed rather more laid back than the other princes. He spoke very well, she was forced to admit, and he had a sober, mellifluous voice. And his sudden departure when he turned away from her, whom he must have been most anxious to meet, purely on account of his concern for an old lady, an unknown guest who had fallen down, endeared him to her. His explanation for keeping his beard also suggested that this prince had the potential not only of leadership but also of greatness. On the other hand, Prince Amri would be a good king but never a great one, she thought. Here she had to pull herself up short. She was looking for a husband, she reminded herself angrily, not a great ruler. Well, there was still time for her to make up her mind, but she must have her beauty sleep if tomorrow she was to look anything at all like a beautiful, happy princess who had met the prince of her dreams. With this thought she fell into a fitful sleep, in which she had the most surprising and terrible dreams, full of demons and snakes.
16. A Difficult Decision
She woke up late the next day with her mind no clearer than it had been the previous day. In order to relax it, she spent the afternoon painting a winter sunset. As she painted she reflected on the choices before her. On the one hand she felt powerfully attracted to Prince Amri, and even from their brief encounter she realised that the prince was also attracted to her. He possessed good communication skills that she valued, and he was handsome with a good physique, and she felt confident that he would be able to protect her should she ever feel the need for protection. On the other hand, she felt most uncomfortable with the display of anger she had witnessed and judged it to be completely disproportionate to the event itself – the accidental spilling of a beverage on to his prized tunic.
Her thoughts turned to Prince Regis. She had judged him wrongly, she thought. He was evidently a man who had a heart, and he felt the suffering of others. So it was that he rushed to the aid of an elderly woman who had fallen, forgetting all else. Also, he had statesman-like vision, but he had one thing that she didn’t like and that was his beard. It was true that she disliked beards on account of the villainy exhibited by the bearded gangsters, but she had also felt uncomfortable with beards even as a child. She had never liked beards, and she was not sure that she could accept a man as her future partner if he had a beard. She wondered how the prince would look if he were shaven and had more of his face exposed. She knew she could and would not ask him if he would agree to shave off his beard for her sake, as he had grown his beard for a reason. It would seem stupid of her to insist on its removal, knowing full well the significance the beard held for him. He seemed to have the qualities she sought in a husband, even though he was perhaps more laid back and less dynamic than Prince Amri. Should she choose Prince Amri, then, and somehow manage to accept that he had moments of misplaced fury (which he did rapidly recover from, she consoled herself)? Yes, she would choose Amri. But as soon as she had made her selection, she began to doubt her decision. She put aside her brush in desperation. She would not be able to finish the painting. She would lie in bed and think about her matter. Good ideas often came to people when they were in a reclining position.
She spent the afternoon in bed sipping jasmine tea and looking out of the window at the white, fluffy clouds, waiting for inspiration, but was still tormented by indecision. An hour passed, then two hours, and still she could not nail down her choice.
‘Let me go for a long walk and think about the matter,’ she told herself.
She left the comfort of her bed and went out to the park that adjoined the royal residence. As she walked she thought about her choice. It would have all been so simple, she told herself, if the Royal Astrologer had not butted in with his advice. She had liked everything about Prince Pan. There was no conflict about him in her mind, but the stars were not favourable. A memory came back to her of Prince Regis smiling amused as she spoke with the Royal Astrologer. It seemed as if he knew what they had discussed and somehow held astrology in low esteem.
Unfortunately the walk, too, did not help and she resolved that she would decide what to do at the very last moment, when she actually had the garland in her hands. That was best! She was sick and tired of thinking about it. My God, she thought, she must look a fright, with all this thinking. She had a bath and changed into a turquoise blue chiffon sari for the evening’s ceremony.
17. The Painter Princess
As the maids combed her jasmine scented blue-black tresses, she suddenly remembered the painting of the king and queen that was shortly due to be framed and hung in the main hall, just as soon as she had made her decision by garlanding her chosen prince. She must make the changes to the painting before the ceremony began. At once she dismissed her maids, collected her easel and all her brushes, and rushed to the hall where the ceremony was soon to begin.
The servants were busy laying the tables and hanging decorations to commemorate the occasion, but she asked them to leave her alone and undisturbed in a corner of the hall where she took the canvas and gave it her attention.
It wasn’t a simple job. She had to use the colour brown to remove the impression of the ring on one hand, and there was a maroon background that had to be coloured in where the ring jutted out beyond the finger. Then, of course, on the other hand she needed to paint in the ring all over again. The maroon that she had used was achieved through a combination of various reds and browns, and she had to get the exact tone and shade right so that the changes were not noticeable. Nevertheless, as it was her own painting that had to be changed, she knew what was wanted. And she had all her brushes and colours at hand to make the correction.
It was a bit annoying to have to put up with the clatter of cutlery in the background, instead of the usual twittering of birds that accompanied most of her paintings accomplished in the garden. Even so, she managed to concentrate on the task in hand and had soon prepared all the colours she would need to use on the canvas.
She started by using a tiny brush to make the changes on the fingers, both on the left hand as well as on the right. It was then a medium-sized brush that she picked up to make the changes in the background just beyond the finger. She brushed gently over the canvas and then looked carefully to see if the changes worked well. If satisfied with this she would then make another movement of the brush to continue with the changes, and so she worked steadily until almost all the changes had been accomplished. Almost all, except one further change that was necessary because of some of the maroon crossing over into blue territory. Blue. Her favourite blue. This could not be allowed.
She quickly began to prepare blue pigment, aware that she was running out of time and that any moment now the ceremony was due to begin and the guests would start arriving. It would not take long, she told herself angrily, and she could not allow the canvas to mount the walls of the palace until the original blue had been restored.
She worked quickly but carefully for she did not want any paint to spill on her clothes by mistake. Soon she had the exact shade of blue pigment that she needed. Now, which brush should she use? She settled on a big brush, although she would only use its edge to paint blue over maroon.
As she took the brush in her hand and was fully concentrating on the task in hand, carefully moving the edge of the big brush to cover the jutting-out maroon with her favourite blue, she heard a noise behind her. No matter, she told herself, it was almost done. She finished the task, looked at the result and was satisfied. Then she turned to see what it was that she had heard.
18. A Prince is Garlanded
It was the sound of the first guests arriving. The ceremony had begun, and soon she would have to make the decision of a lifetime. Her heart sank, because she was no nearer a conclusion than she had been the previous evening. She looked at the painting as if for guidance, and then at the brush, but they were silent.
She turned and saw Prince Amri of Amrikabad, his shining face glowing with health and good breeding. Just behind him, she saw the elegant figure of Prince Regis of Nawadabad enter and suddenly she saw that Prince Amri was not violent at all, but equally she now saw Prince Regis’s beard differently to how she had seen it previously. She then put down her paintbrush and palette and heaved a sigh of relief. Yes, of course! How stupid of her! Why hadn’t she realised this before?
The princes were the first to come since they were all keen to know the results, and many were hopeful of a favourable outcome. But now the other guests and important dignitaries began arriving, and the princess made sure that they were all given refreshments.
Soon the king and queen entered the hall, and everyone moved to allow them space. They nodded and greeted everyone, and took their place on the two thrones kept at one end of the hall. The Royal Astrologer took up a position just behind them.
A palace official directed all the princes to stand in a line in front of the king and queen, and once they were standing thus, the Royal Astrologer came forward. He gave a short speech on how the time and hour had been carefully selected as the one in which the princess would make the most propitious choice, and how all the gods and goddesses rejoiced in the union that was soon to be.
Then the king stood up and gently passed the marigold garland to Princess Roopali, for now the hour of decision had arrived. All eyes were focused on her and she looked especially beautiful (no one could have guessed that she had hardly slept the night before). This was perhaps because her body as well as her mind somehow realised the significance of the occasion, but more likely it was because her mind was finally at peace and this gave her appearance an added grace and tranquillity.
She came forward confidently with the garland in her hand and a smile on her lips. For the occasion she had dressed in her full finery. Her ruby-studded bracelets, emerald earrings and diamond necklace glittered in the soft light and made it appear to all that it was a beautiful, heavenly goddess who glided across the floor. Soon she was face to face with the princes.
She turned to her audience that awaited her eagerly, and said that she had finally come to her decision after much deliberation, but first wished to thank all the princes, together with the guests, who had come for the swayamvara. She wanted all the princes to know that she thought highly of them, but that, alas, she could marry only one of them according to the laws of the land. A titter went across the hall at the princess’s attempt to add a light touch to the proceedings.
And then she turned around and stood in front of the bearded Prince Regis. He bent his head and she stood on her heels, and finally the garland was thrown around his neck to a tumultuous applause from the audience.
Several of the guests who were closely related to the princes were upset at the princess’s decision. The princes themselves were also upset, especially Prince Pan, Prince Ash, Prince Amri and the Prince of Sherpabad, who thought Roopali would agree to wed him if only to know the end of the story he had begun telling her. Prince Pan was in genuine distress for he truly loved the Princess.
Prince Ash cursed his luck that his sickness should have manifested itself on this very occasion, although he had hoped nevertheless that the princess might have accepted him in spite of, or because of, his illness.
Prince Amri was offended, for of all the princes gathered there together he was heir to the largest empire, except for the princess’s own empire, and being a somewhat status-conscious person he felt that the princess should have chosen him and no one else. Besides, he told himself, there was not a prince in the gathering who could match him in terms of physical prowess and muscular strength. He thought he had spotted a special, romantic look in the princess’s eyes when they had spoken with each other, and had been fully confident that he would be her choice.
As for the lucky prince of the day, Prince Regis, he was overjoyed with the decision. Although he had thought it best to mask his feelings, in truth he had long been a silent admirer of the princess.
The previous year a number of the princess’s paintings had been auctioned to raise money for charity. The prince had attended the function in disguise as an ordinary person and fell in love with the princess and her art. And when he studied the paintings that were on display he saw that the princess used the colour blue frequently and to great effect. It must be her favourite colour, he guessed.
He made an anonymous purchase of one of Princess Roopali’s paintings. One in which she painted a small cottage in a forest that stood beside a stream.
Ever since the swayamvara was announced, he had hung the painting by his bedside and would often gaze at it. He wondered whether she would choose him to be her husband, and if she did, whether he and the princess would ever stay in such a beautiful little cottage when they went travelling about their kingdoms seeing to the welfare of their citizens. And today it seemed that this dream of his had come true, for surely after their marriage they would travel together and sometimes stay in a small cottage in the forest beside a stream?
The garland around his neck, he gently took the princess’s hand and kissed it, for in those times it was not done to kiss royalty on the lips in public. The final ritual of the ceremony was now over.
The king and queen then addressed all their guests, thanking them for having graced the occasion, and invited the Royal Astrologer to fix a suitable date for the wedding. The old man announced that the wedding could take place the very next month, as it was a most propitious time, given the horoscopes of the young princess and the prince. But he also decreed that the final date would, of course, be officially announced only after consultation with the Royal Astrologer and king and queen of the Kingdom of Newadabad, the parents of the happy prince.
And so our tale of the beautiful painter princess and the idealistic bearded prince comes to a happy end. The marriage took place soon enough and it can be said that when the old kings and queens of Fadidad and Newadabad died the young couple who became king and queen of both empires ruled their territory justly, compassionately and with wisdom. It also can be said that of all the different kingdoms of that period it was their kingdom that became the embodiment of law and order, for the dreaded bearded gangsters were no longer heard of.
20. The Reason for Princess Roopali’s Decision
The story has ended, but I’m sure you want to know what happened to help the princess to finally make up her mind.
Until the swayamvara was held, apart from her deep love for her parents, the king and queen, and her attachment to her dog Jhabroo, Roopali had only one true love in her life, and this, as mentioned earlier, was painting. The only obstacle that lay in the way of her accepting the hand of Prince Regis was a strange repulsion that she had felt towards his beard. When, however, she had cast aside the large brush, having seen to the necessary corrections in her painting, and had turned to see Prince Regis, she saw that his beard was just like a painter’s brush. What was there to dislike about it so much?
She suddenly realised that beards could be attractive, for after all she loved her easel, her paints and all the brushes. The brush for her suddenly became a beard attached to a piece of wood, and, similarly, the prince’s beard became the hairs of a brush attached to a human face.
And at that moment she realised that there would be harmony in her choice and not contradiction. For in truth her beloved paint brushes looked just like clumps of hair attached to pieces of wood. And to her these represented he first love – that of painting. And now the self-same hair, attached not to wood but to the handsome face of the prince would represent for her, her new, and perhaps ultimately greater love – that for her future, beloved husband.