Young King Arthur was caught and imprisoned by the king of a neighbouring kingdom. The king could have killed him, but was moved by Arthur’s youth and spirit. So he offered him freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question.
Arthur would have a year to find out the answer; if, after a year, he still had no answer, he would be killed.
The question was: ‘What do women really want?’
The quesion seemed impossibly difficult to Arthur. But since the alternative was death, he decided to give it a go. After all, he had a year to find the answer.
He returned to his kingdom and began to ask everybody’s opinion: the princes, wise men, the court jester. In all he spoke to everyone but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.
What most people did tell him was to consult the old witch, as only she would know the answer. The price would be high, since the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the demands she made for her services.
A year passed, and Arthur had no alternative but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer his question, but he would have to accept her price first: the old witch wanted to marry Gawain, the most noble of the knights of the Round Table and Arthur’s closest friend!
Young Arthur was horrified: the witch was ugly! She had a hunch-back and no teeth, she smelled like a sewer and made horrible noises. She was completely repulsive.
He refused to force his friend to marry her and have to endure such a burden. Gawain, upon hearing of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He told him that nothing was too great a sacrifice compared to Arthur’s life and the preservation of the Round Table.
So the wedding was announced and the witch answered Arthur’s question: what a woman really wants is to be able to be in charge of her own life.
Everyone instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur’s life would be spared. The king spared Arthur’s life and granted him total freedom.
What a wedding Gawain and the witch had! But Arthur was torn between releif and anguish. Gawain was proper as always, gentle and courteous. The old witch put her worst manners on display. She ate with her hands, belched and broke wind, and made everyone uncomfortable.
The wedding night approached. Gawain, steeling himself for a horrific night, entered the bedroom. What a sight awaited him! The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him! Gawain was astounded and asked what had happened.
The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her (when she had been a witch), half the time she would be her horrible, deformed self, and the other half, she would be her beautiful maiden self. What would he want her to be during the day and which during the night?
What a cruel question! Gawain began to think of his dilemma: did he want a beautiful woman during the day to Show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his home, an old spooky witch? Or would he prefer having by day a hideous witch, but by night a beautiful woman to enjoy many intimate moments?
Noble Gawain replied that he would let her choose for herself. Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her and let her be in charge of her own life.