From Barbara Leonie Picard’s The Faun and the Woodcutter’s Daughter.
Duke Roland was a coward. He and everyone else knew it. Afraid to ride fast, learn to swim, participate in tournaments, or even climb his own high towers to look out over his own lands, Roland was quietly ashamed but never did anything about it.
Until (cue the rising music) a beautiful young woman came to his castle.
Her eyes were blue and her hair was golden, her voice was music and her smile was the smile of one who has never glanced on pain or sorrow or cared for their existence. She lived only for the joyous things in life.
When good Duke Roland attempted to gain her favor, she only laughed at him.
“Have you never heard that only the brave deserve the fair?”
She then threw her bracelet into the fire and bid him pull it out in proof of his courage. He could not.
And so Roland went to a wise old man to inquire where to find courage. Under the old man’s direction he looked in a chest at the top of a high tower, in a casket under deep water, in the locket of a mysterious knight (whom Roland must fight to obtain the locket), and in the flickering blue flame that races through a dark wood, as fast as a horse may gallop.
Having faced his fears, and discovered his courage in doing so, Duke Roland returned to his lady fair. Again the Lady Alison mocked him and his efforts, tossing her bracelet into the fire. Seeing her with new eyes, Roland realized that he was greatly changed, but she was not.
He stooped and picked the bracelet out of the fire and dropped it at her feet.
“Your bracelet,” he said. “Good night, cousin,” and he turned from her and left the hall.
And for the first time in her life, the Lady Alison’s blue eyes filled with tears, for she knew that she had lost him.