Once upon a time a very long time ago, there lived an old king who had five sons. The king was a wise man and it was rumoured that he could do magic. He only used his magic to do good. It was there for a very rich country and the people lived in peace and prosperity.
Despite his gift, age still troubled him. Luckily there was always the little court jester Pardoes to cheer him up. But one day at the start of a desolate winter the king became very ill. When his five sons stood around his bed he spoke with a weak voice: “My sons, I feel my end is near. I have not told you who is to be my successor. I love all five of you and I know that every one of you has its strong suits. That is why I have decided …” Before he was able to finish his sentence the king collapsed onto the pillows. He was no more….
A couple days later the sons had gathered in the throne room. “I think father chose you” said the youngest to the eldest. But he didn’t want to be king. The kind had not appointed him and he was afraid a curse would come upon him if he took the crown. The other four sons were equally afraid and leaving things the way they were they returned to their own castled that were spread across the lands. “We will write” they decided. They sent their servants home so they could think in peace. But no matter how they pondered none of the five was able to come up with a solution. It only made them sad and lonely…
As a result of all this sadness they lost the talents they had previously. The eldest son who used to have such good eyesight that he could tell whether people were honest or not, became blind. For who did he have to look at in his empty castle? The second son, who used to have such good hearing that he could hear peoples thoughts, became deaf. The only living thing left in his castle was an old parrot that said the same things over and over again. The third son, who used to be such a foodie that he knew exactly how many strawberries they had used in a pie, lost his sense of taste. In the empty kitchen he chewed only a piece of bread. The fourth son who used to have such a powerful sense of smell that he knew exactly when a scented flower bloomed in his country, lost his sense of smell. Finally the fifth son who had such a great sense of touch that he could determine the colour of a fabric without even looking, lost his sense of touch.
The country itself deteriorated. The people missed their old king and because there was no one to replace him everything fell to ruin. Everyone was sad and walked around with a face looking like an earwig. After the terrible winter spring arrived. The people of the country saw the cheerful flowers, trees and birds but they remained just as sad as they were in winter. The only place where things were still pleasant was the palace of the old king. Court jester Pardoes had kept the fires burning and kept everything polished and clean. The garden was in full bloom and you could hear birdsong everywhere. But when Pardoes peeked out of his little tower he could see that the country became greyer and greyer. That had to change! Pardoes took up the sceptre of the old king, firmly closed his eyes and thought really hard of the king. At first nothing happened but suddenly a gust of wind passed through the throne room and the ghost of the old king appeared before Pardoes.
“My little loyal court jester”, he said, “You must save the country. Listen carefully!” and Pardoes listened as if his life depended on it. A few days later he stood in front of the gate of the sad castle of the eldest prince. “Go away!” snapped the prince “I do not wish to be cheered up. “ But when Pardoes said that he came with a message from the old king he was permitted to enter. “The message is that you are to become king if you can hear exactly what I am now thinking.” Said Pardoes. Angrily the blind prince jumped up. “Only my brother can do that!” he yelled. “ “correct” said Pardoes, “ so the message is that you need your brother in order to become a good king.” “You are right” said the prince. “The scales have fallen from my eyes.” From that moment on he could see again.
Pardoes also went to tell the second prince that he has a message from the king. The prince pointed to his ears an shouted: “I AM DEAF SILLY!” Quickly Pardoes wrote on a piece of paper that the prince is to be kind if he could see with his eyes if people were honest. “ONLY MY BROTHER CAN DO THAT!” shouted the prince. Pardoes quickly wrote that that means that he can only be a good king when he works with his brother. “I hear your meaning” said the prince at a normal volume. He could hear again… The same things happened with the third, fourth and fifth prince. They understood that they needed each other in order to do everything that a good king can do.
And so the kings will was done: The country was ruled by five wise kings. The eldest king checked that all the sales people that came to their land were honest. The second king listened to the thoughts of the foreign ambassadors to check if they were truly saying what they were thinking. The third kind tasted all the food and drink in the country to check that they were healthy. The fourth king checked the smell of the air to check that the country remained clean. And the fifth king checked that everything was nice and soft for the people. Out of gratitude for the wise decision that the five princes had taken, the people built a house that the five kings could rule from. They called it The House Of The Five Senses and gave if five peaks, one roof for every sense. Incidentally this house was built exactly where you enter the Efteling. But because all of this happened a very long time ago only the roof with the five peaks is left. Take a closer look! One peak for every sense
Author: Willem van der Oest