The Lonely Princess
I wrote a story for Morgan’s neices for Christmas. Morgan edited it for American consumption, so apologies if some of the spelling seems a bit foreign.
The story was supposed to teach the kids the importance of the three S’s: Sharing, Sisterhood and Socialism. Even though the story takes place under the unoppressive yolk of a benevolent monarchy.
Once upon a time there was a little girl called Jana, and she was a very lucky little girl. Her mother and father were King and Queen of a small but beautiful country, which meant that she was a Princess. She was named after the brightest star in the sky.
Jana lived in a comfortable castle on the top of a hill. The castle had many rooms and doors, and behind the doors were many magical things, including a room full of dancing pigs, another room with an enormous table covered in unusual and colorful maps of all the strangest lands in the world, and a room stuffed with shining armor, gold cups and diamonds.
But Jana’s favorite room was the room next to her bedroom. It was called “The Royal Playroom,” and had been designed by some of the cleverest men and women in the whole Kingdom. It had all the toys in the world, and a giant bath that was almost like a swimming pool, and when Jana turned on the taps giant rainbows came out, and each color of the rainbow would smell of a different fruit.
But despite all her toys, and her bath, and her dancing pigs, the little princess was quite lonely. She wanted someone to splash with in her pool or to share the games and laughter with. Playing on her own wasn’t very much fun. Her parents were very loving, but they were often very busy, away fighting wars against the giants. They never had time to play.
So one night, when everyone was asleep, Jana snuck out of the castle and using the light of her star to guide her, she made her way to the village at the bottom of the hill. She knew it was very naughty to leave her castle without telling her parents, but she was desperate to find a friend to play with.
It was very late, and as Jana walked across the stone bridge at the bottom of the hill, through the fields of corn and into the village, there was barely a sound save the rushing of the wind in the trees, the burbling of the brook as the water made its way to the sea, and the occasional hoot of an owl. But she wasn’t afraid. The sleeping village looked beautiful under the light of the moon and the stars.
But then, as she reached the outskirts of the village, she heard a big squeak: it sounded like an enormous mouse. Jana had only ever seen small mice before, so she opened the door and went into the barn, hoping to see a mouse as big as a person. She’d always wanted to see an enormous mouse.
The light from the moon and the stars streamed into the barn and shone on the straw. Then something in the straw sneezed: sneezed with a squeak.
“That’s funny,” said Jana to herself. “Mice don’t sneeze!”
“I ain’t a mouse!” said a voice from the straw. And a little girl, even smaller than Jana, stood up, shaking bits of straw from her hair and overalls.
“What’s your name, mouse girl?” said Jana.
“I ain’t a mouse, but I am a girl,” said the girl. “My name’s Haley.”
Jana liked Haley straight away. She had a little cute nose like a button, two twinkling eyes, and unruly hair that tumbled down the back of her head like a waterfall.
Haley explained that she was an orphan, and spent her days stealing turnips and her nights sleeping in the barn.
“But when do you play?” asked Jana
“Play? What’s play mean?” said Haley, looking all puzzled.
And Jana was sad. She realized that Jana had never played a game in her whole life.
“Playing is having fun and using your imagination,” said Jana. She could be quite good at explaining things. “Let’s play a game together!”
And they did. They played hide and seek, and hopscotch, and a clapping game, and a special animal game. And Jana found she was having the most fun she’d ever had in her life, even though she was far away from her playroom full of toys and games, and her room full of dancing pigs.
She had so much fun that she snuck out every night, heading down the hill to her new friend, the pockets of her cloak stuffed full of cakes, and pies, and other treats for her hungry friend. And every night they’d invent a new game, and they played it together, and the barn was full of laughter and giggles.
But one night, when she was in the barn playing with Haley, Jana’s nanny noticed that she was missing, and raised the alarm. Her parents were scared that the giants had taken her, and so, with much ringing of bells and gongs, woke up their entire army and its elephants and tame lions and tigers.
With much crashing and trumpeting and roaring, the King, Queen and their army galloped down the hill, the moonlight flashing against their crowns and the tusks of the elephants. When she heard the noise, Jana ran to the door of the barn and looked out. But Haley was scared and hid underneath the hay.
The King, seated atop his favorite elephant, spotted Jana and told his army to halt.
He climbed down from his elephant and ran up to his beloved daughter. He was very, very angry, because he loved her very much and was worried that she might have got lost.
But before Jana could explain herself, Haley sneezed one of her squeaky mouse-like sneezes. The King, and the Queen, and all the elephants and lions and tigers all turned their heads to look at the small girl as she emerged from the straw.
“I’m sorry, sir,” said Haley, “but I’m Jana’s friend and we were playing a game together. I’m sorry if I got her in trouble.”
There was a silence. All the elephants and lions seemed to hold their breath. The only sound was the rushing of the water and the hooting of a passing owl.
Then, slowly but surely, a smile spread across the King’s face. Meanwhile, still seated on her royal snow leopard, the Queen was laughing, but crying, at the same time.
“No,” said the King. “I should be the one who is sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you, with all these elephants, lions and tigers. We use them to fight giants, but you’re not a giant. You’re a little girl – a beautiful little girl, who is friends with our daughter. And a friend of our daughter is a friend of ours.”
The King hugged Haley, and the Queen hugged Jana, who by now had tears running down her cheeks. And they all walked back up the hill to the castle together, with Haley staying in Jana’s room.
Haley loved Jana’s room, and her bath as big as a swimming pool, and her incredible toys and games, and her room full of dancing pigs. And the King and Queen loved having her in the castle, being friends with Jana, and so they ended up adopting Haley, and so she became a Princess too. And the two princesses loved to play together, inside in their room or outside under the clouds and the sun. And, on special occasions, during the full moon, the King would take the two princesses to the tallest tower in the castle, and they’d stare at the sky together through a giant telescope. And they’d gaze at the moon, and the stars, and talk about when they first met, in the barn, under the night sky.
And they lived happily ever after.