The Princess Who Liked To Be Popular continues from yesterday:
In an effort to reproduce the events of the dream as faithfully as possible, the princess had notice of a public meeting announced as soon as she got home. Then, as in the dream, she asked the people what she could do for them. When they asked for cheaper food and cotton she wrote it all down in her blue book and told them she would do her best. She then returned to the castle and summoned the duke.
However, unlike the dream, when the Duke of Aequitas arrived he brought with him a basket of fruit.
“Your Majesty,” he said, bowing, “please accept this gift from the people of Calidum Terram, with their compliments and best wishes for your twelve month reign.”
The princess smiled and indicated that should place the basket on the table.
“Thank you,” she smiled, “let’s talk trade.”
The princess argued with the duke, just as she’d dreamt, and Aequitas impressively stood his ground. He showed her the king’s decree and she dismissed him. Lady Beatrice, meanwhile, having resumed her miniature stature, was observing to ensure everything went to plan. The wizard could be anywhere, watching, waiting for an opportunity. He wasn’t stupid. He was not stupid.
Suddenly the old fairy was struck by that frightening realisation – “He is not stupid. He’ll know that that fruit is not natural – it doesn’t smell! He’s not going to fall for it!”
By now the princess was slumped over the table complaining about her inability to give the people what they want. And Venustus was climbing in through the window.
Lady Beatrice had to do something!
There was only one thing she could do. She closed her eyes and spoke so quietly that even the mouse couldn’t hear:
“Power of the elements, I call on thee,
From air, earth and water, come forth, help me.
On fruits in the basket, I beg you bestow,
The scents they would have when in nature they grow.”
At the same time the princess was listening to Venustus’s claim that he could get her a better deal.
“I don’t know,” she said, reaching for an apple, “my people are used to top quality produce. I want it cheaper but not if it’s substandard.” She took a bite and smiled at him. “Seriously,” she added, “your stuff can’t be as good as this. Go ahead – try some, then you’ll know what I mean.”
Venustus returned her smile and, with the sweet, mouthwatering smell of fresh fruit in his nostrils, carelessly took a cherry. As soon as it touched his tongue the princess spat out her apple and spoke swiftly:
“sutsunev sutsunev sutsunev”
The wizard’s eyes widened; his sharp intake of breath made him start choking on the cherry; then came a crash of thunder; and he was gone.
“We did it!” The princess was jubilant.
“You were brilliant,” Lady Beatrice told her as the duke returned to the room, “but remember, no one else can know about this. As far as the rest of the world knows – Venustus was never here. There’ll be no public recognition.”
“That’s ok,” the princess smiled, “it’s enough just to know we set things right. Thank you, both of you.”
The following morning, Princess Primrose told her people that she wouldn’t be able to get them cheaper food and fabrics after all.
“I have discovered,” she explained, “that we are already paying a fair price for those goods. The only way for us to get them cheaper would be to cheat the growers out of their hard-earned money; to reduce their quality of life in order to improve ours. And that’s just not right.”
There were some nods of agreement and some grumbles of discontent.
“I thought you would put your own people first,” someone shouted.
“As one young lady said yesterday, my people already have everything they need. They work hard for it, and they don’t have much left over, but they are not short of any essential. Do not the people who grow your food deserve this much? Fair is only fair if it’s fair for everyone.”
The crowd began to disperse and the princess smiled as she noticed Grandfather, still alive, talking cheerfully to one of his neighbours. There were a few disgruntled faces but the princess, understanding her father’s advice now, was not disheartened. As she walked away she overheard a snippet of conversation:
“What is she wearing?! I don’t like her hair.”
“That’s okay,” she said to herself, “I like it.”
And they all lived happily ever after. For the most part 🙂
Have a great weekend! 😀
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