The princess and the castle

Once upon a time there was a princess who lived in a big castle with her father and mother, the king and queen. The princess was their only daughter and they gave her everything she wanted, clothes, toys, games, and jewelry. But the king and queen loved their daughter so much they didn’t allow her to leave the castle on her own. The only time she went outside was in her parents’ golden carriage.

Even though she had everything money could buy the princess felt sad. Sometimes she sat in her room and cried and cried.

One day the princess got up very early in the morning. She crept into the maid’s room while the maid was still fast asleep in bed. The princess borrowed some of the maid’s old clothes, got dressed and slipped quietly out the castle’s back door.

She took a number 10 bus and got off at a place called Roxford. She had often heard her mother and father talk about all the poor people in Roxford, but she wanted to see for herself what poor people were like. Even though she had lots of money she wasn’t happy. She thought maybe poor people with less money might be happier.

The princess walked around for a while, watching people go about their everyday business. Then she felt thirsty, so she went into a café and ordered a cup of tea. She noticed a group of teenagers about her own age sitting at a table. She had never spoken to anyone outside the castle before, but she decided to be very brave and introduce herself.

“Hello, my name’s Tracey”, she said, “I’m new around here, do you mind if I join you.”

The teenagers invited her to sit down and they introduced themselves. One girl called Debbie said she was looking for someone to share her flat with. The princess went back with her to take a look.

It was a small flat, above a greengrocer’s. But Debbie was friendly and the flat seemed cozy, so the princess decided to stay. Debbie took her shopping to the supermarket and together they cooked sausages and chips for lunch. They both laughed because the princess wasn’t very good at cooking.

That night Debbie invited Tracey to go dancing with her at the local disco. The princess had a lot of fun trying to copy the strange dancing of Debbie’s friends.

Back at the castle the king and queen were shocked to find the princess was missing. They had no idea she might want to run away because she was unhappy. They were worried she might have been kidnapped.

The king and queen ordered all the soldiers to look everywhere for the princess. The soldiers set off for every corner of the land carrying pictures of the princess. The king and queen offered a big reward for the safe return of their daughter.

Two soldiers came to Roxford. They showed the picture to the owner of the café where the princess had met her new friends. He recognized her face from the picture and told the soldiers where Debbie lived.

Debbie and Tracey were eating their breakfast when there was a bang on the door. It was the soldiers. They grabbed the princess by the arms and said, “We’re taking you back to the castle.”

Debbie and the princess both cried, but it was no use. The soldiers took her outside and put her in the back of their carriage. Sadly the princess waved goodbye to her best friend through the window.

When she arrived back at the castle the king and queen were very angry.

“Why did you run away?” they asked. “We gave you everything you wanted, and you were so ungrateful.”

The princess looked at her mother and father and said, “Mother, father, I love you very much and I never wanted to cause you any worry. I know you gave me everything I asked for and more. But I felt so lonely here in the castle. I never had any friends, and I never knew anything about the world outside these walls. When I went to Roxford I found that ordinary people could still have fun, lots of fun, even without lots of money. Staying above that greengrocer’s shop was the happiest time of my life.”

The king and queen looked at each other. They realized how important friendship was.

“We’re sorry”, they said, “you are right. We never realized how important it was for you to have friends. Please come back and live with us at the castle, and we will let you visit your new friends as often as you want, and you can invite them back to your room whenever you want too.”

The princess smiled. Everyone learned a lot that day.

Next: The Helpful Ghost