In the kingdom of Orwynde, up at the castle, King Edward sat on his throne, counting out the money that needed to be paid to the guards. Queen Mary was with the royal dressmaker. They were discussing a new suit for Prince Andrew who was out on his horse. Meanwhile, Princess Isabel was having an archery lesson with the skilled archer, Henry Alby.
“That needs work,” said Henry.
“What do you mean?” protested Isabel. “That was bull’s eye!”
“Not quite, but don’t worry. Nobody is perfect in the world,”
“Yeah?” said Isabel.
“Well, this week’s lesson is finished. Remember to practise because practice makes perfect,” said Henry.
“You said practice makes perfect,” began Isabel thoughtfully. “And you also said nobody in the world is perfect. If practice makes perfect and nobody is perfect, what’s the point in practicing?”
Henry had no reply for this.
“Now listen here,” said Henry, the heat rising to his face. “Don’t you talk like that. I want 20 push-ups now or else I won’t let you go back,”
“Now,” said Henry fixing a stare at her.
Isabel got down on the ground and started doing push-ups. Then, she got up, brushed off the leaves on her skirt and made her way up to the castle.
At dinner, Isabel was sitting at the table with comfortable clothes, looking eagerly at the ice-cream pudding. She drank her soup hurriedly so she could have some of the pudding. But as she did so, she spilled some on her front, making King Edward angry.
“I remember teaching you table manners when you were three. What on earth made you eat like a starving rat and spoil your clothes?” said the king angrily. “No pudding for you. Go to bed, Isabel,”
She ran up the flight of steps on the grand staircase and into her room. She flopped on the bed and buried her head in her pillow. Then, she remembered she was sticky with soup and took a bath.
“Wake up! Wake up!”
Queen Mary was shaking her awake. Bleary-eyed, Isabel blinked a few times and sat up in bed.
“Have you forgotten what day it is?” scolded Queen Mary.
“I think it’s Saturday?”
“Your father is going to enroll you in the new school, Miss Sierra’s School of Fine Arts, the best school there is for princesses!”
“Sorry,” said Isabel. “I forgot,”
“We have to make a good impression for them to accept you and we’re already late,” said Queen Mary ignoring her. “I told you to get up early yesterday morning. If you don’t make it into this school, you won’t get a good education.”
“Put on this gown and comb your hair. You’ve missed breakfast because you were busy sleeping. I will be waiting in the carriage with the king,”
Queen Mary walked out of the room.
“I can’t believe I missed breakfast,” said Isabel to herself. “Everyone is always telling me what to do since last year. There’s so many rules,” Isabel grunted in exasperation.
“I wish I wasn’t a princess,”
“I accept Princess Isabel to attend this school,” said Miss Sierra.
“Thank you,” said King Edward.
“I am going to write a letter to her teachers informing them that they will receive a new, bright student. Hand me that inkpot Isabel dear,” said Miss Sierra kindly gesturing to an inkpot on a shelf.
Isabel picked it up and set it down on the table. But as she was removing her hand from the table, she knocked the inkpot and liquid as black as the night flowed steadily off the table on the floor.
“How dare you!” shouted Miss Sierra. “I will not accept this clumsy girl into my professional school,”
“Let’s go,” said King Edward without looking at Isabel as he stood up and walked out of the school.
Once they got to the palace, King Edward gave Isabel a scolding she would never forget. In the kingdom of Orwynde, it was tradition that every time someone did something bad, they would be spanked on their backside.
“Show me your posterior,” demanded the King and brought out the whip.
“I am running away,” said Isabel quietly to herself.
She packed some clothes and some food into a rucksack and ran to the stables. “Spirit?” she called softly while gently shaking her pony awake.
Isabel climbed onto Sprit’s brown back and rode out of the castle. She was free.
Isabel came to some woods. She didn’t know where to go from there as she had never been out on her own. After climbing down from Spirit, she ate some of the food she had brought but didn’t bother changing her clothes which had gotten a bit dirty as Spirit hadn’t had a bath in weeks and was covered in dried mud.
Isabel walked further from where she had stopped. She sat down under a tree. She liked that spot because she could see the moon. Being with the moon and Spirit made her feel a little comforted but she was scared because she knew they were lost. “All I wanted to do was escape the palace,” she said to Spirit. Isabel put her face in her hands and wept, Spirit resting her head on her lap while she cried herself to sleep.
“I can help you,”
“Who was that?” asked Isabel sitting up with a jolt. Spirit was grumpy of waking up like that.
“The devil wants to help you,”
“How?” asked Isabel.
“I can help you escape the world you come from,”
“If you want that, you have to give me everything you have, all your riches...”
“It’s a deal!” cried Isabel.
“Princess Isabel, you are no more a princess. But, you will be happy. In a world that loves you,”
“Huh?” thought Isabel confused.
And everything was taken away from her, the castle, King Edward, Queen Mary, Prince Andrew, Spirit, her riches, the title of being a princess…
But, she saw herself in a new world. In a happy world. And she smiled to herself.