Once upon a time, in a kingdom not so far away, there lived a small girl. There was nothing particularly special about the girl, except for her tiny, turned-up nose…and her long, lustrous, pink hair…and her oddly cheerful disposition.
The small girl would skip around her home each morning, smiling brightly and practically singing, “Hello!” to each person she encountered. Oh, and there were a great many people in the small girl’s home…for she lived in a palace, and she was a princess.
Her name was Princess Palemoon.
“Good morning, Princess Palemoon,” would come the reply…from Maid, or Cook, or Butler…
“Good morning, Your Highness,” would come the reply….from Groomsman, or Gardner, or the boy who swept the stalls.
Princess Palemoon was particularly fond of that boy, the one who swept the stalls. The stable boy had come to them alone, his parents dead in a terrible fire. He didn’t seem like a stable boy. He was more like a Prince, waiting to discover his Kingdom.
The boy’s name was Lawrence, but he was called Lumpy, for he delighted in the lumpy tapioca Cook made each First Day.
Finally, Cook would call Princess Palemoon to breakfast, and oh, what a delicious spectacle it would be. Cream and cakes and crumpets with melted butter. Warm cheese to spread, if she liked.
“When will the King and Queen return home?” asked the wee, little child as she sat in her chair, feet dangling and swinging with enthusiasm. “I do miss them so!”
“Soon,” was all that Cook would say, “Soon, child. Now eat your breakfast, then go out and play.”
Princess Palemoon was not like other princesses. She was always cheerful, never cross. She was independent, never clingy. She was kind to all those around her, even the dogs, and cats, and cows. Princess Palemoon was most definitely a special little girl, or so Cook and all the other Palace staff thought. The truth was that she was not just special…she was exceptional. But more about that later…
The Palace grounds were vast, and surrounded by a deep moat. While the King and Queen were away, the draw bridge was kept in the “up” position, for there was nothing to do but wait for their return. It was only lowered in the morning when the Milk Maids took the cows out to graze, and once again in the evening when they returned.
No matter. There were plenty of things to do on the vast, Palace grounds.
On this particular morning, Princess Palemoon thought it would be quite an adventure to visit the Fishers down by the moat. The Fishers were responsible for providing dinner’s meat, of which Cook would create a beautiful feast.
The sun shone brightly, making the Princess’ locks glisten as she bounced and flounced down the hill towards that “sweet spot” of which the Fishers found so much to speak. She could count 5 men lounging on the shore with poles in the water, bobbins bobbing. Just as she arrived, one of the Fishers yanked his pole, and out flew a very peculiar-looking fish.
“Good morning!” sang Princess Palemoon. The Fishers not meaning to be rude did not even answer for they were taken with the appearance of the peculiar-looking fish.
“Oy, ‘tis a bad omen, this,” declared the red-haired Fisher who wore the green vest. “Throw it back, and let’s move to a different spot. This one’s all fished-out.”
“Ay, yer right,” moaned his son, also with red-hair, but no vest. The vest would be his soon enough, when his da’ had enough of fish and poles, and bobbers. The green vest was used to signify which of the men was in charge.
The elder Fisher labored to remove the oddity from the younger’s hook. “Now, c’mon there. Let go o’ that worm,” he coaxed. “It’d be better fer ya if ya find yerself anudder meal.”
He continued to struggle, each of the Fishers observing this with humor. “May hap she wants a groom t’ find,” joked one who wore a red vest. The red vest meant this Fisher was the one who was to clean the fish, cutting off their heads and scraping out their guts. “Here, give ‘er here. I know just what t’ do,” he said menacingly, placing his hand on the hilt of the machete-like knife he kept tucked in his belt.
“Nay, don’t harm her!” exclaimed Princess Palemoon. “She’s a right beauty. Look how the sun reflects off her scales…where did she come from?” This question was one that ran through all the Fishers’ minds as well, for no fish of this kind lived in these parts…no. This fish was one such as lived near the sea.
“Here, Beauty, come now. Give us that worm…” The fish still refused to give up her prize.
Princess Palemoon reached out towards the fish, wanting to stroke the beautiful scales. Just as she did, the fish opened her tiny mouth and spit out the worm…into the hand of the Princess.
She heard the green-vested Fisher hiss.
“Oy, there now, Princess Palemoon,” said the elder red-haired Fisher. “Ye oughtn’t interfere.”
Princess Palemoon held up the worm for inspection, turning it this way and that. “Little worm, little worm, you swam into the wrong mouth!” She smiled and returned the worm to the tin where it could squirm and writhe with its mates.
The red-haired Fisher was leaning to return the beautiful fish to the depths of the moat.
“Wait!” sang Princess Palemoon…”Here, I have something special for her…” and she pulled from the pocket of her apron a juicy plumb, and just as quickly, she popped it into the fish’s mouth. “You’ll like that much better.”
The fish flipped it’s tail and fell into the water, swishing into the darkness of the moat. Princess Palemoon watched as the glistening scales disappeared.
“Run on now, Princess,” suggested the younger red-haired Fisher, “or we’ll be catching an octopus next!” The men laughed, and Princess Palemoon waved then skipped away towards the gardens.