©Kim Taylor, 1998
Illustrations ©Edith Emerick, 1998
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Written by Kim Taylor, Illustrated by Edith Emerick (Gramma).
"I mean really," she thought, "Mother and Father jump to his side at the slightest noise just to see what he's squalling about."
It was most distressing. And now, just to make things worse, she had to take him along on her picnic. It was almost too much to bear.
They rode along the horse trail, past the orchards, the meadows and through the hills down to the beach. Her brother, as usual, had to be helped and rode in front of Nanny, while she, a true Princess, rode her beautiful white horse with the silky mane that she brushed each day with her own hands. She didn't need anyone's help to ride.
Actually, the picnic wasn't that bad at all. The little Prince behaved himself and even ate with a knife and fork rather than with both hands like the Princess thought he would. "Perhaps he's growing up a bit" she said to herself. He even managed to get her to play at sand castles, although that was mostly her making them and him knocking them down. All in all it was a rather pleasant afternoon and with the meal and the sun, everyone became rather sleepy.
So it happened, that while the Princess was down the beach looking for shells to add to her collection, she glanced up to see her brother floating by in a small rowboat. He looked quite frightened and was trying to paddle himself back the way he came, but the gentle current was too much for him. He looked like he was trying very hard not to cry but his lower lip was starting to quiver and Lauren looked away with a small sniff of disgust.
"He'll be bawling if Nanny doesn't get him soon" she thought as she looked up the beach, but when she looked she didn't see anyone chasing the boat. They were all asleep - Nanny, the groom, even the dog!
As she realized this, the Princess looked back at her brother and saw the boat begin to round a small point of land. "I'll never wake them in time" she said as she glanced up the beach. Without another thought, she dropped the shells and took off down the beach and through a small group of trees to catch up with the drifting boat. Looking along this stretch of sand the Princess noticed another boat pulled up onto the beach. She didn't hesitate a moment but ran to it, and after scratching a big arrow pointing to the water and dropping her shoulder wrap, pushed it offshore and started to row toward her brother. With some effort, she managed to catch up with her panic-stricken brother and grab hold of his boat. "Help Lauren, we'll be swept over the waterfall!" he cried as he started to stand up, meaning to get into her boat.
"Don't be stupid Liam" the Princess said, "There is no waterfall. Now sit down before you fall out of the boat". With that she tied the rope from her boat onto his and started to row back toward shore.
The current was actually a bit too strong even for her so the Princess rowed at an angle, toward the shoreline. When they finally made it back to the beach, the two were quite a long way downstream and around a bend or two. With her brother safely rescued from his imagined waterfall, the Princess tried to think how best to get back to the picnic where the rest of the party was doubtless in a state of pandemonium looking for them. They would surely find her wrap and know they had gone out onto the river, and they would be following the shore right now. "Perhaps the best thing would be to walk back along the beach until we find them" thought the Princess "but that will take ever so long and we've come around in a big half circle, and Liam is awfully small for a long walk." With that, she decided to walk over the hill and save everyone time. She looked around for her brother to tell him to come along and found him right beside her. In fact, he was still holding her hand and looking up at her almost like he looked up at Father.
It was most disturbing.
"Come along Liam" she said, "let's get you back." "Yes ma'am" said her brother, in his most polite voice, and started walking beside her. "Hurrumph" thought the Princess, "we'll see how long this lasts."
Taking what seemed to be a likely path, the two castaways began their trek quickly, swinging up off the beach and into the woods which, being woods, closed in around them. After several minutes of walking and chattering about all the things he could see, Liam became a little quiet. After many more minutes he became silent and after an even longer time he began to shake just a little bit.
"Are you cold?" asked his sister.
"No" he replied, "but I'm hungry, and I'm scared."
"Scared! What of?" asked Lauren.
"I'm sure I saw a big bad wolf who wants to eat us" Liam replied with a small voice.
"Firstly" began the Princess, "wolves don't hunt alone and they don't hunt people and you're confusing them with one of your story books called...." She stopped.
She had seen the yellow eyes peering out of the gloom.
Slowly she looked around and found a stout tree limb that looked like it would stand up to a good blow. "To that wolf's nose!" she hoped, picking it up and setting off again with Liam on her other side.
The terrors of that hike would remain with the young Prince for many years. The Princess, being a big girl and very busy, would forget them in a week. Suffice it to say, the wolf didn't get any closer, but the two saw shapes and eyes all the way up and over the hill. When they spotted the beach, the two fairly ran down the hill and onto the sand.
As luck would have it, they came out very near where the Princess had dropped her wrap. It was still there. And the arrow. And no footprints other than her own. "They haven't come this way" thought the Princess "and we didn't pass them in the woods." She frowned as she turned and led her little brother back up the beach, through the line of trees, and far enough to realize the entire party was still asleep!
She stopped dead in her tracks. "For Goodness Sakes!" she said aloud, causing her brother to look at her in amazement at this un-Princessly language. "You'd think they would look after us a little batter than that!" Then she stamped her foot, grabbed the Prince's hand, and walked quickly back to the picnic site.
In those few moments, her anger faded and was replaced with a softer frown. She turned to her brother and looking him in the eye, spoke very softly. "Listen Liam, if Mother, or especially Father ask you about today you are not to tell them that Nanny and the groom fell asleep. You are to say that I took you for a walk and we got lost, OK? If other people find out that Nanny was asleep and we were in trouble, she'll be terribly punished."
Liam looked up at his big sister with his eyes wide and filling with tears. "B-But why - you'll be punished and it's just not fair - you saved me from the waterfall and the wolf and, and, but y-you'll be punished and it's not fair."
Lauren drew herself up to her full Princessly height and said "You may think it's unfair, however, that's the way I wish it. It would be even more unfair if someone else were punished for our mistakes! You should not have gone off in a boat by yourself, you are still too little! I should have yelled for help, and I should not have set off through the woods. What if we'd got lost or the wolf was bolder! No, we will not have others punished for our actions." With that she gave her brother a hug and sat down with him to eat some of the bread and cheese that was left from the earlier meal. They were both very hungry.
While they ate, Nanny opened one eye and looked over toward the childrens' huge dog, lying on his side. He opened one eye and looked back at Nanny. They nodded at each other and closed their eyes again.
If the Princess had looked at their dog she might have noticed that his fur wasn't covered in sand, but had a few leaves and twigs caught in it. Then she might have remembered that he had yellow eyes.
THE END AND GOOD NIGHT LAUREN AND LIAM