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ORPHAN2  9' An orphan girl marries a prince

Once upon a time a long time ago in a land far far away, lived
an orphan girl named Mary.

On Mary's sixteenth birthday, the owner of the orphanage said,
"Mary, you are now too old to live in this orphanage."

Mary replied, "You mean, you're sending me away?!"

"Yes." he said.

She replied, "But I don't have a job. I have no way to make a
living. I'll starve to death!"

"That's not my problem." he said.

So, Mary packed what few things she owned in a pillow case, said
goodbye to her friends and left the orphanage. From morning til
night she went from store to store, from house to house and from
farm to farm trying to find a job. And for two nights in a row,
Mary slept outside in the cold.

Finally, on the third day, she happened upon a farm where she
heard the cries of a lamb. She followed her ears until she found
the lamb which had fallen into a crag between two sharp rocks.
It took her almost an hour, working upside down and hanging by
her toes, to tie her apron around the animal's chest to pull it
to safety. When she did, she noticed that the lamb was limping
badly.

So, she picked up the lamb and carried it to the farmer who was
training some horses.

"What you got there, missy?" asked the farmer.

"One of your lambs fell into the crag between the rocks yonder."
replied Mary, "I think he broke his leg."

"And you rescued it?" asked the farmer as he took the lamb and
examined it's legs.

"Yes, of course. Anyone would have done the same." replied Mary.

"Well, I am much obliged to you." said the farmer, "Two of my
lambs have died in those rocks in past years. If you hadn't
rescued this one, I'm sure he would have died too."

"Well, he's alright now." replied Mary as she turned to leave,
"I'll just be going."

"What were you doing over by them rocks, missy?" asked the
farmer.

Mary turned and replied, "Oh, I was on my way to see you, but I
heard the lamb in distress. I came here to ask if I could work
for you."

"Well, go a head and ask then." said the farmer.

Mary cleared her throat nervously, then asked, "May I work for
you? You don't have to pay me anything, just give me a place to
stay and a little food. I don't eat much. I..."

"Yes." replied the Farmer.

"You mean it?!" exclaimed Mary, "You'll let me stay here?"

"Of course." replied the farmer.

"Where should I start?" asked Mary.

"You're all skin and bones." replied the farmer. "Go into the
house and my wife will give you something to eat. I can't have
you dying of hunger on my farm."

So, Mary went to work cleaning the horse stalls and feeding the
animals. It turns out that the farmer trained horses for the
king. And a year later, the king hired the farmer as his
personal stable keeper. By then, Mary had proven herself as a
good worker, smart and useful. So, of course, he took Mary to
the royal stables with him.

Mary's duties included saddling the horse of the king's
daughter, Princess Margaret, a spoiled little brat. She acted
like a little child, but she was now old enough to get married.

The stable keeper had Mary wear a bonnet that covered most of
her face. And he warned Mary never to look at Princess Margaret
or any of the royal family face-to-face as a matter of courtesy
to the royal family.

Even so, one day when Princess Margaret brought her friends to
the stable to ride horses, one of them mentioned how much the
stable girl looked like Princess Margaret.

Now it was common practice in those days for a king to offer his
daughter in marriage to the son of a neighboring king in order
to keep the peace between kingdoms. So, it was common knowledge
that Princess Margaret was betrothed to marry Prince William in
a nearby kingdom.

But the enemies of the king wanted him defeated in battle. So,
they plotted to kidnap the princess. But Princess Margaret heard
about the plot. So, when the time came for her to meet Prince
William at their engagement ball, she ordered the stable girl
Mary to dress in a ball gown and ride to the ball in the royal
coach, while Princess Margaret rode in another coach at a
distance behind. If Mary wasn't kidnapped on the way, she was
supposed to enter the foreign king's palace and wait for
Princess Margaret in the library, where Mary would stay until
the ball was over, while Margaret would attend the ball.

But Margaret never showed up at the palace!

"What are we going to do?!" exclaimed Mary as she paced the
floor.

"YOU will have to pretend to be Princess Margaret." replied the
driver.

Mary exclaimed, "Oh, no! You're not sending me into the
ballroom, are you?"

"Yes," replied the driver, "You mustn't keep our host waiting."

"But... But I don't know anything about how to be a princess!"
exclaimed Mary, "I don't even know how to dance!"

"You'll do fine," replied the driver as he pushed Mary out the
door.

The prime minister pounded his staff against the floor and
announced, "Our honored guest: Princess Margaret!"

All who were sitting in the ballroom stood up and bowed and
curtsied as Mary walked unsteadily down the aisle toward
Princess William. The closer Mary got to the prince, the more
nervous she got.... until she saw his face up close.

He was tall and strong and handsome. But he seemed as nervous as
Mary. He bowed before her and offered his hand to her. She put
her hand in his hand and bowed to him.

"Your highness!" he said loudly for all to hear. Then he
whispered, "I see you don't want to be here anymore than I do!"

This put Mary at ease. They began to dance.

Mary asked, "So, you know about the switch?"

"Switch? What switch?!" asked the prince.

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Mary, "What have I done. I've ruined
everything!"

"What are you talking about?!" asked William as they danced in
circles.

"I... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything." replied Mary,
"Can we just dance and not talk?"

"No." replied William, "What SWITCH are you talking about?"

So, during this dance and the next and the next, Mary explained
that she was just an orphan who happened to look like Princess
Margaret and took her place because of the threat of a
kidnapping.

"I don't even know how to dance!" exclaimed Mary.

"You fooled me!" replied William, "You dance divinely!"

"I do?" asked Mary.

"Yes." replied William.

"You're just saying that so I won't feel bad when you throw me
in jail." said Mary.

"I'm not going to throw you in jail." replied William, "This is
much more fun than I thought I would have."

"What do you mean?" asked Mary.

"They say that Princess Margaret is a spoiled brat." replied
William, "I wasn't looking forward to even being in the same
room with her. Now I'm hoping beyond hope that she won't show up
at all."

Mary and Prince William danced every dance together, pausing
only to quench their thirst.

The conversation around the punch bowl was that Princess
Margaret was more beautiful and much more pleasant than everyone
expected.

Two hours later, the visiting king and queen showed up with the
real Princess Margaret. The prime minister pounded his staff
against the floor and announced in a loud voice, "Our honored
guests: King James and Queen Mary and... Princess Margaret!?"

All of the guests gasped when they saw Princess Margaret in BOTH
ENDS of the ballroom at the same time!

"What on earth is going on here?!" exclaimed Prince William's
father.

Mary bowed before the king, "Your Majesty, I will be leaving
now. I meant no disrespect."

Then she turned and ran past the visiting king and queen. But
the queen stepped into her path and grabbed her shoulders.

"My darling daughter! Is it really you?!" exclaimed the queen.

"What on earth is going on here?!" exclaimed Prince William's
father, I demand to know!"

Princess Margaret stepped forward and explained, "Your Majesty,
we found out about a plot to kidnap me, so we sent this impostor
ahead of us in MY royal coach so that SHE might be kidnapped
instead of me. We intended to change places after we arrived,
but the coach I was riding in lost a wheel, so I had to ride in
mother and father's coach.

The king asked, "If this girl is an impostor, why did your
mother just call her MY DARLING DAUGHTER?"

Queen Mary took Mary by the hand and pulled her toward the king,
explaining, "Years ago when our twin daughters were just babies,
one of them was kidnapped. We paid the ransom, but the
kidnappers never returned the baby to us. We thought she was
dead."

Prince William smiled, "You mean, this one really IS your
daughter?"

Queen Mary hugged Mary, "Oh, yes, my long lost daughter has come
back to us!"

The king asked, "Well, where has she been all these years?"

Queen Mary nodded, "Tell us, my darling daughter, where HAVE you
been?"

Mary replied, "Someone left me on the front step of an
orphanage. That's where I lived until my sixteenth birthday."

Prince William smiled, "So, she CAN marry me?!"

Queen Mary replied, "Well, she IS the oldest."

Princess Margaret exclaimed, "That's not fair! He was supposed
to marry ME!" Then she turned and ran crying out of the room.

Prince William took Mary by the hands and pulled her to him,
saying "Will you marry me?!"

Mary replied, "This is a little overwhelming. I..."

Queen Mary exclaimed, "Just say yes."

"Yes!" said Mary looking into the eyes of her handsome prince.

They danced every dance for the rest of the night. A few weeks
later, they were married. And they all lived happily ever after.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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http://www.bobsnook.org  email: bob@bobsnook.org

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