ORPHAN5  9' An orphan girl and a princess trade places

Once upon a time a long time ago in a land far far away, lived
an orphan girl named Mary. For a long time, she was the only
girl in an orphanage full of boys who picked on her all the
time. So, she quickly learned how to protect herself by being an
expert fighter. Soon, she was able to beat up every boy in the
orphanage. But that didn't stop the boys from picking on her.
The boys joined forces to pick on her as gangs. So, Mary became
tougher to beat the gangs too.

But as the gangs of boys grew larger and larger, Mary found that
she could no longer beat them all up, she learned to protect
herself in other ways. She found that, if she took off her
sandals, she could climb the stone walls surrounding the
orphanage by gripping the cracks between the stones with her
fingers and toes. Now that she could climb the walls and the
boys could not, she spend most of her days lying on her back on
top of the walls reading books. Having nothing to do all day but
read, she soon became the smartest orphan in the orphanage.

But on Mary's sixteenth birthday, this all came to an end. 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 began living on the streets of the city, eating out of
garbage cans. Being a smart girl, she soon learned which of the
stores and restaurants had the best food in their garbage cans.

One day, while making the rounds to the various garbage cans,
Mary noticed a shiny wooden coach parked in front of a dress
shop. As she went by the coach, she noticed that the king's
royal seal was painted on the door. Curious about why the king
would be visiting a dress shop, she pressed her nose against the
front window and looked in.

But instead of seeing someone inside, all she saw was herself
looking back at her. Then she noticed that the face reflected in
the window was dressed differently. Mary was wearing a drab
brown dress, but the face looking back at her was wearing a
royal blue dress with lace around the collar.

"Odd!" she thought as she pulled away from the window to look
behind her. Maybe it was her own reflection she saw in the
window and someone behind her was wearing a different dress.

But noone was behind her. So, she pressed her nose against the
window again. There was the same face again, but there was that
blue dress again.

"Maybe this is a magic trick." she said aloud.

But to her amazement, the face looking back at her didn't move
its mouth while she was talking.

She examined the face more closely: Same red hair, same blue
eyes, same nose, same chin, even the same freckles on the nose
and cheeks.

Suddenly the face pulled away from the window and looked around,
then the girl in the blue dress went quickly to the door and
opened it.

"Meet me by the back door." the girl whispered. Then she quietly
closed the door and walked away.

Mary walked around the building and was about to knock on the
back door when the door opened. The girl in the blue dress
looked behind her, then slipped through the door and closed it
behind her.

"What's your name?" asked the girl.

Mary was speechless. "Mmmm. Mary." was all she could say.

"How would you like to marry a prince?" asked the girl.

"Excuse me?" asked Mary.

"You haven't heard about the wedding?!" asked the girl

"What wedding?" asked Mary.

"I'm supposed to marry a prince tomorrow morning. But I don't
love him. Would YOU like to marry him?" asked the girl.

"You... You're Princess Margaret!" exclaimed Mary.

Margaret put her finger against Mary's lips, saying, "Not so
loud! Noone must no about this."

"About what?" asked Mary.

"Noone must know that YOU are about to marry the prince in my
place." said Margaret.

"You're serious?!" asked Mary.

"Absolutely!" said Margaret as she began unbuttoning her dress,
"Change clothes with me."

"Is there food at the wedding?" asked Mary.

"Lots of food, as much as you can eat." replied Margaret. "Now,
change clothes with me."

"You're giving me that beautiful blue dress?!" asked Mary.

"Quickly, we don't have much time!" exclaimed Margaret in a

As they exchanged dresses, Margaret explained everything Mary
would need to know about the castle that night and what to do at
the wedding the next day.

"You mean I'm marrying a prince?!" asked Mary, "I always dreamed
about marrying a prince! What is he like?"

"I don't know. I've never met him." replied Margaret, "And I
refuse to marry a man I don't love just to please my father!"

With that, Margaret pushed Mary through the back door of the
dress shop. Apparently, noone knew the difference, because the
dress maker stripped off Mary's dress and put on a beautiful
white wedding dress.

"It fits you perfectly!" exclaimed the dress maker.

"You mean this is mine too?!" asked Mary as she looked at
herself in the mirror.

"Yes, of course it's yours! I made it just for you!" replied the
dress maker as she dropped a pair of white shoes on the floor in
front of Mary, "Try the shoes."

Mary slipped her feet into them and exclaimed, "They fit

"What do you expect?!" asked the dress maker, "I had them made
especially for you!"

Immediately, she stripped the dress and the shoes from Mary and
handed them to the old woman who was sitting near the front
door. Then she redressed Mary in the blue dress and pushed her
toward the front door.

"This way, Your Highness." said the old woman as she opened the
door for Mary.

To Mary's amazement, the old woman seemed to have no idea that
the princess she bowed to was not really the princess. Neither
did anyone back at the castle. Noone gave her a second look.
Everyone at the castle was in a tizzy preparing for the visiting
prince and the wedding the next day.

That night, Mary slept for the first time in a bed that was
stuffed with feathers instead of straw. She slept like a baby.

The next day at noon, the bells in the church chimed as Mary
walked down the aisle arm-in-arm with the king with five hundred
people watching. She was sure that someone in the crowd would
recognize her. But noone did, because she was wearing a veil.

Then, for the first time, she saw her husband to be. He was not
the prince charming she always dreamed about. He was ugly. No
wonder Margaret didn't want to marry him! "But," she said to
herself, "I'm marrying a prince. What else matters?!"

Her heart nearly stopped near the end of the ceremony, as Mary's
veil lifted and the ugly prince kissed her on the lips. Then
they turned and walked down the aisle. To Mary's amazement, none
of the five hundred guests seemed to notice that the princess
wasn't the princess.

Three hours later, the prince and his new bride arrived at the
Prince's castle. The princes sent Mary up to the bedroom to
change clothes for dinner. On the way, Mary overheard two guards
talking, "Is everything in place?" asked one.

"They won't know what hit them!" replied the other.

Then they noticed the princess walking by and stopped talking.

When Mary got to the top of the stairs, she looked back to see
if the men were still acting suspiciously. They and several
other men were walking through a door. Each one looked around to
see if anyone was following.

"Something is wrong!" said Mary to herself.

She quickly stripped off her wedding dress and shoes, and,
wearing only her bloomers and camisole, she climbed out the
window and, digging her fingers and toes into the cracks between
the stones, she climbed along the outside of the castle toward
the room where she saw the men going. Seeing a light on in the
window and hearing the princes voice coming out of the open
window, she poked her head around the window frame and looked
into the room. The prince was pointing to a map layed out on the

He said, "Here's the battle plan."

Mary gasped quietly when she saw that the map was the map of the
capital city of the king. He was pointing at the king's castle!

From the talk, Mary learned that the marriage was just an excuse
for the prince's men to spy on the castle and the guards around
it. According to the prince's plans, at three o'clock in the
morning, when there would be only a handful of guards on duty,
the prince's men would overwhelm the king's guards, then take
the king and queen prisoners. Then, when the rest of the castle
staff woke up the next morning, there would be a new king on the

Mary, still dressed only in her underwear, climbed the walls
around the outside of the prince's palace to the stables. She
found the tallest, strongest horse and led it quietly out of the
stable and away from the castle. Then, she swung her leg up over
the horse and rode at top speed to the capital city and into the

"It's the princess and she's in her underwear!" shouted several
guards as she rode by them. She stood up on the back of the
horse as it galloped by a stairway and jumped. She landed on the
stairs and she ran up to the king's bedroom and pounded on the
door, then she pushed open the doors and ran in.

"Margaret!" said the king. "What are you doing here?"

"Why aren't you with the prince?!" asked the queen.

"Why are you in your underwear?" asked the king.

"Your Majesties!" exclaimed Mary, "I have some important news!
The prince only married me so he could spy out your castle and
your guards. He's coming here in a few hours to imprison both of
you and take over your throne!"

A few hours later, when the prince and his soldiers sneaked up
on the castle, he found no guards at all at the gate or at the
doors. Thinking that everyone was asleep, all the prince's
soldiers entered the castle together, no longer sneaking. Once
they all were through the gate and into the center court, all of
the king's soldiers came out of hiding with weapons aimed and
torches blazing. The prince and his men were captured and

Mary was a hero for saving the throne. She was to be the guest
of honor at a banquet later that day. But still noone knew that
the brave princess who saved the king and queen was not really a

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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