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TWINS    9' Identical twin princesses have different futures

Once upon a time a long time ago in a land far away, a king and
queen gave birth to twin girls. Their names were Anne and Mary.
All their lives they dressed alike and wore their hair alike
because they looked exactly alike. The king and queen also
spoiled them alike. The princesses could do almost anything they
liked whenever they liked.

But right around the time the princesses turned sixteen years
old, both the king and queen died of the same sickness.

At the funeral, the prime minister stood and announced, "It is
my responsibility to announce to all in the kingdom that the
older of the twin princesses, Princess Anne will be crowned
queen one month from today. In preparation for the coronation,
she will be sent away to another castle to learn all there is to
know about ruling the land as queen."

And so, Princess Anne kissed her sister goodbye and left for an
isolated castle in the mountains for training.

When she arrived at the castle, the prime minister announced
that Anne's first class would be mountain climbing.

"Why does a queen have to learn mountain climbing?!" cried Anne.

The wise old Prime Minister replied, "Because you'll need it."

"I'm a princess!" Anne shouted, "I refuse!"

"Very well," replied the prime minister, "if you won't learn,
you won't eat."

Finally, after missing lunch and dinner, Anne learned how to
climb mountains. Then she learned how to fight with a sword and
how to shoot a bow and arrow. Next she learned to sail a small
sail boat on the lake. She also learned to sail in the darkest
night by using only the stars to guide her. Then she learn to
ride a horse. She even learned to ride a horse without a saddle
or reigns.

But every day during her training, she told the prime minister,
"When I become queen, the first thing I will do is fire you and
I will hire a NEW prime minister."

The prime minister always bowed and replied, "As you wish, Your
Highness."

After three weeks, Princess Anne had learned to do all of the
skills that were on the list given by the Prime Minister. So,
she went back home to be fitted for her gown and her crown.

That night after everyone in the castle was asleep, a large
wooden box was tied up with ropes and lowered from the top of
the castle to a wagon that was waiting below. Then the wagon was
driven to the harbor where the box was lifted by ropes and
lowered into the deep hold of a sailing ship and the ship
immediately set sail and sailed across the ocean to a foreign
land.

When the ship arrived in the harbor, the wooden box was lifted
out of the hold by ropes and loaded onto another wagon.
Immediately, the wagon driver whipped the horse and they
galloped through the country side as a fierce thunder storm
began to blow.

When the wagon sped through the mountains, the horse slipped on
the slippery road and the wagon swayed from side to side,
causing the wooden box to fall off the back of the wagon. But
the wind and rain and the horses' hoofs were so loud that the
driver did not know that the box fell off.

The box tumbled off the side of the mountain road and down the
mountainside a few feet before hitting a large rock and breaking
open. Out fell Princess Anne! She had been tied with ropes and a
gag in her mouth so she couldn't scream for help. In the pouring
rain, she rubbed the ropes against the jagged rocks to cut them.
And after several minutes, she had untied herself and removed
the gag from her mouth. A few minutes later, the rain stopped,
and the clouds disappeared.

"Where am I?!" Anne asked herself as she looked around. "I'm in
the mountains. But these are not the same mountains where I
learned mountain climbing."

Then Anne remembered the mountain climbing class the Prime
Minister had made her take. She decided to climb to the top of
this mountain so she could look all around to find out where she
was. When she finally climbed to the mountain peek, she looked
all around. In the distance she could see the ocean glistening
in the moonlight. She remembered hearing the ocean waves against
the sailing ship when she was in the box. So, she decided to
walk toward the ocean.

Looking at the stars, Anne remembered the class she took on
navigating by the stars. Noting where the north star was, she
decided that the ocean was west of her. Now she was pretty sure
where she was. She was in France. And her home was in England
across the ocean to the west.

So, Anne climbed down the mountain and ran toward the ocean.
Even though she ran through the valleys and couldn't see the
ocean, she knew where it was because she navigated by the stars.

When she got to the ocean, she found an abandoned fishing boat
and looked it over to see if it would float. Seeing no holes in
the bottom, Anne pushed the boat off the sand and into the
water. Using her knowledge of sailing, she raised the sail and
steered the boat toward England using the stars as her guide.

On her way across the ocean, Anne calculated that she had only
two days to get back to the castle and be crowned queen. It was
then that Anne decided that this whole kidnapping had to do with
her coronation as queen. Somebody didn't want her to sit on the
throne. But who?

It was daylight when Anne got back to England. She was able to
see a city on the water and steered toward it. When she arrived
at the docks, she talked to a fisherman.

"Hello. My name is Princess Anne..." she said.

The fisherman laughed out loud, then, told other fishermen what
Anne said. And they all started laughing too.

"Why are you laughing?!" asked Anne.

The fisherman answered, "How can you be a princess?! You're a
boy!"

Anne looked down at herself. She was dressed in peasant's
clothing, boy's clothing: a shirt, pants and boots. Then she
patted her hair. She was bald! Someone had shaved her head! She
looked just like a boy! Noone would ever believe she was a
princess. So, she turned and ran.

She found a stable and asked the owner, "Excuse me, Sir, I need
to borrow your horse."

The owner replied, "This is a livery stable. You can't BORROW
anything! You need to rent it. It's two shillings per day."

Anne replied, "But I don't have any money. I promise I'll pay
you back as soon as I am crowned queen of England."

The owner laugh, "As soon as you WHAT?!"

Anne replied, "I'm sorry, I know you don't believe me, but I
really need to get back to the castle!"

With that, Anne grabbed an unsaddled horse by the mane and
leaped up and slung her leg over the horse's back and nudged the
horse with her heels. The horse took off out of the stable at a
gallop, followed closely by the owner who was shouting angrily
and shaking his fist.

Anne used her new horse riding skills to gallop cross-country
toward the castle, leaping over fences, hedges and streams. She
arrived at the castle just as the church bells all over the city
began to ring in celebration of the coronation. When she got to
the gate of the castle, the guards stopped her.

"Where do you think you're going, young fellow?" They asked.

"I... I know I don't look like it, but I am Princess Anne. Those
bells are ringing for me."

The guards laughed, "That's very funny. Princess Anne just
arrived here in the royal coach just five minutes ago. And SHE
was a girl. Maybe you'd like to change your story. Maybe YOU
could be a visiting prince." They laughed again.

Anne replied, "I'm sorry, I know you don't believe me, but I
really need to get in there. The person who just arrived wasn't
Princess Anne. That person was...."

Anne gasped. "My sister! Mary did this to me!"

The guards laughed, "That's very funny. Get lost kid!"

Anne replied, "I'm sorry, I know you don't believe me, but I
really need to get in there."

With that, she lunged off the horse toward one of the soldiers,
knocking him down and taking his sword. Using the swordsmanship
skills she learned recently, she battled the guards, backing
them away from the gate. Then she ran through the gate and
closed and locked the gate behind her. She ran up the stairs and
onto the castle walls.

She ran around the castle walls to the church where the
coronation was taking place, battling the soldiers standing
guard as she went. After knocking down one of the guards, she
took his bow and arrows. Then, she jumped through an open window
at the back balcony of the church, just as her sister, Princess
Mary was walking down the aisle toward the throne. Anne, using
her new shooting skills aimed and shot an arrow which stuck in
the floor in front of Mary's feet. Everybody in the church
gasped.

The bishop, who had the queen's crown in his hands shouted,
"What is the meaning of this?!"

Anne shouted from the balcony, "Stop the coronation! That girl
is not Princess Anne."

"Of course this is Princess Anne. Everybody knows her!"

"No!" shouted Anne as she jumped from the balcony to the aisle
below. "That's Princess Anne's twin sister Mary. Mary kidnapped
her sister so SHE could become the queen of England!"

"That's ridiculous!" replied the bishop.

"That's Princess Mary and I can prove it!" replied Anne.

"How?" asked the bishop.

Anne replied, "The prime minister sent Princess Anne to school
to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow. Isn't that right, Prime
Minister?"

"Why, yes, it is!" replied the prime minister.

Anne gave the bow and arrow to Mary, then went forward and stood
in front of the throne and said, "If this is Princess Anne, she
should be able to shoot ME!"

"Yes, she should!" replied the Prime Minister.

"Gladly!" shouted Mary. But she couldn't even attach the arrow
to the bow string. The arrow dropped on the floor.

The people began to grumble.

The prime minister said, "Princess Anne was an expert marksman
with a bow and arrow. This is not Princess Anne! This is her
twin sister Mary!"

The people grumbled louder.

The prime minister shouted to Mary, "What did you do with your
sister?!"

Mary dropped the bow and ran out of the church shouting, "I hope
she's dead!"

The people grumbled louder.

The prime minister shouted, "Does anyone know where Princess
Anne is?"

Anne shouted, "I am Princess Anne!"

The prime minister shouted, "YOU?! You're a boy!"

Anne replied, "My sister had my head shaved, she dressed me in
boys clothes and put me in a wooden box and sent me to France in
a sailing ship. I'll prove to you who I am. When I was taking my
training with you in the mountains, every day I threatened to
fired you as prime minister and hire a new prime minister."

The prime minister gasped, "Noone knows that except... except
Princess Anne!" He shouted, "This is Princess Anne!"

That day, Anne took her rightful place on the throne of England,
but she never did fire the prime minister.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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