She was Isabella, running through the wheat fields alongside the flowing water that fed the flora. The wind blew towards the south and Isabella’s little blue dress flew along with the breeze. The Pink and white shoes prevented her feet from getting soiled. She had in her right hand a white small package that contained sugar, her grandma had asked for.
On the way she saw squirrels scamper to and fro the trees which made her think as to how a tiny creature as a squirrel could run so quick. She saw two cows chained to a log and feed on the hay. The wind made the bells hanging on their necks ring TING TING. The sound of the bells reminded her of her own little pet goat who must be very hungry by now.
“I should hurry.” She said and ran.
A few minutes ahead, she heard a voice.
Isabella stopped and turned around to check who it was.
“Hi Elena. Why are you not in your castle?”
Elena was the princess of the region. Often she escaped from the castle to experience a normal life outside. She loved playing, talking, laughing loud though the castle restricted all these being royal. She could never understand the margins.
“I was getting bored with nothing to do and no one to play with. Where are you going?”
“I’m on my way home to feed chichi.”
“Can I join you?”
“Sure you can.”
Isabella and Elena held hands and walked along. Elena’s orange and peach gown shined in the sun which made Isabella amazed.
“Princess Elena, your dress is very pretty. It shines as if it has little diamonds studded in the sun.”
“Thanks but believe me your clothes look so much comfortable. You have the freedom to run and dance around while this dress commands you only to walk straight.”
“Hmmm..” Isabella thought. “Would you like to switch clothes for a while?”
”Yes. Let’s do that.”
They went behind a huge oak tree and changed. Both, at the same age and almost equal physique, it was hard to identify who the real princess was.
On the other side in the palace, everybody was looking for the princess Elena. Servants looked around the entire castle but couldn’t find the princess anywhere.
The queen called the Senior Soldier for discussion.
“Madame, we couldn’t find the princess anywhere.”
The Queen turned towards the window which gave the view to the entire village.
“I know where she would be. Go and search for the princess in the parish. She would be there somewhere with the commoners. It’s unfortunate that the princess yearns for a simple life while others desire royalty. Go and get the princess. I want her back by evening supper.”
And the soldiers set out in search of the princess.
Isabella and Elena had reached home.
“Grandma Grandma…” Isabella shouted at the door. “While Grandma opens up the door, I’ll go check on chichi.” Isabella ran towards the back of the house.
“Bella wait. I’ll come with you.” The door was opened and an old lady in her eighties, stood in front. Barely able to see through her glasses, the old lady misunderstood the princess as Isabella.
“Come In dear. Why did it take so long?”
Elena not knowing what to say went inside the house. She looked around. It wasn’t a house but a small hut. With a stove and few utensils at one corner and an old bed lying on the other corner, Elena felt bad for Isabella.
“You must be hungry dear. I’ll get you something to eat.”
As the old lady started to walk,
“Thanks Grandma… I am hungry with the long walk.” Elena said.
The Old lady turned around. This wasn’t Isabella’s voice! She corrected her one eye broken glasses’ frame to her wrinkled nose with her shivering right hand.
“Who are you young girl?” She asked
“Grandma, she’s Elena. She comes from the palace.” Isabella reached back at the door and was trying to pull off her shoes that had gone dirty in the mud.
“Elena? Bella, why are you wearing those clothes?”
“The princess didn’t like what she was wearing and so we decided to switch.”
“Young lady, you cannot wear the royal clothes even in the worst of state. We have discussed this so many times…”
“We are sorry Grandma.” Elena said. “But Bella’s right. I didn’t like my dress since it did not give me the freedom to run around. I love her dress and it’s so much more comfortable than the gown.”
Grandma came towards Elena.
“O Princess, if the soldiers get to know that you are with us and Bella is wearing your gown, they will sue us. It would be us who would be punished and not you.”
“They won’t know.” Elena answered smiling. “They don’t know where I am. Please let me play with Bella for some time. Then we’ll change and I’ll leave for the palace. Just for some time… please Grandma…”
Grandma looked at the girls and could not resist.
“Okay. You girls are not going far. Play around while I get you some fresh fruits.”
“Thanks Grandma.” The girls sang together.
Isabella gripped Elena’s hands and pushed her towards the door.
“Come, I’ll introduce you to Chichi.”
Both the girls ran towards the back of the hut where a goat was tied to a log jammed in the ground with her little baby.
Isabella moved towards the little goat. “Here Chichi, come to Bella.”
And the goat ran towards Isabella.
“Chichi, meet the Princess Elena.”
“Hello Chichi.” Elena greeted. “It is very nice meeting you.”
“Hold her Princess. You will love Chichi.”
Elena came closer to the goat and they played with the little one. Time went by and the princess looked around and decided that it’s time that she leaves for the palace.
“I think I should leave now. It’s getting dark and they would be looking for me at the palace.”
“Will you visit us again?”
“Yes, I would surely visit you and Grandma. And chichi of course.”
The Princess bid farewell to Grandma and started running towards the palace. After few moments of Elena leaving, Isabella shouted.
“What’s wrong Bella?”
“I am still wearing the gown!”
Half way to the palace, Elena was still running and as she looked around, she realized that the beautiful fields that were about in the morning had started to scare her in the darkness.
“I want to reach the palace as early as possible” Elena thought.
In a distance, the princess could see the castle gate guarded by the sentinels. Elena gave out a breadth of relief and kept running.
“Hey you, young girl, you wait there.” The gate guard shouted.
Elena stopped and saw a tall, dark and heavy man aim a pointed arrow towards her.
“Where do you think you are running into?”
“I’m Princess Elena. How dare you talk to me like that? ”
“Princess? Look at you with those dirty shoes, dirty frock and dirt all over your face. Do you want to fool us? Princess doesn’t run around this way.”
Elena saw a reflection of herself in the water that flew to the garden area. He is true. I don’t look like a princess anymore. Elena thought.
“But I am the Princess.” Elena pleaded.
When the soldiers resented, Elena was forced to get away from the Palace gate with tearful eyes. She sat at the bottom of the teak tree crying.
“Now what shall I do? And it’s so dark around. It’s so scary.” Elena cried. And then she heard a voice.
The princess looked in the direction of the voice.
“It’s Bella.” Elena shouted, “Isabella, I’m here. Please come here.”
Suddenly the princess saw two figures coming out of the darkness.
“Grandma, Bella… I am so glad to see you here.”
Elena was so happy that she hugged Grandma and Isabella sobbing.
“Dear, don’t worry. Here is your dress, all cleaned up. Wear it.” Grandma said.
“Thanks Grandma..I’m so happy that you are here. These people are not ready to accept me as a princess because of my look.”
“This is the reality sweetheart. You are recognized only by your look. Your princess gown and your royal attitude is your identity. You need to understand your royalty. You’ll always be welcome in our little hut but make sure that you have informed and taken permission from the palace.“
“Now change yourself. It’s already too late.”
Elena dressed herself in the gown while the old lady and Isabella helped her clean up.
“Good bye Grandma, Isabella. I’ll see you again.”
“Sure Sweetheart. Take care.”
“Byee… Elena” Isabella said.
Elena reached to the gate once again while the old lady and Isabella waited for her to go in. This time the guards gave admiration and carriage was brought at the gate to carry the princess. While seated on the royal coach, Elena gave one last appreciating look at the old lady and Isabella.
“Come on dear, it is time for dinner.”
And the old lady and Isabella left for their little home.