Friday, 12 September 2008
What the 12 Dancing Princesses did next.
You may remember the story of the 12 Dancing Princesses; it was in all the newspapers at the time. How a wandering old soldier discovered why the princesses were tired all day from dancing all night and as a result was married to the youngest of the 12.
Well soon after all the other princesses were married too. They settled down a little, had children, started some wonderful blogs and generally got into a bit of a groove. After some time, their children became teenagers and that's when the trouble started.
The teenagers all got on with each other, it was their parents who just DIDN'T under-STAND them! The princesses sighed, remembering what they were like at that age and the princes, their husbands fumed quietly, which is what husbands are supposed to do. Every so often the parents would growl at their teenagers just to remind them who was boss, but mostly they made it clear how much they loved their children because they understood very well what their children were going through.
Now it happened that the teenagers were six boys and six girls. And between them, they discovered their mothers dancing shoes and the opening to the magical underground world where their mothers had danced all night.
"Why shouldn't we have some fun and do the same?" Princess Isabella asked her fellow princesses.
They thought that a fine idea, but the boys were less impressed.
"Dancing? It's not exactly rock n' roll is it?" said Prince Hotspur.
The girls sighed. Boys always needed to be convinced of something they wanted to do anyway. So the girls set to work and very quickly convinced the boys to come with them. Every night, the girls put on the dancing shoes and went with the boys down into the magical underground. Through the gardens of silver, gold and diamond plants they went into the magical palace where music played and the Faerie people danced. With a little confidence they joined in with the dancing and stayed all night until they would leave and return quietly to their bedrooms to sleep for a few hours before they were woken for school.
However, they were so tired that their school work slipped and they fell asleep in class dreaming of the wonderful magical kingdom. Their parents growled at them and they sulked until the night came and they fled to the underground kingdom to dance their cares away with the faerie folk.
It happened that the youngest of the 12 Princesses, called Belle who was very busy, noticed that her daughter Isabella kept falling asleep. It happened also that her husband, who had once been that poor wandering soldier was away. But the youngest of the 12 remembered that he had used a cloak of invisibility to find her and her sisters secret out. She wondered where he had put it, but she was disturbed by a phone call from her eldest sister.
"It's awful, you're 40 next week and that means we're all over 40 and it's just awful. What happened to us? We were young and beautiful and we went dancing every night in the most beautiful dresses and shoes. Now I have surly kids, a business and six blogs to run. My husband has the kingdom's diplomatic missions to run and I have to deal with all the finances and anyway... we NEVER go dancing any more. Last week, I was so desperate, I waited until the castle was my own, put on some music and danced naked in my rooms. It just felt so good. But I thought, why don't we go dancing like we used to? What happened to us?"
Belle heard her sister's anguish and thought, 'I shall deal with two situations at once'.
"Tell you what sweetie, bring the rest of us mums round to my place and we'll arrange something, alright? And don't fret. I dance naked all the time," Belle assured her sister.
She did not dance naked even a little, her castle was too cold for that, but sisterly solidarity was called for. They arranged to meet on a Wednesday for lunch and Belle smiled to think that she would officially be a lady who lunches. She gave Isabella a double espresso in the morning and sent her off to school with a hug and a kiss and 'You're my wonderful daughter and I love you.'
"Don't be soppy mum. I'm your only daughter," Isabella squirmed, but it was clear that she loved her mum for saying it.
At 12, suitably enough, Belle's sisters arrived. Belle had prepared coffee and cake and for a while the sisters delighted at being together again. They told each other how beautiful they all still looked (which was true) and how they never saw enough of each other (which wasn't). After a little while, Belle asked after their children and was delighted to find that her sisters all agreed that their teens were so tired these days.
"Ah yes," Belle remarked, "Just like we were all that time ago. I wonder how they get so tired dear papa used to say of us, do you remember?"
"Good heavens! Do you really think...? But they can't have found... surely they'd know we'd guess?...Well! The cheeky lot!" the sisters declared.
Belle laughed and told them her plan. Her dear husband would be back for her birthday and she invited her sisters and their husbands to dance as they had done once a long time ago. The sisters laughed and agreed. So, the night of the party, the 12 princesses insisted that their darling teens get an early night as they seemed so tired these days. Mummy and daddy were going to a party and would be back late. Their teens rolled their eyes and all said something along the lines of - mummy and daddy could stay out all night for all they cared. But secretly the teenagers were delighted, for they all meant to go dancing that very night.
The 12 dancing princesses dressed for the party. Six of them, Belle included, smiled to see how worn their dancing shoes were. No matter, for they had all bought new shoes for the occasion. Belle herself, removed the worn shoes and put a new pair of beautiful red satin dancing shoes for Isabella. Belle and her sisters drove to their father's old castle and entered quietly. They put on carnival masks and for a while, the princesses and their husbands hid and waited. They watched their children enter the castle and tiptoe through the old rooms. Belle squeezed her husband's hand with delight to see Isabella wearing the red satin dancing shoes she had put out for her.
Then as they had done so many years ago, the 12 princesses followed the children silently into their former bedroom on the ground floor. They too opened up the trapdoor and went down the staircase, their silken dresses quietly rustling. Their husbands followed with pleasure, noticing the faerie plants in silver, gold and diamond. Through these fabulous gardens they went, past fountains and along beautiful walks beside knot gardens and herbs whose delicate scents perfumed the air. Through four rose gardens where each of the husbands picked one rose for their beloved wives. As they entered the palace, the princesses almost wept, for while they had grown older, the palace and its people had not aged at all.
They passed through the palace to the great ballroom and as they did so, the music grew and called to them. It wreathed itself about them, clasping their waists as once it had and pulling them into the dance. The princesses turned to their husbands who kissed them and led them out onto the floor. Instantly, as a stream in flood plucks up a leaf that falls into it, the dance and the music carried them away. They danced for love, for pleasure, for pure unbridled joy and in that dance all sorrows were forgotten. All through that night, the 12 princesses danced and drank and ate and sang. All through the night the mundane irritations of the day were lost in the whirl of the dance. The music wove them into its own patterns, the colours of the faerie dresses and of their own dresses and fine coats dazzled their senses. The wine did its work filling them with vigour and delight for a little. O reader, they did not become drunk, but heightened in their senses only.
Towards the morning, all that is faerie began to look a little faded and the 12 princesses and their husbands left the party, returned through the palace chambers and the glorious gardens. Up the staircase they went, followed at a distance by their children. Quickly the parents went and waited in the chamber at the top of the staircase. The children came through the trapdoor and seeing the pair of red satin shoes at the last, Belle suddenly burst into laughter. The teenagers turned, caught in the act and found themselves seized by their parents and embraced.
"No more dancing nights on a school night," Belle told them.
"No more taking our dancing shoes without permission," Rowena, Belle's sister told them.
"No more misbehaving until you are quite old enough to do it properly!" Vivienne, the eldest princess told them.
They drove their blushing teenagers home and put them to bed. It was a Friday night when teenagers can be out and lie abed on Saturday morning. The following morning, Isabella brought her parents coffee in bed and sat with them on the big double bed having coffee. On her feet were the new red satin dancing shoes her mother had bought her.