It began the
evening that the king and his family were standing on a balcony,
smiling and waving to the knights who were preparing to battle in a
tournament. “Maybe we could let the winner marry our youngest,”
the king said to his wife.
terrible idea,” the queen said.
“It might make
it more interesting,” the king said.
The youngest princess calmly shoved him. The king stumbled and an arrow thwacked into the wall where he’d been standing. Everyone on the balcony crouched to hide behind the stone wall.
“Where did the
arrow come from?” the queen asked. She turned to the youngest
princess. “Did you see it coming?”
balcony, they could hear shouting. Another arrow hit the wall above
their heads. The oldest princess started herding her husband and
children inside. The others followed, all of them crawling to stay
Once inside, the
doors closed, the family waited for word from the guards. The
foolish archer was a knight from a nearby kingdom who believed he had
some claim on the throne through a third cousin. He was quickly
caught and thrown in the dungeons.
“I think you
saved my life,” the king told his youngest daughter that evening at
“Does that mean
you owe me a favor?” the princess clapped her hands. “Good! I
want to marry my pen pal.”
writing your pen pal?” the queen asked.
“Of course I am.
We’re best friends.” The princess deliberately took the third fork
in instead of the second. Her mother frowned.
The king looked
confused. “What pen pal?” He absently picked up the third fork
as well. Everyone at the table switched forks.
The queen leaned
forward and patted his arm. “The one she’s been writing to since
she was eleven.”
The king thought
for a moment. “I thought we didn’t know who was sending those
letters. They just started showing up one day.”
The queen set aside her fork with a sigh.
The king leaned in
and whispered. “I thought we decided it was an imaginary friend.
I thought all the letters were in her handwriting.”
“I heard that.”
The princess dropped her fork and narrowed her eyes. She picked up
the second spoon in and started eating her potatoes.
The queen rolled
her eyes. “You haven’t met your pen pal. He might be anybody at
all. Why don’t you meet him first?”
“Invite him to
the palace for a week,” the king said. He absently switched his
fork for his second spoon. The queen sighed as everyone at the table
switched from their fork to their spoon.
grinned. “And if I like him, I can marry him, right? I did save
your life, after all.”
the king said. He looked down as a piece of potato slipped off his
spoon. “Why are we using spoons to eat potatoes?”
The next morning,
the youngest princess brought her fountain pen to the breakfast
table. When her older sister wanted to sit down next to her the
youngest princess stopped her. “You can’t sit there, my pen pal is
sitting in that chair.”
The queen leaned
forward to look over the table. “That’s a pen.”
enchanted,” the princess said.
“Of course he
is,” the queen said. She didn’t sound convinced.
princess took her fountain pen around with her everywhere that week.
She introduced the pen to her friends and family as her fiance. The
king and queen weren’t sure what to think.
At the end of the
week, at dinner, the youngest princess turned to her father. “I
still like him. I’d like to get married, just like you promised.”
“You want to
marry your fountain pen?” The king looked over at the pen sitting
on the chair next to his daughter.
the princess said.
“But it’s a pen.
I’m not sure that’s legal,” the queen said.
“I saved the
king,” the youngest princess said. “You promised.”
And so, two months
later, the youngest princess walked down the aisle to meet the
waiting fountain pen sitting on an embroidered pillow in front of the
priest. As the priest started the ceremony, the pen started to glow.
Moments later, a
handsome young man was sitting on the pillow. He was dressed in
old-fashioned, but appropriately fancy clothes. He looked around for
a moment, then grinned and stood. He grabbed the princess’s hands
and they smiled at each other.
The priest had
stopped speaking, and was staring at the young couple. The princess
turned to look at him, still holding her unenchanted fiance’s hands.
“Go on, then. We were just getting started.”
“I guess that
explains why the letters were in her handwriting,” the king
whispered to the queen. “I’m glad I won’t have a pen for a
“Me too,” the
queen whispered back. They all lived happily ever after.
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