A Princess Meredith Bedtime Tale

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there stood a shimmering white castle in a valley by the sea. In this castle lived a beautiful little girl whose name was Princess Meredith. She loved to play in the garden where beautiful flowers grew. Her favorite flowers were the golden buttercups which matched the color of her hair. Because of this, her father, the king, called her his beautiful little Buttercup.
One spring day, she decided to take a ride on her handsome white horse, Dancer, out into the countryside where the flowers in the meadows sparkled with the morning dew. Dancer was a very strong horse, and loved to gallop. He always carried Princess Meredith with the utmost care, and always knew to stay away from the low hanging branches in the trees. Dancer loved Princess Meredith, and she loved him.
Princess Meredith knew exactly where Dancer could get the very best to eat in the meadow. The lush meadow grass was the tenderest down by the creek where the water was cool and babbled over the stones.
So Princess Meredith went to the stable and had the stable boy put Dancer’s saddle on. Princess Meredith was very fond of the beautiful saddle her uncle, Duke Richard, had made for Dancer. With his own hands he had inlaid intricate patterns of gold thread into the shapes of her favorite flowers, and accented them with shining red rubies, bright green emeralds and sparkling diamonds.
The stable boy helped Princess Meredith climb up onto the saddle on Dancer’s back and opened the door of the stable. Princess Meredith urged Dancer on with a slight kick of her heels, and away they went down the cobblestone street toward the gate.
One of Princess Meredith’s favorite things was the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread made by the kindly old baker. He made long loaves of bread, biscuits baked with delicious herbs, cakes with icing, and her favorite of all, warm rolls made with cinnamon and raisins sprinkled on top.
As Dancer carried Princess Meredith down the winding cobblestone street, the baker smiled at her and held up to her a toasty hot cinnamon roll and a cup of cool, fresh milk. Princess Meredith giggled with delight as she took them in her hands, and thanked him with a kiss on the top of his head. The baker patted Dancer on the neck and said “Have a very safe ride today, little princess!” He then gave Dancer a delicious fresh carrot to eat, and with a smile on his ruddy face, waved goodbye.
Princess Meredith rode on out the gate of the castle, and spent the rest of the sunny day with Dancer galloping over the rolling meadows of her father’s estate.
What Princess Meredith did not know was that an evil man had watched her talking with the gentle baker. He had come to the castle to steal from the kindly and honest town folk who lived and worked there. When he saw how everyone loved Princess Meredith, he devised a wicked plan.
He had a broken down wooden cart pulled by his ill-tempered horse, Ripper. Every day, the wicked thief beat Ripper with a big crooked stick, and the horse had become very mean. It would nip at the man whenever he came near. Ripper would bite anyone else who came near, and sometimes would kick at people.
The evil thief stole some flour from out of the baker’s store, filched some raisins from the fruit stand, and took some cinnamon from the spice merchant. He found a pitcher of milk in the window of a poor widow’s home, and stole it even though he knew it was meant for the widow’s five hungry children. Then he broke into the doctor’s house and stole two types of special medicine. If someone ate the white powdery medicine, it made them sleepy. If someone drank the yellow syrupy medicine, it made them forget.
Now, the wicked man was not a baker, and he didn’t know how to cook well, but he did his poor best to make some cinnamon and raisin rolls over his little fire that night.
The next morning, he brought Ripper and his cart over near where the baker was, but farther up the street from where the baker kept his cart of freshly baked warm bread.
The evil man wanted Princess Meredith to come to his cart first, and that is exactly what happened.
She rode out again on her strong horse, Dancer, down the cobblestone street, and was surprised to see a new bread seller approach her with a glass and a roll in his hands. “Sweet princess,” said the thief “I have a lovely treat for you. Please take these and enjoy them, for I love you so.” The thief smelled bad, and his clothes were dirty, but what bothered her most were his shifty eyes. She graciously took what he offered, because that was the kind thing to do, and thanked him for his generosity.
Down by the gate, the kind baker saw the princess taking the roll and cup from a stranger up the street, and suspected he was up to some mischief. “Come on, Sunny” said the baker to his gentle horse, as he unhitched the horse from the cart, “I think we may need to watch out for Princess Meredith. There’s a scoundrel up the street, and I think he’s up to no good.”
The cold cinnamon rolls were burned on the edges and smelled of medicine, but Princess Meredith took a small bite to show her appreciation. She took a sip of milk to wash away the flavor, but not only was it warm and souring, it also had a bad medicine taste. She decided it was best that she leave the shifty eyed man. “Thank you for the treat,” she said to the man, “but it’s time for me to go.” She handed the cup back to the man, and put the roll in her pocket. “Goodbye.”
Princess Meredith kicked her heels and rode Dancer down the street, not looking back. As she went, the evil man unhitched Ripper from the broken down cart, and climbed up onto the mean horse. Ripper tried to nip the man, but the thief hit him on the mouth with the stick he carried. With a snarl, the thief kicked Ripper in the ribs with his spurs, and set off down the cobblestone street to follow the princess.
The gentle baker watched all this from a distance, and once Ripper passed, followed the thief on his own horse, Sunny.
Princess Meredith began to feel very tired, but continued on to the beautiful meadows out beyond the great castle wall. She rode Dancer for a while at a gallop to help her stay awake, but eventually she allowed Dancer to slow down, and she soon fell fast asleep on her horse’s back.
Dancer wandered carefully about looking for some cool water to drink, and finally found his favorite creek down by the willow trees.
That is where the thief found Princess Meredith. He rode up to Dancer. Dancer didn’t like the smell of the thief, and particularly didn’t like Ripper. As the evil man prodded Ripper close to Dancer, Dancer would step away, always keeping a safe distance. The thief became frustrated and tried to push the princess off Dancer with his crooked stick, but Dancer jumped sideways out of the way.
Just then, over a little hill rode the gentle baker. He saw the thief trying to get Princess Meredith, and quickly had Sunny running as fast as his four legs would go. Sunny charged right into Ripper and with a great crash knocked the thief right onto the ground. Staggered from the blow, Ripper limped over to the cool water of the creek to ease the pain in his injured leg. The baker grabbed a rope from his saddlebag, and jumping down to the ground, tied the thief up with a very tight knot. Just then, from behind the willow trees rode a strong, well dressed man with a large sword and shield on a large brown horse. “Hold, I say! What goes on here?” It was the sheriff on his way to the castle. He looked curiously at the two men and at the sleeping princess. Then with a look of recognition he cried out “My word! If it isn’t the very thief I’m looking for. Delbert Dumpbucket! What mischief are you up to?”
The Sheriff got off his horse, and, picking Delbert up, laid him across the saddle on Ripper. Ripper whinnied with delight to see the thief in such trouble. Then the sheriff picked Princess Meredith off the back of Dancer, and climbed upon his own horse holding the sleeping princess in his arms.
“I think the King will like to see his sleeping beauty back safely.” So together, they all rode back to the castle.
Later that evening, Princess Meredith awoke under the warm blankets of her very own bed, and though she couldn’t remember anything from that morning on, was quite content to be so snuggly and safe with her mother and father.
The next day, the Sheriff escorted Delbert Dumpbucket out of the kingdom and told him never to return. And he was never seen again.
Now, the king was so pleased with how the baker had protected his daughter; he made the baker the official Royal Baker, and invited the baker and his family to come live in the castle.
After that, the Royal Baker made warm, soft cinnamon rolls with raisins on top for breakfast every morning for Princess Meredith.
And they all lived happily ever after.

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By Marshall Best

Copyright 2010 Marshall Best
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