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Once upon a time, in a far off land, there lived a king and queen who thought of nothing but having fun. The Queen was one of three sisters whom she never saw after she met the King. But soon she had a baby, so the Queen was happy and forgot all about her sisters. The new baby girl, whose name was Alysoun, wasn’t all the things you usually hear about princesses; she grew into a pleasant, ordinary little girl who enjoyed the things most children do, like playing games and listening to stories. She was extraordinarily ordinary… except for one or two very special things.
The King and Queen, the Princess and a few other people lived in a palace that was on wheels. When The Palace was parked somewhere nice, the Princess would play all day long outside it, smelling the pleasant scent of grass that wafted from inside. She would often go hungry, though, when the King, the Queen and the others got the munchies and left The Palace larder empty. Or, like in another fairy story, the heroine Queen would prick herself on a needle and fall into a swoon. And when the Princess heard the word ‘Whiz!’ the King would just disappear for the day. All this swooning and disappearing meant that the Princess was left alone for hour after hour, which made her very unhappy. She didn’t know there were any special things about her.
One day, the little Princess sat alone on a rickety old chair outside The Palace crying because her Tamagotchi virtual pet, which was a toy they had in olden times, had died. Suddenly, an Old Woman with twinkling brown eyes appeared with a little ginger dog at her feet.
– Bet you can’t guess who I am! chuckled the Old Lady.
– I’m not supposed to talk to strangers, said the sad little Princess.
– Why, I’m no stranger, ducks! said the Old Woman, – I’ll tell you three things. First, I’m your Granny Lala.
Princess Alysoun sat up, surprised.
– Second, they call you Alysoun but that’s not your real name. And third, I’ve come to hear you tell me a story.
– You want me to tell you a story? And if my real name’s not Alysoun, what is it?
Granny Lala, sat next to Alysoun with her little ginger dog at her side and said–
– I’ll call you Lyss for short. And when we know each other better, we’ll talk about your real name. Shift up and dry your eyes, Lyss. Now, are you sitting comfortably?
Little Lyss nodded.
– Then you can begin. Start with ‘Once upon a time… ’
Lyss only knew about The Palace, so she began telling Granny Lala all about it, the names and whens and wheres. It was a good feeling, telling Granny Lala everything she knew and, before long, Granny Lala had Lyss safe and sound as a silver coin in the palm of her hand.
Sometime later, no-one knew when, but soon as they noticed the little Princess wasn’t around, the King and Queen and their mates searched high… But, of course, they didn’t find her. Then someone saw a note stuck to the rickety old chair. It said:
“Come after me and the child – and I’ll tell Old Bill. Yours truly, Lala.”
The King and Queen knew the name Lala and also that she meant what she said. They started up the engine PDQ and raced The Palace a hundred miles away. Not long after they got there they’d smoked all the grass and run out of Whiz. So the Queen stopped pricking herself and had another baby. And they forgot all about… What’s’ername.