X

Beatrice and the Un-Golden Fish

00.00.00 00.00.00 loading
ungolden fish

Read by Natasha
Written by Bertie
Illustration from Adobe Stock

With a little inspiration from the fairy tale The Golden Fish and from The Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson -see end of Text for the Quote from the poem.

This story takes us back to the time when Beatrice was just fifteen years old, and it’s about how she met a grumpy fish called Colin the Carp.

She came across Colin before she met Prince Bertie. Even then, she knew Bertie’s name of course, because who hasn’t heard of the Prince and his antics?

For example, Princess Beatrice listened to an interview with Bertie on Mo Slogan’s podcast. Bertie was talking about the time he set out to ride his mountain bike to the top of Mount Everest, and how he was intending to free-wheel down the other side without pedalling until he reached the Ocean. Mo asked him, [Mo Slogan is Joe Rogan and sounds very much like he’s smoked a lot of weed]

“And did you succeed?”

And Bertie replied,

“No, unfortunately I had to give up after I received a puncture in Kathmandu.”

To tell you the truth, Beatrice thought Bertie sounded like quite a silly sort of prince. Perhaps he wasn’t the most silly prince in the world, but maybe he was number three after a couple of others we won’t mention.

She really didn’t give Bertie or any prince much thought. Her main interest in life has always been animals and nature, including of course aquatic life. That’s a fancy way of saying things that live in the water. She’s always explaining to people that Great White Sharks aren't evil, and when they eat people, they are just following their instincts.

“After all,” she once said, “Some people eat fish and chips. Are they evil?”

“I’ll say they are,” said the Wicked Queen who happened to be listening. “That fish and Chip shop opposite the palace is a disgrace!”

You see, the Wicked Queen detested the fish and chip shop that had opened 50 metres from the front gate of the palace. She thought it lowered the tone of the neighbourhood, and she didn’t like seeing all the unwashed plebs hanging around on the street, waiting for their fish to fry on Friday night.

In fact, shortly after that, the Fish and Chip shop received a visit from the Royal Health Inspector and had to close because they put too much salt on the chips.

The next morning, the queen was signing

You shan’t have a fishy on a little dishy
You shan’t have a fishy when the boat comes in

[Tune to When the Boat Comes in
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oPZt2MbQyg]

But Beatrice took little notice of her mother’s vendetta against the shop. She did not eat fish because she was vegan, and although she liked chips the oil gave her spots, so she didn’t eat them either. Little did she know that the closing of the fish and chip shop was to change the entire course of her young life.

Every morning, Beatrice went for a walk in the Deer Park behind the palace. She loved looking at the deer, as well as the rabbits, the birds, and a few sheep that lived there. Her route took her past a pond under a willow tree. Some swans had a nest on a pile of reads, and sometimes they hissed at her. She carefully skirted round them, and went to the other end of the pond where there was a bench. She sat down and gazed into the water, as she liked to do often. Sometimes she might catch a glimpse of some fishy shapes under the water, and occasionally you might hear a big splash and see glimmering back wriggling, or even an entire golden carp might leap out and catch a fly in its mouth. On this particular day, the fish were in a friendly mood. First one of them popped his blond head out of the water and opened and closed his round mouth as if he was talking, but of course he made no sound, because fish can’t talk, can they? Beatrice clapped her hands in delight: “Oh you’re so funny!” she exclaimed, “You’re whispering sweet nothings to me!” And then another fish joined in doing the same thing. Soon they dived back into the pond, but it wasn’t long before Beatrice saw at least three golden fish swimming around.

“Fish are so beautiful,” Beatrice said to herself. “I don’t understand how Princess Jordan can be Pescitarian,” which means somebody who eats fish.

For a while the surface of the pond was quite still. Beatrice felt especially calm looking at the lilly pads. After a while, another swam past where she was sitting. She had seen him before. He was a big carp, like the others, only his skin wasn’t golden it was - well it was sort of mud coloured. He swam around in a circle, and then he poked his head about the water and looked at her with his mouth open.

“Do you know who you remind me of?” she asked,and she was sure that the fish understood her words and shook his head in reply. “Well,” she said, “you remind me of me.”

“How come?” asked the fish. “You’re really beautiful and I’m really ugly.”

Beatrice heard the fish’s voice, but she didn’t quite believe that it was the fish who was speaking. It seemed to her that somebody must have come up behind her. So she giggled just a little, and finished her thought.

“I look at you, and you aren’t golden and shiny like the other fish. You are sort of duller, and yes, and perhaps most people wouldn’t notice you. That’s how I feel. My stepmother won’t let me buy the clothes I want, or let me do my hair how I want, and she doesn’t allow me to go to balls and parties like other princesses. And besides, I’m rather shy, just like a fish. So despite the fact that I’m a princess, nobody really notices me.”

“Well you poor little princess,” said the fish. “But at least you don’t have my problems.”

Now this was odd. The fish’s mouth moved when he spoke, and it was just like the words came from him. But of course it had to be some person playing a joke on her, didn’t it? Beatrice looked around. The only human being in sight was a dog walker, and he was far away.

“Are you a trick fish?” she asked, “Like some sort of projection. I know, you must be a hologram!”

“A hologram?” asked the fish. “What makes you think that I’m a hologram? I’m a whole me, I am. Or at least for now. Last night some kids came along and they are threatening to take my life away, they are.”

“You mean they want to murder you?” exclaimed Beatrice standing up. “They mustn’t! That’s frightful! We need to preserve aquatic life! Not take it away.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” said the fish. “But these kids say that I shouldn’t be allowed to live in this pond because my skin’s not golden coloured. And one of them said that she would like to throw me on the rubbish heap. And then another said: “Don’t do that. I know how we can make him golden. Let’s catch him and deep fry him in batter and eat him with chips.” And another said, “That’s a great idea. Tomorrow’s Friday, which used to be fish and chip night, until the Wicked Queen closed down the chip shop.” And then the first one said “yeah, I’ve got a net at home, we’ll come and get him tomorrow.” So your highness, you are looking at a doomed fish. Tonight I shall be fried in batter, sprinkled with salt and cheap vinegar, and served up with oily chips.”

“Oh no, you won’t. I won’t let that happen!”

“How are you going to stop them?”

“I’m going to rescue you, that’s what I’m going to do,” said Beatrice. “Don’t go away. I’m coming back to fetch you.”

Beatrice was already running back to the palace when the fish said: “Go away? What’s she on about? Does she think I’ve got legs?”

Beatrice soon returned with a couple of palace servants who were carrying a bathtub full of cold water. They put it down beside the pond and she called out:

“Oh fish! Oh fishy with the mud coloured scales. Show me how you can jump into this lovely bath tub. I’m going to keep you safe until I can find you a new home.”

At first nothing happened. The pond was as calm as an ice cream soda.

“Oh fishy. Don’t be embarrassed just because you’re not golden,” said Beatrice. “We don’t judge by looks. We love all aquatic creatures, even ugly ones.”

When one of the servants sniggered, Beatrice gave him her fiercest look. And at the very moment that her eyes were turned away from the pond there was a loud splash as a huge mud coloured carp landed smack in the middle of the bath.

“Your Royal Highness,” said the servant. “I’ve been fishing all my life and I never caught a beauty like that.”

“Yes, he is a beauty really,” said Beatrice, and the fish, whose face normally seemed cross and grumpy, smiled.

The servants carried the bathtub back to Beatrice’s room. When they left her alone with the fish, the princess asked:

“Well now, what shall we call you?”

“Colin,” said the fish.

“Why?”

“Because that’s my name, Colin the Carp.”
“Okay, if Colin is your name, then we shall call you Colin. And what do you want for supper?”

“Flies, please,” said Colin. “I like once that are so fat and juicy that they can hardly fly, besides they are easier to catch.”

“Oh dear, but we’re vegan here,” replied Beatrice. “We love all life, even insects.”

“I can’t help wanting to eat flies,” said Colin, “It’s my instinct.”

“Well in that case I shall leave the window open, and look the other way,” said Beatrice, “And later, I’ll take a net down to the pond and fetch some green slime for your supper. You need to eat up your green veggies, you know.”

“Slime is okay,” said the fish, “and weeds.”

Beatrice did as she promised. In fact, she asked the servants to bring buckets of pond water, because it was full of tiny plankton and other nutrients that a growing carp like Colin needed.

That evening in the palace dining room, fish and chips was on the menu, so Beatrice asked for her Butternut Squash Linguine with Fried Sage to be sent up to her room. While she ate, Colin nibbled on his slime.
“I hope you won’t find life in the palace boring,” said Beatrice,“I don’t go out a lot I’m afraid.”

“I was going to ask,” said Colin, “Can you take me to a football match because I’ve never been to one?”

“That might be tricky,” said Beatrice, looking at the bath.

“I wouldn’t want you to go out of your way for me,” said Colin tagically, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. Since you saved me from the frying pan, I can grant you three wishes.”

“What kind of wishes?” asked Beatrice

“Money, power, revenge, the usual things.”

“I don’t want any of those,” said Beatrice, “How about saving the Anatolian Water Frog from extincion? I read in the Guardian that a voracious appetite for frogs’ legs among the French and Belgians is driving species in Indonesia, Turkey and Albania to the brink of extinction. Europe imports about 200 million frogs every year - did you know that? I could hardly believe it when I read it. It’s got to stop. ”

“You want to save frogs legs?” asked Colin, astonished, “Well your wish is my command. That’s done. Frogs legs are forever off the menu in France and Belgium. You still got two more wishes left. My advice is to think of something really selfish. You won’t regret it.”

“Selfish? Oh I couldn’t waste a wish on myself. Now let me see, can you stop the Arctic Ice Extent from melting too much each summer?”

“If you ask me,” said Colin, “That’s another waste of a perfectly good wish, but consider it done. Now listen. You’ve done me a big favour, and I’m going to do you one. You are clearly a princess with a lovely heart. You are caring and compassionate. But you need to look after yourself. If you are confined to the palace, and not allowed to be your true self, what good will that do anyone? You have one wish left. Just this once, wish for something for yourself.”

“If you don’t mind,” said Beatrice, “I’ll save my wish while I sleep on it.”

Beatrice lay awake that night, thinking of all the lovely privileges that most princesses enjoy as a birthright, like pet mice that turn into dappled ponies, pumpkins that become golden carriages, dancing lessons instead of school, cupboards full of freebies, designer clothes, geer and bling, little dogs that fit in handbags, celebrity chefs dropping by to cook dinner, any amount of ethical jewellery, sporty electric cars, Swiss bank cards without any names on them, next generation Phones that aren’t even out yet, invitations to every red carpet event, and rows of international princes all queuing up to marry you in a giant cathedral on a gorgeous day with the crowds cheering and the entire world watching and smiling. Her stepmother, the wicked queen, was never going to allow her to have any of that, because she was too stingy and mean. But now she could have it all. She only had to make one fishy wish. It was so, very tempting. But NO! She wasn’t that sort of selfish princess! She wanted to dedicate her life to biodiversity. But then again, didn’t she deserve just a little happiness? Oh bother, it was so difficult making a decision like this. She was only fifteen years old and it didn’t seem fair to have so much responsibility.

Eventually, she fell asleep, and she had a dream. In this dream, her only true friends in the world were the pondlife, ducks, frogs, tadpoles, and fish. One day, one of the frogs asked her to marry him. In the morning, when she began to wake up, she was still thinking about her fairy tale dream and what it meant. “I think,” she said to herself, “It means that I will find love and friendship in the most unexpected place, like in the bottom of a slimy pond.”

As she ate her piece of toast and Oxford thick cut marmalade with no butter for breakfast, she considered what she should wish for. “I don’t want to be selfish, but I do deserve to be happy. If I can be happy, I can do more good in the world.”

She went back up to her room and opened up the RoyalGram app on her phone. She posted a picture of Colin in his bathtub and asked, “Can anyone find a good home for this handsome carp?”

Soon the replies started to fly in

Ping! (FX) Princess Meredeth. “You seem to like him so much, why don’t you marry him?”
Ping! Prince Georgy He’d be at home on my plate with chips and mushy peas
Ping! Sultan Ahmed: Beatrice dear, why don’t you stop trying to save the planet for once and go shopping.
Ping! Crown-Prince Alfred: There’s a sudden shortage of frog legs in all the restaurants, why don’t you do something about that instead?

Beatrice thought, “Typical. All the royals are so self-centred and uncaring. There’s not one of them who’s worth a second thought.

And then she turned to Colin and said: “I wish that there was just one other Royal person who cared about aquatic life and could be my friend.”

“If that’s your wish” replied Colin, and almost as soon as he had spoken, Beatrice’s phone went Ping! She almost did not dare to look, because if it was another horrid message, that would mean that Colin had been playing a mean joke on her and his wishes didn’t come true. But eventually she raised her big blue eyes and glanced at the screen. The message read

Prince Bertie: Dear Beatrice, we’ve not met before, but I would be more than delighted to adopt your homeless carp. He is most welcome to join our inclusive community of aquatic life in the pond at the bottom of our garden.”

“Wow!” said Beatrice out loud. “What a nice chap! No wonder other Royal people say mean things about him, like he’s silly, and does stupid things. They don’t like him because he’s NICE and they are all mean.”

And then she turned to Colin and said:

“Would it be okay if I had one more teeny-weeny wish? When I’m old enough, I’d like to marry Prince Bertie.”

“I’m sorry, your royal highness,” said Colin, “I’m only allowed to give you three wishes. I did try to tell you to be more selfish. I can’t make Prince Bertie fall in love with you and ask you to marry him however much I try. Not by magic, at any rate. But when I’m in the pond, if I get a chance, I’ll have a word with him and suggest that he should ask you out on a date.”

“Oh don’t do that,” said Beatrice blushing. “I’d be so embarrassed, I would die. But you know what? If it’s my destiny to marry Prince Bertie, I think it will happen one day, don’t you? In the meantime, it’s good to know that there are other people who care about the world. It gives me hope. I’m going to get on with my own life and do what I can to help all living creatures and nature. One day, maybe, I’ll find some personal happiness too.”

And Colin, who thought the princess was crazy in her wishes, gave her one of his rare smiles. He knew it had been his very good fortune to come across someone who was so unselfish and kind hearted.

And that’s the story

This story takes us back to the time when Beatrice was just fifteen years old, and it’s about how she met a grumpy fish called Colin the Carp.

She came across Colin before she met Prince Bertie. Even then, she knew Bertie’s name of course, because who hasn’t heard of the Prince and his antics?

For example, Princess Beatrice listened to an interview with Bertie on Mo Slogan’s podcast. Bertie was talking about the time he set out to ride his mountain bike to the top of Mount Everest, and how he was intending to free-wheel down the other side without pedalling until he reached the Ocean. Mo asked him, [Mo Slogan is Joe Rogan and sounds very much like he’s smoked a lot of weed]

“And did you succeed?”

And Bertie replied,

“No, unfortunately I had to give up after I received a puncture in Kathmandu.”

To tell you the truth, Beatrice thought Bertie sounded like quite a silly sort of prince. Perhaps he wasn’t the most silly prince in the world, but maybe he was number three after a couple of others we won’t mention.

She really didn’t give Bertie or any prince much thought. Her main interest in life has always been animals and nature, including of course aquatic life. That’s a fancy way of saying things that live in the water. She’s always explaining to people that Great White Sharks aren't evil, and when they eat people, they are just following their instincts.

“After all,” she once said, “Some people eat fish and chips. Are they evil?”

“I’ll say they are,” said the Wicked Queen who happened to be listening. “That fish and Chip shop opposite the palace is a disgrace!”

You see, the Wicked Queen detested the fish and chip shop that had opened 50 metres from the front gate of the palace. She thought it lowered the tone of the neighbourhood, and she didn’t like seeing all the unwashed plebs hanging around on the street, waiting for their fish to fry on Friday night.

In fact, shortly after that, the Fish and Chip shop received a visit from the Royal Health Inspector and had to close because they put too much salt on the chips.

The next morning, the queen was signing

You shan’t have a fishy on a little dishy
You shan’t have a fishy when the boat comes in

[Tune to When the Boat Comes in
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oPZt2MbQyg]

But Beatrice took little notice of her mother’s vendetta against the shop. She did not eat fish because she was vegan, and although she liked chips the oil gave her spots, so she didn’t eat them either. Little did she know that the closing of the fish and chip shop was to change the entire course of her young life.

Every morning, Beatrice went for a walk in the Deer Park behind the palace. She loved looking at the deer, as well as the rabbits, the birds, and a few sheep that lived there. Her route took her past a pond under a willow tree. Some swans had a nest on a pile of reads, and sometimes they hissed at her. She carefully skirted round them, and went to the other end of the pond where there was a bench. She sat down and gazed into the water, as she liked to do often. Sometimes she might catch a glimpse of some fishy shapes under the water, and occasionally you might hear a big splash and see glimmering back wriggling, or even an entire golden carp might leap out and catch a fly in its mouth. On this particular day, the fish were in a friendly mood. First one of them popped his blond head out of the water and opened and closed his round mouth as if he was talking, but of course he made no sound, because fish can’t talk, can they? Beatrice clapped her hands in delight: “Oh you’re so funny!” she exclaimed, “You’re whispering sweet nothings to me!” And then another fish joined in doing the same thing. Soon they dived back into the pond, but it wasn’t long before Beatrice saw at least three golden fish swimming around.

“Fish are so beautiful,” Beatrice said to herself. “I don’t understand how Princess Jordan can be Pescitarian,” which means somebody who eats fish.

For a while the surface of the pond was quite still. Beatrice felt especially calm looking at the lilly pads. After a while, another swam past where she was sitting. She had seen him before. He was a big carp, like the others, only his skin wasn’t golden it was - well it was sort of mud coloured. He swam around in a circle, and then he poked his head about the water and looked at her with his mouth open.

“Do you know who you remind me of?” she asked,and she was sure that the fish understood her words and shook his head in reply. “Well,” she said, “you remind me of me.”

“How come?” asked the fish. “You’re really beautiful and I’m really ugly.”

Beatrice heard the fish’s voice, but she didn’t quite believe that it was the fish who was speaking. It seemed to her that somebody must have come up behind her. So she giggled just a little, and finished her thought.

“I look at you, and you aren’t golden and shiny like the other fish. You are sort of duller, and yes, and perhaps most people wouldn’t notice you. That’s how I feel. My stepmother won’t let me buy the clothes I want, or let me do my hair how I want, and she doesn’t allow me to go to balls and parties like other princesses. And besides, I’m rather shy, just like a fish. So despite the fact that I’m a princess, nobody really notices me.”

“Well you poor little princess,” said the fish. “But at least you don’t have my problems.”

Now this was odd. The fish’s mouth moved when he spoke, and it was just like the words came from him. But of course it had to be some person playing a joke on her, didn’t it? Beatrice looked around. The only human being in sight was a dog walker, and he was far away.

“Are you a trick fish?” she asked, “Like some sort of projection. I know, you must be a hologram!”

“A hologram?” asked the fish. “What makes you think that I’m a hologram? I’m a whole me, I am. Or at least for now. Last night some kids came along and they are threatening to take my life away, they are.”

“You mean they want to murder you?” exclaimed Beatrice standing up. “They mustn’t! That’s frightful! We need to preserve aquatic life! Not take it away.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” said the fish. “But these kids say that I shouldn’t be allowed to live in this pond because my skin’s not golden coloured. And one of them said that she would like to throw me on the rubbish heap. And then another said: “Don’t do that. I know how we can make him golden. Let’s catch him and deep fry him in batter and eat him with chips.” And another said, “That’s a great idea. Tomorrow’s Friday, which used to be fish and chip night, until the Wicked Queen closed down the chip shop.” And then the first one said “yeah, I’ve got a net at home, we’ll come and get him tomorrow.” So your highness, you are looking at a doomed fish. Tonight I shall be fried in batter, sprinkled with salt and cheap vinegar, and served up with oily chips.”

“Oh no, you won’t. I won’t let that happen!”

“How are you going to stop them?”

“I’m going to rescue you, that’s what I’m going to do,” said Beatrice. “Don’t go away. I’m coming back to fetch you.”

Beatrice was already running back to the palace when the fish said: “Go away? What’s she on about? Does she think I’ve got legs?”

Beatrice soon returned with a couple of palace servants who were carrying a bathtub full of cold water. They put it down beside the pond and she called out:

“Oh fish! Oh fishy with the mud coloured scales. Show me how you can jump into this lovely bath tub. I’m going to keep you safe until I can find you a new home.”

At first nothing happened. The pond was as calm as an ice cream soda.

“Oh fishy. Don’t be embarrassed just because you’re not golden,” said Beatrice. “We don’t judge by looks. We love all aquatic creatures, even ugly ones.”

When one of the servants sniggered, Beatrice gave him her fiercest look. And at the very moment that her eyes were turned away from the pond there was a loud splash as a huge mud coloured carp landed smack in the middle of the bath.

“Your Royal Highness,” said the servant. “I’ve been fishing all my life and I never caught a beauty like that.”

“Yes, he is a beauty really,” said Beatrice, and the fish, whose face normally seemed cross and grumpy, smiled.

The servants carried the bathtub back to Beatrice’s room. When they left her alone with the fish, the princess asked:

“Well now, what shall we call you?”

“Colin,” said the fish.

“Why?”

“Because that’s my name, Colin the Carp.”
“Okay, if Colin is your name, then we shall call you Colin. And what do you want for supper?”

“Flies, please,” said Colin. “I like once that are so fat and juicy that they can hardly fly, besides they are easier to catch.”

“Oh dear, but we’re vegan here,” replied Beatrice. “We love all life, even insects.”

“I can’t help wanting to eat flies,” said Colin, “It’s my instinct.”

“Well in that case I shall leave the window open, and look the other way,” said Beatrice, “And later, I’ll take a net down to the pond and fetch some green slime for your supper. You need to eat up your green veggies, you know.”

“Slime is okay,” said the fish, “and weeds.”

Beatrice did as she promised. In fact, she asked the servants to bring buckets of pond water, because it was full of tiny plankton and other nutrients that a growing carp like Colin needed.

That evening in the palace dining room, fish and chips was on the menu, so Beatrice asked for her Butternut Squash Linguine with Fried Sage to be sent up to her room. While she ate, Colin nibbled on his slime.
“I hope you won’t find life in the palace boring,” said Beatrice,“I don’t go out a lot I’m afraid.”

“I was going to ask,” said Colin, “Can you take me to a football match because I’ve never been to one?”

“That might be tricky,” said Beatrice, looking at the bath.

“I wouldn’t want you to go out of your way for me,” said Colin tagically, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. Since you saved me from the frying pan, I can grant you three wishes.”

“What kind of wishes?” asked Beatrice

“Money, power, revenge, the usual things.”

“I don’t want any of those,” said Beatrice, “How about saving the Anatolian Water Frog from extincion? I read in the Guardian that a voracious appetite for frogs’ legs among the French and Belgians is driving species in Indonesia, Turkey and Albania to the brink of extinction. Europe imports about 200 million frogs every year - did you know that? I could hardly believe it when I read it. It’s got to stop. ”

“You want to save frogs legs?” asked Colin, astonished, “Well your wish is my command. That’s done. Frogs legs are forever off the menu in France and Belgium. You still got two more wishes left. My advice is to think of something really selfish. You won’t regret it.”

“Selfish? Oh I couldn’t waste a wish on myself. Now let me see, can you stop the Arctic Ice Extent from melting too much each summer?”

“If you ask me,” said Colin, “That’s another waste of a perfectly good wish, but consider it done. Now listen. You’ve done me a big favour, and I’m going to do you one. You are clearly a princess with a lovely heart. You are caring and compassionate. But you need to look after yourself. If you are confined to the palace, and not allowed to be your true self, what good will that do anyone? You have one wish left. Just this once, wish for something for yourself.”

“If you don’t mind,” said Beatrice, “I’ll save my wish while I sleep on it.”

Beatrice lay awake that night, thinking of all the lovely privileges that most princesses enjoy as a birthright, like pet mice that turn into dappled ponies, pumpkins that become golden carriages, dancing lessons instead of school, cupboards full of freebies, designer clothes, geer and bling, little dogs that fit in handbags, celebrity chefs dropping by to cook dinner, any amount of ethical jewellery, sporty electric cars, Swiss bank cards without any names on them, next generation Phones that aren’t even out yet, invitations to every red carpet event, and rows of international princes all queuing up to marry you in a giant cathedral on a gorgeous day with the crowds cheering and the entire world watching and smiling. Her stepmother, the wicked queen, was never going to allow her to have any of that, because she was too stingy and mean. But now she could have it all. She only had to make one fishy wish. It was so, very tempting. But NO! She wasn’t that sort of selfish princess! She wanted to dedicate her life to biodiversity. But then again, didn’t she deserve just a little happiness? Oh bother, it was so difficult making a decision like this. She was only fifteen years old and it didn’t seem fair to have so much responsibility.

Eventually, she fell asleep, and she had a dream. In this dream, her only true friends in the world were the pondlife, ducks, frogs, tadpoles, and fish. One day, one of the frogs asked her to marry him. In the morning, when she began to wake up, she was still thinking about her fairy tale dream and what it meant. “I think,” she said to herself, “It means that I will find love and friendship in the most unexpected place, like in the bottom of a slimy pond.”

As she ate her piece of toast and Oxford thick cut marmalade with no butter for breakfast, she considered what she should wish for. “I don’t want to be selfish, but I do deserve to be happy. If I can be happy, I can do more good in the world.”

She went back up to her room and opened up the RoyalGram app on her phone. She posted a picture of Colin in his bathtub and asked, “Can anyone find a good home for this handsome carp?”

Soon the replies started to fly in

Ping! (FX) Princess Meredeth. “You seem to like him so much, why don’t you marry him?”
Ping! Prince Georgy He’d be at home on my plate with chips and mushy peas
Ping! Sultan Ahmed: Beatrice dear, why don’t you stop trying to save the planet for once and go shopping.
Ping! Crown-Prince Alfred: There’s a sudden shortage of frog legs in all the restaurants, why don’t you do something about that instead?

Beatrice thought, “Typical. All the royals are so self-centred and uncaring. There’s not one of them who’s worth a second thought.

And then she turned to Colin and said: “I wish that there was just one other Royal person who cared about aquatic life and could be my friend.”

“If that’s your wish” replied Colin, and almost as soon as he had spoken, Beatrice’s phone went Ping! She almost did not dare to look, because if it was another horrid message, that would mean that Colin had been playing a mean joke on her and his wishes didn’t come true. But eventually she raised her big blue eyes and glanced at the screen. The message read

Prince Bertie: Dear Beatrice, we’ve not met before, but I would be more than delighted to adopt your homeless carp. He is most welcome to join our inclusive community of aquatic life in the pond at the bottom of our garden.”

“Wow!” said Beatrice out loud. “What a nice chap! No wonder other Royal people say mean things about him, like he’s silly, and does stupid things. They don’t like him because he’s NICE and they are all mean.”

And then she turned to Colin and said:

“Would it be okay if I had one more teeny-weeny wish? When I’m old enough, I’d like to marry Prince Bertie.”

“I’m sorry, your royal highness,” said Colin, “I’m only allowed to give you three wishes. I did try to tell you to be more selfish. I can’t make Prince Bertie fall in love with you and ask you to marry him however much I try. Not by magic, at any rate. But when I’m in the pond, if I get a chance, I’ll have a word with him and suggest that he should ask you out on a date.”

“Oh don’t do that,” said Beatrice blushing. “I’d be so embarrassed, I would die. But you know what? If it’s my destiny to marry Prince Bertie, I think it will happen one day, don’t you? In the meantime, it’s good to know that there are other people who care about the world. It gives me hope. I’m going to get on with my own life and do what I can to help all living creatures and nature. One day, maybe, I’ll find some personal happiness too.”

And Colin, who thought the princess was crazy in her wishes, gave her one of his rare smiles. He knew it had been his very good fortune to come across someone who was so unselfish and kind hearted.

And that’s the story of Beatrice and the un-golden fish.

From the Idyls of the King by Tennyson:

And last bethought her how she used to watch,
Near that old home, a pool of golden carp;
And one was patched and blurred and lustreless
Among his burnished brethren of the pool;
And half asleep she made comparison
Of that and these to her own faded self
And the gay court, and fell asleep again;
And dreamt herself was such a faded form
Among her burnished sisters of the pool;
But this was in the garden of a king;
And though she lay dark in the pool, she knew
That all was bright; that all about were birds
Of sunny plume in gilded trellis-work;
That all the turf was rich in plots that looked
Each like a garnet or a turkis in it;
And lords and ladies of the high court went
In silver tissue talking things of state;
And children of the King in cloth of gold
Glanced at the doors or gamboled down the walks;
And while she thought “They will not see me,” came
A stately queen whose name was Guinevere,
And all the children in their cloth of gold
Ran to her, crying, “If we have fish at all
Let them be gold; and charge the gardeners now
To pick the faded creature from the pool,
And cast it on the mixen that it die.”