As we hope you have realised, Bertie is Back as a Prince, and this is the first story since he returned to his human form. The Wicked Queen has been banished to the pond where she lives as a frog.
But poor Bertie isn’t really feeling himself. His “lost” mood leads him to ponder about his own True Mother – who was the Queen before the wicked one. He learns that she is remembered for her magic pancake recipe which she used to put into action every Shrove Tuesday.
We hope you will find this story funny, and perhaps even a little touching.
Story by Bertie.
Read by Natasha.
Bertie’s Magic Pancakes -
Hello, this is Natasha and I am here with the latest story from the palace where Prince Bertie lives. Well, I do hope you all caught the Royal news around Christmas – because it wasn’t just big, it was massive. Just in case you were away on Mars, or you decided to meditate for the whole of the festive season, I’d better tell you :
Bertie Turned Back into a Prince!
Such a big turning point in the life of Bertie got us pondering.
When we started Storynory, you were all about eight years younger. Some of you weren’t even born. I know for a fact that one or two of you were minus four years old. That’s incredible when you think about it. Our stories have sort of grown up with you. People who’ve not been born yet are probably not that good at long words, which is why we used to try and keep them short. But now Bertie is a prince again, he is in the mood to use a really long word with lots of sounds in it. So brace yourselves. It’s –
Which is all about turning into something completely different. Can you imagine what it feels like to be a happy caterpillar one day and a fluttery butterfly the next? Or a silly tadpole who wakes up as a frog? Or a lava who grows up to be a fly?
Metamorphosis sounds like it might be fun, but Bertie can tell you from first hand experience that it isn’t at all. He says that being turned into a frog was the most traumatic thing that ever happened to him. And the second most scary thing, was metamorphosing back into a prince. Yes, I thought you might be surprised to hear that.
It wasn’t just that his voice was still croaky and he felt like crouching down and then hopping up again. Something pretty strange was going on inside him. Once he was human again he had – and this is another big term:
An Identity Crisis.
Which is even worse than a crisis like when you forget to do your homework.
It meant that he couldn’t sort of, well, find himself. He wandered through the corridors of the palace thinking: “Who am I? I used to be Young Prince Bertie, everyone loved me, except the wicked queen of course, then I was a frog, and now I’m – well I just don’t feel like I’m me anymore.”
The Lovely Princess Beatrice was upset because he couldn’t explain how he felt to her. She wondered if they had grown apart all those years while he was amphibious – which means, by the way, being almost as happy staying under water as you are when you are up on land and breathing air.
The palace didn’t feel quite like his proper home anymore. One thing that he really didn’t like was the picture of the Wicked Queen that still hung in the breakfast room. He asked the King to take it down. The king reproved Bertie quite sternly:
“She might have become a frog, but she’s still my wife. I would have thought that you, of all people Bertie, would appreciate that.”
Bertie saw that his father had been badly affected by the dramatic events over Christmas. It was all a bit strange seeing his wife drink her own magic poison by mistake and turn into frog.
And as for Beatrice, she kept gazing at Bertie with her lovely eyes, trying to see the prince she once knew and loved so dearly.
While he was in this lost state of mind, Bertie found that he thinking a great deal about his own true mother. She had been the King’s first wife, and had died when he was quite young. Bertie had spent a lot of time with the Royal Nanny and didn’t see as much of his mummy as most people do. But he remembered that she was very kind and that when she went shopping, she always rode in a gold carriage pulled by six white horses. She used to wave a gloved hand out of the window, and sometimes some nice pedestrians would wave back at her, which always made her happy.
As he was thinking about her so much, he went up into the attic of the palace and found his mother’s portrait. He lifted off the white sheet that was covering it, and there she was : a few years younger than when he had known her, and very beautiful. She had the same nose and eyes as Bertie. He suddenly felt full of tender love for her.
“Mother,” he said to himself, “You were good and dutiful. You weren’t the sort of queen who dabbled in dangerous magic. You were old fashioned and principled.”
While he was up there, he also found an old shoe box on which was marked :
“To Dearest Bertie with love from Queen Mummy on your 8th Birthday.”
Bertie opened it eagerly, expecting to find a birthday present from years ago – perhaps a plastic robot that transformed into a car. But instead he found an old VHS tape – a video from the days before films that you can download – from even before the era of DVDs. It was probably a movie. Maybe it was the one about the pirates that he recalled liking. He put it back in the box.
He took his findings downstairs. He dusted off the picture, and hung it in his room so that his mother’s face was the first thing he saw in the morning. She helped him to remember who he really was.
He thought to himself : “If mother was alive, how would she want me to use my power now that I am a grown up Prince? ” And then, he thought, “I know, she would want me to pass a law against Magic. That’s what’s been so rotten in this kingdom. The Wicked Queen set the worst possible example by making evil magic spells.”
Suddenly he was full of purpose. He sprung up and strode over to see the King in his office. He found him sitting at his desk cruising the internet.
“Father,” he said: “A lot of unsavoury things have happened around this Kingdom. People have been turned into frogs, swords have been dipped in magic potion, a wicked witch has been stirring up no end of trouble in her cauldron. Enough is a enough. We must pass a law against magic.”
The king’s mood was still apathetic – which means he couldn’t be bothered about anything much – and he said, “Yes, yes, do whatever you think is for the best Bertie.”
“Great, thanks Papa.”
In fact, Bertie thought that banning magic was simply the best idea he had ever had. He rang the bell for the Prime Minister, who came running round to the King’s office right away. Bertie told him:
“I command you, by the power invested in me by the King, who doesn’t really care what I do these days, to make a law banning magic.”
The Prime Minister hated the Wicked Queen and all her witchery and he considered that Bertie’s idea was spot on. He ordered Parliament to meet up the following day and vote for the law. And to make sure that nobody was sneakily doing any spells on the side, he bought 100 black coloured vans that were equipped with special radar for detecting magic.
Now you may be wondering if Bertie had forgotten his old friends down on the pond. Of course how could he forget a carp as grumpy as Colin, or a swan as regal as Sadie, or a tadpole as silly as Tim? But somehow he didn’t want to see them for the time-being. He needed to feel happy in his human self first.
Nor did the pond-life forget Bertie. In fact, Colin the Carp was swimming around, curling his lips, goggling his eyes, and telling anyone who would listen:
“I never thought I would say these words, but can we bring back Bertie please?”
You see, now that that Prince Boris and the Wicked Queen had accidentally turned themselves into frogs, they had no choice but to live on the pond. It was either that or the bathroom – and who would want to live in a bath when the weather is nice outside?
Boris was sulking, but the Wicked Queen was doing her best to straighten things out around the pond. The first thing she did was to cast a spell to clean up all the green slime, and that really annoyed the pond-life who liked eating it. Then she put Sadie’s beak out of joint by telling her to curtsy when she swam near her. And she told the tadpoles they must spend less time chasing their tails, and more time doing their homework. Meanwhile, she herself had to learn to catch flies with her tongue, and when Colin laughed at failed attempts, she threatened to turn him into a person, which was the last thing he wanted. Everyone was afraid of her, because they weren’t quite sure how much of her magic power she could still use as a frog.
In short, Bertie and his stories, and even his bad jokes, were well missed.
“Of course, ” added Colin, “Now he’s swanning around as Prince, eating chocolate cake, staying in luxury palaces, and gazing into the eyes of his lovely princess Beatrice, why should he give a thought to us? We’re beneath him, that’s the problem. In a word, we’re pond-life.”
In fact, Bertie had forgotten that his favourite food was chocolate cake. Now he actually enjoyed eating spinach because it reminded him of slime. He liked raisins too, because they looked like flies, only they tasted sweeter.
“Oh Bertie,” said Princess Beatrice as they ate lunch together, “how you’ve changed!”
“For the better I hope,” said Bertie picking spinach from between his teeth, while Beatrice cast her eyes down at the table.
At little later, the Palace cook knocked on the door and came into the little side room where they were sitting and eating. “Excuse me sir,” she said with a curtsey, “Seeing as you are now a prince again, I was wondering if you would like to cook pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.”
“Er, why would I want to do that?” asked Bertie. He knew of course that Shrove Tuesday was pancake day, but surely the cook knew how to make pancakes?
“It used to be a tradition,” explained the cook. “Your mother used to come into the kitchen and cook pancakes for everyone in the palace. We in the kitchen thought it would be lovely if you could take it up again, sir.”
Bertie glanced at Beatrice, hoping that she would offer to help, but she just smiled, because she wanted to see Bertie trying to toss a pancake in the frying pan.
“Well if you show me how… Can I have a little practice?” asked Bertie.
And so they went into the kitchens. The cook demonstrated to Bertie how to mix perfect pancake batter and how to grease the frying pan, but as everyone knows the hardest part of making pancakes is flipping them. Beatrice said he should scoop them up with a spatula, but the cook said:
“Oh no sir, your mother used to toss them with a flick of her wrist. And when the pancake was ready, she would give it another toss and they would fly onto the plate. In fact, if she wanted to, she could make a pancake shoot all over the palace. We loved it when she did that sir. How we all used to laugh. She had a lovely sense of humour did your mother, the late queen sir.”
“Did she?” asked Bertie, who only remembered her as being sweet but quite serious.
“Oh yes sir, she was a hoot. We all say you take after her sir.”
Bertie was genuinely surprised by this information. Beatrice, who was not quite so surprised, asked a more pertinent question.
“That’s fascinating,” she said. “And how did she make the pancakes fly around the palace?”
“I believe she used magic, your highness,” said the cook. Beatrice raised an eyebrow, because she knew that Bertie hated magic. In her mind she counted to the three and right on cue, Bertie exploded.
“Don’t talk such nonsense. You’re making it all up. Don’t I know my own mother’s character? She hated magic, and she never did anything silly in her whole life. She was a sensible queen. And I think this whole pancake malarky is something you made up to mock me. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re in the pay of the Wicked Queen.”
And he strutted out of the kitchen. The poor cook was trembling, but Beatrice said soothingly, “Don’t worry, his bark is worse than his bite. He’s just a bit uptight at the moment. I expect he will apologise later and bring you flowers. If he doesn’t, I’ll give him what for.”
The princess gave Bertie half and hour to calm down before going to find him in his room. She discovered him strumming his guitar, which he always found soothing. Beatrice stroked his hair and told him that he had been a bit silly and had really shocked the cook.
“I know,” said Bertie, “I’d better pick some flowers for her. But do you really think that what she said about my mother was true?”
“I don’t think she would lie,” said Beatrice, “And I expect your mum was always sensible around you to set a good example.”
She got up to look at the portrait of the Queen. “She certainly looks like you.” Then she noticed the box with the message for his eighth birthday on it. “What’s this?” she asked.
“Just some old video,” said Bertie. “I can’t play it.”
“Well I can,” replied Beatrice, “I’ve got a VCR player to re-watch my favourite TV programmes from years ago. Let’s go to my room and see what’s on it.”
And so they did. Beatrice slotted the tape into the clunky old video player and pressed play. They wanted to see if Bertie had watched the same programmes as she had when he was eight, but it wasn’t all all what they expected – because the television screen filled up with the image of Bertie’s mother.
“Surprise surprise!” said the queen in a sparkly fun-loving voice. “And a very happy Birthday to my darling Bertie. Now you are eight I wanted to show you something a bit special. I thought you might like to learn a few magic spells that are fun and easy to do.”
I don’t know if you’ve seen the programme, Blue Peter – it’s a big part of British TV. The Queen’s homemade video was a bit like an episode from that long running series. She demonstrated all sorts of recipes for magic spells – searching for ingredients in the garden, plucking special plants, mixing things up in bowls, using other things that you might normally throw away – and sticking them together in surprising ways:
“You should get a grown-up to help you with this,” she said as opened the oven.” And then: “And here’s one I made earlier, to save time.”
Bertie and Beatrice watched with fascination, and Beatrice wrote down notes in her pocket book. The centerpiece of the show was the Queen’s recipe for magic pancake batter – and the camera followed her down into the palace kitchens to show her at work. It was true, the Queen’s pancakes flew all over the place, and everyone in the Kitchen was having a great time. She even made one pancake that went into the bowl of the Spero the palace dog.
“I’m completely sure I have never seen this video,” said Bertie quite puzzled. And then he remembered. His mother had died before his eighth birthday. That was why he had never received the present that she had made specially for him. He wiped a tear away from his eye, and Beatrice said: “There there.”
But now, of course, Bertie really saw the point of making magic pancakes for the whole palace – and he was desperate to give it a go. No one was more delighted than the cook by this news, and Bertie gave her is best and most groveling apology, as well as a huge bunch of flowers.
On Shrove Tuesday he was working hard in the Kitchen and had magic pancakes flying all over the palace Even the king cheered up when one dropped onto his plate. He went another flying into the face of his annoying brother Harry – just for a joke. There were heaps of pancakes for everyone who lived and worked in the palace or studied at the palace school. It was the best Shrove Tuesday for years, and everyone was in a terrific mood. But then, a boy came into the Kitchen and said,
“Your highness. Sorry to interrupt. The police are here. They would like to speak to you.”
Bertie took a plate pancakes with him for the police officers but fortunately he did not make not make them fly. The inspector showed him a card and said that they were a unit of the “Magic Detection Squad.”
“Oh I see,” said Bertie. And he thought, “Uh, oh, this is embarrassing. Now I’m for it. What will the papers say? I’m the prince who banned magic, and I’ve been caught red handed doing it.”
But fortunately he did not blurt out a confession, because the inspector went on:
“Our detector van has picked up magic signals in palace grounds. Somewhere in the region of the pond.”
And Bertie said: “Well we had better go and see then.”
The inspector had a hand-held magic detector that looked a bit like a radar gun that they use for speed traps on the roads. He pointed it at the pond, and as they walked down the garden path, it started to bleep frantically.
“It appears to be something in the water,” he said when they were standing right on the edge of the pond.
“Well I suggest that you arrest that frog,” said Bertie. He had spotted a rather evil looking amphibian sitting on a lily leaf.
“It’s hard to say if that’s the culprit,” said the inspector. “We should probably take all the pond-life in for questioning.”
“Really?” said Bertie, trying to imagine what Colin the Carp would say about that. In fact, Colin the Carp was under the water commenting:
“Really, these cops are completely clueless.”
“Just my little joke, sir,” said the officer. “We don’t actually arrest animals.”
“Oh right,” said Bertie, “of course not.”
“I expect the detector is playing up. It’s all very new – this technology. But if you see anything suspicious, do let us know.”
“I promise I will Officer,” said Bertie, who thought that the policeman probably did not believe in magic, but was only doing his job.
And so Bertie went back to the palace, relieved not to have been caught breaking his own law. Beatrice was waiting for him on the steps and she gave him an extra special hug because for the first time since he had become a prince again, she had seen him acting like his old self, and he had made everyone happy.
“I would so love to have met your mother,” said said. “Because she was obviously very much like you.”
And Bertie felt at last that he had found himself.
And that was the story of Bertie and the Magic Pancakes.
There will of course be more Bertie stories on Storynory.com. Now he’s a prince again, there are all sorts of possibilities, and of course we need to see what developments there will be on the pond where the Wicked Queen lives.
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For now, from me, Natasha !