Questions for The Princess Who Had a Heart

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This is an extract from our story, The Princess Who Had a Heart. It is one of a series of stories about the mysterious Princess Talia who is at Oxford University. Her best friend Sally in the room next to hers. Listen to the extract and answer the questions.


It was Saturday night. Sally sat in her room trying to decipher a sentence of Ancient Greek written by the historian Thucydides. It went on and on and on, clause after clause, for an entire page. Just this one sentence was ten times worse than the most horrible homework assignment she had ever had to to do at school.

“This is mental torture,” protested Sally to herself, “It’s against my human rights. Only a sadist could write a sentence like that. ”

Music added to her torment. She could hear it playing from at least three different rooms around the quad. Saturday night parties going on. Parties to which she was not invited.

At 9 pm she heard a knock on the door. But it was her neighbour’s door. There were exclamations of “Princess! “ and “You look simply sumptuous darling!” Talia’s new friends had come to collect her for an evening of socialising. Sally thought:

“Not long ago I felt sorry for her because she didn’t have any friends. Now it’s me who is Miss Lonely-locks.”

Sally went to bed, and she dozed fitfully. She heard Princess Talia slip back into her room at some unearthly hour like five in the morning. But even then her neighbour did not sleep. She sat at her harp playing music. The gentle, almost magical notes helped Sally to finally drift off.

In the past, Sally and Talia had enjoyed meeting for cups of tea. Or to be more precise, Sally drank tea from a mug while Talia sipped water. But it had been at least three weeks since they had exchanged more than a passing “hello” – and three weeks was almost half the time they had known each other. Talia was the strangest person that Sally had ever met, and yet for some reason she felt that she had known her all her life and now there was a hole in her life. She missed her odd remarks and strange views. But she thought it was perhaps for the best. After all, Princess Talia was entirely wrapped up in her own selfish concerns, and had little thought for others. It was hardly a solid basis for a friendship.

It was a piece of misfortune that drew them back together. Their tutor, PJ Partridge, called a meeting of all six classics undergraduates. While he was discussing their reading list, Sally’s phone rang. She blushed bright red and fumbled to turn it off. Their tutor, who did not even own a mobile phone, gave her his sternest glance of disapproval. After the meeting, Sally stood in the quad listening to her message. When she had played it, Talia came up to her and said:

“Sally, you look so upset. Have you received bad news?” Sally was surprised that the princess had even noticed her, let alone seen how she was feeling. And yes, it was true. She had received bad news. Her mother had rung to say that her father had been rushed to hospital in an ambulance. In fact Sally was in a state of shock. it was the first time it had occurred to her that her dad might not live forever.

Talia said: “Sally, my car is at your disposal. The driver will take you to the hospital where your father is. “

“But he’s miles away, in Liverpool.” replied Sally.

“Never mind. Take it for as long as you need. I will inform Dr. Patridge what has happened. “ And while she was speaking, she removed a silver chain from around her neck. Its setting clasped a blue-green stone. Talia told Sally that her father must wear the necklace. The stone would change colour to blood red because he was ill. As his condition improved, it would turn first to pink, then gradually back to its former colour. “And what’s more, it will protect him from harm and speed his recovery,” added Talia. “Trust me Sally. No harm can come to the one who wears this stone. It was given to me by my godmother on the day of my christening, and has protected me from great evil. “

Sally was in such a state that she did not question her friend about the stone. She hugged her with thanks, and ran up to her room to pack her bag. Quarter of an hour later she sank into the leather back seat of Talia’s black limousine.


Why did Sally find it hard to concentrate when she was doing her homework?

Why was Sally upset?

Why did Talia offer Sally her car?


  1. “You look simply sumptuous darling!”
    What does sumptuous mean?
    (a) magnificent (b) significant (c) serious (d)sudorific
  2. “Its setting clasped a blue-green stone. “
    What is the other meaning of setting ?
    (a) leaving (b) smiling (c ) turning solid (d) sweeping
  3. “As his condition improved, it would turn first to pink, then gradually back to its former colour.”
    What is another word for former ?
    (a) later (b) previous (c ) contemporary (d)other
  4. “Talia was the strangest person that Sally had X met”
    What is the missing word?
    (a)ever (b) never (c) come (d) become
  5. “It was a piece of misfortune X drew them back together.”
    What is the missing word?
    (a) that (b) than (c) could (d) did


This story is called The Princess who had a Heart. But in the story it says that Princess Talia is entirely wrapped up in her own concerns. Discuss whether or not Princess Talia is considerate, giving examples from the story.

Do you think Sally and Talia were friends or not? Discuss what you think drew them together.

The stone which Talia gave Sally for her father was a magic stone and required trust. Discuss the role of belief and expectations in health care and recovery.