Princess Perfect was sulking. Thumb in mouth, she sucked noisily to show the extent of her displeasure, her parents, the King and Queen, were doing their best to ignore her. As she had become masterful in the art of throwing tantrums, they were attempting to become wise in ignoring them. Without much success, I hasten to add.
“Perfect! For goodness sake! Stop making that disgusting noise.” Her mother, the Queen was becoming very annoyed.
“But sweetheart,” cajoled her father, the King, “It was quite a good attempt.”
“No it wasn’t. It was the worst chocolate cake I have ever tasted. I hope you chop off his head!!”
“Chop off his head? That’s a bit unfair!” exclaimed the Queen.
“No it’s not. He promised me a chocolate cake to die for! He didn’t tell me it was dead already. Off with his head, that’s what I say!” Princess Perfect resumed sucking her thumb, with even more slurpy, slushing noises than ever.
The King and Queen were becoming more distraught. Princess Perfect adored chocolate cake, but they were unable to find a chef to make one to her satisfaction. The had even gone so far as to promise her hand in marriage to whosoever could make a chocolate cake to Princess Perfect’s taste. Alas, they remained unsuccessful.
“Waah! waah! I’m so unhappy. My thumb is going all peculiar and it’s all your fault!” wailed the pernickety princess.
“Our fault!” chorused the King and Queen in unison. “We have tried everything to please you.”
“Still haven’t got me a chocolate cake to fit eat! I’ll get thinner and thinner and thinner, and then you’ll be sorry!”
“Enough of your nonsense!” snapped the King. “Go to your turret at once…. and stay there until I tell you otherwise.”
“That child, well! She certainly does not take after me!” muttered the Queen grumpily. “She must be a throwback to one of your ancestors.”
“My ancestors! Have you gone mad? We fought with King Charles against the Roundheads!”
“Sorry, dear. I didn’t mean to insult you. It’s Perfect. She is driving me insane over this chocolate cake business. There must be a solution……”
* * * *
Princess Perfect was sitting at the window of her turret, combing her long, raven black hair. She knew that really she should be doing her homework, but all she could think of was chocolate cake. She was convinced that there must be someone who could bake her perfect cake, and, as the King and Queen had said, she would be happy to marry them, after she had finished all her college work of course. Also, it might have to wait until she had been to university; she hadn’t quite made up her mind about this. It would depend on her school grades.
* * * *
“I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” Shouted the King.
“Got what, my dear?” queried the Queen. “Is it catching?”
“No!…..The answer to our problems of course.”
“But the only problem we have is Perfect, and wha…..”
“Exactly. We have been going about this in the wrong way.”
“I don’t understand,” replied the Queen. “What more could we do?”
“Advertise, my love. Advertise.” chuckled the King, mightily pleased with himself.
“Advertise? But we sent couriers all around the land. Surely every one of our subjects knows the problem by now?”
“Not necessarily. What about all the people working away? And the sailors. Have you considered them?”
“I cannot say that I have, my dear. Are they important?”
“As a symbol, my dear Queen. They travel to other lands…..”
“Now I understand, “ exclaimed the Queen. “You could prepare a declaration and ask the sailors to show it to the foreign people’s. You are clever, my husband.”
“To the royal study, wife. We must busy ourselves immediately with quill and parchment.”
“We will need several drafts,” remarked the Queen. “After all, our fleet sails to many lands!”
“Precisely, my dear. That is why there is not a moment to lose.”
* * * *
Perfect was busying herself tormenting the castle mice. She had coloured yellow her bathroom soap, then shaped it into tiny cheese portions. One poor mouse nibbled hastily on the unexpected treat, only to start frothing at the mouth moments later.
Perfect thought it was hilarious and a temporary distraction to her overwhelming desire for chocolate cake. Little did she know that fate was taking a hand and that her destiny was being decided.
* * * *
The sailing ship limped into harbour, gladly escaping the gales that had threatened to send her to the bottom of the deep ocean. As the gangplank was lowered into place, green-faced sailors rushed to the safety of dry land.
Alphonse sat in the local tavern, rubbing his stomach with satisfaction. The meal they had provided could not be called excellent, but it was satisfying, and a pleasant change from eating his own cooking.
“I see you have travelled far,” remarked the serving wench. “Was it a good voyage?”
“Hardly, my fair maid. But I am hoping that it was not in vain.”
“Are you here on important business?” she asked.
“Yes indeed. I am going to marry the Princess Perfect,” Alphonse replied.
“Princess Perfect. The one who has the great need for chocolate cake.”
“You are joking, of course,” laughing the serving wench. Men have been here from all over the country trying to please that little madam. Some are still languishing in the castle dungeon.”
“That will not happen to me. You see….., “Alphonse lowered his voice and carefully looked around. “I have the most unusual recipe for chocolate cake.”
“Then I wish you well, sailor. And may you succeed where others have failed.”
The King and Queen were amazed. There were seventeen chefs in the palace, all busy baking, and the smell of chocolate hung heavy on the stale castle air.
“I do hope that Perfect likes one of them,” said the Queen worriedly. “The expense has been shocking.”
“Dear Queen. Do not worry so. Even our Princess has to find one that suits her taste,” reassured the King.
“I wish we had not named her ‘Perfect’,” said the Queen, crossly. “At times, I’m sure she is trying to prove that she is perfect.”
“Oh, wife. Do not make me laugh so. Our darling daughter is anything but!”
* * * *
The object of all this scurriment was sitting, cross-legged, plaiting her hair. Perfect was certain that none of these foreigners could cook a chocolate cake to her liking, but secretly, she was enjoying all the fuss. It made her feel important.
* * * *
“Perfect, Perfect, where are you, dear?” called the Queen. “Do hurry and come down to the great hall……. All the chocolate cakes are ready for tasting now,” she added mischievously.
Thud, thud, thud. Princess Perfect pounded down the stone steps, two at a time. Chocolate cakes by the dozen. Her mouth watered at the thought.
The King was sat upon his great throne, and the Queen was sitting by his side. Perfect took her place in the velvet princess’s chair. “I’m ready, father,” she said, casting a beaming smile to her doting parents.
“Then let tasting begin,” commanded the King.
* * * *
“Yuk! Yuk and double Yuk. This is horrible!” said Princess Perfect, spitting out the remains of a dubious, pink cake. “It didn’t taste like chocolate at all!”
“There is only one left to try, “whispered the Queen to her husband, the King.
“Have we had all this upheaval only to be disappointed?”
“Wife. Be quiet. I saved the best ‘til last. What did you think I was doing in the castle kitchen?”
“Husband! Have you tried the cakes?” asked the Queen, horrified in case Princess Perfect should find out.
“Of course I have, my dear,” reassured the King. “And the worst is best.”
“The last one is the worst, my dear wife.”
“Then we are doomed to listen to Perfect’s laments forever!” cried the Queen.
“Not so, my love. Perfect always likes the opposite to us, doesn’t she?”
“Yes indeed. Tiresome child that she is.”
“Then in this case, we have nothing to fear. As I said, the worst is best.”
Princess Perfect rolled the cake around on her tongue. It had a strange, grey tinge, but the taste………It was the best chocolate cake she had ever eaten!”
* * * *
Alphonse sat calmly on the wooden bench. Once he had seen the Princess with his own eyes, he knew she would love his cake. They were alike. Two of a kind in a strange world. He was not to be disappointed!
* * * *
“Are you happy, Perfect?” Alphonse enquired tenderly.
“Very much so, my special chef.”
“Soon to be your special husband, I hope” he asked shyly.
“How can you doubt it, Alphonse. Who else knew that chocolate cake should always have pilchards in?”
“Only one of our kind, my love, he replied, quietly.
Hand in hand, they strolled the castle gardens, and no-one remarked upon the scales on their necks.