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Princess Laura and the Unsuitable Dragon Suitors
Chapter 1 - A Knotty Problem in the Woods
In one way, Princess Laura was just like all the other princesses
you read about in fairy stories
She liked pretty new dresses and shiny new
shoes. But in most ways Princess Laura was very different to the silly
princesses you read about in other stories.
When other princesses got a new pair of shiny black shoes with diamond
encrusted gold buckles, they would probably spend all day indoors gazing at
their reflection in the shoes and showing their maids how glittery they were.
Not Princess Laura. She didn't care about gold and diamonds. She thought
the best way to test new shoes was to find a muddy puddle and splash right in.
If her feet stayed dry the shoes had passed the first test. Her second test for
new shoes was to run to the woods at the end of the palace gardens and climb a
tree. If the shoes were comfortable and didn't fall off or fall apart they would
join the pile of all her other shoes in the princess royal shoe rack. But no
matter how hard her maid tried to clean and polish them afterwards, they would
never be so shiny again.
Princesses in other stories like to stay inside combing their hair all day,
looking in mirrors and kissing frogs. Princess Laura liked playing outside,
going for long walks alone in the woods. By the end of the day her hair would be
all tangled with leaves from climbing trees. Her pockets would be full of worms
and soil for making worm custard or stuffed full of interesting beetles and dead
butterflies which she liked to study at home in the palace. But she never
kissed any frogs.
"Kissing frogs is silly" she said. She did once kiss a frog when
she was four. That's how she knew those fairy tales about frogs turning into
handsome princes were only make believe.
You may be surprised to learn that just like other princesses, Laura was
scared of spiders. But only big ones. If she saw a spider in her bedroom then
she ran out and called for the butler to come and catch it and put it out in
the garden. It was no use calling the maid. She was scared of spiders too. If
the butler couldn't catch it, then Laura wouldn't go to sleep in that room.
Luckily, as a princess, she had lots of other bedrooms. She would only move back
into the original bedroom if the butler could prove he had caught it, by showing
it to her in a glass jar before throwing it out. But she insisted it had to be
alive and healthy with all eight legs still attached. And it had to look like
the spider she had seen. Once the butler had tried to trick her by showing her a
substitute. She didn't agree with harming any living creatures and so became a
vegetarian although she did eat fish.
One day when Laura was six, she was deep in the woods by an old pond where
she was watching insects and squiggly things in the water. When she put her
fingers in the water she liked to see how quickly they all swam away. She had
cupped her hands together and scooped out some larvae to study more closely when
she suddenly heard a loud crashing and thrashing of leaves and bushes like the
sound of an animal being caught in a trap. She often rescued rabbits and deer
from the hunters' snares. But this sounded bigger. Carefully putting the watery
creatures back into the pond, she wiped her hands on her new dress and set off
There definitely was a large creature trapped in a really thick and thorny
clump of bushes. But the undergrowth was too tangled for Laura to see what it
was without getting closer. She tried to creep quietly but her dress got caught
and made a ripping sound.
"Whoops!" she thought. It had been new that morning.
Hush! The sound of the thrashing leaves stopped. Laura held her breath to
keep utterly quiet, like she did when she was playing hide and seek and she was
in the wardrobe with the seeker on the other side of the door. She waited,
counting in her head. When she reached twenty, the struggling noises resumed,
so she was able to start breathing again. There was a lot of scratching and
hissing coming from the bushes but she still couldn't see clearly because it was
a bit misty over there.
"Oh bother!" said a squeaky voice which came from the middle of
the tangle. "Bother! Bother! Bother!" There was a whooshing sound and
a great cloud of steam. Laura realised this wasn't a rabbit or a deer. They
don't talk and they don't breathe steam. She thought it must be a traveller or
someone having a picnic in the woods, boiling up some water for a cup of tea.
She started moving again and was just about to call out and say "Hello!"
when she saw a swishing tail with a spiky bit on the end. It wasn't a person at
all. It was a dragon!
At that point she tripped over and rolled down the slope towards the mist.
"Who's there?" hissed the dragon.
Now you or I might be very scared at this point, but Laura wasn't scared of
anything. She stood right up and could now see clearly that a baby dragon (as
big as a horse) had got caught in a rope net which the royal hunters used to
catch dangerous animals. The dragon had got three claws caught in a knot and was
lying on its side. As it wriggled to try and get free, it was getting even more
tied up and hot and bothered.
"My name is Princess Laura" said Laura, standing up to get a
"Go away" said the dragon crossly."
"You look stuck" said Laura in a calm matter of fact voice. She
hadn't seen a dragon before, except in books, and was quite interested to see
more. It had three little green horns growing out the top of its head, pointy
ears and a red spot on its nose. And it was breathing out steam not fire.
"I was stuck" replied the dragon "but I'll be free in a
minute, and if you don't go away I'll fry you to a crisp and eat you for my
At this, the dragon scratched at the netting with its one remaining free
claw, and then that got stuck too. It rolled over on its back and lashed at the
ropes with its tail. Then that got tangled too.
"I don't think so" said Laura. "If you really could breathe
fire you would have burned through the ropes by now and would be free. Instead,
you breathing steam on the knots only makes them get wet and tighter."
The dragon thought she had made a good point there. He was now totally tied
in a ball. But he still tried to look fierce and hissed some more steam. Then,
from far away, came the sound of horns and hounds.
"It's the hunt" said Laura. "It sounds like they'll be here
"They've been chasing me for hours" said the dragon. I managed to
fly away from them, but this net was stuck to my foot, so I stopped for a bit to
tear it off. But as you can see, I just made it worse. I can't fly now. I can't
even stand up."
The hunt sounded closer now, and Laura could hear the sound of men
shouting, mixed up with hounds barking. Laura knew what she had to do...
the end of this sample. The complete ebook was published in May 2023. The
paperback will be in June, and an audiobook in time for Christmas..
it first on Amazon kindle, (other outlets will have it by the end of May
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