The Princess had been crying for two days now.
Her high pitched wails resounded through the castle, winding through nooks and crannies that even the smallest servant could not fit into (somewhere, the royal mice were blocking their ears and bemoaning this terrible noise).
A chandelier, the day before, had been broken and while this was probably because the castle had been swindled by a pair of moonlighters promising to install it cheaply without a clue as to what they were doing, the rumours persisted that this breakage was down to the Princess’ resonate bawling.
The King and Queen had at first been sympathetic to her plight, knocking tentatively at her door and leaving her dinners outside (which she left, untouched). Now they paced wearily around their chambers. Misery was rife: the kitchen staff had only just threatened to leave, and the Queen did not imagine they would be placated by her gift of cork earplugs and free cabbages for long.
A sob wracked the castle and the King tore a large chunk out of his hair, “Oh, make it stop!”
The Queen, silently and tiredly thought. She had attempted talking to her daughter (suspecting that her misery was partly due to her being banned from attending a party on the grounds that if she could not afford the bus fare, she certainly could not take the Fairy Godmother’s pumpkin coach) but to no avail. Her daughter had not opened the door and only sobbed upon questioning.
“I think,” murmured the Queen, at a loss to a solution, “That we should call the Doctor.”
Doctor Stotts had been in the Princess’ room for quite some time. So long in fact, that some thing of a crowd had formed around the King and Queen, handkerchiefs held nervously to their mouths.
They waited. And waited. And finally, the crying stopped. It did not subside, but came to a halt, as though someone had pressed the off switch.
A reedy, grey man poked back through the door. He cleared his throat, straightened his collar and looked grey and solemn.
The King, Queen and shuffling crowd of house servants held their breath.
“I am afraid,” began Doctor Stotts, his beady eyes wavering nervously beneath his bushy brows, “That the Princess has turned into a cassette player.”
“Somehow, ducks,” piped up the gardener from the back, “I don’t think that’s quite right.”