'Pretty, tidy and kind to animals. It wasn't enough.'
What do you think the enchantress will discover makes an excellent princess?
The Enchantress and the Magic Mirror
Once upon a time, in a faraway place, a king and a queen asked a powerful enchantress to be godmother to their baby daughter. The enchantress replied that she would be delighted and promised to help her goddaughter become an excellent princess.
But later, as she was getting ready for bed, the enchantress wondered what she had let herself in for.
‘An excellent princess,’ she mused. ‘What does that actually mean?’
‘It means,’ scolded a maid, as she tugged a brush through the enchantress’s tangled hair, ‘that she must be pretty.’
‘And tidy,’ grumbled another maid, picking up the clothes the enchantress had dropped on the floor.
The enchantress jumped into bed, and landed on the cat, who hissed that excellent princesses – unlike enchantresses – were always kind to animals.
Pretty, tidy and kind to animals.
It wasn’t enough.
Now, in the enchantress’s library, hanging from floor to ceiling between two bookcases, was an ancient magic mirror, gold and engraved, which claimed to know the answer to every question in all the worlds. The enchantress didn’t consult it often, because it was grumpy and full of its own importance, but it occurred to her that it might be able to help. She flung back her blankets and padded down the corridor to the library.
‘What makes a princess excellent?’ she asked.
The mirror was silent. The enchantress sighed.
‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, wisest and best of mirrors all, what makes a princess excellent?’
Still the mirror did not speak.
‘What now?’ cried the enchantress. ‘I asked you properly, didn’t I?’
‘It’s not an easy question,’ said the mirror.
‘But you’re supposed to know everything!’
‘Clean fingernails,’ said the mirror. ‘And being good at lessons.’
The enchantress groaned.
‘Also, manners,’ the mirror added.
The enchantress went back to bed.
All night, the enchantress tossed and turned. She fell asleep just before dawn but woke around teatime with a plan.
‘What we need,’ she told the mirror, ‘is to find out about other princesses. Lots of other princesses.’
‘That is the sort of question it takes a lifetime to answer,’ it informed her. ‘You have one month until your goddaughter’s naming day, and you are very busy. Too busy, if you ask me, which you never do. You’ll just have to do the best you can for the child.’
‘Oh, I intend to.’
The enchantress held out her hands, as if she were trying to frame the mirror between them.
‘What are you doing?’ it asked.
The enchantress smiled.
It happened fast. One moment the grand old mirror was in its rightful place in the enchanted palace. Then the air began to shimmer, and – pfffff! – the library had vanished, replaced by a forest. The mirror had shrunk to the size of a compact, the sort with a clasp that you flick open and that people keep in their pockets or handbags. It was still gold and engraved but – well – it was small.
‘What have you done?’ it cried.
‘Shh,’ whispered the enchantress. ‘A princess is coming.’
‘Make me big again.’
But the enchantress was hanging the mirror from the branch of a tree on a scarlet ribbon.
‘Be my eyes and ears in the universe,’ she whispered. ‘Know all who come across you.’
Follow the link below to listen to all eight short stories and find out what the enchantress discovered!
Story Chair Special
Click on the link below for Mrs Webb's 'Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror' Head Teacher Story Chair Special!