Once upon a time, there was a prince who was very annoying. His servants were always trying to find ways to make the other servants have to go and deal with him.
Ring-Ring-Ring goes his bell, and everyone tries to hide or look busy or tries to busily hide.
One servant, a very clever servant, called Joan, never seemed to make herself scarce in time. She was very smart, and was always trying to invent things, but she was so busy thinking of all kinds of super smart things that when the bell went she didn’t always hear it straight away. By the time the bell rang the second time, she would suddenly realise what was happening, think about hiding, and realise that everyone else had beaten her to it.
One time, when our story starts, Joan walked into the room and the prince was screaming, “What’s taken you so long?”
“Sorry,” she said, “what can I help you with?”
“I want a tree house that I can live in.”
“With one lump or two?” Joan asked automatically, she had assumed he was going to ask for a cup of tea, that’s what he usually asked for at this time of day, but what was he asking for now? A tree house – woweee that sounds like a big thing, but maybe a fun thing to make? Maybe, Joan thought, she would actually enjoy making a tree house for the Prince.
Despite the fact that the Prince was now shouting at her for talking about putting sugar into his treehouse, Joan wasn’t really listening, she was already thinking about the heights and benefits of the different trees in the Royal gardens. She was thinking about which kind of wood should be used for the construction, and she was wondering if there was a way to make some kind of pulley system to engineer a special kind of lift up into the treehouse.
“Sorry, Your Majesty,” Joan said, “I didn’t mean to say one lump or two, I meant to say, of course you can have a treehouse. Would you like a cup of tea to drink while you are waiting for the treehouse?”
“Yes I would,” the Prince said without even saying please, “and mind you don’t make me wait too long because I want this treehouse RIGHT NOW!”
Joan hurried out of the room with plans bursting out of her big brain. And within just three days Joan had built a treehouse so amazing even the Prince was impressed, though he didn’t say thank you.
If you thought the Prince having a treehouse would make things easier for the servants then you would be totally and completely wrong. The prince was now further away, and they had to go a long way to find out what he wanted and then come all the way back to get whatever it was and then he would usually complain that everything had taken a long time to get to him.
Joan didn’t like to see everyone suffering, especially as it was her treehouse that was causing the problem. One day, she woke up with an idea. What if she invented a long distance speaking thing / telephone? Then when the Prince wanted something he could call the servants and then they could just run out with whatever it was.
The prince was really impressed with this, although he didn’t say thank you, and he started calling up all the time.
But the servants still weren’t happy, the prince still never said please or thank you, and even though they didn’t have to go to the treehouse to find out what the prince wanted anymore, it still was a long way to bring everything he asked for. And when that took a long time, the prince was ever so cross.
One morning, Joan woke up with another idea. What about a super cool train set that the servants could load up with whatever needed to go to the prince which would take everything much faster than the servants could carry it.
The prince was really impressed with this, although he didn’t say thank you, and the servants started sending everything to him on the train.
After a bit of time the servants realised that they were really happy with this latest invention. They only had to take the prince’s phone calls and send whatever he wanted by train and they never had to see him. He still didn’t say please or thank you, but as they never had to see him in person it all made things much easier for them.
One day when the phone rang, the prince had a special kind of request, one that couldn’t be answered with the train. He phoned up and said, “Can’t one of you come and see me? I’m lonely.”
And who do you think happened to have answered the phone? It was Joan. So Joan decided to go to the treehouse and see the prince.
“Hello,” said Joan.
“Hello,” said the Prince.
“Was there something you wanted?” asked Joan.
“Yes, I want a friend,” said the Prince.
“Oh,” said Joan, “I’m not sure it’s going to be easy to find one of those.”
“Why not? Why can’t you be my friend?”, asked the Prince.
“Because you aren’t very nice.”
“BE MY FRIEND!”, the Prince shouted, “I ORDER YOU TO BE MY FRIEND”.
“No,” said Joan, “it doesn’t work like that.”
“Why not?” asked the Prince.
“Because if I’m going to be your friend, you have to try and be my friend first. I’ve done nothing but be nice to you, and you have done nothing but been horrible to me and my friends.”
“NO I HAVEN’T.”
“And,” Joan said, “my friends aren’t allowed to shout at me.”
“Oh,” said the Prince, “that doesn’t sound very good.”
“No,” said Joan, “being my friend is really good, and if you want to be my friend you will have to decide to be nice to me. I’m going to sit quietly now and wait for you to say something nice.”
Joan waited quite a long time, while the Prince tried to think of something nice to say.
Eventually he said, “I do quite like this treehouse, and I do quite like the train you made, and I do like the telephone you made as well.”
Joan waited a bit longer.
“That was nice, what just I said,” said the Prince.
“It was,” said Joan, “but you still haven’t said thank you.”
“Oh yes, thank you for everything that you have done. Can we be friends now?”
“Yes,” said Joan, “we can, as long as you really mean it.”
“Yes I do, I’m glad we can be friends,” said the Prince, “would you like a cup of tea?”
“As long as you make it yourself,” Joan said.
“I will…”, the prince paused, “please will you show me how?”
“I will,” said Joan.
And the Prince and Joan lived politely ever after.