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       Princess Origen and the Tunnel, p.1
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Princess Origen and the Tunnel
Princess Origen Tales Short:


  D. E. Powell

  copyright 2011 David Powell

  Princess Origen and the Tunnel

  Princess Origen, Darkwood and Skyflyer were romping on the front lawn of the castle one day playing and having a wonderful time. Darkwood was chasing Skyflyer while Princess Origen chased Darkwood and tugged at his tail.

  “Let him be, evil dragon!” she screeched, merrily, pretending Darkwood was a dragon. “My finest knight shall have your head. Brave Matthew is riding up this very moment.”

  Of course, there was no brave Matthew riding up that very moment. In fact, there was only young Matthew who lived next door in the castle of the duke. He and Princess Origen were friends and he had never slain a dragon in his life. Not that he wouldn’t have liked to.

  But, Princess Origen was having pretend and Darkwood and Skyflyer enjoyed the game very much. Suddenly, however, the game ended when all heard a curious sound coming from one of the shaped hedges on the castle grounds.

  “Meow,” it went, softly. “Meow.

  “A kitten,” said Princess Origen, delightfully. “Now do not frighten it, Darkwood,” she scolded. “You can be such a brute with kittens.”

  It was true. Darkwood got so excited around kittens that he forgot his own strength and bounded after them like chasing balls. He sent more than one scurrying up a tree to not come down until he was placed under lock and key. Princess Origen knew her mastiff well.

  “Here kitty, kitty,” she said, reaching into the hedge. “No one’s going to hurt you. Here kitty, kitty.”

  “Meow,” returned the kitten, louder. “Meow.” Then the meowing stopped. Before Princess Origen placed hands upon the kitten it was gone, but where?

  Princess Origen pushed aside the hedge to reveal a tunnel leading down from the castle lawn. It was nice and round and as big as a melon. Princess Origen saw she could fit in quite easily.

  “You scared it!” she said, turning on Darkwood. “Now I’ll have to go down that tunnel after it. Poor thing. And you’re coming too!”

  She grabbed Darkwood by the ear and tugged him into the dark passageway with her. The great hound could not resist his mistress, although she was tiny in comparison. Darkwood was not happy with her command.

  “Hummmm,” he whined. “Hummm. Hummm.”

  “Shush,” she ordered, whispering. “You’ll frighten it further. Don’t be such a baby.”

  Princess Origen edged her way down the tunnel dragging Darkwood behind her. The mastiff hardly fit, crawling along on his belly with front paws pulling and back paws pushing. It was slow going at best. They heard the kitten meowing in the distance and Princess Origen knew it must be saved, although it was the only one of the three that fit in the tunnel without crouching. In fact, Princess Origen’s head was scraping the tunnel roof and her clothes were getting as dirty as a coal miner’s.

  The light at the end of the tunnel where they had entered was growing smaller the farther they went. Darkwood was getting more nervous as the dimness deepened. Princess Origen pressed onward. She was as brave as they came and fearless when it involved saving kittens. Darkwood had found this out previously with other kittens he had frightened.

  Suddenly, Darkwood felt something cold and wet touch his nose. He stopped short, lifting his head upwards and bumping the tunnel ceiling with a thud. It crumbled dirt onto his curly top and rolled into his ears. He shook uncontrollably.

  “Darkwood!” scolded Princess Origen. “You’ll bring the entire tunnel in on us. Stop what you're doing.”

  Darkwood blinked his eyes. With the dim light still in the tunnel he could see clearly. But what he saw was hardly believable, even for a dog. A large green slimy tunnel bug reared up on its underbelly glaring into Darkwood’s brown eyes with brave intent. Princess Origen saw it, too. She sat up next to Darkwood and looked curiously at the unnerving bug. It was the strangest thing either of them had ever seen. Darkwood bent his head to sniff it.

  “Puwruuuu,” he sneezed, violently. The tunnel bug never budged.

  “Watch it, you overgrown caterpillar!” said the bug, indignantly. “Give way, then. I have the road.”

  Darkwood cocked his head this way and that at the curious sight.

  “You can talk,” said Princess Origen, amazed she understood the tunnel bug. “That’s wonderful. You can talk.”

  “As clear as you, missy,” answered the bug, boldly, “and in five languages. Now, I’m saying move yourselves at this very moment. Do you give?” The tunnel bug inched forward.

  “Give what?” asked Princess Origen, dumfounded.

  “Way?” answered the bug, inching closer. “My way, if you must know.”

  “Certainly,” answered Princess Origen, pushing herself against the wall of the tunnel so the tunnel bug might pass. “Move, Darkwood,” she commanded. But, there was nowhere for Darkwood to move. He would have had to back all the way out of the tunnel to accommodate the bug.

  “Then it’s a tourney!” announced the tunnel bug, moving right up to Darkwood’s nose. “Have at it.” The tiny creature was fearless.

  “Puwruuu!” sneezed Darkwood again, this time sending the tunnel bug rolling backwards. “Puwruuuuu!”

  “Are you hurt?” asked Princess Origen, startled.

  “The bloke never touched me,” answered the bug, crawling up to Darkwood like before. “He’s in for it all now.”

  The tunnel bug started at Darkwood as the great mastiff reared his head up to avoid sneezing again. He had no idea what the little insect was or its intentions.

  “Please, sir,” said Princess Origen, all hunched over in the tunnel, looking down on the bug, “we’ve only come for our kitten.

  “Kitten, is it?” said the tunnel bug, stopping short. “Why didn’t you say so? I’m not looking for trouble. But when you take one's road. I saw your kitten,” said the tunnel bug, thinking back. “Went by me without notice, down the tunnel and to the left. Cute, too, but on the run. Probably from this bloke.” The bug eyed Darkwood severely.

  “You’re very kind,” said Princess Origen, hoping to avert the tunnel bug’s attention from Darkwood. “And very noble. You must be king of this tunnel.” She smiled a large smile at the tunnel bug.

  “I own my share,” said the bug. “But I can be generous, if the quest is true. Be on your road, then, and get your kitten. I’ll give way to that!”

  The tunnel bug moved aside to allow Princess Origen and Darkwood to pass. The dog went cautiously, still having no idea what the bug was. He was very mysterious. The tunnel bug snubbed him as he passed.

  Down the tunnel and to the left they went. After crawling along for some time, they saw a glimmer coming from the end of the new tunnel. A humming sounded from the same direction and thudding noises as if someone was digging. The closer they got the more they heard. Suddenly, it was singing they heard, not humming, and mining, not digging. And when the companions broke the light at the end of the tunnel, they saw two short, stocky elderly men picking away at the tunnel walls while they sang as merrily as if every strike showed gold:

  “Pick, pick, toil be quick.

  Out with the gold to buy a new stick.

  The new’s getting old

  And the old’s getting sick.

  Pick, pick, toil be quick.”

  “My goodness,” said Princess Origen, to Darkwood. “What else shall we find? A kitten’s the least of our worries.”

  “Find gold, if you look for it,” answered the two gentlemen, never stopping their picking. “But you’ve got to work, if you’ve the gumption.”

  “We’re not looking
for gold,” said Princess Origen. “We’re looking for our kitten.”

  “Saw one go past here not moments ago,” said the miners. “Fast as wind and straight as the Mother Lode. Down that tunnel and to the right. Never catch it, though.”

  “But, we must,” said the princess. “It needs our help.”

  “Not that one,” answered one miner, laughing. “Gomer here spotted it first. Said it’s got the nip in it.”

  “Well, you said that, Homer,” said Gomer, leveling a pick strike at a particularly likely spot. “I said it a'pears to be lost in the tunnels. Wondered if we should stop chores and help it.”

  “You never,” answered Homer. “You stop chores? You’ve got the fever, son. I ain’t seen you stop in ten year.”

  “Stopped once,” said Gomer, striking again.

  “Never,” answered Homer.

  “Did,” answered Gomer.

  “Never,” answered Homer.

  “Please!” interrupted Princess Origen. “Which way did you say it went?” She could take no more.

  “Down that tunnel and to the right,” said Gomer, pointing with his pick for a moment.

  “Stopped then,” said Gomer, picking away again.

  “Never did,” said Homer, stubbornly.

  “Did,” said Gomer, insistently.

  “Points not a stop,” said Homer, knowingly.

  “Is,” said Gomer.

  “Not,” said Homer.

  “Please,” said Princess Origen. “My goodness.” And down the tunnel and to the right they went.

  At the end of the tunnel, they saw another light glowing brightly into the long shaft.

  “What now?” asked Princess Origen, crawling towards it. “Not miners again.”

  No, it was not miners again. When Princess Origen and Darkwood came to the end of the tunnel they saw something there as unexpected as gophers come to supper at the dinner table; a turn of events as unthinkable as moles taking a pipe in the castle parlor. For sitting in a brightly lit room at the tunnel’s end was an elderly lady rocking in a chair while knitting diligently and humming softly to herself.

  “My goodness,” said Princess Origen, looking at Darkwood. “What have we found now?”

  “Deary,” said the elderly lady, from under her lily-white shawl, “hanging in ones doorway is not polite. In or out. That’s my rule.”

  “My goodness,” said Princess Origen, not knowing what to think. “Then, it’s in, I guess. Come on, Darkwood.”

  She grabbed poor Darkwood by the ear and tugged him unwillingly into the tunnel home of the elderly lady.

  “Nice to have visitors,” said the lady, never stopping her rocking or knitting. “But, three in one day's a bit much. Can’t stay long. Company’s company, but quiet is golden.”

  “Thank you for having us,” said Princess Origen, remembering her manners. “We’re looking for our kitten.”

  “Here and gone,” answered the lady. “Had milk and purred awhile, then left. Out that tunnel and up.”

  “Up?” asked Princess Origen. “We’ve been left and we’ve been right, we’ve even been down. But, now it’s up?”

  “There’s the milk and there’s the tunnel,” answered the lady, sweetly, “and up’s the only way it goes. So, I guess it’s up. Unless that cat’s got ways around that I don’t know about.” She continued rocking and knitting.

  “Then up it is,” said Princess Origen, grabbing Darkwood’s ear and pulling him along, just as he was going for the milk. “Thank you for your kindness.”

  Princess Origen and Darkwood left the elderly lady rocking and knitting as they followed the tunnel up. At the end, they saw a light shinning in. Princess Origen shook her head with wonderment. This time, the light was the sun shining from the outside. The tunnel led straight up to Princess Origen’s front yard, just a stone’s throw away from where it had begun.

  “Darkwood,” said Princess Origen, pulling herself out of the tunnel. “What a romp we’ve been, all for what? Nothing! Where’s that cat?”

  “Meow,” sounded the kitten, from beyond their sight. “Meow.”

  Princess Origen hurried around to see the kitten curled up next to Skyflyer where he lay on the soft grass. She ran to them and lifted him into her arms.

  “There you are,” she said, merrily. “Safe and sound. Now you’re here and now you’re mine and you shan’t go into that nasty tunnel again. Bothersome place, anyway. I shall call you Cyrano and you shall be a cuddly friend to us all. I’ll even introduce you to Darkwood,” she said, looking over to where Darkwood lay licking his paws, “and we shall all be great companions. It was worth it, after all.”

  Princess Origen sat on the grass hugging and kissing Cyrano with her dirty face and soiled dress. She would be in for it when her parents saw her, but it all seemed worth it now that she had Cyrano. The worst to come could not overshadow the best at hand. And she would come to enter the tunnel again at some other times. After all, it was not such a nasty, bothersome place as she had at first thought.


  About the author

  D. E. Powell was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Southern California, and learned to live in West Yellowstone, Montana. An avid history and nature buff, he weaves his tales around what is factual and what should be factual. Other titles by this author include:

  The Tear Jar

  David Kidboti and the Adventure of the Disappearing Tribe

  The Butterfly Princess

  Brittle's Rhymes for Kids' Bedtimes

  The Bluestone


  (return to Table of Contents)

  Coming soon Princess Origen Tales four novel set:

  The Evil Man

  The Changing Land

  Thy Kingdoms Come

  The Reverent Queen

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