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112 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1980
She grew up as gawky as possible, with a distressing habit of standing with her feet apart and her hands behind her back, and hair of a colour that not even a court poet could describe as anything but just plain mouse. But though she proved every day how strong the old Fairy Crustacea's magic had been, her other christening gifts were not entirely wasted.
True, the splendid jewels and brocades of the kings and princes and barons were quite out of place on her homely little person, but the fairy gifts had been very useful, for though she was ordinary, she possessed health, wit, charm and cheerfulness. But because she was not beautiful, no one ever seemed to notice these other qualities, which is so often the the way of the world. Not that it ever worried the Ordinary Princess.
In the royal kitchens two hundred and twenty cooks, four hundred scullions, as many serving-men and five hundred kitchen-maids worked like mad, baking cakes and pies and pastries. They stuffed swans and peacocks and boars' heads, and made wonderful sweets - marzipan trees hung with crystallised cherries, and castles and dragons and great ships of sugar candy. Five cooks from Italy worked on the christening cake, which was decorated with hundreds of sugar bells and crystallised roses, and was so tall that they had to stand on silver step-ladders to ice it.
The Ordinary Princess smiled a little secret smile to herself and said: 'Tell me about princesses, Perry.'
'Well, first of all, they are very beautiful,' said Peregrine, leaning back against a tree-trunk and ticking off the points on his fingers. 'Then secondly and thirdly and fourthly, they all have long golden hair, and blue eyes, and the most lovely complexions. Fifthly and sixthly, they are graceful and accomplished. Seventhly, they have names like Persephone and Sapphire and Roxanne. And lastly,' said Peregrine, running out of fingers, 'they are all excessively proper and extremely dull ... except when they are make-believe princesses who are really kitchen-maids!'
"Wit, Charm, Courage, Health, Wisdom, Grace...Good gracious, poor child! Well, thank goodness my magic is stronger than anyone else's. She raised her twisty coral stick and waved it three times over the cradle of the seventh princess. "My child," said the Fairy Crustacea, "I am going to give you something that will probably bring you more happiness than all these fal-lals and fripperies put together. You shall be Ordinary!"