Once upon a time there was a princess called Jewel. She had sparkling blue eyes and long brown hair that reached all the way to her ankles. Jewel could not sleep at night unless there were seven mattresses filled with down on her bed. Down is tiny feathers. One morning, Jewel woke up from a particularly bad night's sleep. She climbed out of bed using her golden ladder (the mattresses were very thick) and walked into the dining room which was set for breakfast. Her parents and sister were already there, eating chocolate croissants with fried egg, and drinking decaff espressos.
"Good morning," said her Mum the Queen "How did you sleep?"
"Terribly," replied Jewel as she sat down at the table, "I couldn't get comfortable all night."
"Oh no! Why not?" Asked her mum.
Mergatroyd the maid served Jewel her breakfast.
"I don't know. It felt like I was sleeping on glass. Then when I turned over it was like I was lying on rusty nails." Grumbled the princess.
"On my great-Aunt Petunia!" Exclaimed the Queen.
"Yes." Agreed Jewel.
Jewel tried to eat her breakfast, but just couldn't enjoy it what with the tiredness.
"Have you tried checking to see if there really was glass or rusty nails underneath your mattresses?" Asked her sister, Princess Grace.
"No, I didn't think of that," replied Jewel, "I will have a look after breakfast."
"Maybe it was the pixies." Announced the King.
"What?" Asked Jewel.
"The pixies. They live in the woods and like to cause havoc when the mood strikes them." Answered her dad.
He poured himself another espresso and stirred in some honey.
"Are you joking?" Wondered Jewel.
"Pixies don't exist." Said the Queen.
"Please pass the ketchup." Asked Grace.
The King passed his daughter the ketchup- she couldn't eat croissants without them.
"I don't make jokes." Said the King. "I ran into some when I was a child. They are very small and exceptionally mischievous."
"What does mischievous mean?" Asked Princess Grace.
"Maliciously or playfully annoying. Harmful or injurious." Replied her dad.
He enjoyed reading the dictionary.
"I must go to a very important meeting with the Pope, some MPs and Will-i-am." Announced the King as he folded his newspaper and kissed his family goodbye.
"Well, who'd have thought?" Mused the Queen. "Pixies are real?"
"Why would they be so horrible to me though?" Asked Jewel sadly.
"They just don't like children," said Grace, "don't you know anything?"
"How do you know so much about pixies?" Asked her mother.
"I read the Faerie Times." Replied the princess.
The family finished their breakfast and Jewel returned to her bedroom, with Grace following to help. If this was the pixies' fault, she would teach them a lesson they'd never forget.
The princesses checked underneath the bottom mattress - wow, it was heavy. Nothing there. Underneath the second mattress, there was nothing.
"Maybe you just had a bad dream." Said Grace as they took a breather.
"No, I know that I felt something!" Insisted her older sister.
They checked underneath the third mattress. Jewel stretched her hand as far as it would go. Aha! She felt something.
"I can feel something here, Grace, Try to keep the mattress up on your side."
She pulled it slowly towards her - being cautious as she didn't want to accidently cut her hand on the glass or whatever the offending object was.
"What is it?" Asked Grace as the item appeared.
Jewel held it carefully in her hand.
"It looks like a flower. A tiny flower." Jewel marvelled.
The flower was blood red and about the size of her fingernail.
"That is what made you sleep badly all night?" Wondered Grace. "I'm surprised that you even felt it!"
"It is pretty small isn't it?" Agreed her sister.
"I think we should show Mummy." Suggested Grace.
Suddenly the flower melted. Just as though it was made of ice. All that was left was a tiny crimson drop in the princess' hand.
"Oh no. It must've been magic." Whispered Jewel.
"It must have been the pixies! What are we going to do now?" Asked Grace.
"We'll have to speak to them." Said Jewel. "I need to find out why they did this."
Grace nodded sagely. She agreed that it was the only way to resolve the issue.
"How are you going to find them though?" She asked.
"I will have to stay awake tonight and catch them when they come back." Replied Jewel.
"What if they don't return? And what if you fall asleep?" Asked the younger princess.
"They are sure to come back. For some reason they have decided to play a nasty trick on me, and they won't be happy that I've stopped their fun."
"Ok... but how will you stay awake until midnight?"
Midnight is the time when pixies are known to perform their mischief, as any reader of the Faerie Times will tell you.
"Coffee. Lots of coffee." Replied Jewel.
And so Princess Jewel spend the rest of the day drinking espressos. She was determined to have a word with those naughty pixies that very night. At bedtime, Jewel kissed her parents and sister goodnight and went to bed. But she didn't fall asleep. On no. She has drunk enough coffee to keep a large elephant awake during Question Time. There was no way that she was going to get any sleep that night.
As midnight approached, Jewel put down her Rubrics' Cube, switched off her torch and pretended to be asleep. Soon she heard a little shuffling and the tippa-tappa of tiny feet - if she didn't know any better, she'd think it was a mouse doing a tap-dance.
She kept her eyes firmly shut and her ears firmly open. She could just make out the pixies whispering to each other. There was definitely a male and a female voice.
"What's the Human done with our flower then?" Asked the female voice.
"I guess she found it. It would've melted on her warm skin, of course." Answered the male.
"Typical Human- causing problems. Just as well we have lots of spares."
"Yes. Small Humans in the olden days used to behave themselves. They would never be bold enough to mess with the proud Pixie people."
"I blame the parents. Now, which mattress should this one go under?" Asked the female.
"Bottom one this time. She'll still sleep badly. Tee hee." Giggled the male.
Jewel felt her bed move ever-so-slightly as the pixie placed one of their magical flowers under the bottom mattress. She thought that they must be extremely strong. Now was her chance. She switched on her torch and climbed quickly down her ladder.
"Oi! I've caught you!" She shouted to the startled magical creatures.
They both froze in fear. They were smaller than Jewel had imagined, only about the size of a guinea-pig. They wore funny hats and shiny boots. They both had pointy ears and noses.
"Why are you playing this trick on me?" The princess demanded. "What have I ever done to deserve this?"
"Well, um, that is. Do you know who we are?" Asked the male pixie.
"Yes of course! You're pixies. I'm not stupid."
"Ah, well then you know that that's just what we do. Be naughty, I mean. It's kind of our job."
"You mean to say that your job is to pick on innocent children?" Asked Jewel.
"Yes," replied the female pixie. "We have done it for hundreds of years. It's our proud tradition."
"Oh." Responded the princess. She wasn't sure what else to say.
"What's your job?" Enquired the male pixie.
"My job? I don't have a job!" Replied Jewel incredulously. "I just have to play, and eat, and be a kid. Oh, and go to school."
"Lucky you. If we aren't mischievous, we are cast out of pixie society. We would be shamed for life." Said the female.
"Oh, I see. So you have to pick on children?"
"Yes, that's what I'm saying."
"But why me?" Jewel wondered.
"Why not you?"
The princess didn't have an answer to that. She thought for a few moments. Then she had an idea.
"Why don't you just pretend to play tricks on children?" She suggested.
"Yes, you know: make-believe. Sneak out every night and pretend to pick on kids, but don't. Maybe put your naughty flowers in a goose's nest instead." Replied the princess.
"A goose's nest?" Laughed the pixies.
"Yes. I've never liked geese. They are loud and they hiss and they are a bit scary."
"Oh, ok. Well, I don't see why not." Replied the male pixie.
"We could certainly give it a try." Agreed the female.
And so that night, Princess Jewel did a favour for children around the world - she saved their sleep. From that night on, those two pixies picked on geese instead of kids. And so if you had a good night's sleep last night, say a quick thank you to Jewel.
And if you are a sleep-deprived goose, well, sorry. Maybe if you weren't so annoying then the princess would have suggested that the pixies pick on magpies instead. Or maybe pigeons.