Once upon a time there was a prince. He lived at the royal palace with the king and queen. One day, when he was still very little and the queen was feeding him, the little prince wanted to do something to make her happy. So he took the royal spoon from her royal hand and showed her he could eat by himself.
When the queen saw this, she said to the little prince: “Now look at yourself, see what you have done. How am I supposed to get you clean again?”
And she took the little prince, put his clothes in the washing machine and him in the bathtub, and there he sat in the royal bathtub being sad.
When he was bigger, the little prince again wanted to please the queen. He went down to the royal courtyard where there always was a puddle near the royal well, and he baked a wonderful cake from sand and mud. This he brought back to the queen. When the queen saw the beautiful cake, she said: “Eek, where do you think you are, take out that dirt immediately.”
And then she took the prince, put his clothes into the washing machine and him into the tub, and there he sat in the royal bathtub being sad.
When he grew still bigger he again wanted to do something to please the queen. He painted a really wonderful picture of a knight fighting a dragon. It took him the whole day to paint the picture, because he painted everything just real, complete with rocky cave and captive damsel and flames coming out of the dragon’s mouth. When the picture was finished and he took it to the queen, she said: “For goodness’s sake, look at yourself, how am I to get the paint out of your clothes?”
And she took the prince, put his clothes into the washing machine and him into the tub, and there he sat in the royal bathtub being sad.
On Sundays, when the other princes went on a quest for the water of life or got turned into things by fairies or played soccer and cricket, the little prince hat to put on his Sunday best and go for a walk with the king and queen and uncle Herbert and aunt Betty. And when he said: “Look, there’s a treasure cave, can I go and dig out the treasure?” the queen said: “That’s out of the question, I can see what you’ll look like after this, and we won’t be able to go to the restaurant with you.”
One day a mighty dragon came and threatened the city. He demanded to be given an ox or a bull every day for his dinner, or else he would demolish the town with his fiery breath. But once a year, for his birthday, instead of the ox he wanted a young girl!
The whole kingdom was in fear, and when the birthday of the dragon drew near, all the young girls ran away and hid, because none of them was willing to let herself be eaten by the dragon. So the young prince said to himself: “I will defeat the dragon and save the kingdom. Then the queen will be proud of me at last.”
And the prince took his sharpest sword and saddled his fastest horse, put on fireproof armour and rode to meet the mighty dragon.
“Did you bring me a young girl for dinner?” the dragon roared, when he saw the prince riding along.
“No, I bring you death” the prince called and rode up to the dragon. It was a long and bitter fight and blood was splattered all around, but in the end the young prince defeated the dragon. He cut off his head, brought it to the queen and said: “Look, I freed the kingdom from the horrible dragon!”
When the queen saw the dragon’s head and the bloody armour, she said: “Goodness me, what a mess, throw it away immediately, put it in the dustbin!”
And she took the prince, put his bloody armour in the washing machine and him in the bathtub, and there he sat in the royal bathtub being sad.
When the people heard that the dragon had been killed, they wanted to see their rescuer. And the young girls came from their hiding places and wanted to see him too. But the young prince said sorrowfully: “Whatever I do, I end up making myself dirty. So I will never get out of the bathtub again.”
But the people wanted to see him, so the servants had to carry the bathtub with him in it out on the balcony, and there he sat on the balcony in the royal bathtub and waved to the people. And when he became king, every day he had his bathtub carried into the throne-room and he ruled from his royal bathtub. And he was the cleanest king, the kingdom had ever had.
Well, wasn’t that a nice clean story?
But it is not over.
The king was the cleanest king the country had ever had. And he ordered his subjects to take three baths and change their clothes six times every day. He even had a royal travel tub built, with wheels and a steam engine. In this he travelled through the country, and wherever he came, the subjects had to stand in line at the roadside and he checked if they had washed their ears, cleaned their nails and had put on clean underwear.
But at night, I tell you, at night he had the most horrible dreams. For despite his being so cleanly during the day, in the night he only dreamed of dirt, mud, grime, slime, filth, mire, muck, garbage, trash, rubbish, waste and scum!