Once upon a time there was a princess who dwelt all alone on a green island floating in a flat blue sea.  This was no ordinary princess nor was it an ordinary island. She was old, as princesses go, already having passed her 50th birthday. But she was a princess, nonetheless.

She slept under the stars on a thick cushion of moss.  Well, between her and the moss was a foam pad and she slept snug in her princess-blue sleeping bag. That is what you do when you are a princess sleeping under the stars and have passed your 50th birthday.  

Most days, there were no others on the island, no lights to be seen except for the stars that glowed, sparkled and gleamed, punching bright holes in the dark night sky.  Each time the princess started to close her eyes a meteor would stop her, “Watch me! Watch me!” it shouted as it rushed in splendor across the sky.

When the princess wished to leave her island, she left not in a chariot but in a sleek, fast rowboat. Each time she as she rowed, a favorite seal followed guaranteeing her safety to the far shore.  When she walked her island, deer stopped grazing and watched her. Talking in her soft mellifluous voice, she could walk right up to them. Their big brown eyes melted with trust. Birds sang to her while she picked up sticks and deadfall. Trilling in fugues and soft harmonies they gathered in trees around her. Raccoons, with masked faces and tiny skilled hands, shared her campfire as well as any food she set aside.  It was a tranquil time, a time of peace and harmony.

But this princess could not just sit and enjoy the beauty around her. The lovely forest was marred in her eyes by all the trees and branches that had fallen, tangled like a giant’s game of pick-up sticks. The princess wished to have the forest floor natural but as neat and beautiful as the moss-covered rock where she slept and cooked.

So the princess built a stone-lined pit and started burning the little branches.  Soon there were only fallen trees and big branches that needed to be cut up before she could move them.

Fortunately, she had a chain saw for this job.

Her problem was that she was left-handed as all true princesses are.  As you probably know, chain saws start with a pull cord which is wound right-handed for the common folk. When our princess pulled with her left hand the cord knotted.  She would pull and pull right-handed but her right arm was not strong enough. The saw Would Not Start.

Sometimes, she could get it started by setting the chain saw on the ground with the blade facing behind her, put her foot on the handle to hold it and pull with both hands together. Sometimes she would get so tired she would cry.

If strangers ever wandered by, she ran out to them and stopped them. She begged them to start the saw. She then cut as hard and fast as she could cut until the saw ran out of gas.  She  refueled and waited for the next stranger.  Slowly, slowly the forest was looking better but the chain finally became too dull to cut any more.

The princess took the saw with her and rowed in her rowboat, the seal following behind, to a distant island where there was a cave.  In this cave was a cross old man, the keeper of chain saws. He was short and gnarly. Seeing any woman with a chain saw threw this old man into a rage.

When he saw the princess coming he snarled and his eyes turned red.  “What are you doing here with that saw?” he roared.

The princess answered in her sweetest voice, “My saw is dull and I brought it to you to be sharpened.”

“What! How dare you!! Only men use chain saws,” he yelled.  “Have your man sharpen it “

“I live alone, sir,” she meekly replied.  “Won’t you please sharpen it?”

Not realizing he was talking to a princess the grumpy old gnome growled at her, “If I sharpen the saw, it will cost you $30 an hour.”  Then he rose up and roared at her, “You don’t have that kind of money!!!”

Of course the princess, being a princess, certainly had the $30 but she was so overcome by the foul odors emanating from the old man’s mouth that she could only gasp, “Please tell me how to sharpen it.”

The wicked old man quickly showed her how you pull the file. He muttered something about turning a screw to loosen the chain, But he doomed her to failure by not telling her of another thing to turn.  Then, practically throwing the file at her, he told her to be gone.

Our shaken princess rowed back to her island.  When she regained her courage, the fair princess concentrated on pulling the file just right.  She sharpened all of the teeth, turned the one screw, managed to get the saw running, and tested it on some little branches.  As soon as she was sure it was working, she increased the power.  But when she started cutting a big branch, because of the secret second screw, the chain flew off hitting her in the shoulder, not cutting her but frightening her within an inch of her life.

When our princess recovered from her fright she once again traveled over the water to the cave with her trusted seal following her. Reaching the old guardian of chain saws, she drew herself up to her full height and thumped the saw down on his counter. Her crown glowed on her curls. In a calm, measured voice she demanded, “Replace this chain with a new one.  Tighten my new chain properly.  I do not want to ever have to try to sharpen a chain again. You could have killed me with your secrets!”

She tossed her head, her crown still nestling in her curls, and continued in her most imperial voice, “You do your work and I will do mine which, in case you do not know it, is the work of being a beautiful princess, although I am over fifty. This work consists of smelling the flowers, singing with the birds and watching the sunsets. Not sharpening chain saws!”

The gnome was so shocked he just muttered, “Yes, my princess,” and in a flash the saw had a tight new chain.

Happily, the princess was soon joined by her prince charming, which is another story.  Her prince charming was delighted to start the saw for her,. He sharpened it to a gleaming edge whenever it became dull.  He always cut the big big logs for her with his big big saw, leaving princess-sized logs for her.

Eventually prince charming asked the princess to marry him. She agreed with a happy heart. Forthwith, he bought her a left-handed saw that she can start every time and they have lived happily ever after.


©2006, Caroline Buchanan