It was a beautiful, sunny morning, the kind of morning when even the flowers seemed to radiate sunshine, and Princess Daisy was in the garden of the royal palace with her father the king, pruning the rose bushes and trimming the hedges. She loved these lazy mornings, when there seemed nothing to trouble her but the occasional breeze ruffling her hair or the occasional hedgehog walking spikily across her path. Her father the king was also in a good mood, humming softly to himself as he went about the pleasantly ordinary tasks of gardening. What a relief it was for him not to have to care for the affairs of state for one brief morning.

Already that morning, the two of them had breakfasted together on croissants with honey, porridge with raisins and apple juice with crunchy ice cubes and her father the king had told Princess Daisy a new fairy tale all about two little children called Hansel and Gretel who had got lost in a forest and had tried to find their way home by following a trail of breadcrumbs. Now they were out in the garden happily pottering around together, with apparently not a care in the world between them.


However, the happiness of Princess Daisy and her father the king was not to last, although of course there was no way for either of them to know that at that time. After a little while, her father the king said to Princess Daisy, “I’m going to go over to the other side of the gardens now. There’s a few rhododendron bushes I want to peg back. Would you be alright on your own for a while?”


“Of course!” said Princess Daisy, who was happily chasing butterflies between the tulips and daffodils at that moment and who felt that she could quite contentedly continue that task without any assistance. And so her father the king picked up his bag of tools and walked purposefully across to the other side of the garden through the bower of larch trees that separated him from his daughter and meant that he was now out of sight (although not out of sound as his merry whistling could be heard through the still morning air).


After a little while, Princess Daisy found she was bored of chasing butterflies. They were difficult animals to catch and certainly far quicker in their flight than she was nimble on her toes. She decided instead to sit upon the grass and make daisy chains. This was one of her favourite outdoor activities, not only because of the prettiness of the flowers but also for the way they echoed her own name in theirs. It was while she was busily engaged upon this task, threading her 118th daisy onto her 117th that she noticed something she had not noticed before. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a tree upon the edge of the garden that she was pretty certain she had not seen before. Of course, it is very unusual for a tree to appear suddenly without warning in a place where it has not previously been, and this was a pretty unusual tree. Instead of having a gnarled, bumpy rough bark like most trees, its trunk seemed remarkably smooth. It definitely needed further inspection. And so, carefully pocketing her chain of flowers, Princess Daisy stood up and walked across to the site of the mysterious tree.


As she approached, Princess Daisy noticed that the tree was indeed remarkably smooth, so smooth in fact that its bark appeared not to be tree bark at all but the impression of painted tree bark upon material. In other words, it was a costume. This was no tree, it was a person impersonating a tree. But why on earth would a person impersonate a tree? Princess Daisy did not have to wait long to find out.


In the middle of the tree was what appeared to be a hollow, such a hollow that squirrels or birds might use to make their home. However, from inside this hollow appeared a face, and Princess Daisy’s concern was that it was a face she recognised – recognised but did not love. It was the face of Dr Zigglybugg, a man who sometime previously had attempted to hold her prisoner as a means of forcing her father the king to give up his throne and kingdom. Princess Daisy emitted a slight gasp at recognising this villainous face but she was not a princess who was easily frightened and so she did not run away, scream, cry or faint or do any of the other things that princesses in more traditional tales might be tempted to do.


It did occur to her to call for her father the king but, in the pause that followed her gasp, she realised that his whistling could no longer be heard and therefore, thinking that he was probably out of earshot, she decided there was no point in calling for him and that this was a situation that she would have to deal with herself alone. She remembered too that in the previous time that she had been held prisoner by Dr Zigglybugg, she had dealt with that situation herself alone by training a family of mice to eat the mattress upon which she lay, allowing her to dig her way out underneath her prison. And so, she was fairly confident in dealing with this situation, too.


“What is it? What on earth do you want, Dr Zigglybugg?”


“Aha!” said the fiendish voice. “So you do recognise me, Princess Daisy?”


“Of course I recognise you! You look exactly the same, except you’re dressed as a tree. “


“Fiendishly dressed as a tree, if you don’t mind.”


“Fiendishly dressed as a tree?”


“Yes! Fiendishly dressed as a tree in order to draw you over here and out of earshot of your father the king.”


“Alright then – fiendishly dressed as a tree. And what are you going to do now? I see no metal cage nor a drop from the edge of a terrace.”


“No, but you see this!” said Dr Zigglybugg, and with that Princess Daisy noticed that the branches on either side of the trunk on Dr Zigglybugg’s costume were slowly closing in upon her. Clearly, encased within those branches were Dr Zigglybugg’s own arms, and he was wrapping them around her in order to take her prisoner!


Princess Daisy reached out to stop him, but she was powerless to do so. She quickly realised that these were not merely a man’s arms inside the branches of a tree suit, but some sort of mechanical arms (operated from inside a tree suit) that were closing in on her and she was pushing against an overpowering force. And so Princess Daisy could do nothing except submit to being enclosed within the embrace of capture and allow herself to be once again taken prisoner. The only options open to her were the traditional princessly activities of screaming and fainting that have already been mentioned. She was far too dignified to scream (she did manage a spirited cry of “I detest you, Dr Zigglybugg!”), but not even Princess Daisy could stop herself from fainting under these circumstances, and so she did faint. Dr Zigglybugg, as quickly as he was able, dropped her to the floor, freed himself from his costume and made off with his captive.


Actually, getting out of the tree costume was not a very easy or straightforward thing for Dr Zigglybugg to do. In order to get in or out of it, he had to keep his arms pinned to his sides (this was due to the amount of room taken up by the mechanical branches). However, it is not very easy to get in or out of any costume with your arms pinned to your sides, and if you don’t believe me, try it for yourself! And so, it took Dr Zigglybugg a good while to wriggle out of his costume and carry Princess Daisy over to the mechanised wheelbarrow hidden behind a tree that he was using to make his getaway.


Luckily for Dr Zigglybugg and unluckily for Princess Daisy, her father the king was still busily pegging back his rhododendron bushes, and the palace gardeners had been given the day off so that they wouldn’t disturb the royal gardening session, and so he was not disturbed.


However, unluckily for Dr Zigglybugg and luckily for Princess Daisy, she awoke during his attempts to free himself from his costume, considered running away, but decided instead on a cleverer option. Realising she still had her daisy chain with 118 daisies upon it in the pocket of her pinafore, and remembering the story of Hansel and Gretel her father the king had been telling her earlier that very morning, Princess Daisy decided to put her plan into operation.


After a certain amount of time, Dr Zigglybugg managed to free himself from his tree costume, picked up the apparently unconscious form of Princess Daisy and carried her off to his mechanical wheelbarrow. He himself hopped on the front and drove away, out of the royal garden through a hole in the hedge that he had dug earlier, and off to his secret hideout. What Dr Zigglybugg did not realise, though, was that Princess Daisy was secretly dropping daisies from her chain behind them as he drove along, all the way along the path to mark her journey!


Dr Zigglybugg didn’t stop until he reached his secret hideout, which was an abandoned castle on a cliff near the sea. The castle was known as Two Towers Castle because it had two towers. It had been named by a rather unimaginative previous king of the land who had spent a whole day naming castles and, by the time he had got to this one, was out of ideas and so merely called it the first name he could think of. In subsequent years, kings had found they really didn’t need so many castles in the land anyway and so many of them had fallen into disuse. Dr Zigglybugg had decided Two Towers would make the perfect hideout. The evil villain took Princess Daisy into the East Tower where she pretended she had just woken up..


“Aha!” said Dr Zigglybugg. “Now you are my prisoner and you will never escape!”


“What are you planning to do with me?” asked Princess Daisy daringly.


“I shall hold you here while I write a letter to your father demanding that he hand over his throne and the kingdom to me unless he never wants to see you again!”


“You’re not doing that again?” said Princess Daisy.


“Of course I’m doing it again! That is my aim and ambition in life and I shall continue to do it until it is successful – which, luckily, will be this time, because there is no way, no way at all, that your father the king can possibly find out where you are! Mwa ha ha ha ha!”


As Dr Zigglybugg laughed his evil laugh, Princess Daisy merely smiled to herself and said nothing.


Back in the royal gardens, the king had finished his gardening and was looking for his daughter. He called her name several times and, when the servants had returned from their day off, he ordered them to do so, too. They called and searched right into the evening when, in the wing of the West Tower of Two Towers Castle, Dr Zigglybugg was sitting down to write his letter to the king. When finished, his letter looked like this:


Dear The King

I am holding Princess Daisy captive and I shall never release her until you give your throne and kingdom to me. So there!

Mwa ha ha ha ha!

When I hear your agreement announced loudly throughout your kingdom, I shall return your daughter. Until then - I won’t.

Lots of love (not really, ha!)

Dr Zigglybugg

PS I really mean it!


The letter was delivered secretly by Dr Zigglybugg early the next morning. The king, exhausted from watching the servants search for Princess Daisy all night long, was sitting on one of his outdoor thrones when John, the messenger boy, appeared with the letter upon a velvet cushion. Wearily, the king opened it and then sat bolt upright as he read Dr Zigglybugg’s message.


Immediately, the king called off the search and summoned all the servants to his throne room (because that was where he liked to make all his really important decisions). John, however, was banished to the gardens (which were very cold at that hour of the morning) as a punishment for bringing bad news (even though it wasn’t really his fault). The king asked all the remaining servants to rack their brains to think of what to do but, apart from searching every single house in the entire kingdom, which would have taken at least two years according to the third under-butler, nobody could think of anything.


All of a sudden, the door to the throne room burst open and John entered.


“What do you mean, bursting in here like this?” thundered the king, who really was in a very bad mood that day.


“I’m sorry, your majesty, but I think I’ve found something,” said John.


“Found something?” said the king. “Found what?”


“A trail of daisies, your majesty.”


“Daisies?” said Battler the butler. “What have daisies to do with anything? It’s Princess Daisy we want, not other daisies. You really are a foolish boy, John.”


“No, no,” said the king, his mood suddenly changed. “Daisies are important. Princess Daisy loves them. She loves to make them into daisy chains. What if she left this trail for us so we could find where she had been taken to?” A pretty smart man was the king.


All at once, the king and all his servants rushed from the throne room, following John to the trail of daisies . Without hesitation, they followed the daisy trail out of the palace garden, along the highways and byways of the kingdom, until they reached Two Towers Castle. “This is it!” the servants announced to each other with little squeals of delight, until the king shushed them.


“You must be quiet!” he said. “This is now a job for the soldiers. Bring them forwards!”


Imagine the shock of Dr Zigglybugg as he looked out of his window in the West Tower to see the king and his entire household gathered below. “How on earth did he find me?” Dr Zigglybugg said to himself, but he did not have time to pursue this question any further. He heard the king instruct the soldiers to search the West Tower and he knew he had to act fast.


Dr Zigglybugg had chosen his secret hideout with great care. As well as being remote and out of use, it had a stone bridge connecting the two towers well above ground level. As the king and his soldiers broke down the door of the West Tower below, Dr Zigglybugg hurried along this bridge to hide in the East Tower, where Princess Daisy was at that moment chained to the wall in a rather poky little upstairs room.


Find out what happens next at: