Narrator: If you ever go to London to attend
a festive royal event, a wedding perhaps, you'll have to wade
through throngs of cheering, waving people to catch a glimpse
of royalty. But it's not like that when the royal family is staying
in Balmoral Castle, their summer palace nestled in the rolling
green hills of our Scottish countryside. There, you often see
them riding through town in a horse-drawn carriage surrounded
by guards clad in bright red and black.
Every Sunday morning at nine o'clock, the royal family rides
past Liza Higgins' house, and Liza is always waiting on the sidewalk
in front of her house, waving a little British flag-a one-girl
welcoming committee. The first time Liza ever saw the royal carriage,
Princess Margaret waved at her. Since then, Liza had come out
to watch the royal family ride by every summer Sunday, rain or
One Sunday morning in June, as the royal carriage rolled towards
her, Liza noticed that Princess Margaret was reading a letter.
Suddenly, the letter flew out of the princess' hand into the air.
The carriage jerked to a stop. The guards dismounted and began
searching the street. Liza watched the wind blow the letter into
a small alley. She noticed how anxious the princess looked.
But the queen seemed impatient. She spoke to the driver, and
just as suddenly as the procession had stopped, the guards mounted
and the carriage resumed moving down the street.
Liza waited until the carriage and guards were out of sight.
Curious, she walked down the cobblestone street to where she had
seen the carriage stop. No one else was out on the street yet-most
people were still eating breakfast or dressing for church. Liza
walked up the alley where she had seen the letter blow.
There, behind a trash barrel, was a handwritten letter on fine
stationery imprinted with the seal of the king of France. As she
glanced briefly at the letter, Liza noticed that it was written
in French. Liza folded the letter carefully and put it in her
pocket. She tried to stay calm as she strolled back to her house.
Liza didn't tell a soul about what she had found. All through
breakfast she wondered what to do. If she were the princess, she
would want the letter back, unread, and the entire matter kept
in the strictest confidence. At church that day, a sermon on the
golden rule strengthened Liza's resolve to return the letter as
soon as possible.
Once the service was over, Liza told her parents that she wanted
to take a walk and set off at a brisk pace for the summer palace,
which was about a mile from church. The gate to the palace was
guarded by a gatekeeper who was wearing a tall, bushy, black hat
and standing still as a statue.
Liza: Excuse me,
Narrator: said Liza,
Liza: but I must see Princess Margaret.
Gatekeeper: May I see your pass?
Narrator: inquired the guard brusquely.
Liza: I don't have a pass.
Narrator: answered Liza.
Gatekeeper: I'm sorry. No one can get through
the gate without a pass.
Narrator: responded the guard without moving
a single body part other than his jaw.
Liza: But you don't understand.
Narrator: insisted Liza.
Liza: I've found something that belongs to the
princess. I'm sure she'll want it back.
Gatekeeper: And, no doubt, you'll be wanting
a reward for your service.
Liza: No. I just want to return to the princess
what is hers.
Gatekeeper: In that case you'll have to have
Narrator: he said, avoiding her glance.
Liza: But how will I ever get a pass?
Narrator: asked Liza, who was growing frustrated
by the delay.
Gatekeeper: I'll be happy to arrange it-for
just half of the reward.
Narrator: he answered. Puzzled, Liza asked,
Liza: Are you serious?
Narrator: Without even looking at Liza, the
gatekeeper simply said,
Gatekeeper: Good day.
Narrator: Liza didn't move. She was angered
by the gatekeeper's greed, but the thought of a reward hadn't
even occurred to her. So she reconsidered and said,
Liza: Perhaps I will give you half of the reward.
Narrator: For the first time the gatekeeper
smiled. He took a piece of paper out of his pocket and signed
Narrator: he said as he opened the gate for
Liza and let her in.
Gatekeeper: Now remember-this pass will cost
you half the reward.
Liza: How can I ever forget your kindness?
Narrator: Liza responded sarcastically. Another
guard escorted Liza to the foyer, where the appointments secretary,
who was seated at an ornate wooden desk, was idly turning the
pages of a huge appointment book.
Secretary: Who is this urchin?
Narrator: The secretary called out scornfully
to the guard.
Guard: Just another beggar looking for a royal
Narrator: answered the guard.
Guard: She claims she is returning something
to the princess.
Secretary: I'm sorry, but Her Majesty's calendar
is completely full-for weeks. She has no time to meet with you.
But, if you'll just give whatever it is to me, I'll see that it
is returned to the princess.
Narrator: Liza shook her head.
Liza: You don't understand, this is a personal
matter. I must return it to the princess myself.
Secretary: In that case, come back in September
and I'll see what I can do. Good day!
Liza: That's ridiculous!
Narrator: protested Liza.
Liza: The royal family will have moved back
to Buckingham Palace by then.
Narrator: Liza didn't move. She stared into
the eyes of the appointments secretary, so he would know she was
Liza: Why don't you ask Princess Margaret if
she's lost something. I think you'll find that she will want to
see me immediately.
Narrator: The secretary looked down at his book
Secretary: I'll see. If it's that important,
then perhaps I can accommodate you. But you'll have to compensate
me for my efforts on your behalf. It will cost you half of your
Narrator: Liza was quickly learning the ways
of the royal court. She spoke through clenched teeth as she controlled
Narrator: Then she sat down to wait. In less
than five minutes the appointments secretary returned.
Secretary: You're in luck!
Narrator: he smiled.
Secretary: The princess will see you. Remember-I
get half of the reward.
Liza: I have an excellent memory. Narrator:
Liza assured him.
Narrator: The secretary ushered Liza into Princess
Margaret's chamber As they entered, the princess was pacing the
floor. On her face was the same worried expression Liza had observed
when the letter had blown out of her hands. When Liza entered,
the princess paused in her pacing.
Princess Margaret: Thank you.
Narrator: she said to the appointments secretary.
Princess Margaret: That will be all.
Narrator: He left, closing the polished mahogany
door behind him.
Princess Margaret: And who might you be?
Narrator: Princess Margaret inquired.
Liza: Liza Higgins, Your Majesty.
Narrator: Liza answered as she curtsied politely.
Princess Margaret: I am curious to know, what
have you found?
Narrator: the princess asked Liza anxiously.
Liza: A letter, Your Majesty. I believe you
lost it on the way to church this morning.
Narrator: Liza retrieved the letter from her
jacket pocket as the princess approached her. Taking the letter
that Liza held out for her, the princess opened it. A huge smile
covered her face.
Princess Margaret: Thank God!
Narrator: she exclaimed. Then she looked at
Princess Margaret: Have you read it?
Narrator: said Liza. The princess peered into
Liza's eyes to see if she was telling the truth.
Narrator: You see,
Narrator: Liza continued,
Liza: I can't understand a word of French.
Narrator: The princess smiled.
Princess Margaret: Have you shown anyone?
Narrator: the princess inquired.
Liza: Not a soul, Your Majesty.
Narrator: The princess breathed a sigh of relief.
Princess Margaret: Thank you, Liza. This letter
means a great deal to me. Is there anything I can do for you?
Name your reward.
Narrator: Liza took a moment to think before
Liza: I did not return your letter for a reward.
I was just doing what I would have liked someone to do for me.
But since you are so kind to offer a reward, I cannot refuse.
Narrator: She paused, still working out the
details of her request.
Narrator: However, before I make my request,
I wonder if you would summon the palace gatekeeper and your appointments
secretary. They both helped me to gain an audience with you. I
think they will be happy to know that you have granted me a reward.
Princess Margaret: Certainly.
Narrator: said the princess.
Princess Margaret: Guard!
Narrator: Instantly, the door opened and a guard
appeared. Princess Margaret summoned the gatekeeper and her secretary.
When they arrived, she repeated her offer,
Princess Margaret: Liza, you have done a great
service to me by returning a prized possession. How can I reward
you? Your wish is my command.
Narrator: The gatekeeper and the secretary smiled
Liza: Thank you for your generosity, Your Majesty.
Narrator: Liza began.
Liza: If you will grant my wish, I humbly request
a sentence of two weeks in jail.
Narrator: The faces of the gatekeeper and the
secretary turned white. Their jaws dropped open. The princess
Princess Margaret: I don't understand…
Liza: You see, although I did not seek a reward,
the royal gatekeeper made me promise to give him half of my reward
in return for letting me in through the palace gate. And your
appointments secretary made me promise to give him half of my
reward in return for letting me see you today-even though I told
them both I was here to return something you had lost. I hope
that you will grant my request, giving half of my reward to the
gatekeeper and half to your secretary to fulfill my promise.
Princess Margaret: I cannot refuse your request.
Narrator: the princess said, smiling broadly.
Princess Margaret: Guards, take the prisoners
Narrator: Then, turning to Liza, she said,
Princess Margaret: Young lady, you have done
two great services: one to me personally and one to the royal
family. I have divided the reward for your first service as you
requested. But as a reward for your second service-ridding the
palace of greed-I would like to give you another reward.
Narrator: As the princess took a close look
at Liza, she said,
Princess Margaret: You look vaguely familiar.
Are you the girl who waves to me every Sunday morning as we drive
Liza: Yes, your Majesty. I wait for you every
Sunday. Once you even waved to me.
Princess Margaret: Well,
Narrator: answered Princess Margaret,
Princess Margaret: Next Sunday, instead of watching
me drive by, how would you like to join me for a ride in the royal
carriage-dressed in a brand-new gown?
Liza: I'd love to!
Narrator: gasped Liza. If you had been on Drury
Lane that next Sunday morning at nine o'clock, you would have
seen Liza, dressed in a beautiful lavender satin gown given to
her by Princess Margaret, sitting next to the princess in the
royal carriage, waving happily to a huge crowd of friends and
family members who had, for the first time anyone can remember,
gotten up early on a Sunday morning to cheer Liza and the royal
family as they drove by on the way to church.