Jane was now old enough to watch her younger brother Owen when their mother went grocery shopping. It was an important job, but not a very difficult one. First Jane checked to make sure the doors were all shut and locked and then she made sure that the telephone with all the pre-programmed numbers was handy. Then it was simply a matter of keeping an eye on her brother and making sure he didn't do something silly like eat all the soap.
Jane was trying to show Owen how to tie his shoes when there was a big THWOMP! noise in the back yard. Jane looked through the window and saw the Giant Beanstalk!
“What is it this time?” sighed Jane. Jane unlocked and opened the door and went out. Attached to the tree was a note written by the Giant. Jane could tell the note was written by the Giant because it was taller than she was. The note read,
Your Highness, by the time you read this I will be asleep. Once or twice a year the Cloudtop Kingdom docks with the Lunar Kingdom on the Moon. When this happens we hold a festival and sell goods and exchange gifts. This time the Moon was covered with enchanted pricker vines that started to spread all over Cloudtop. If you're pricked then you fall asleep until the enchantment is lifted. The pricker vines have covered all of Cloudtop. I'm the last one awake but the pricker vines are growing all around me. Soon I'll be pricked and soon I'll fall asleep.
Your Highness, your Kingdom is in peril.
You'll be safe while you remain on the Giant Beanstalk. Once you jump off the beanstalk you're susceptible to being pricked.
“Bother,” sighed Jane again. She wondered what to do. She couldn't leave her brother alone so Jane decided to bring him with her. Then Jane wondered what to do about the pricker vines.
“What would Mr. Richard do?” Jane asked herself. “Mr. Richard would use either glue or Windex,” she decided. Jane couldn't see how glue would help but maybe Windex would do something. Jane also got out the clippers that her father uses to trim the bushes in the front yard.
“Owen,” Jane called out to her brother, “We're going to have an adventure.” Jane led Own out to the beanstalk and showed him how to climb the branches. She made Owen go first so she could catch him if he fell off.
But Owen proved to almost as good a climber as Jane. Owen seemed to like it when he got lighter and could climb faster. He didn't seem to mind the dark and damp of the inside of the cloud. At the top Jane made sure she was close to Owen so he wouldn't jump off the beanstalk and get pricked.
Cloudtop looked very strange when Princess Jane and Owen broke through the top of the cloud. Everything was covered with vines. The Giant was slumped down nearby and snoring. Princess Jane heard the Giant snore before. It was like how you'd imagine the noise of a steam engine with a wrench thrown into the gears.
Vines were growing around the top of the Giant Beanstalk but they never touched it nor did they touch Princess Jane and Owen. Princess Jane told her brother to stay on the beanstalk and tried to make him comfortable while she considered what to do.
First Princess Jane tried cutting one of the enchanted vines. But two new vines grew out of the severed spot! Then Princess Jane tried spraying a vine with Windex. The vine turned brown and stopped growing but the prickers still glistened with sleeping potion.
Princess Jane thought for a bit and then got the attention of her brother who was watching the snoring Giant. “Owen, we're going to play a game. First I'm going to cut a vine and then you're going to spray Windex in the stump? Do you understand?” Owen didn't like to talk a lot but he grabbed the bottle of Windex with enthusiasm.
“Ready?” asked Princess Jane. Owen nodded. Princess Jane cut a vine near the ground and said, “Spray it!” Owen did so. The vine didn't grow back!
“OK Owen,” said Princess Jane. “We're going to play this game a lot.” Princess Jane could see which way to go because when it's docked with Cloudtop the Moon is HUGE! The Moon was also covered in green vines.
“I wonder if that's why sometimes people think the Moon is made of green cheese,” thought Princess Jane.
Working as a team Princess Jane and Owen slowly made their way to the Moon. Jane cut the vines (she didn't trust Owen with the clippers) and Owen sprayed them with Windex. They left a path of dead vines behind them.
Along the way Princess Jane was wondering where they should go once once they reached the Moon. The answer was apparent when they got close. Nearby there was a big castle with vines growing all over it.
Princess Jane and her brother made their way to the castle and discovered the gate was open. There were no vines inside the castle but everyone was asleep anyway. Guards with crescent devices on their livery slumped along the walls.
“Come with me Owen, “said Princess Jane. “I know where to go.” Down on the Ground Below Jane was an avid reader. She knew where to go.
Princess Jane led Owen to some stairs that went way far up to the top of a tower. At the top was a room with a bed in it. On the bed was a sleeping person.
“I hate this part,” muttered Princess Jane and she gave the sleeping person a peck on the cheek.
“Wha? Where?” said the awaking person who turned out to be a richly dressed boy.
“I am Her Royal Highness Princess Jane of the Cloudtop Kingdom.” said Princess Jane. “Take me to your kitchens!”
“Who are you?” said the boy. “You're the Witch! I'll kill you!”
“I'm not the Witch,” said Princess Jane. “I'm the one who woke you up. It's important that we go to your kitchens.”
“No! I must kill the Witch! We should go the armory and get some swords!” said the boy.
“And how much good did that do you the first time?” asked Princess Jane. “If you don't take me to the kitchens NOW then I'll force you!”
“No! I need a sword”
“Owen! Spray him!”
Owen sprayed the boy with Windex.
“Aaaah! Stop that!” said the boy.
“Take us to the kitchens!”
“OK! OK! But you're not going to fight the Witch with a side of beef!”
“No, I'm going to kill the Witch with something much simpler,” said Princess Jane.
The boy led Princess Jane and Owen down the stairs and then down some more stairs to a kitchen. Princess Jane found a bucket and a pump. She filled the bucket with water.
“This is no time to start cleaning!” cried the boy. “The Witch knows when someone is awake! She'll be coming! We need a weapon!”
“Don't you Loonies read books?” said Princess Jane. “Never mind. We're setting up a trap. You two, Prince and Owen, stand here so that the Witch can see you when she comes through the door. I'm going to hide behind the door. When the Witch comes in, distract her for a bit. That will give me time to attack.”
The boy and Owen moved into position with the boy still complaining, “But when the Witch finds us she'll just put us to sleep again! At least in the tower I had a nice bed!”
“Be quiet!” ordered Princess Jane. “Pretend I'm not here!”
Everyone stopped talking and then they heard sounds of someone else approaching. “Where are you my Pretties?” they heard. “I will find you and then you will sleep forever!”
The boy started to look around frantically like he wanted to do something, anything, to fight or get away from the Witch. Then he saw Owen who was just standing there calmly. The boy thought, “I am the Prince of the Lunar Kingdom and should be the bravest person on the Moon. I'm scared out of my wits. This little kid is standing there like he's bored and waiting for something interesting to happen. I'll never be that brave but at least I can pretend to be that brave.”
The Prince settled down and looked at the doorway. Shortly the witch came in.
“My Pretty! What are you doing up? And who are you? Never mind! Soon you'll enjoy the sleep unto death and I will rule both the Lunar Kingdom and Cloudtop alone!”
“Never!” said the Prince. “You are close to defeat!”
The Witch advanced saying, “None of your swords or arrows can touch me, my Pretty! How close can defeat be?”
Princes Jane then announced, “About three feet!” and threw the bucket of water at the Witch.
“Aaaaah! I'm melting!” screamed the Witch. The Witch shrunk and dwindled until there was just a greasy patch left on the floor. And the Witch's boots. Boots are always left over for some reason.
There was a funny sound outside. It was the sound of all the pricker vines growing backwards, retreating back to the original vine that the Witch had planted in the courtyard of the Lunar Kingdom castle. Everyone in the castle started to wake up. And run around. And make noise.
Some guards ran into the kitchen and said, “Your Highness! The Witch is coming! We must get you to safety! And who are these people? Never mind! We must get you safely to the top of the High Tower!”
The guards grabbed the Prince and started to hustle him out of the kitchen when they finally listened to what he was saying,
“No! The Witch is dead! This girl killed her! We've all been asleep and now we're awake again! Let me go! I order you!”
The guards let the Prince go.
“This girl woke me up, killed the Witch, and saved the Kingdom! Don't you know what that means?”
“Um. No,” Said one of the guards.
“This means she and I have to get married!”said the Prince.
“What!” said Princess Jane. “Is getting married all you boys think about? I'm not marrying you! Particularly you!”
The Prince looked shocked but then came up with a cunning plan.
“We must see my father immediately!”
The Prince gestured for Princess Jane and Owen to follow him and started running out of the kitchen. The Guards followed.
They ran to the throne room where the King was sitting.
“Father! The Witch is dead! This girl woke me up and killed the Witch with a bucket of water!” said the Prince.
“And who are you who are so wise in the way of witches?” asked the King.
“I am Her Royal Highness Princess Jane of the Cloudtop Kingdom, your Majesty, as I told your son before.”
The King looked at his son with a “Weren't you paying attention?” expression. The Prince said, “I was just waking up! Everything was all confused!. But this is even better!”
“Daddy! She won't marry me! Everyone knows that when the warrior Princess awakens the handsome Prince with a kiss and saves the kingdom they have to get married! But she said no!”
The King looked at Princess Jane and rolled his eyes. “Son, that only happens in stories. This is real life. And in real life women make their own decisions. If Her Royal Highness doesn't want to marry you then I'm afraid there's nothing you can do about it.”
The King now addressed Princess Jane, “Your Highness, Of course I've heard of you but I'm surprised. Your beauty surpasses the stories I've heard, but I was expecting a six foot tall Amazon warrior armed with a set of swords and bows and arrows.”
Princess Jane replied, “Your Majesty, the people of Cloudtop are so kind that I'm afraid they sometimes exaggerate. I use physical and mental discipline and constant learning to defeat my enemies, not brute strength and weapons.”
“Most formidable,” replied the King. “As savior of the Lunar Kingdom, my son, and myself; I offer anything and everything you want. The Lunar Kingdom's treasury contains an unsurpassed fortune of Moon Diamonds. I offer them all to you.”
“Thank you your Majesty,” replied Princess Jane. “I'll send someone over to collect them. But I'm in a hurry to get home. I've been entrusted with taking care of my brother and I'm afraid that my mother doesn't know that we're here.”
“In that case allow me to prepare a carriage to convey you and your brother back to the Cloudtop Kingdom, and an honor guard to accompany you, although I suspect that your return to the Ground Below may be delayed.”
Princess Jane and Owen thus rode back to the Cloudtop Kingdom and their return to the Ground Below was delayed by all the cheering people along the way, both on the Moon and on Cloudtop. At Cloudtop City the Regency Council politely requested that Princess Jane stay long enough for a banquet to be held in her honor, and in Owen's who was then recognized as Prince Owen, junior to Princess Jane, and second in line to the Cloudtop throne.
Later Princess Jane and Prince Owen rode the Dragon to the Giant Beanstalk. Princess Jane hoped that Prince Owen would find riding a dragon impressive, or even fun, but Prince Owen took it all in stride, the same way he took almost everything in stride.
Princess Jane and Prince Owen climbed down the giant beanstalk to the Ground Below and Jane showed Owen how to signal the Giant to lift the giant beanstalk up back to Cloudtop. (Give the giant beanstalk a hug and tug down.)
They went inside and Jane shut and locked the door.
Sometime later Jane's mother returned from grocery shopping.
“Jane! Owen!” their mother greeted them. “Did anything happen while I was out?”
“Um, no. Not really,” said Jane.
“Dragon!” said Owen.