I held Mum’s hand and tried to see past the small group of people.
“Where is she?”
“Sshh,” said Mum. “Just be patient.”
“Look, Suzy,” she whispered a few minutes later. “She’s just getting out of the car.”
I couldn’t see the car, but soon the Princess walked right in front of where we were waiting in the front row. The Princess was handed the microphone and started to make a speech, but I wasn’t listening to the words. I was gazing at her bright yellow dress, the colour of daffodils. It seemed the sun was shining right there in the school grounds, even though it was a cloudy day. On top of her combed-up hair sat a little yellow hat. I hoped it was pinned on very well so it wouldn’t fall off.
When the speech was finished the head master handed Princess Anne a shiny looking spade and she had to dig a hole, just as well she was wearing strong black shoes! I think someone had already dug most of it; she only had to take a bit of dirt out. She gave her black handbag to another lady to hold while she was digging. Mrs. Riddell from the office was holding the maple tree. When the Princess was ready Mrs. Riddell held the tree straight in the hole so it wouldn’t fall over, while the Princess shovelled some of the dirt back in. Cameras were clicking and she looked up and smiled.
We all clapped and cheered. Three cheers for Princess Anne. Then she came over and talked to us! I’d dreamed of this moment for ages, but when she asked me an easy question like why I’m in this wheelchair I was so busy grinning I couldn’t even answer her! And then she had moved on and my chance to tell her about my cerebral palsy had gone.
“What will she do now?” I asked Mum.
“She’s got other engagements in the city. She’ll stay at one of the posh hotels where they’re having a big dance tonight, and tomorrow she flies to Auckland,” Mum said.
“I wish I could go to the dance with her,” I said. “Do you think she’ll wear that yellow dress, and maybe a crown of gold like it says in the Bible? Princesses do wear crowns, don’t they?”
Mum just laughed.
When we saw the newspaper the next day, there was a front page photo of the Princess at the dance, and she was wearing a yellow dress. It wasn’t the same dress that she wore at the school, of course. She looked like a fairy princess and she had stars and sparkles in her hair in something that did look like a little crown. It was a tiara, Mum said. The mayor was dancing with her in the photo, and didn’t he look pleased with himself. Inside the paper there was a photo of the Princess planting the tree at the school. I cut out both the photos and kept them.
When I was wheeling through the school grounds a few weeks later I noticed that the little tree was broken, snapped right off so that only a stalk was sticking up in the air.
“What happened to the Princess’s tree?” I asked Mrs. Riddell.
“Vandals must have been in and broken it,” she said. “Isn’t it maddening that they can’t leave things alone?”
Soon another tree was planted in its place, but it doesn’t seem quite the same. Now that I attend that school, every time I pass the tree I think of the day the Princess visited and wore her pretty yellow dress. Maybe I’ll have one just like it when I get to heaven, and I’m not in this wheelchair any more, and my legs are no longer like that broken tree, and I’ll walk and dance and fly in my yellow dress. Mum says I’ll be wearing white, but I think yellow like the sun will be more fun, don’t you?
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