Oh, I can see that some of you are squirming, wondering if there had been any princes. Of course there had been princes. There had been great princes, foolish princes, terrified princes, even evil princes.
Most were quite ruthless. Some were mere puppet princes, their puppet strings reaching all the way to Cicero or River Forest or Palm Springs, Calif., or Chinatown. Other princes were so erratic that they truly frightened the peasants because only peasants get trampled under a curly-toed boot.
One such prince had been installed on the throne by his father, Richard the Not-So-Longshanks. The lad was henceforth known as Shortshanks.
Sadly, Shortshanks was often gripped by fits of rage and finally, after the great Parking Fee Hike Scandal — in which the meager remnants of the peasants' purses were dispatched to exotic Abu Dhabi — he retired and ran off to the Bahamas.
But this is not the story of Shortshanks, but of Princess Lisa.
So one night the princess went to sleep, as she had on all the other nights, atop those 28 mattresses and 28 feather beds.
Yet so sensitive was she that she felt something bothering her. She just couldn't sleep. She tossed and turned. She could feel a bothersome itch right in the middle of her back.
The servants ran to help and removed the 28 mattresses and the 28 feather beds, but found nothing.
"Wait!" said Princess Lisa. "What's this?"
There, at the bottom of the pile, on the ground, was a tiny, dry, little pea.
She had felt it through all the mattresses and all the feather beds representing the years of her father's reign. She placed it in her flawless palm, and like magic, it opened. Inside was a mysterious note with many numbers. The servants ran to inform Mike of Madiganistan.
"This is nothing," said the terrible Mike. "All it says is that the peasants owe $100 billion in unfunded state pension liabilities. Don't worry, they'll pay and they'll like it. Go to sleep, honey."
So the servants reassembled the bed, the 28 mattresses and the 28 feather beds, and soon Princess Lisa was fast asleep.
And the next morning, after a night of uneasy dreams, she felt as if she'd been transformed.
All was right with the world. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the peasants were shrieking their piteous cries of woe. The princess climbed down for breakfast with her father.
And just before a servant brought her a silver bowl of Lucky Charms, she asked Mike of Madiganistan a question:
"Daddy," she asked, "can I be governor now?"