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Red Car

When Bertie was a prince, he won a prize for being the kingdom’s most courteous driver. The wicked queen thought that he looked ridiculous waiting at the lights in his ordinary car. She was more furious than ever that her daughter wanted to marry such a pathetic prince. She thought that the best way to unimpress Princess Beatrice with Bertie was to arrange a driving holiday.

Story by Bertie.

Read by Natasha. Duration 19.01.

Proofread by Jana Elizabeth. 

Bertie’s Car -

As you probably know, there is a tadpole who lives in the palace pond with Bertie, and his name is Tim. All day long, he likes to swim around asking no end of questions; and if nobody answers his question, he asks it again, and again, and again. He’s always got some question on his mind. For example, this morning, when Bertie was sitting on a stone, Tim popped his pin-sized head out of the water and asked: “Bertie, can you drive a car?”

As sometimes happens, Colin the Carp was eavesdropping, and he could not resist butting in with: “Oh yes, little Tim. It’s every frog that can drive a car. In fact, some frogs are taxi drivers. In fact, before tadpoles can grow up to be frogs, they have to pass a driving test. In fact…”

Colin couldn’t think of another “In fact,” so Tim said: “Oh really? That’s jolly interesting.” Then he thought for a bit while he swam once around the pond.

Nobody was surprised when he swam back with another question: “Bertie, when you were a prince, what sort of car did you drive?”

And this time Bertie answered for himself saying: “I bet that you can’t guess.”

“Oh oh, I like the Guessing Game. Um um, a red Ferrari?”


“Ah, I know a really good car. Ah ah, a Porsche.”


“Oh, oh, don’t tell me. Ah ah…” But Tim had to give up, because he couldn’t remember the names of any more cars. And so Bertie told him that the car he used to drive when he was a prince was a… Ford.

Tim was awfully impressed – but nobody else was, because although Fords are fine cars in many ways, they are cars that, well, ordinary people drive, not princes. Not usually anyway.

But Tim could hardly contain himself with excitement now that he had learned the name of a new car. The only way that Bertie could stop his flood of questions was to tell a story. And this is what he told…

As soon as Prince Bertie was old enough to drive, he asked his father, the king, for a car. The king did not really approve of cars, or any type of machine really, apart from steam trains, which he liked a lot. But Bertie kept on asking and asking, until eventually the king agreed that he could have one of the cars that were parked in the palace garage. He didn’t really mind which car Bertie took. But the wicked queen did, however, Because, you see, she loved cars, and the faster and the more expensive, the better. And so she told the garage man to give Bertie the slowest and the oldest.

Now Bertie and the garage man had known each other for a long, long time. He often used to come down to the garage to watch his friend mend the cars.

When Bertie came to collect his car, the garage man scratched his head and said: “It doesn’t really seem right that a royal prince should have an old car like this. I’ll tell you what. I’ll soup it up a bit.”

And over the next month, whenever he had a little spare time, he worked on Bertie’s car and added some special features – like an extra super fast engine, and a frame to make it stronger, in case it rolled over in a rally race, and bullet proof glass just in case anybody tried to assassinate Prince Bertie.

“Wow,” thought Bertie as he drove without an instructor for first time. He pushed his foot down on the accelerator pedal. “This car doesn’t look like much on the outside, but inside there’s a lean, mean racing machine trying to get out.”

And VROOOOMM! He went speeding down the road, weaving in and out of traffic, and jumping through lights just as they turned red.

“This is terr-if-fic,” he said. But that was just before a dog ran across the road right in front of him. Bertie liked dogs, and certainly did not want to run it over, but there was no time to break and so he swerved to the left. The tyre hit the curb and he went bouncing back out into the road, and only just missed the dog. He had totally lost control now, and the car was just driving itself. A mother was pushing her pram along the other side of the pavement towards him. The car was skidding diagonally towards them. It mounted the pavement, and just went past the pram. It carried on ploughing through two or three front gardens and ended up in a hedge. As the car crashed to a halt, Bertie lurched forward but his seatbelt stopped him going too far. An airbag blew up in front of his nose.

The first thing he heard was the mother of the baby that he had almost killed, saying: “Are you alright? Shall I call an ambulance?”

Bertie managed to get out of the car and stand up, but his legs were so wobbly  he had to sit on the grass for a few minutes. Then he said to the mother: “Madam, I promise you that from now on I am always going to be a good driver.”

And Prince Bertie kept his promise. He even won an award for being the kingdom’s most courteous driver.

But the wicked queen was anything but a courteous driver. If anyone dared to cut in front of her, or worse, give her a speeding ticket or a parking fine, she turned them into a beetle. As she sped through the red traffic lights, she thought that Prince Bertie looked quite silly as he waited at the white line. She hated the fact that her daughter, the lovely Princess Beatrice, wanted to marry such a namby-pamby, handbreak on, gear in neutral, nincompoop.

And so she decided that the best way to unimpress Beatrice with Bertie was to go on a driving holiday. At the start of the summer, the wicked queen sat at the wheel of her low slung, pointy-nosed, sleek black speed machine. Bertie opened the door of his Ford and helped Princess Beatrice with her seat belt.

They took the road to the next door kingdom, and once they were across the border, they headed for the mountains. The queen had arranged for them to stop for the night with her cousin, who lived in a castle on a high mountain pass. She would have arrived hours before Bertie and Beatrice, only the police pulled her over for speeding.

“Do you want me to turn you into a cockroach?” She asked the police officer. But she was in a foreign land now, and the officials were not afraid of her. She thought she had better not do anything too wicked, in case she started a war between the two countries.

They arrived at the castle towards nightfall. Its white towers and pointy red roofs guarded the valley from the top of a wall of rock. Prince Dracula would not have been ashamed to live there.

But its current owner, Prince Vlad, did not look at all like a vampire. He was a small man with a little blonde moustache. It was hard to see any family resemblance to his cousin, the wicked queen. And Bertie thought: “He’s obviously sweet like Beatrice, and not at all wicked like her mother.”

As it was late, they sat down to dinner in the great hall of the castle. The first course was wild boar pâté. Unfortunately, Princess Beatrice could not eat it because she was a vegetarian.

“Oh dear, I’m so hungry,” she whispered to Bertie.

The second course was a fondue. A fondue is a mountain dish which you cook yourself at the table. Beatrice was pleased when she saw the servant set up the fondue and light the flame below it. She loved fondues. At home, they would prong bits of bread with a skewer, and dip them in a cheese sauce which was melted over the heat. If you lost your bread, you had to do a forfeit, like sing a song or say something silly about yourself.

“This will be fun,” she said to Bertie. The servant lifted the lid of the silver serving dish. But oh no. This wasn’t a cheese fondue. It was raw meat. The queen quickly pronged a piece with her skewer and popped it into her mouth without cooking it.

Beatrice was so disappointed. “Excuse me,” she said to Prince Vlad. “Could you ask them to bring me some cheese and perhaps some celery? You see, I’m vegetarian.”

Prince Vlad looked quite astonished. He clearly did not expect to entertain a vegetarian in his castle.

“I know,” said the queen to her cousin. “Pathetic isn’t it?”

And Prince Vlad said: “Well she looks like a horse, so it’s hardly surprising that she eats grass.”

“Hey,” said Bertie. “How dare you say that about Beatrice?” 

“How dare I?” Said Prince Vlad. “This is my castle, and I can say what I want to.”

“Well I jolly well think you should say you’re sorry,” said Bertie.

At the word, “sorry,” Prince Vlad’s little moustache twitched, and his ears went red. His eyes swivelled this way and that. It was clearly a word that he didn’t like  much.

“Sorry?” He said under his breath. Then he said louder: “I shall give you my apologies with a bullet at dawn. I challenge you to a duel!”

“Alright,” said Bertie.

“Oh no! Stop it. Stop it!” Exclaimed Beatrice.

“Oh goodie!” Said the queen, because she loved duels, and she thought her cousin Vlad was bound to win and shoot Bertie, and that would be the end of her problem.

Beatrice could hold back her tears no longer. She ran out of the room sobbing. Bertie caught up with her down the corridor.

“This is too silly,” said Beatrice. I absolutely forbid you to take part in this duel. You know he’ll cheat. Your pistol probably won’t even be loaded. In fact.. in fact I won’t marry you if you fight this duel, even if he doesn’t kill you.”

And even though Bertie thought his honour was at stake, Beatrice made him promise that they would get up before dawn and leave.

In the middle of the night, Bertie and Beatrice quietly drove down the star-lit road away from Prince Vlad’s castle. They were heading for the border with the next kingdom, and then the sea. At first, it was quite scary driving along the windy road in the dark. But then the sun began to rise above the mountains, and Bertie felt glad to be alive and by the side of his lovely, sensible princess.

But not too long after dawn, two policemen on motorcycles drove along side the car and waved at Bertie to pull over. Bertie stopped the car and wound down the window.

“What have I done?” He asked.

“You were driving too slowly,” said the policeman.

Bertie laughed. Beatrice leaned over and told the policeman: “No he wasn’t. He was driving normally.”

Then the policeman said: “You are under arrest for running away from a duel. You must return to the castle of Prince Vladimir.”

“You were right,” said Bertie to Beatrice. “It’s all a trick. Prince Vlad just wants to kill me. The wicked queen put him up to this to stop me marrying you.”

“What shall we do?” Asked Beatrice.

“This,” said Bertie, and he pulled the car out and accelerated down the mountain road.

The policemen jumped onto their motorcycles and started to give chase. Beatrice covered her face with terror because she was certain that Bertie would shoot off the road at the first bend and they would go hurtling thousands of feet to their deaths – but he took it perfectly, and he rounded the second corner like a rally driver.

You see, what Bertie hadn’t told anyone, was that every weekend he took his car to the racing track and practiced driving it fast.

But by the time they were on a straight piece of road, the motorcycles were catching up with them. Bertie pressed a button on the dashboard and the car shot forward even faster than before. Still the motorcycles were keeping up. By the next bend, one of them was trying to overtake.

But it was still early morning, and the road was slippery with dew. Bertie’s car went into a spin. He steered into the skid as he had been taught and managed to take it around in a perfect circle and carry on driving. The policemen had to drive off the road to avoid him. Fortunately for them, it wasn’t too steep here and they both went speeding over the green pastures, unable to stop until they were nearly at the bottom of the valley.

It wasn’t far to the border now. When they reached the barrier, Bertie just went crashing straight through it. The border guards opened fire, and it was a good thing that the windows of Bertie’s car were bullet proof. He sped through no-man’s land and slowed down just before the crossing into the next country. Beatrice and Bertie waved their royal passports at the two guards and they reached safety.

Bertie and Beatrice drove calmly on to their destination: the summer palace of Princess Leone, which overlooked the sparkling blue sea. The wicked queen arrived three days later. You see, first she lost the way, and then her car had broken down. But what annoyed her more than anything was that she soon saw that Bertie and Beatrice were more in love than ever.

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