Princess Vanessa could not understand it.
She had had such faith in chivalry. She had thought that she would simply have had to send out word of her plight and hundreds of knights would have fought each other for the honour of aiding her.
She had even hoped that some of them might try to woo her. She was not exactly sure what “woo” meant, but what she thought it might mean made her blush and think “woo!” so she felt that she was probably right.
Yet no aid arrived. Days came and went, but knights did not.
Chastened (and indeed still chaste), she had offered instead a reward to anyone prepared to assist her in her hour of distress. Still she received no aid, and still she remained trapped, like a Rapunzel in a tower.
Or at least like a Rapunzel with twenty million dollars.
The year was 2012, and Princess Vanessa was a Nigerian Princess.
She was trying to escape the clutches of her wicked brother. She had secured a flight out of the country under a false name, but could not carry out her fortune in cash because of Ryanair’s limit on the size of the luggage that you can bring. She had tried filling a bag of the permitted dimensions, and had managed to fit forty-two dollars into it.
That was when she had had the idea of finding some decent man abroad, transferring the money to his account and redeeming it once she had escaped. All she would need were his bank details.
She looked on Facebook and soon found a likely candidate. Garry looked trustworthy and he had twenty-two friends, far more than she had, since handmaidens, eunuchs and the court jester didn’t count.
She asked to be his friend too and was accepted remarkably quickly, as Garry reckoned that 23 friends was a bigger number than 22. She then received regular emails (very regular, all on the first day in fact) informing her that Garry had uploaded photos of his skiing holiday, had been at his niece’s birthday party, had altered his status to “single” (she felt for him, since she now felt that she genuinely was his friend).
She emailed him, explained her problem, and outlined her solution.
He did not reply. Not only that, but he unfriended her. Vanessa, Princess of the Makowi tribe, had been dissed by a mere commoner with a penchant for posting pictures of himself having fallen over in the snow.
She tried someone else. And then someone else.
She lowered her standards. She picked people whose Facebook photos consistently showed them passed out at parties. She picked people who weren’t on Facebook at all, getting an email list of subscribers to UFO Weekly. She joined Online Dating Agencies (“girl, 19, likes tiaras, rubies and elephant-hunting, WLTM anybody at all with a bank account for ten per cent of my fortune and maybe more”).
Nothing happened. It seemed nobody wanted two million dollars.
Then one day she got an email herself. It was from a Nigerian Princess, seeking bank account details so that she could transfer her fortune away from her wicked brother.
Vanessa had never heard of her. She began to suspect what her problem might be.
She Googled “Nigerian Princesses” and was shocked at the fact that she and her like had become a byword for dishonesty (she was also pretty pissed at the fact that she, a real Nigerian Princess, did not even seem to have a Wikipedia page devoted to her).
It seemed that no-one would help her. Her brother was going to win, would have her money forever.
She thought. Then she replied to the email and gave over her bank details. As she expected, her account was emptied. The twenty million dollars was moved elsewhere, outside Nigeria.
And Princess Vanessa, a girl with an IQ of 140 and a Doctorate in Computer Science, caught her flight, hacked into the scammer’s emails and passwords and emptied his account in reply. Of two hundred and two million dollars.
Princesses are made of sterner stuff these days.