Happily, being a princess in disguise doesn't mean you have to deal with _all_ the difficulties of being a peasant. You do have a healthy savings to tide you over while you try the different jobs avaliable to see which one you like. So far you've been a barmaid (you now have a healthy respect for how hard it is to balance all those drinks, much less the ability to put up with all those annoying men attempting to pinch bottoms), a candle-dipper (okay, so the wick was supposed to be straighter than you could manage. Still, your lopsided candles does give your room a personal touch), and even a brief stint as a blacksmith's apprentice (you don't know why you lost that job. You _did_ make three perfectly good nails, after all. Just because the other apprentice managed to make four swords in the same time is no reason to be so judgemental).
Unfortunately, pickings have been slim recently. You blame the economy downturn now that the king's senile or dying or both and the princes are "running" things. You shake your head in exasperation. Even an idiot could lead better than they've managed so far. But it'll be a cold day in hell when they find you on that throne. Not a chance. You'd much rather be independent and actually get to have a personality than sit in a hard chair 24/7.
Deciding to take a quick break, you stop by a nearby tavern. You find a table near the back, and enjoy the conversation of the nearby farmers bickering about who is having the best harvest. Ah, peasant life. So less stressful. Unfortunately, at that moment the door opens, light beams forth, a dark figure steps forward with his cape swirling majestically, and lo and behold, one of the princes of the kingdom is standing there in a dramatic pose, eyeing over the room. "Oh, god," you think as you slink back into the chair and try to become invisible, "they're starting again." Happily, he doesn't seem to notice you, heads toward the bar, and attempts to get the bartender's attention.
Just _then_, however, another prince storms into the bar, with a troop of guards close behind him (seven? eight? You can't get a good count), and bellows out, "In the Name of Prince Thato, I Hereby Order the arrest of Princess Hyacinth for not Properly being a Damsel in Distress."
The entire room goes quiet.
You suspect this is going to be a bad day.
The prince at the bar seems distracted by his brother's entrance, and goes over to talk to him for a few moments. Soon after that, you manage to work your way to your front, and start your tirade.
"Damsel in distress, huh? I'll give you distress! Distress is being born into a position you didn't want, didn't choose. Distress is being chased by all of you moronic idiots that call yourselves princes. Distress is the insinuation that you are inferior or immoral or somehow wrong in that you don't do a good enough job of being completely useless, something which you princes seem to have down. Distress is being required to act helpless because it's what I'm *supposed* to do. Well, I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm not helpless. Never have been, never will be. Not only am I completly competent on my own, which is something most definitely can't say for you, I refuse to act incompetent just to make you guys feel better about yourselves because you don't quite feel masculine enough. I won't play. I refuse. You can keep your little inferiority complexes to yourselves, but don't expect me to respect it. So if you want to lock me up in some little prison cell and leave me there so someone can "rescue" me, then go right ahead. Just remember that the more you treat me like an object of property, the more I will hate you and resent your very existence. Damsel in distress that, Mr. Macho."
You hold out your hands in front of you, daring him to do anything. Both princes look quite taken aback. Thato, the one ordering your arrest, slowly looks you up and down, and then focuses on your face. He bows to you gallantly, his hand over his sword. As he straightens, he says, "My apologies, Princess Hyacinth. I did not know that you were in distress. It is obvious to me now, thanks to that diatribe of yours, that you truly are a damsel in distress. You are a damsel in emotional distress! My Apologies."
"I will be leaving now!" he exclaims as his soldiers gather around the three of you (two princes and you, for those keeping track). He bows again, kissing your hand (if you don't yank it away from him, that is). Turning towards the door, he takes a moment to talk to his brother. "Well, Thereo, you appear to have been correct. She is, in fact, the Princess in the greatest distress of all. Emotional distress is more damaging than a thousand dragons and a thousand evil witches, because it's effects are permanent and life-scarring." You detect a distinct note of State Speech creep into his voice as he continues on, "A few years of an evil sleeping enchantment or a stint as a dragon's bait is easily forgotten after a true loves frees the stricken princess. Though, in concession to you, Princess Hyacinth, often it is not the true love that rescues them, and the relationship with the evil witch, who is only defined as evil by us Princes who are forced into our societal role as damsel-savers and strong men by the strong emotional and societal conditioning that we undergo as small prince-lings and, through this conditioning, we are led to believe that any ugly woman with a few skin blemishes, a bad temper (caused by our own externally imprinted predjudices, which leads to only a few viable jobs that a honest women can work at, one of which is evil-witching), and a healthy knowledge of herbs who works in close proximity of a beautiful woman born into an outdated hierarchal system consisting of pre-conditioned males and similarly conditioned females that perpetuate the system through their offspring and the conditioning of local populations into believing that these "noble" people have something other than ancestral wealth that allows them..."
You blink. He's really going to give a whole speech, isn't he? Admittedly, you've got to be impressed by his stage presence. He barely pauses to breathe, and he's got a decent number of the occupants of the bar listening raptly to the speech.
"...to rule with an iron, dictadorial hand over people who are, in general, more healthy and intelligent than the "nobles" due to the fact that the "nobles", in their conditioned beliefs of superiority, breed in a sort of small, closed loop that acts as a slower form of incest (as cousins marry cousins rather than sister marry brother), causes us to label the woman an evil-witch and persecute her just because she can provide a sleeping draught, as we are conditioned to distrust anything that has not been done for many generations, for the reason that if we allowed society to advance slightly and deviate from the traditions and statutes that have been practised over hundreds of years then the populace we rely on for most of our laber would be deconditioned and realize that they are more entitled to what we have than we are and take our belongings from us justly, then the relasionship with the evil witch may be no more than an honest attempt by the princess to learn more about the world and escape the close confines of the pre-conditioned life and actually make a life for herself which I, as a Prince and conditioned upholder of this system, must prevent because it both prolongs the system, ensuring my long-term survival and comfort..."
You have the distinct urge to consult a timepiece, but unfortunately none are avaliable. You settle back comfortably and wait it out.
"...and goes against the traditions that propogate the system which, through time, have become the laws of the lands controlled by my ancestors and I in which we are recognized as the "nobility" and therefore precedent and trend-setters as well as rulers, and because, as a Prince and therefore someone whom the peoples look to for moral and legal guidance, I must obey the laws thus set forth in order to ensure that they are followed in the kingdom, I must insist that all Princesses in this kingdom must be either in Distress, courted in a castle or mansion by a Prince who is always witty, charming, and brave, though completely superficial and therefore unable to protect the Princess adequately or engage in a truly intelligent conversation because he is only superficially intelligent, or about to be turned into a queen, therfore, I hereby certify you as currently having the status of "In Emotional Distress" and will provide, by law and free of charge, a royal councilor to provide counciling (who you are required by law to go to), under the condition that when you are cured of you emotional distress you must, within a fortnight, either be In Distress, being courted inside a officially sanctioned castle or mansion, or Queen."
You blink for a moment, not realizing that he's actually done, when he takes a few breaths and starts up again. You stifle the groan. You keep reminding yourself, "He finishes the speech, he's gone. He finishes the speech, he's gone. Can't interrupt, he'd stay longer."
Thato goes on as if not even stopping, "Thus, Thereo, as Emotional distress is very hard to cure, I would ask that you assist the Princess in the cure along with the royal councilor. Have a good evening. Princess." at which point he half-bows in your direction and walks out with his guards.