Heroic Deeds: A Cost Benefit Analysis

‘I’ve been thinking about the wedding,’ said the Handsome Prince. ‘What do you think about doves?’

For a moment the only sound was a distant bird and the gentle clopping of their horses’ hooves through the forest. ‘What wedding?’ said the Princess.

The Handsome Prince chuckled charmingly. ‘Why, our wedding of course.’

The Princess decidedly did not chuckle. ‘We’re not getting married.’

‘Don’t be silly, of course we are. I rescued you.’

‘So?’

‘So now we get married. That’s how it works.’

‘What if I don’t want to marry you?’

‘Why wouldn’t you want to marry me? I rescued you.’

‘What sort of basis is that for a relationship? When Lassie rescued the children trapped in the well, did they get married?’

‘I’m not sure, I was on my gap year.’

‘I don’t love you. I don’t even like you.’

‘What does love matter? You can’t quantify affection.’

‘I never even asked you to rescue me.’

‘Come now, this is madness. If princesses don’t marry the handsome princes who rescue them, what incentive will there be for us to rescue you at all?’

‘Honour? Basic human kindness?’

‘Human kindness can’t make me dinner after a long day being handsome.’

‘So you only rescued me as a sort of transaction?’

‘You’re being very naïve.’

‘Altruism is naïve?’

‘Think what it would do to the market.’

‘What, the damsel in distress market?’

‘There are a lot of costs involved. I took me five princesses before I found one with blonde hair.’

‘What did you do with the others?’

‘I leased the land they’re trapped on, naturally.’

‘Why?’

‘So none of my competitors can rescue them. What if you get ugly, or I go through a red head phase? They may appreciate in value in the future.’

‘That’s monstrous.’

‘No, expecting me to spend my money helping other people is monstrous. What are you, some sort of socialist?’

‘I’m going back, that’s what I am.’

‘What?’

‘Being cursed in a magical sleep was better than this.’ The Princess turned her horse around. ‘We never should have let economists start writing fairy tales.’

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