Princess Tally


Princess Tally is the oldest daughter of Potter Ontrombe, an Earthling who spent many years working all over the universe as a plumber, and Princess Yapla, the crown princess of the planet of Drintde. Tally has two younger sisters, the twins Whitta and Barda. King Ureywwwo of Drintde is her mother’s brother.

In late 2204 Potter put his little family aboard the king’s luxurious spacecraft and sent them to Earth to visit his parents in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Tally promised her father she would keep a diary for him to read upon their return, and she faithfully records for him the happenings on the craft and, later, on Earth.

This novel is the third part of the Mary Carmen’s Ontrombe trilogy. The first part, The X2906 Issues’ List, describes the troubles the Ontrombe clan worked through while refurbishing craft for the rich and the filthy rich all over the universe. The second part, How Potter Ontrombe Got Hisself Thru College, describes Potter’s adventures while he tries to earn enough to pay his tuition at Swarthmore College. As Potter’s story came to a close, the forty-year-old new college graduate discovered that Princess Yapla had stolen his genetic materials and had, unbeknownst to him, been delivered of three half-Earthling daughters.

Potter’s worst fears are realized in January of 2205. King Edsella, the nasty ruler of the planet of Lillitzen, has sent a craft to Drintde. Edsella is angry with Potter for the Earthling’s refusal to break his contract with Drintde to return to Lillitzen to complete a project for Edsella.

Tally describes her Earthling relatives, including the warm Billi, her grandmother who never learned proper English; the honorable Baden, her grandfather who tries to keep the family business running in spite of his brother’s certain theft of many of the assets; the devious Uncle Conway; the selfish Aunt Geneva; and the humorous cousin Ricky. She also describes a long trip around the United States in 2205, one that takes the family to most of the seventy states.

Sample Chapters

October 20, 2204
Uncle Ureywwwo writes every day. The captain picks up his messages from the Universal Message System when we cross a communications point, as we do every six hours. Uncle Ureywwwo is too idle, according to my mother.

My father is too busy to write. He has what he calls a serious deadline for the completion of several buildings in the center of our planet’s capital. The workers from other planets have been engaged for only so long, as he says, and if the buildings are not complete they will disappear anyway on return flights to their homelands. Uncle Ureywwwo has enough money to pay them until that time, but additional funds won’t be available until the planet of Riskarwa pays up. That’s what my father told me.

Riskarwa is frequently mentioned when my parents meet with my uncle. I listen from the staircase near the living room. The entities on Riskarwa are always assuming some windfall will line their coffers, whatever that means. Meanwhile, they have the use of our minerals, when other customers are standing in line.

Uncle Ureywwwo has a Pollyannaish idea of the mineral business, according to my father. There is nobody waiting in line. Instead, the sales managers have to make cold calls every day, trying to interest entities in minerals that have been dug out of the ground before customers were found. My father says it is foolish to keep a large stock in certain minerals, but Uncle Ureywwwo does not want anybody to have to wait.

Uncle Ureywwwo is the only entity who is waiting. The receivable from Riskarwa is nearly two years old, according to my father.

Our trip is wonderful. We spend six hours each day with the tutors, and then we can bother the crew. I like to watch the chef, and Whitta likes to help the chambermaids. Barda spends her spare time looking at all the monitors in the captain’s office, and she says we are traveling back in time at a rate of about seven million years each hour!
We don’t notice the time travel inside the craft. Time advances as always here, using the special machines developed for these craft.

My mother told the captain she thinks she is expecting. The captain sounded worried. I was hiding behind the big drapery in the gathering room while they talked.

March 15, 2205
The hearing on the restraining order occurred today. I turned on the recorder of my translation cube, and I will have the entire experience to relive forever.

My grandmother says most trials are made like motion pictures, with a director and a judge in charge of the proceedings. The director has a series of cameras at his command, and he calls for the opening statements, the direct questioning of witnesses, the cross-examining of witnesses, the recalls of witnesses, and the closing statements. When all of this business has been put onto some recording medium, an editor cuts and splices the materials and makes a complete show. Then, each party swears the show represents all pertinent information about the matter to be adjudicated. Finally, the show is presented to a jury for a decision.

The great thing about this method is that all objections are handled on the cutting-room floor. If the judge rules a matter cannot come into the trial, that matter is never shown to the jury. The only things the jury can’t see are the expressions on the faces of the parties as testimony is given. Juries are sequestered only for a few days since the resultant show is usually drastically shorter than the time it took to gather the testimony.

However, a hearing on a restraining order, such as ours, is usually heard in a courtroom with no jury. Our judge, the Honorable Patricia Walrover, scheduled a room that could hold about ten people, the number my grandfather estimated would be interested.

How wrong he was! The media was out in force to see the grandparents of the visiting princesses take on the elderly uncle. Over two hundred press passes were requested for the trial, and the court officer granted all of them, changing the courtroom to the largest one in Albany County.
“Mr. Baden Ontrombe,” Judge Walrover began, “I want this matter to be presented in fifteen minutes. All this hoopla is beside the point. This is a very simple affair. You have both agreed to a bench trial.”

“Yes, your honor,” my grandfather said.

“Whom did you bring to court today?” the judge continued.
“Your honor, this is my wife, Wilhelmina, and my granddaughter, Tally Ontrombe. My brother, my only living brother, Mr. Conway Ontrombe, is over there at the other table,” my grandfather said.

“Is this the girl who is visiting from some distant planet, that princess?” the judge wanted to know.

“Yes, your honor, my granddaughter Tally is the oldest daughter of the crown princess of the planet of Drintde. Her uncle is the king of that planet, King Ureywwwo,” my grandfather testified.

“Please give your evidence now, Mr. Baden Ontrombe,” the judge said.

“Here’s our situation, your honor. My wife and I had two sons, Franklin and Potter. I have had the state of Pennsylvania send you several exhibits, and my Exhibit A is their birth certificates that show my wife and I are their biological parents. Franklin is now deceased,” my grandfather started.

“Shot dead because he could not pay his gambling debts, that’s what!” Uncle Conway shouted.

“Order! Continue, Mr. Baden Ontrombe,” the judge said.
“When Franklin needed a home near his work in Albany, the only member of the family who could put up any money was our son Potter, then working on another planet, not Drintde, as a plumber. I, using the power of attorney shown as my Exhibit B, bought a house in Potter’s name,” my grandfather testified.

“Run down and ready for the wrecker’s ball!” Uncle Conway threw in.


“I will stipulate the house was not in good shape when we signed the papers,” my grandfather said. “We put in tens of thousands of dollars of repairs and enhancements.”

“Bullshit!” Uncle Conway said. “The place is still a dump.”

“Continue, Mr. Baden Ontrombe,” the judge said.

“Our son Franklin, now deceased, bought a number of antiques and objets d’art to furnish the home. When he died he left his entire estate to my wife and me. His probated will is my Exhibit C,” my grandfather told the judge.

“Junk, all of it!” Uncle Conway yelled.

“Order! Mr. Conway Ontrombe will respect the decorum of this court or will be removed to a soundproof viewing room,” the judge said. “Continue, Mr. Baden Ontrombe.”

“It came to pass that my brother Conway needed a home. He had served a prison sentence and his income was being attached in the state of Pennsylvania. In a generous spirit….”

“Stick to the facts, Mr. Baden Ontrombe,” the judge interjected.

“Yes, your honor. My wife suggested that Conway share Potter’s house with Franklin. In addition, we sent him a small allowance for his own use,” my grandfather said.

“Piss-poor allowance, not fit for a pauper,” Uncle Conway muttered.

“It was what we had. Indeed, it was more than we had. My wife had to continue her work as the manager of a cafeteria, even though Potter had particularly said the money he was sending was to offset her income so she could quit,” my grandfather told the judge.

“Let’s come to the events of the last month,” the judge suggested.

“Yes, indeed,” my grandfather agreed. “We visited Conway on February 26 of this year. Our granddaughters wanted to meet him and to see their father’s house. We found Conway living in filth and drinking heavily.”

“I never have more than a fifth or two a day!” Uncle Conway interjected.

“Continue, Mr. Baden Ontrombe,” the judge said.

“We spent the next several days engaging cleaners, yardmen, and a daily woman. We signed a contract with the local grocer, specifying what that company was to deliver. We visited a druggist who was authorized to provide the alcoholism pills, and she agreed to send a month’s supply every thirty days. When we were satisfied the situation was under control, we continued on our trip with our granddaughters,” my grandfather told her.

“You cut my allowance to pay all those people!” Uncle Conway shouted. “You had no right!”

“In response to my brother’s comment, I told him I was reducing his allowance in order to make sure his consumption of alcohol was similarly reduced,” my grandfather testified.

“Go on, Mr. Baden Ontrombe,” the judge said. “We are now just over half an hour on this matter.”

“Within a few days, our Albany daily woman, Mrs. Cottrella, started to call me with some regularity. Conway was pawning items of value, items I did not know he owned, and he had posted a notice of a sale of property on the front fence. The sale was scheduled for Saturday, March 9. My Exhibit D is a copy of that advertisement,” my grandfather continued.

“Let me look this over,” Judge Walrover said. “You are saying these thirty-four items are your property?”

“They belong to my wife and me. We intended to leave them in the house for Potter when he returned from Drintde,” my grandfather answered.

“What do you estimate these items are worth?” the judge asked.

“We have the valuation for the probate as our Exhibit E. As most people realize, those estimates are usually low, but we paid inheritance tax on the amount listed there. Exhibit F is our canceled check, payable to the government,” my grandfather replied.

“You are saying the items in this rundown house are worth over three hundred thousand dollars?” the judge asked, her eyes widening. A gasp went up from the gallery.

“Franklin had a good eye for value, your honor,” my grandfather said, smiling.

“And Mr. Conway Ontrombe was offering them for just under four thousand dollars?”

“Yes, your honor,” my grandfather said.

The judge looked through my grandfather’s exhibits and finally said, “Now, I’ll hear you, Mr. Conway Ontrombe.”

Uncle Conway stood up and leaned on a collapsing cane he had withdrawn from his pocket.

“My brother, your honor, has been a stuffed shirt for the last seventy years. My father sent him to college to learn bookkeeping so he could assist me in the business, but he has never been worth a damn dime. I would ask him for help with a situation, and he would continually spout out about generally accepted accounting principles.”

My grandfather started to stand. “Only when you wanted to cheat somebody, such as the government!” he cried.

“Order! Mr. Baden Ontrombe, you need to remain in your seat while your brother testifies.”

“Then, he stuck me in that ramshackle house with his bastard son,” Uncle Conway said. “The family was convinced Franklin was no relation to us.”

My grandfather forgot the judge’s instructions. He darted over to Uncle Conway and punched him in the chest. My grandmother, who was seated right next to my grandfather, ran more quickly than I had ever imagined she could move and wrapped her arms around my grandfather’s waist, attempting to pull him away.

“Bailiff! Bailiff!” the judge cried.

An enormous Earthling woman came over to the elderly brothers and separated them, handcuffing each to an attachment under his table.

“Order! Order!” the judge shouted as the members of the media snapped pictures and punched codes on their dictation machines.

“That kid was a bastard,” Uncle Conway insisted.

“Let’s take a few deep breaths,” the judge said. “I have the birth certificate for the late Franklin Ontrombe here as an exhibit. This seems to be in order. It has the State of Pennsylvania’s seal, correctly embossed at the bottom.”

“Those things can be forged,” Uncle Conway threw in.

“This exhibit came directly from the state’s registrar to my court,” the judge explained. “It did not pass through Mr. Baden Ontrombe’s hands.”

The judge continued, “Here’s some information for you, Mr. Conway Ontrombe. Since the year of 2040 all birth certificates in all states of this nation list the biological parents, if they are known. The baby’s genetic information is filed with the government, and it is added to and compared with the existing database of citizens. Each biological parent’s information is listed as a probability, and occasionally I see a birth certificate with more than one person listed as the probable father or mother. In all cases these birth certificates have been for the offspring of identical twins or triplets and, except for these cases, no probability over ninety-eight percent has ever been shown to be inaccurate in any courtroom in this entire nation.”

“Can’t believe it,” Uncle Conway insisted.

“The probabilities on these birth certificates for Franklin and Potter are about as close to one hundred percent as they get. The probability that your brother is the biological father of the late Franklin Ontrombe is 99.99951 percent,” the judge told Uncle Conway.

“Well, anyway, he stuck me in this dilapidated structure with that snooty Franklin and expected me to rot away,” Uncle Conway said.

“What other relatives or friends were willing to provide you with free housing?” the judge asked.

“That’s neither here nor there,” Uncle Conway answered. “It was beneath my social status to live in such an establishment. He owed me more than that.”

“Why?” the judge asked.

“He was my only brother by that time. Our sister had essentially disowned me because of unfortunate turns of events with our father’s company, situations that could have been avoided if Baden had not been so damned insistent upon generally accepted accounting principles.”

“Did you attempt to sell household items that belonged to your brother?” the judge asked Uncle Conway.

“There was a lot of junk in that place. It wasn’t doing anybody any good, and my bills were coming due,” Uncle Conway explained.

“Do you have copies of these bills for me to review?” the judge pressed.

“My word is good enough, I should think,” Uncle Conway said, with a sneer on his face.

“We will recess for ten minutes. I’ll return with my decision shortly,” the judge said.

My grandmother looked stern, and I did not say anything to her for fear of provoking an outpouring of her true feelings. My grandfather bowed his head and appeared to be ready to weep.

The Honorable Patricia Walrover was good to her word. In ten minutes she returned with a sheaf of papers.

“These are my findings,” the judge began.

The mediapersons perked up. Pens were poised over writing boxes, and recording machines were pointed toward the judge.

“Mr. Conway Ontrombe,” the judge said, “I find you guilty of attempted grand larceny. You were fully aware the contents of that house, valuable or not, belonged to your brother and his son. I instruct the police chief of your town to place a notice on each door of the subject house that indicates nothing can be removed without written permission from this court. I further instruct the police chief to place you under house arrest in that house for a period of two years. You will wear a leg brace that will allow you to venture no further from the premises than one hundred yards. That leg brace will be of the type that gives a nerve shock if that yardage is exceeded. Only the police chief, the licensed drivers of ambulances, and the licensed morticians of this state will have the code to disable the leg brace.”

“Just for an aborted rummage sale?” Uncle Conway shrieked.

“Let me continue,” the judge said. “Searching of records indicates the federal government is investigating you for fraud. If that investigation culminates in an indictment, the two years of this sentence will be served after you serve any sentence imposed by the federal government.”

“Can’t you rule that Baden has to restore my allowance?” Uncle Conway whined.

“I am getting to Mr. Baden Ontrombe,” the judge answered.

My grandfather lifted his head. He and my grandmother stared at the judge.

“Mr. Baden Ontrombe, I find you in contempt of this court. I warned you to keep your seat, and, instead, you violently assaulted a man of over ninety years. It is not every day that an octogenarian throws a punch at a nonagenarian in my courtroom, but it happened today. I sentence you, starting this minute, to twenty-four hours in the courthouse jail, just two floors down, where you can reflect upon your nasty outburst. I remind you, Mr. Baden Ontrombe, that people are going to say slanderous things about your wife, your son, your daughter, and your grandchildren. Your best recourse is to sue them in court, win money, and gloat. Your worst recourse is to attempt, at your age, to start a physical confrontation.”

“I humbly apologize to you, your honor, in front of my wife and my granddaughter. I was wrong,” my grandfather said.

“I will accept your apology in twenty-four hours, Mr. Baden Ontrombe. Court is adjourned.”

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