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  • Sue Short

The Island of Dreams

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

The Prince Albert Inn

Rachel has stood on this exact spot many times before.

Her full attention is focussed on the beautiful dolls’ house that Samuel made for his daughter, Beth

Now, the miniature inn belongs to Rachel, Beth’s niece

Samuel used wood from a wrecked boat to make the walls and floors of the dolls’ house

Over the years Rachel has created wonderful stories for her dolls

Her imaginative ideas have made up for the dullness of her own existence

She doesn’t go anywhere other than school

Her wonderful stories have helped deal with the negative life experiences she has faced to date

With parents who are too busy to take her anywhere

The dolls have made up for everything

There is something exciting yet to come, maybe in minutes or hours

That will bring Rachel great happiness.

Her lonely life will become a joyous and magical one

Today will be a special day but Rachel doesn’t know it yet.

She gazes into her old doll’s house in the attic of the Prince Albert

She remembers Samuel, her grandfather, with great affection

His carpentry skills came to the fore when he made the miniature inn for Beth

It is a replica of the Prince Albert where Samuel was once the popular innkeeper

Samuel’s son, Ben, is now the landlord

He’s a different personality doing a different job

He sells beer and wine to strangers

He’d rather be sailing the Cornish seas like his Grandfather, Jonas

Ben’s wife, Florence, makes dresses for wealthy ladies

And clothes for dolls’ house figures

Rachel noticed the ballerina doll had a letter in her left hand

Some seconds or maybe minutes later,

She found a magnifying glass with exceptional magnifying powers

It was in Samuel’s keep-sake box

She reads the letter with great excitement with just a tinge of fear

The words take her breath and loneliness away

Dear Rachel

Don’t be lonely anymore

Join me across the Giant’s Ocean on an island somewhere beyond your knowledge

We can dance in the Grotto of Miracles

We can live our lives through positive thinking

As she pauses to think about the letter,

The windows of her attic bedroom and dolls’ house have misted-up

Rachel tastes salty water, smells the sea air

And a strong smell of seaweed

She rubs the water-droplets from the windows of the Cornish inn

Where her Grandfather was once the proud innkeeper

There is a vast ocean stretching before her

Not the busy Truro streets and lanes

The Island of Dreams

Rachel is standing next to her dolls’ house

Not in an attic but on an island

In the middle of an ocean

Glistening and rolling waves surround her

She is afraid of the sea but happy to be safe on the island

But how did she get there?

A young girl in a pink chiffon dress is standing in front of her

She resembles the figure in Rachel’s dolls’ house

But she’s a living person not a doll

“Hello, my name is “Saffi”

She does a little dance around Rachel who tries to dance but fails

“How did I get here Saffi?

“You’re here with me. That’s all that matters”

“But I want to know if this is real. Are you real Saffi?”

“Yes, I’m a real person”

“Where do you live?”

“I live in America, across the Giant’s Ocean. I’ve a dolls’ house just like you”

Rachel giggled, “I think you mean the Atlantic Ocean”

“Well, that’s news to me so. I’ll carry on calling it the Giant’s if you don’t mind”

“Where are we Saffi? Is this part of America?”

“This is our island of dreams” said Saffi throwing her arms in the air and performing a ballet twirl of great beauty

“Your dolls’ house brought you. What do you remember just before you got here?”

“I was looking at my doll’s house in my attic bedroom”

“Where’s the attic bedroom?” knowing the answer.

“In the Prince Albert inn in Truro”

“It sounds as if it’s named after somebody royal; is it?”

“’It’s named after Queen Victoria’s husband”

Saffi makes an elaborate curtsy, then says very royally

“What happened next your majesty?”

“The windows of my bedroom and the dolls’ house misted-up

I tasted salty-water and I felt a sort of rocking feeling.

I looked out of my attic bedroom and saw the ocean

“Then what did you see, Rachel? It all sounds very exciting”

“When I looked again, I saw you, Saffi”

“Who did I look like?” Saffi knew the answer

“Like my ballerina doll”

“Is the doll in the attic now?”

They both looked


A few minutes or maybe hours later Rachel asked,

“Is the dolls’ house magic?”

“Kind of, but not how you mean.

Your grandfather, Samuel, used the storm- damaged wood

From the wrecked hull of his father’s vessel, the Daisy Belle

He made the miniature inn for his daughter Beth when she was your age

Your Great-grandfather, Jonas once lived on this very island

He sailed from here, across the Giant’s Ocean to Cornwall

There was a terrible storm and his boat was wrecked, he disappeared, presumed drowned

Your dolls’ house has the memory of the Daisy Belle

Search for the answer on the walls and floors

At that precise moment or maybe some moments later

Rachel tasted salt.

Her eyes felt itchy from salty mists that suddenly surrounded her

She closed her eyes to take away the rocking sensation.

When she opened them again

She was back in her attic bedroom in the Prince Albert in Truro

Suddenly feeling very sleepy she lay on a cushion

Beside her doll’s house

Rachel fell asleep clutching Saffi, the ballerina doll

And dreaming of dancing with her new friend

The following day or maybe the following week,

Rachel examined her dolls’ house very carefully

She studied the walls and floors of the miniature inn

She traced engravings with the tips of her fingers

They were hard to read as the sea had been busy

Maybe a letter E

And part of the letter L

The last two letters of the word DAISY BELLE

Could it be?

She examined the entire house for engravings

And found letters that made up the name: DAISY BELLE

The next day or the day after that

Rachel noticed that Saffi was holding a miniature book

With her magnifying-glass, with its exceptional magnifying powers

Rachel read the words, on the cover, of the tiny book



She twirled a twirl of great beauty and laughed out-loud.

A Parcel Arrives

The next day or maybe the next month

Rachel is passing her mum’s sewing-room

This is where Florence and Beth make dresses for rich ladies

And clothes for Rachel’s dolls

There’s something new on the sewing table

It’s a parcel but not just an ordinary one!

There are many unusual postage stamps on it

With lots of string and sealing wax around its paper covering

Rachel stands in the shadows to watch and listen

“Where’s it from?” she wonders but somehow knows

Florence and Beth seem mystified

“The parcels come from someone called Saffi

She lives in America” says Florence

Rachel waits a long wait to find out more

But finally finds out what the parcel contains

When Beth spreads a beautiful piece of material on the table

Its blue silk chiffon and a dance dress pattern

There’s a little card under the material too

“Is the dress for one of your rich ladies Florence?” asks Beth

“The material is to make a dance dress for Rachel” she says sounding quite amazed for once in her life

Hearing that, Rachel skips off along the corridor of the dusty inn

She can hear her father barking orders at his staff

“Get those beer barrels up to the bar…move it or I’ll fire you”

His voice is husky from shouting

“He’d rather be sailing on the Giant’s Ocean” Rachel says out-loud

She knows that her Father is sad not cross

But hurries off up the stairs in case he sees her

The Dancing Begins

The next week or maybe the next month

Florence and Beth have made the dance dress

It’s made from the blue silk chiffon

The dress is the same style as Saffi’s dress

With puffed sleeves that are so pretty and a skirt full and flouncy,

When Rachel puts the dress on she feels as if she’s floating like a cloud

She’s eager to visit Saffi on the Island of Dreams

Maybe she’ll be able to dance all day and night

But first she’s got to learn to dance!

Rachel stands in front of the dolls’ house

She closes her eyes

The mist whirls around her

The rocking sensation makes her feel a little giddy

Rachel is on the island when she opens her eyes again

Saffi is standing in front of the dolls’ house

Wearing her pink silk dress and ballet shoes

There are pink feathers in her hair

She’s holding some blue feathers in her left hand

Rachel puts the feathers in her hair and does a twirl

“Thank you for the beautiful chiffon. I loved the pattern, just like yours

Mum and Beth worked very hard getting the dress finished

Even though they didn’t know why

“You’re going to have your first dance lesson today”

She leads Rachel to a glittery pavement

Where the two girls face each other

A band is heard but not seen

“Now let the dancing begin”

The Grotto

Steep sided cliffs

Foamy waves crash into the Island of Dreams

With shells of azure rock pools into which

Crabs and small fish make a temporary home

The beach is the special place onto which

The turtles come then make their way

Up the steep paths of sea-grass and pebbles

Leading from pure white sand and stormy seas

Testing and tortuous but needing to be achieved

They make their way towards their ultimate goal

The grotto of jewels and turtle shells

There is a platform on which Saffi and Rachel

Will dance together

The girls each find turtles’ shells on which to blow

By this action they will be able to enter the grotto

Under the reddening sky

The turtles form a circle around a bejewelled platform

And make sounds of welcome

Saffi leads Rachel into the beautiful hollow

In which there is a gold and silver birdcage

Saffi enters the glimmering structure and collects

A jewel of beauty to present to Tarquin

King of the turtles

He gives consent for dancing to begin

Music of strings, woodwind and percussion

Is heard from cave nearby

It’s melodious and inviting

Rachel and Saffi dance together

Under the red sky

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