Once upon a time, there lived a princess named Princess Anabel who was so helpful and kind that one day, when one of the third-floor maids was sick and couldn't come to work, Princess Anabel offered to help the other maid clean that floor. She worked very hard all day long, and at the end of the day, as she was beating out a rug, she happened to come across a rug fairy.
This rug fairy's rug had not been properly cleaned in some time, and she was so pleased that Princess Anabel was doing it that she offered the Princess a wish. Princess Anabel, being helpful and kind as she was, asked for a self-cleaning castle.
The fairy granted her wish, and this is how it worked: whenever Princess Anabel wanted the castle to be cleaned, she would step out of the kitchen door, and there she should press a button which looked a little bit like a doorbell, but which was really a self-cleaning button. She should stay outside for at least one hour, and then she was free to come back in the castle again. However, there was one rule: she could never be in the castle when that button was pushed. The fairy didn't say exactly what would happen if this rule was broken, but she warned Princess Anabel very sternly about it, and so Princess Anabel promised her that she would never be inside when the button was pushed.
All went swimmingly for the next few months, but then Princess Anabel's pen pal (really a pen suitor; they were becoming interested in marrying each other) decided to come for a visit. His name was Prince Rupert. He knew from her letters that Princess Anabel enjoyed helping in the kitchen, so he decided to surprise her by coming around to the kitchen door. Sure enough, he pressed what he thought was the doorbell, never knowing that it was the castle-cleaning button, which no one but Princess Anabel was supposed to touch.
Inside the kitchen, Princess Anabel was just reaching for a carton of eggs when all of a sudden she turned into a pile of glittery dust. When Prince Rupert heard the screaming of the other people in the kitchen, he rushed inside, and when they explained to him what he had (accidentally) done, he was very sorry indeed. They swept the Anabel-dust into a pile and then used a funnel to put it into a canning jar so that Prince Rupert could take it with him on his quest to find a cure for dustification.
I will not trouble you with the details of Prince Rupert's long and arduous journey to the island of the dragons (perhaps I will tell you another time). I hope you remember that dragons are very wise and often know the solutions to magical problems. Suffice it to say, once he got there, he was told that he should add five drops of blue food coloring, four drops of red food coloring, three tears from a boy who was crying for his mother, and two drops of almond extract, and his princess would be restored.
He followed the instructions exactly, and Anabel did come back-- but the trouble was, she was only about as tall as a pencil.
That's when they thought of going to the rug fairy again. Prince Rupert worked all day long, scrubbing floors, dusting knicknacks, and (of course) beating out rugs, and finally at the end of the day, another rug fairy appeared to him. (You must know that rug fairys are seldom found at the beginning of a work day; usually, if they appear, it will be at the end of a long day of cleaning.)
The rug fairy was perfectly happy to grant his wish, and in an instant, Anabel was back as good as new (or, to be precise, as good as she had been about three weeks earlier). Princess Anabel and Prince Rupert courted for another month, but they had already been writing letters to each other for three years, so it did not take them long to see that they really did like each other well enough to marry each other, and so another month after that, the marriage took place.
In preparation for the marriage, Princess Anabel instituted a very generous hiring policy for castle-cleaners, because it was now well-known in her land that her castle was full of rug-fairies. Her rule was that whoever wanted to work for one day cleaning the castle would be hired to do so, and they would be allowed to keep whatever wishes they were offered in the line of duty. About twenty people got wishes in this way, and several of them chose to have self-cleaning houses, themselves. They were very careful, however, to put very large signs next to the self cleaning buttons, which read: "ABSOLUTELY NO ONE EXCEPT [here they would put the name of the person] IS ALLOWED TO PUSH THIS BUTTON, ON PAIN OF DEATH." They didn't really mean the "on pain of death" part, but they wanted people to know they were serious.