A Tale Across Time (East of the Sun, West of the Moon), By Christina Ruth Johnson, Vintage Fairy Tale Sleuth

My favorite fairy tale for many years has been “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” A few different things conspired to make it so. I love that the hero of the tale is female--it is she who undertakes the quest, she who rescues the prince, and she who defeats the evil. I love the illustrations by the great Kay Nielsen that are associated with it.

Kay Nielsen, East of the Sun and West of the Moon:Old Tales from the North

I also love the conundrum it presents when compared with the classical myth of “Cupid and Psyche.” To be so similar, yet so far removed in time and space! What is the connection? I decided that whether or not I found an answer, I would address this problem in my next Fairy Tale Vintage Sleuth column . . . so let the sleuthing begin!

Kay Nielsen, East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North

ESWM was originally collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, two famous Norwegian folklorists, who were born about 30 years after the Grimm brothers and drew on the work of the latter for inspiration in their own endeavors. Asbjørnsen and Moe began publishing their collection of stories, Norske folkeeventyr, in 1841 (ESWM is tale number 41).

Cover of Norske folkeeventyr, 5th edition, 1874
Like Kinder- und Hausmärchen, this anthology of tales was incredibly well received by the reading public. Like the Grimm brothers, Asbjørnsen and Moe transcribed the stories they collected into language more suited for literary publication, though with perhaps less overt changes than in the German collection.

Theodor Kittelsen

Summary: A young farmer’s daughter is taken from her home by a large white bear and born on his back to a grand castle, where an unknown man comes to her every night after dark. The girl’s mother convinces her to peek at the man when he is sleeping, so she lights a candle and sees that her lover is a handsome prince; but she drips wax on his skin and he wakes, thereby cursing him to travel to a castle that lies east of the sun and west of the moon and to marry a troll princess. On her journey to rescue him, the girl meets three old women, is given three golden gifts, and rides the four winds. She uses the gifts to trick the trolls and then performs a task that only she can do in order to win her prince back.

The earliest extant version of “Cupid and Psyche” is found in Apuleius’ novel Metamorphoses (not to be confused with Ovid’s), also known as The Golden Ass. Apuleius was a Latin prose writer and traveler, born in North Africa in 125 BC. Images of Cupid and Psyche, however, appear in Greek art as early as the 4th century BC.

 Cupid & Psyche, Roman replica
of Hellenistic (2nd c. BC) original, Capitoline Museum

Summary: A beautiful mortal girl, Psyche, is given to an unknown “monster” in marriage. A wind bears her away to a beautiful estate, where a man comes to her only at night after dark. Although he has forbidden her to look upon his face, her sisters convince her to peek. She lights a lamp and sees before her Cupid, the very god of love himself, but she spills oil on his skin and he wakes. To punish her doubt, he leaves. To reclaim him, Psyche (while pregnant) goes to a vengeful Venus, who sets before her three impossible tasks, which Psyche completes with the aid of various friendly entities. In the end, Cupid asks Jupiter to grant Psyche the gift of immortality, and they live forever after as husband and wife.

Psyche in the Garden of Amor, illustration of Apuleius Metamorphoses
 c. 24. Manuscript Vat. Lat. 2194 in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana 
in Rome, circa 1345

Apuleius’ tale had spread to western Europe in the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the above illumination from a 1345 manuscript. “Cupid and Psyche” was first translated into English by William Adlington in 1566. The story was referenced in Milton’s Comus in the first half of the 17th century, suggesting a certain familiarity with the tale at this time. The famous sculptor, Antonio Canova, dynamically captured the mythical lovers in the late 18th century, just decades before Asbjørnsen and Moe collected ESWM. Fascinatingly, even as Asbjørnsen and Moe were transcribing ESWM, a descendant of “Cupid and Psyche,” the original story remained popular across Europe.

Canova, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, first commissioned 1787

Is the similarity between these two tales an example of medieval (or earlier) literature trickling down to the “folk,” being altered to fit the culture of that specific group of people, and turning into a folktale? We saw evidence for this in my very first post with the similarities between the medieval story of Emaré and the two later fairytales “Maiden Without Hands” (Grimm) and “Donkeyskin” (Perrault).

It’s fascinating to wonder about when and where the exact exchanging and changing of the original story took place--very likely it was a much more complicated process than I summarized just now.

What are your thoughts? Can you think of other instances where stories like this changed over time and became folk/fairy tales? 

(The citations on these Wikipedia entries are surprisingly thorough.)

Christina Ruth Johnson recently received her Masters in Art History with a focus on the ancient Mediterranean and a side interest in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her other great love is fantasy literature from ancient times to present day. 

Book Review Column: Girl Power, By Lissa Sloan (Cinder, Scarlet, and Towering)

Girl Power:  In which I review three updates featuring classic fairy tale heroines: the girl with the slipper, the girl with the hood, and the girl with the hair.  (Cinder, Scarlet, and Towering)

Cinder and Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is volume I of The Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer’s blend of post-World War IV Earth and classic fairy tales.  Linh Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing, where she supports her stepmother and stepsisters by working out of a market stall.  When Crown Prince Kai gives her a mysterious repair assignment and later invites her to the royal ball, she finds him as attractive as the rest of the world does.  But Cinder can’t imagine Kai would be interested in her if he knew she was a cyborg.  And she has other things on her mind, such as the deadly plague that is hitting too close to home, fixing the family hover before the ball, and trying to avoid the cyborg draft.   When Cinder is forced to become a test subject for plague vaccines, she learns she is more different than she knew, and that time is short if she is to save Kai and all of Earth from the plans of the sinister Lunar queen, Levana.

Volume II of The Lunar Chronicles is Scarlet, which continues the story of Cinder and Kai, adding in Scarlet Benoit, who works on her grandmother’s farm and delivers produce to the nearby town.   Scarlet’s grandmother has been missing for two weeks.  The police have given her up for dead, leaving Scarlet to search on her own until she receives an offer of help from Wolf, a mysterious and potentially dangerous stranger.  Meanwhile, Cinder is on the run from the government, who has promised to turn her over to Queen Levana to avoid her declaring war, as Kai desperately seeks a diplomatic solution to the Lunar problem.

Cinder and Scarlet provide a clever futuristic update for "Cinderella" and "Little Red Riding Hood." It is great fun predicting how Meyer will use events from the original tales (quite inventively, in most cases) and when she will depart from them completely.  However, The Lunar Chronicles so far tell a story that is quite engaging in its own right, set in a transporting world and peopled with appealing characters.  Cinder and Scarlet are both strong, sympathetic heroines, though in quite different ways.  Scarlet is fiery while Cinder is more introspective.  Likewise, Prince Kai is seriously charming while Wolf is more the strong and smoldering type.  There is plenty of high-stakes conflict from mustache-twirling villains like Cinder’s step family and Queen Levana and her minions, who possess a Jedi-like mind-controlling power.  But the drama is balanced by a good dose of comic relief, often provided by Iko, Cinder’s quirky shoe-loving, boy-crazy android, and roguish pilot Carswell Thorne, Cinder’s fugitive traveling companion.

Meyer is a skillful storyteller, deftly slipping in exposition, establishing relationships, and building characters while keeping the plot ticking briskly along.  At times her narration is a bit on the dramatic side and her villains a bit on the melodramatic side, but I was too busy enjoying the story to mind much.  The Lunar Chronicles have it all--action, adventure, romance, and a healthy dose of girl power.  I freely admit I’m looking forward to the next installment, Cress, which comes out in February.  Considering the leafy green title, and the fact that readers have already met an unattached character named Thorne who flies a spaceship called a Rampion, we can be fairly certain that the title character will be based on a tower-dwelling girl with a lot of hair. 

Towering by Alex Flinn

Speaking of "Rapunzel," Towering is Alex Flinn’s latest fairy tale update.  The story is told by alternating narrators, teenagers Wyatt and Rachel.  Haunted by recent personal losses, Wyatt moves to remote Slakkill, New York, to live with family friend Mrs. Greenwood.  Mrs. Greenwood is still grieving for her daughter, Danielle, who disappeared many years before.  Visited by an eerie dream, Wyatt feels drawn to learn more about the lost Danielle and her fate.  Rachel spends all her time in her tower room.  In between the visits of the woman she calls Mama, she has only her books for company.  She knows nothing of the outside world, only that Mama keeps her safe from those who would harm her.  But she knows that one day she will leave her tower, that there is something she must do, and someone she will meet.  When Wyatt appears outside her window in need of help, Rachel is ready to come to his rescue.

In many ways, Flinn updates "Rapunzel" quite effectively, changing the longed-for rampion into an addictive, hallucinogenic leaf, and exploring the themes of heroism, isolation, and rescue.  She also delves into some of the tale’s most intriguing questions: Why would an adult shut a child away from the world, how much protection is too much, and what would be the experience of this sheltered child when she finally experiences the real world?  Wyatt’s search for answers about Danielle, other vanished town teenagers, and a mysterious singing voice which only he can hear provides a shivery, gothic atmosphere.  

Unfortunately, I found that the resolution, complete with a prophecy, telepathic communication, and super strength, felt awkward and ill-suited to the introspective world of the story.  It was Towering’s three-dimensional characters and thought-provoking aspects that most resounded with me. 

What do you look for in female protagonists?  How is the fairy tale genre measuring up to your expectations? Who does it well?  Join the Enchanted Conversation and share your thoughts.  Happy reading!
Lissa's avatar, by Lissa
Lissa Sloan has contributed stories, poems, and guest posts to Enchanted Conversation, but she also writes and illustrates for younger readers. Visit her online at her website, lissasloan.com, or on Twitter, @LissaSloan. 

Roses and Agatha Starless, By Adele Jones

Image from The Graphics Fairy

Editor's note: This bittersweet tale shows that details matter in writing stories. I also liked how it evoked both "Beauty and the Beast" and the myth of Persephone.

In the early evening, when the sun was out of sight but it was still light enough to see, Agatha Starless sat at her balcony, weaving a yellow shawl. The thread shone in the moonlight, and she hummed to herself as she sat, deep in lazy contemplation. She thought by turn of her sisters and their suitors, and what she might wear to the next palace party, and of the prettiness of the landscape, the hills rolling neatly out to the horizon.

She was the oldest of three sisters and was regularly courted by a variety of lords, one of whom would be chosen on her twentieth birthday. Agatha looked forward to marriage but was happy enough waiting; it was pleasant to be young still. She could imagine no greater pleasure than sitting on the balcony, weaving and looking up at the sky or across to the horizon, and thinking on a hundred mundane topics, and feeling a few entirely extraordinary things – the feeling of the sky and the horizon and the thread in her fingers.

But after a bit of time her fingers began to mix up and she stood up to rest. The ball of thread was knocked from her chair and rolled off the balcony and onto the ground below.

She tried to pull it back by the remaining thread, but to her surprise the string pulled taut. She looked down to see if it had snagged on something, and found herself looking straight at a skeleton.

Her stomach seemed to disappear. The skeleton was standing straight up and holding in two bony hands her ball of thread.

She could not move but after a long silence the skeleton did, pointing a finger at her and beckoning slowly.

It won’t do to run away from death, she thought as she realized what this was, and when her legs were able, she came inside and walked down the stairs, where it was waiting for her.

She walked two steps behind, watching the string unravel, thinking only of the feeling of the ground beneath her feet, and wondering vaguely if she would ever feel it again. They walked for a long time, and the horizon seemed to swallow her.

But at the base of a hill the skeleton stopped and looked at Agatha. Cut into the hill were two heavy stone pillars, behind which opened a long, dark hallway.

This was it, she thought, the land of the dead, and the skeleton began to walk again, very slowly. The ball of string was quite small in his hands now.

Where there had been silence, suddenly there was sound. The walls, in fact, seemed to be whispering back and forth between themselves. Life! cried one, and the other answered Death! And light! and dark! and joy! and pain! until the whisperings grew so loud and urgent that they drowned each other out. Agatha continued to follow the skeleton, through a labyrinth of thin stone walls, until the thread ran out, and the skeleton bent to set it down and rose again to open a heavy wooden door.

This room was lit warmly by candlelight and did not whisper. In the center stood a wooden table, all set for a feast, with a roast pig and many different kinds of fruits and berries and pitchers of wine and plates of bread. The skeleton took a place at the mahogany chair at the head of the table, and gestured for Agatha to sit across from him.

Then it spoke – with a voice that could have belonged to any ordinary man. “Welcome, my dearest Agatha, to my palace. I’m afraid it has seen better days, but I hope you will be comfortable all the same. Have some wine, and help yourself to the food – it’s all for you, you know. Eating is an impossibility.”

Agatha stared at the skeleton, repulsed and fascinated. The jaw moved, and sound came out, and the eye sockets looked at her as though they were looking about – the overall effect was gruesome and quite macabre.

“Who are you?” she said, in half a voice, and the skeleton laughed (a very strange, dry, coughing laugh).

“You’ll get used to my appearance after a while,” it said – Agatha wished it would not speak; the effect was so bizarre. “It took me years, myself. No, I’m not Death or anything silly . . . I’m just a prince in exile.”

Agatha thought privately that she, too, would put a prince in exile if he had failed to produce skin or blood. “I am honored,” she said.

“And I am as well,” he said gravely. “I wish you would eat.”

Agatha could not imagine eating with a skeleton’s head staring straight at her, but she took a handful of berries from the bowl nearest her and put one into her mouth.

“Aha!” he cried, startling her, “Now you have to come back. It’s a spell, you see. Each berry means one time you come back. Oh, now you won’t eat any more. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

Agatha by this point was aware of a feeling of pity for the creature, and it seemed to her the correct thing to eat a good deal of berries. He watched her eat them silently, and when she had finished what was on her plate, said quietly, “So you are not so scared of me after all.”

Agatha forced a smile. “Of course not.”

“She’ll come back nine times,” he muttered to himself, “Nine times.”

Agatha was beginning to feel conversational. “So you live here all alone?”

“No,” he said, “There are roses in the garden.”

“I see.” Agatha’s mind was in paralysis, but her mouth kept thinking of things to say, as normally as if she were at another party, speaking with another suitor. “And – mind you, I daresay it’s not my business, but what have you brought me here for? It’s an honor of course, but it was rather sudden.”

She felt that he was smiling. “For company,” he said, “Roses never talk about anything trivial and I wanted to. And you seem so lonely up there, sitting night after night . . .”

It chilled Agatha to the bone to know that the skeleton had been watching her before that time, but she smiled softly. “Do you have a name?” she asked.

He moved his head to one side, probably not realizing how frightening the gesture appeared. “Everyone has a name,” he said, “Mine is Tristan.”

“And you were born. . .” Agatha trailed off.

“Here,” he said. “This was a palace once. I mean – all this was the dungeon. But some hundred years ago, there stood a marvelous palace here, and I was the younger prince. But a witch fell in love with my brother, and when he refused her, put a curse on the place. Everyone died but me – there was an enchantment on the royal family, that there would always be a surviving heir.” He laughed bitterly. “I’m very likely immortal.”

Agatha was silent, unsure whether she should believe the story or not. It sounded very unlikely. “And the witch is dead?”

“Long ago,” he said. “And I’ve just been living here.”

They talked a bit more and then Tristan instructed her to follow the yellow string back to her house. She did, and strange as it might seem, the walk seemed longer and lonelier without the skeleton leading the way.

When she woke up she was sure that it had been a dream, but nonetheless looked out the window to see if there was some ruined palace out in the plains. She saw nothing, but there were footsteps in the earth, leading away from the house. Could it have been true? Her heart beat excitedly and she turned back inside and dressed for breakfast.

It was an ordinary day. She went to the city with her sisters and they drank tea at the house of a friend. Agatha was distracted all the time by thoughts of the skeleton. He felt so real to her, and in retrospect, not at all frightening.

The hours stretched on endlessly until finally twilight hit. Agatha painted her lips a little redder and ran a comb through her hair. She thought she looked very pretty, and, very nervous, walked down the stairs and to the plain.

She walked for a long time, trying to remember the path she had followed in her dream. She came behind the hills and no palace remained . . . with a dull feeling Agatha realized that it had not been true at all. It had only been a dream . . .

She sat on the hill and looked up at the several early stars in the sky. She didn’t know why she was so disappointed. It had been a nightmare, rather than a dream, after all. But it had been so interesting. She had felt so comfortable.

Something touched her shoulder; she spun around and could not help but scream. The skeleton stood above her, his head tilted left on the neck, all the bones so white and still in the twilight.

“You didn’t have to come today,” he said, “I will come and get you the next time.”

“Oh – oh,” said Agatha, “I’m sorry. I only wanted to remember –“

“If this all had been a nightmare?”

Agatha bowed her head slightly. “It was so interesting to meet you,” she said faintly.

“Well,” he said, “Come along anyways. You might be hungry.”

He led her around a few hills and opened the door. They walked through the labyrinth – some of the passageways were familiar to her now. The walls were as whispery as ever, but Agatha was distracted by her own thoughts.

They sat at the table again, and today Agatha did not find it repulsive to eat. He seemed more comfortable, and they conversed. Agatha told about her life – the recent gossip in the city, and amusing incidents from her childhood. He explained what the palace had once been and told her how he spent his days – looking after the roses in the garden. “They are watered by an enchanted river,” he explained, “which is a symbol of the kingdom. Since I’m the last one left, it is defined by me. If I’m in a bad mood, they wilt a bit, and I must sing to them or recite poetry to lift their spirits. When I’m in a good mood, they are very bright and extraordinarily beautiful.”

Agatha laughed and asked, “How are the roses today?”

He spoke very shyly. “They are very happy – very colorful. Would you like to see them after dinner?”

Agatha nodded. Tristan poured her a glass of wine. “You are probably the kindest girl who ever lived,” he said, “You laugh at the feast of a skeleton.”

“By the way,” she said, “What have you brought me here for? It seems very strange, since you live alone. Do you often make friends with people from the city?”

The mood in the room changed at once. “Not often,” he said briefly, “And I can’t tell you, Agatha, believe me.”

“I’m worried that you’re going to sacrifice me to some god or something,” she said, hoping she sounded playful, and not afraid.

“I will try not to,” he said with a laugh, and then, as Agatha laid down her fork, “Shall we go out to the garden?”

Agatha acquiesced. He led her into a courtyard, which sat under the open sky, and all around grew small, red roses. In the center was a fountain, which did not run with water, and everywhere else was set with flat stones.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. He touched one of the flowers with the back of his hand. “They aren’t entirely well after all,” he said, “Sing for them. You’ll see how they’ll brighten.”

“What should I sing?” cried Agatha.

“Anything – there must be some popular songs in your city.”

Agatha cleared her throat, and, watching the flowers awkwardly, sang one of the songs that had been very frequently sung at the lyre over the past few years.

"The moon rises on the dark plain and my love is far away

He flies to her arms and they dance till break of day
And I sit in silence and I am no man’s wife

For I am cursed to love him to the end of my life."

If anything the flowers turned browner, as though daring to go invisible. Tristan looked at her.

“It’s better to sing happy songs,” he said, “They’re very sensitive flowers – they take things very much to heart. It will be quite difficult to cheer them up after that.”

“You sing something,” said Agatha.

“Oh, I can’t,” he said. “Not – no.”

“Then the flowers will be sad.”

“We can have some conversation to cheer them up. Tell me more about your sisters.”

“Oh – there isn’t much to say. They’re very silly, honest girls. They’re quite popular. I never was,” she added, “I could never be purposefully light-hearted. If I have a conversation, it lasts hours and hours, while they can do the same thing in five minutes. They’re very clever,” she added, “And rather stupid.”

“I understand,” he said, “I was that way once. But now I’ve had a good deal of time for contemplation. And it’s very sad, living here, in the dungeons.”

Agatha nodded. “Why do the walls whisper?”

“Oh – they’re alive, too. Very single-minded creatures. All the left walls are very negative and the right walls are very positive. I think they remember the thoughts of the prisoners who died here.”

They conversed more. Agatha found that she often forgot he was a skeleton, and only remembered when she looked right at him. When it grew very dark, he suggested that she might want to go home. “Do you remember your way?”

 “Yes,” she said, “But you should escort me back so I’m not lonely.”

He laughed. “Very well.”

They returned. When they came to her room, he reminded her that she was to return eight more times. She agreed. Sometimes he came to fetch her, and sometimes she went herself. They became very good friends in an altogether short period of time. In fact, Agatha came to feel that he was not only her best, but her only friend.

On Agatha’s ninth visit she was surprised to see that he was wearing a formal suit. The effect was initially comical, but the more Agatha saw it, the more morbid and disconcerting the outfit was. It made it impossible to forget that he was a skeleton, seeing the coat hang so strangely on his yellow-white bones, and Agatha tried her best not to look at him.

“This is your last visit here,” he said solemnly, after they had talked gaily for a little while. “I must thank you for all your wonderful conversation. Your friendship has put a sun in my sky.”

Agatha could not help but smile. “I feel the same. You don’t know how much I’ve looked forward to seeing you. I treasure our meetings more than—“ she paused in confusion, “More than anything else.”

“Agatha,” he said in a new and frightening tone of voice. She looked up; he was looking directly at her, the terrible suit still sitting so strangely on him, and seeming very suddenly like an image from a nightmare. “Agatha, you have probably guessed – you must know that it is not always with friendship that I think of you. I knew you long before you knew me, and your heart . . . Agatha, don’t be afraid!” He stood up and walked towards her. “Agatha, I was so afraid that you would be afraid of me, and you weren’t, and now you are. Agatha, forgive me. I love you – forgive me.”

He touched her arm with his hand, as though he wished to comfort her, and his hand was so cold and felt so much like death that Agatha was afraid she would die. She jumped back. “Don’t touch me!” she screamed, “You – you creature, you horrible creature, get away from me!”

He stared at her dumbly, and she ran from the room, shocked herself at what she had done. She knew the labyrinth quite well now, and though every footstep she took away from him hurt her, she kept running, ashamed and confused and utterly distraught. She reached her balcony and sat in her room very quietly, her tears all dried away.

She loved him. She missed him already, and it was impossible that everything was over. If he had loved her, he couldn’t any longer. In that moment he had seen how ugly and selfish she was. Everything was over, and nothing seemed real.

She fell asleep just so she could stop thinking of it, and she was disappointed that there were no skeletons in her dreams. She went through her days listlessly, so that her mother wondered if she wasn’t in love with someone, and Agatha found it quite impossible to explain. Even if she could have said, “There’s a skeleton who sometimes takes me away to his palace in the distant hills,” it would have been unthinkable to tell the other part: “And when he said he loved me I pushed him away, and said something terrible, because he was wearing a suit.” Every night she sat outside weaving, utterly nervous, staring all over the sand, hoping he would appear, like before, and forgive her.

“I’m here, it’s Agatha,” she whispered into the empty night, over and over. “I love you, and I’m so, so, so, sorry.”

He didn’t come. Agatha gave up weeping, and waiting, although she could not help sometimes looking out anxiously out to the hills, wishing she would suddenly hear his voice.

Months passed like this, and entirely to her surprise she turned twenty. Her father asked her over breakfast who she preferred to marry. “Anyone,” she said, “Whoever you like. I hardly mind.”

So a match was chosen, whom Agatha did not mind. He was a nice man and in time she grew to like him, and even love him. She felt guilty for deceiving him, for loving someone else, but as the years passed Tristan seemed like a dream. She had children and they grew older. Before she was at all prepared for it, they married. Her parents died, and her husband, and Agatha became very old and very alone.

One night she sat at the balcony, and an idea came clearly into her head. “I should tell him,” she realized, “I shouldn’t be afraid. He should know before I die that I am awfully, awfully sorry.”

It was a sickening feeling that accompanied her every step to the palace. The road was so familiar – it didn’t feel like more than a week since she’d gone this way with Tristan walking beside her. She could not bear to think of hearing his voice, of hearing his cold words . . . when the last thing he’d said had been so warm, and gentle. She couldn’t bear the thought – but you must be brave – she thought, and somehow didn’t turn back home. She reached the door of the palace and she could hear her own heart beating. The walls whispered, as always, and despite her fear and sickliness it was a relief to be in this familiar place. Perhaps I could just sit here forever – so close to him, and die here, she thought, and then she heard what the walls were saying. You – you creature, they whispered, in every kind of dreadful tone --you horrible creature, get away from me!

Agatha began to run to the center of the labyrinth, her sickly dread being replaced by a strange and less definable fear. She ran into the dining room, which was quite empty, and then out into the courtyard.

The first thing she noticed was that the roses were all brittle and dead. They hung shriveled on their stems, and made the courtyard seem like a graveyard. It took a long time for her to see the figure who sat, dressed in an old formal suit, at the fountain. His hand covered his face, and he was completely immobile.

Could he be dead? He had said he wouldn’t die . . . she sat next to him, and touched his arm very gently. “Tristan,” she whispered, “It’s me, it’s Agatha . . . I just wanted to say that I’m sorry –“ tears stuck in her throat – “And that I love you. Tristan –“

She broke off into heavy sobs. Suddenly he looked up at her, and Agatha felt as though she had been struck by lightning. “Tristan?”

There was a moment of silence, and then he kissed her – his lips were so cold, and she felt so safe, and then somehow they grew warm, and soft, and the arm around her back was like an arm . . .

Agatha pulled away and stared at him. He was a young man, not a skeleton anymore, handsome and absolutely alive, his dark eyes full of a remarkable light. Agatha saw that the roses all around them had burst into bloom, and were full of color, and she began to cry.

“Tristan, Tristan,” she said, “Has this all been a dream then?”

He didn’t understand. “This is all it needed,” he said, “To end the curse. You just needed to kiss me. And it means – Agatha, it means you love me! After all these years, and you still remembered.”

They both began to cry. Agatha pressed her face into his chest. “I never forgot,” she said, “And now I’m so old . . . soon I’ll be a skeleton myself. Oh . . .”

He laughed tearfully. “Why didn’t you come sooner?”

“I was afraid,” she said, “I didn’t think you would forgive me. I didn’t want to hear your voice speak angrily to me . . . if I had known that you were still waiting . . .”

“Never mind,” he said, “That’s all done with. If only the kiss had worked the other way around! Then we could be skeletons together. But . . . we will be soon enough. I expect I’m not immortal anymore.”

Agatha began to cry. “I ruined everything,” she said, “It was so silly. I’m glad,” she added, “That I saw you. My whole life feels like a dream – but to think we could have spent our lives together! If you stay with me until I die -- It won’t be very long until I die. I keep thinking – only a few weeks. It gives us enough time to catch up.”

And so she stayed with him until the end of her days. When Agatha died he held her in his arms and buried her in the courtyard, where the roses were never bright or bold again, but were always a soft, faded, wistful red, full of one beautiful memory.

Bio: Adele Jones is a college student currently working as an au pair in Germany. She is interested in languages and folklore.

Throwback Thursday: The Princess of Evighet, by Larry Stanfel

"The Masque of the Four Seasons, by Walter Crane, artmagick.com
Editor's note: For Throwback Thursday, here's a winning story from 1-15-14. It has so many great fairy tale elements! Read on.
This story evokes classic fairy tales, even if the heroine is a bit more detailed and lovable than most of her older sisters in fairy tales. There are foolish, indulgent parents, a nasty witch, a benign fairy, and a seeming happily ever after. Yet, as with the classic tales, one is left wondering: Would our heroine have had an even happier ever after without her "reward"? That's what made this story so intriguing to me. It leaves room for interpretation. 

A rather long time ago there was a Kingdom called Evighet, far across the sea from us, which had a King named Kaldric and a Queen, Agnetha. Their rule was entirely benevolent and gentle, and their subjects were happier than those in any other Kingdom.

There were so many holidays that the only way any work was accomplished was because the people were so pleased about the vacations, they endeavored mightily, then, to do exemplary jobs when there was no holiday. In Evighet they celebrated the birthdays of the King and Queen, the planting of crops, their harvest, the beginnings of each of the seasons, Independence Day (no one could remember when Evighet had not been independent), Veterans’ Day (no one could remember a war, either), Thanksgiving Days (twice annually, for there was much for which to be thankful), Christmas, New Year’s Day, Farmers’ Day, Tradesmen’s Day, and Labor Day. Royal Holidays were proclaimed practically extemporaneously, and one of them honored Bodrum Sebastovich, though no one could recall just who Bodrom Sebastovich had been.

The primary reason for the general gaiety of the King and Queen was that they loved to dance – solos, pas de deux with one another, and in groups of their subjects. All their many holidays featured morning columns of children dancing to the music of marching bands, afternoon entertainment
given by the very best dancers of the kingdom, and evening ballroom dances where everyone was welcome. For those no one paid any attention whatsoever to attire, and even Cinderella after midnight would have raised no alarm.

There was one thing lacking, however, that gave the King and Queen great sadness, which they showed only when they were alone and out of the public view; they had no child and were approaching the ages when people, even Kings and Queens, no longer had them. Accordingly, they prayed assiduously that they might be blessed with a son or daughter to become the next monarch and lead Evighet through another reign of joy and good fortune.

When it became known that their prayers had been answered, the production of next year’s calendars was halted, so that the birthday of the new Prince or Princess could be marked as another holiday. Expectedly, there were frequent celebrations, always with dancing, to herald the coming event, and the subjects rejoiced over Kaldric and Agnetha’s – not to mention their own – good fortune.

Princess Argentia, the Queen-in-Waiting and Heir Certainly, was born on the 21st of March, the first day of Spring that year, and the entire kingdom saw this as an auspicious omen of a new Spring for their beloved country. King Kaldric was excited that the family would have a brilliant little dancer. He was eager to teach her, but Queen Agnetha reminded him gently that first the little girl must be able to walk, so Kaldric contented himself with cradling his baby in his arms and dancing her
around one or another of the Royal Ballrooms.

He was absolutely certain that a Royal Princess would be walking by five months, but Queen Agnetha assured him that was fantastically early, even for a Royal Princess. The King said that he imagined he could wait another month, but again the Queen deterred him, though she could not dissuade him from declaring little Argentia’s half-birthday another national holiday and thus causing the calendars to be reprinted again; that is, re-reprinted. She would not, however, agree to a three-quarter birthday holiday, which is what the King wanted to declare when his hopes for the Princess’ first
steps were again frustrated at nine months. Gentle, wise Queen Agnetha explained to him that children do things at different ages and that he must not worry. Their daughter, for example, was speaking much earlier than most children.

On her first birthday, to her parents’ considerable delight, little Argentia took one, two unsteady steps and then fell plump! on her bottom but gave her parents a toothy grin and a happy giggle when she said, “Argentia walk, see?”

“That’s it,” pronounced the King with Royal Authority, but even Kings can err, and that was not it. For the next two months the Princess’ walking got no father advanced than a step or two concluded by a precipitant fall on her backside. The ebullient child was never unhappy or discouraged, though her father agonized and even her mother lost her Queenly composure and was showing signs of worry.

At 15 months the King summoned the Royal Physicians, who examined the Princess in every way known to their art and science at the time and finally submitted their report fearfully; there was something wrong with little Argentia’s leg bones. They had not grown strong enough or straight
enough to support her weight. Without metal braces, crutches, or both they predicted she would never walk! They prescribed exercises and special foods to strengthen her legs, and though the King and Queen followed their instructions to the letter, nothing availed.

Kaldric and Agnetha were devastated, of course, to learn that their beautiful little daughter was crippled and refused to accept the opinions of the Royal Physicians. Frantically, the King summoned ordinary physicians from his Kingdom, as well as Royal Physicians and ordinary physicians from other Kingdoms. While he paid much money for their ideas and treatments, the Princess could not walk.

By the time she reached 15 years, happiness had deserted the King and Queen, and, because of that, their subjects also suffered. No one celebrated the holidays, and the entire Kingdom, following the pattern of the Royal Couple, had stopped dancing so as not to disappoint the young Princess, who could not hope to follow their capers on her crutches. The Royal Ballrooms grew dusty from disuse, and cobwebs filled the corners there and wreathed the once-blazing chandeliers.

Happiness was not all that had forsaken Kaldric and Agnetha, for the years of medical expenses had seriously depleted the Royal Treasury. In fact, it then contained just two bags of gold, the Royal Household had taken to wearing patched finery, and the Royal Jewels had long since been sold to
foreign rulers.

Princess Argentia, nevertheless, had grown, except for her crooked legs, into a beautiful girl, and what was remarkable was that she had not lost her good cheer, effervescent laugh, and desire to do good. It was not uncommon, in fact, to see her struggling about on her crutches to help a sick or injured person among her father and mother’s subjects. Sight of brave Argentia always brought smiles to the faces and hearts of the people, though these were supplanted by tears when they watched the girl stump away on the wooden supports.

*     *     *

On a dark, high mountain that no mortal in Evighet had ever scaled lived a malignant witch named Bromalda, and she calculated that her time finally had arrived. Disguising herself as a well-dressed, kindly woman she paid the King and Queen a visit one day.

“I understand the Princess has been crippled from birth,” she said with solicitous unction, “and is unable to walk.”

“Alas, this is true,” confirmed her Royal Parents sadly.

“Well, I am here to help,” said Bromalda confidently.

“Everyone has tried,” they said, “and no one can help.”

“I have just returned from the far distant lands across the great sea to the East,” the witch lied, “and I have brought this!” with which pronouncement she produced from the depths of her cloak a flask of bright green liquid.

“What is that?” they naturally asked.

“What is that? Hmmpf, Your Highnesses. That is the most potent medicine ever distilled in the lands across the sea to the East. I have seen this magical elixir cause the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and cure victims of leprosy -- and worse.”

“What is worse than leprosy?” inquired the interested King.

“Far away in the East,” said Bromalda quickly, “many diseases are worse than leprosy, which is why the magicians and scientists there have developed this potion. Why, when I was visiting there, I was buried beneath an avalanche. Three days I was buried, and when I was dug out, I was declared dead.”

“No!” they exclaimed in concert.

“Yes, indeed, but this potion restored me to life. I spent all that I had to purchase these precious drops, but I gladly offer it to Your Highnesses – for no more than the price I paid.”

“How much was that?” Agnetha asked.

“A bag of gold.”

“Thank goodness,” breathed the Queen. “We have only two bags of gold remaining in the Royal Treasury.”

“Did I say one bag?” asked the devious Bromalda. “I meant two; after I reached home I had to send another bag for the second payment.”

“Oh, dear!” lamented the King. “All our money. And what if this, like all the other medicines, doesn’t --”

“We must do it, My Lord,” said the anguished Queen. It is our only chance to make Argentia walk!”

“I guarantee it; one hundred percent - certified,” vowed Bromalda falsely.

“Walk, yes, and then dance,” added the King with the old dream gleaming in his eyes. "Of course, we must try it.”

Accordingly, they promised the last of the kingdom’s resources to the evil Bromalda, who, as a bad witch, had less use for gold than desire to foment hurt and suffering. She proceeded to instruct them in the use of the magic potion, which was no more than vinegar, gooseberry juice, and a green dye
she had compounded in her cauldron.

“On the first night, give her one of the flask and have her sleep facing the South. On the second night administer another third and have her sleep facing North. Finally,” she said with dramatic effect in the spellbinding way witches have, “on the third night have her drink the last of the potion and sleep facing East. When she awakes she will be able to run and frisk like a new lamb!”

“And dance,” said the King, excitedly.

“Yes, but take care to follow the directions exactly. Each night, precisely one third the potion, no more, no less, and be certain she sleeps in those directions in the order I specified.”

“South, North, and East,” repeated Queen Agnetha, who, to be certain there was no failure, wrote down the invented information – much to Bromalda’s amusement.

“And,” she added with a flourish, “the child must not know what you are doing. Part of the magic requires that the patient be unaware that this liquid will cure her every disorder.”

The Lord of the Exchequer wondered mightily at handing over the last of the Treasury to a woman he had never seen, but when one works for a King and a Queen, he follows orders.

Bromalda was so pleased with herself that when she had the gold and no one else was about, she did a wild, witch dance to celebrate her success.

*     *     *

Without revealing what was afoot the excited Kaldric and Agnetha followed despicable Bromalda’s factitious instructions precisely. Princess Argentia protested strongly over the noxious taste of the green stuff, which she believed to be a new vitamin, and was baffled that her Lady-in-Waiting
spun her bed around like a top from one night to the next. “It is merely to capture all the healthy breezes, Your Highness,” explained her maid, who simply relayed what the Queen had told her.

On the morning after the third night her exuberant parents burst into Argentia’s room like two children on Christmas morning. “Come, Argentia; come walk to us,” they invited, and when she reached for her crutches, they qualified, “Without those, darling. You won’t ever need them again.”
Obeying the Royal Request, the brave Princess stood hesitantly, but when she let go the bed post and sought to walk to her parents, crumpled, fell, and cut her pretty cheek. The scene became one of a chaos of tragedy, sorrow, and regret when the King and Queen realized they had been duped
and, much worse than that, that their daughter would never, ever walk unassisted, let alone whirl in a spirited dance.

Argentia consoled them. “But Mother and Father, see! I am no worse than before.” She could not appreciate the Royal Poverty into which she was about to be plunged, but even if she had, the stalwart girl would not have repined. Governments in that place and time had yet to conceive the
strategies of creating new money – for mortals impossible in the case of gold – and borrowing from other lands; they continued to believe in paying for what they would get. In the case of that Kingdom, we see, there was no longer any means of payment.

Now, it must not be believed that Evighet was subject only to dark, poisonous influences like Bromalda. As in every place, there is saving good if one knows how to find it, or if it knows how to find oneself.

In a cave in a far-off forest of Evighet, Jetour, the Queen of the Fairies, held her Court amidst her attendants. At about this point in our tale Jetour’s Fairy Scouts, who had observed all the woe befalling Kaldric, Agnetha, and Argentia returned to report their news. Neither should it be supposed that they had demurred in returning or, in any way, depreciated the severity of the Royal Circumstances and poor Princess Argentia’s plight. No, as we know, Fairies live forever, so that 15 years is not a blink of an enchanted eyelash, and, moreover, they had a very large territory to monitor.

Like bees informing the hive as to their discoveries of blossoms, the Fairies did an intricate dance to convey their findings, and Jetour was at once enraged and heartbroken. She replied with a splendid, sublime dance that expressed all her sentiments and then convened her Court to confide to them her extensive, whispered plans.

Soon after, as the Princess was hobbling about the once-colorful garden in her tattered dress, a stooped, elderly woman with a cane approached and asked if she might have a drink of water. As was her habit, the excellent Argentia bade her sit, drew a cup of water from the well, and ministered
to her as if the visitor, not she, were the Princess. Such was the grace and love with which she treated each and every one of God’s creatures.

“Whatever has happened to your legs, Girl?” inquired the weary stranger between draughts of water. Old and crippled as I am, I can walk better than you. Have you fallen off a horse or down a hill?”

“Oh, no, M’am,” answered the Princess politely. “I was born this way. I have never been able to walk.”

“I see,” said the old woman thoughtfully. “Then you must have grown very bitter about your handicap. Looking all around you, you can see people, every one of whom moves better than you. Limping around with this cane, I feel bitter myself at times – most times. Yes, I would guess you are very bitter, indeed.”

“Oh, no, M’am, not bitter,” answered Argentia with incredulity that anyone would think so. "I do get around, you see; on these two, wooden legs. I think perhaps that I have been very lucky. Yes, lucky,” she said contemplatively.

“Lucky?” said the old woman with a snort. “How can you say that when you can’t run and climb and skip like other children your age?”

“I am lucky, M’am, because it has made me a better person.”

“Why, how better, when you can’t climb a mountain path or swim in a warm lake?”

“Ma’m, it is because I can’t do those things that I give such thanks for what I can do.  If I were running up a trail or across the garden, I might miss the calls of the birds, which I prize and dearly love. If I swam in the lake, I would frighten away the poor fish, whereas now, I can sit and watch them swim and play. If I had better use of my legs, I might not take such happiness from the sight of a beautiful sunset or the sound of a wonderful melody. The smell of juniper berries is like medicine to me, and when my cat licks my fingers – my sense of touch has grown so much stronger. Yes, walking is only one capability in a world exploding with beautiful things. I believe I have been lucky.”

“I see.”

“And it is more than just compensation with one gift for the loss of another. Doing without something, something important to others, and suffering pain in my twisted legs has been good for me. Yes, good. It makes things like eating only bread and porridge for dinner and wearing worn-out, patched dresses a pleasure by comparison. If I could walk and run, those things would be difficult to bear. Yes, but as it is …”


“I do have one regret.”

“Aha!” sprang the old woman on her admission. “I knew it.”

In this condition a hurt I cause two other people, and, indirectly, the whole Kingdom.”

“A whole Kingdom? Whatever can your legs have to do with an entire Kingdom? Surely you exaggerate, Girl” the old lady proclaimed skeptically.

“It is just that my father and mother so want me to dance. They adore dancing, and because I cannot even walk, they suffer terribly. They suffer so much they have bankrupted themselves so that I might walk and someday be able to dance with them. And here I sit or wobble on these sticks. It is not bad for me, only them.”

“You are exceedingly odd, young lady. How can it be that your inability to dance and your parents’ regrets ruin the whole Kingdom of Evighet? Surely you jest with me. What is your exalted station in life?”

“Not exalted, good Madame. I am simply a poor Princess in a poor kingdom. Because my parents are so aggrieved, the whole kingdom is melancholy and poor.”

“Kingdom? Princess? You are a Princess? Your parents are King Kaldric and Queen Agnetha?”

“Yes,” answered Argentia shyly.

As if to affirm her reply, just then the King and Queen entered the garden. “And who might you be?” the King inquired of the stranger.

“Just a poor traveler, My Liege,” said the old woman with bows to both of them.

“You have been talking to the Princess?” asked the Queen, always swift to protect her daughter.

“Indeed I have, Your Highness, and may I say that this young person is wise and kind beyond her years. She has suffered much, I know, and yet she thinks not of herself but only of others and considers her lot in life a lucky one. She will make a fine and noble Queen one day.”

“Yes, we are proud of her goodness and love her very much,” said Kaldric.

“Still,” reflected the old woman, “it is a bitter shame, I find,  that her legs do not allow her to walk and to run and to … dance … possibly?”

“Yes,” said the King somberly. “And we have given much to restore her to health.”

“We have given everything,” corrected Agnetha with sincerity.

“Then it is high time you were all rewarded for your patience and sacrifice,” said the old woman with regal judgment herself. Saying thusly, she drew herself up, threw off the black cloak and cap, dropped the cane, and revealed herself to be Jetour, the Fairy Queen, attired in a tutu of purest silver and wielding her wand!

“Oh, my!” exclaimed the Princess.

“By heaven!” proclaimed the King.

“The Fairy Queen!” breathlessly spoke Queen Agnetha, who would have recognized her immediately even without her resplendent wand and dancing costume.

“And now, we must see to those legs,” decided Jetour with authority.

“Perhaps they have only been resting to gain strength these many years.” With a flourish she tapped each of Argentia’s knees with her wand, and the girl immediately cast away her crutches and took one, two, three, four, five careful, strong steps to her parents, who were beside themselves with
joy and embraced her tearfully. With the merest wave of her wondrous wand in either direction, Jetour summoned her Fairy Escort. “Now, good Fairies, do you suppose you might assist Princess Argentia to show us what she has always known how to do but for which only recently got the opportunity?”

The company of Fairies immediately surrounded the Princess, so that she was quite invisible for a moment, and when they stepped back, Argentia stood the most lovely of all Princesses in a glistening, alabaster tutu.

“Now, Dear Princess, give us all a lesson in dance,” encourage Jetour, and Argentia, with her suddenly beautiful and powerful legs, proceeded to fill the space with the most remarkable turns and leaps and spins and balances anyone present had ever seen. Jetour and her Court joined in the dance,
which was most spectacular.

When Argentia paused, the King and Queen each took one of their daughter’s hands, and all three offered Jetour their most profound, eternal, not to mention weeping, gratitude.

“Wait!” spoke Jetour peremptorily, as befits a Queen. “There is a matter still undone,” and she pointed a commanding finger into the distance. Her companion Fairies immediately flew from sight and almost instantly reappeared with evil Bromalda and the two sacks of gold in tow. “So, Bromalda,” said Jetour menacingly, “up to your old tricks again?”

The witch fell at Jetour’s feet and pled, “Forgive me, Fairy Queen. It was only a little mistake.”

“Little! Look at the noble Queen and King – nearly in rags. Look at the poor dress the Princess was forced to wear, and worst of all, bad witch, was to elevate the hopes of loving parents only to dash them to wretched shards.”

“Oh, please! Mercy, Queen Jetour! Mercy!”

“Bromalda, I have been thinking that perhaps you would like to spend a thousand or so years as an octopus, far beneath the seas where you can do no harm. Yes, that sounds about right, doesn’t it?” to which question her Fairy Court gave nodding and enthusiastic assent.

“No, please, Queen Jetour!” begged Argentia, interposing herself between the vengeful Fairy and the wretched Bromalda. Be merciful to her! Not such a terrible punishment! Please!”

“So, you even have the love to beg for the one that hurt you so deeply. What remarkable virtue, my dearest child. Very well, Bromalda,” she said angrily with blazing eyes and threatening wand. “The one you cheated and mistreated so wantonly has saved you. Look around you! Your cruelty and
theft have helped macerate this poor garden into a desert. Your punishment shall be to work here from morning to night every day for a hundred years. If it does not become the loveliest garden in all the world, and if you are ever guilty of a second’s mischief, then you had best prepare for
eight wet arms and a very long vacation among the rocks at the bottom of the ocean. Is that understood?”

“Yes,” wept Bromalda pitifully.

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, my Queen Fairy.”

“And do you imagine you should be thankful to the one that has saved you from my just punishment?”

Bromalda crawled to Argentia’s feet and kissed each of her dainty, satin dancing shoes. “Oh, thank you, Princess! Thank you!”

“Well, then,” resumed Jetour, “you had best go fetch the tools and the seeds and wheelbarrows and get to work, hadn’t you?”

“Yes, Fairy Queen.”

“Yes, indeed. You’ve had nearly a half-day off today. You might say your sentence has been commuted for the good behavior you will doubtless exhibit from this day forward.”

“Yes, my Fairy Queen.”

Jetour had only to point a finger imperiously, and Bromalda scrambled to her feet and ran to find the garden implements. “And, Bromalda?” added Jetour, whose words stopped the witch in her tracks.

“Yes, Fairy Queen?”

“I will be watching you,” after which ominous promise Bromalda scampered off to begin her century of work.

Then one Fairy danced up to whisper in Jetour’s left ear and another, into her right. Looking surprised, Queen Jetour said humbly, “Yes, I am growing forgetful. There are still matters unresolved. Am I becoming too old for my job?” The Fairies only shook their heads in answer, for when one works for a Queen, one learns how to respond.

“Yes, King Kaldric and Queen Agnetha, while we have salvaged most of the gold Bromalda extorted from you, you are still very, very, very far below the wealth Evighet once owned. Your whole kingdom is in dissolution because of the financial crisis over the Princess’ illness. Oh! How I wish
I had come sooner, and I promise to watch more carefully in future. Certainly,” she laughed heartily and aside, “I must keep tabs on the new Royal Gardener, mustn’t I? You have emptied the Royal Treasury in order to cure your beloved daughter, so I must see to it that a deposit is made to
your account.”

“No, Queen Jetour,” said the King and Queen in supplication. “You have done all for which we prayed. We shall build up our resources, and the kingdom will thrive again. Please! You are already too generous. What can compare in value to the health of our daughter? You have done too much

“Well,” said Jetour thoughtfully, “perhaps Fairies and mortals do reason differently.” Here Kaldric and Agnetha smiled briefly at winning their point. “But Fairies are never wrong,” decided the graceful Fairy Queen, and she spun round several times in a great blur before tapping her wand
on the two bags of gold, which suddenly burgeoned into a pile of bags. There was so much gold the Lord of the Exchequer would experience a sore back after transporting the load to the Royal Treasury. Whereas it is harmful for mortal governments to manufacture money they cannot back, a Fairy Queen can make gold and bestow it without ill consequences upon genuinely kind and charitable Kings and Queens.

“Also,” she said incisively, “My jewels are drops of dew, snowflakes, and the gleam of sunbeams and moonlight. Mortal Kings and Queens, too, must look the part. They must have their diamonds and emeralds and so forth, and you have sacrificed those, too, for your beautiful Princess. She is worth more than any treasure on earth, but,” and another tap of the wand replenished the lost gems three-fold in a glittering, disorderly heap upon the ground.

The Queen and King were yet marveling at their immeasurable blessings when Queen Jetour innocently asked him, “Your Highness, is there not something you still require?”

“Your Highness,” he correctly addressed her, “what else could I possibly require? I could not have dreamed of such splendid fortune and gifts. No, there is nothing else I need; I have my wife, my daughter, my kingdom, and I hope soon to win again the confidence of my subjects. What else do I

“Isn’t there something you’ve longed to do for fifteen years?” Jetour asked with a sly cock of her head and perhaps even a wink.

As the glimmer of recollection flashed over the good King’s face, Queen Jetour took Princess Argentia’s hand, joined it to her father’s, and the entire assembly, Fairies and one mortal Queen, watched the King encircle her waist and waltz his radiant, beloved daughter all around the garden.
Desolate and overgrown as it was, it could not have appeared more gorgeous to the grateful King, and all the remainder of the assembly formed a circle and joined in the festivity.

*     *     *

True to her word, as Fairies always are, Queen Jetour was a frequent visitor to Evighet’s Royal Castle. She observed Princess Argentia become the great and munificent Queen Argentia everyone predicted and to care with exceptional kindness for her Royal Parents.

Eventually, though none of her subjects thought it possible, Queen Argentia found a King Consort almost as wise and loving as she was and nearly as capable a dancer. Their son, Prince Valorus, was born with strong bones throughout and, with the tutelage of his Royal Grandfather walked at five months. Naturally, following the beneficent paths of the Royal Grandparents, Queen Argentia declared her son’s birthday a Public Holiday, and there was great rejoicing throughout the Kingdom.

Queen Argentia encouraged and patronized every sort of decorous dance done to beautiful, mellifluous music, and the Royal Ballrooms never ceased glowing with light and polished floors and chandeliers.

It was also the case that visitors from as far away as the Eastern Lands across the sea marveled at the perfection of the impeccable, Royal Garden.

The Happy End

Bio: Presently living on a small ranch northeast of Roundup, Montana, Larry Stanfel has a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, belonged to several university faculties, and worked as a consultant to private business and government agencies. Twice the recipient of competitive, post-doctoral fellowships for research abroad, he was selected for Who’s Who in America and has given presentations and invited lectures in many