Long ago in the midst of a dark forest there stood a forbidding castle, and in the castle lived a beast who was terrifying in both temper and appearance.
The next morning she watched the man leave and was about to turn away when he reached up and broke a rose from the most beautiful rose tree in her garden.
Each day Beauty was in the castle the Beast endeavoured to find new things to distract and delight her, from the great castle library, to rooms of paintings and sculptures, to gardens in which roses were but the least of the charms.
When Beauty still did not return, the Beast felt her heart was breaking and she collapsed in sorrow under her rose trees. Barely conscious, she hardly heard as Beauty clattered into the castle grounds, calling for her, fear filling her voice as the Beast did not answer.
Beauty looked at strange lady before her, bewildered.
“But, where is my Beast?” she cried.
Once upon a time there lived an old woman named Ella. Among her neighbours, Ella was known for her kindness, for her ability to solve problems, and for the fact that she could talk to birds.
Eventually Ella was to be found most days in drudgery and often slept exhausted by the kitchen fire. When she served the family their meals, they would comment on the soot and cinders on her ragged dress and call her Cinderella.
The King was pacing anxiously in the royal garden when a cautious finch dropped the paper before him. On it he found written: Hold a ball.
Unfortunately, the King did not have Ella’s powers of deduction and did not understand the hint. Ella sent another message. This time, the King was hurrying past the royal stables when a cheeky robin dropped a scrap of paper on his head that said: Invite all the women in the kingdom.
The King put two and two together and thought it sounded a rather lovely idea, but it didn’t stop him worrying about the Prince. Ella, continuing to hear the gossip in the city, sent a third message. The King was hastening through the royal courtyard when a bold wren dropped a note that read: Hope a sensible one chooses to marry him.
“Oh very well then,” said the old woman, and tapped the twig against her hand again. At once Ella found herself in a very smart and comfortable outfit, with a beautifully embroidered cloak and elegant boots with only a hint of glass in the buttons up the sides.
“I suspect,” said the King, “that I am going to need someone wise, patient and kind if we are to make these two fit to rule. And there is no one I’d rather have at my side to do it. Have you ever fancied living in a palace?”
The Princess and the Pea
Once upon a time, there lived a Prince who dreamed of adventure and loved nothing more than stories. In a castle that teetered on a cliff above a stormy ocean, the Prince would play his lute while imagining the lands beyond the sea and the strange creatures that might live there.
“Your majesties,” the butler began, “this young woman –“
“Princess,” interrupted the girl.
“Ahem, yes, this Princess was knocking at the door. She is looking for shelter from the storm.”
The Princess (close-up)
Once the Princess was warm and dressed in what the Queen considered to be much more suitable garments, they returned to dinner.
And what a bed it was! Twenty mattresses were piled one on top of the other and on top of those lay twenty eiderdown quilts. A ladder reached all the way to the top so the poor Princess could get into the bed.
She looked around as the Prince came running towards them, carrying a bag overflowing with books, quills, inks and paper, with his lute thrown over his shoulder.
The Goose Girl
Once upon a time, a young doctor set out to make her fortune in the world.
As she leaned down the handkerchief slipped free. It fluttered a moment on the wind before being caught in the water and swiftly washed away.
Each morning, as the goose girl passed Falada she would say ‘Alas Falada, standing there,” and Falada would reply “alas young doctor, passing by. If your mother only knew, her heart would surely break in two.”
The goose girl went with the mayor to her house, and when she arrived she found that rather than the sick animal she expected, it was the mayor’s own grandchild who was ill.
And with that, the false doctor and the two attendants were cast out of the town.
Once upon a time in a cold and bitter land there ruled a King and Queen who had one child, a young daughter. The King was selfish, greedy and cruel.
She folded each dress up so small it fit inside a walnut shell, then she put these shells in her pocket, threw on the cloak of many furs and crept out of the castle in the dead of night.
They called her Allerleirauh, which meant ‘all-kinds-of-fur’, and in the palace she was sent to the kitchen, where she carried wood and water, made the simplest of dishes and swept the ashes from the fire.
Allerleirauh quickly went to her room and took off her cloak. Scrubbing the soot off her face and hands, she put on the dress as golden as the sun and she went to the ball.
The Queen, curious, bade her tell her tale. Allerleirauh related all that had befallen her, sparing no detail. At the end she threw off the cloak and was revealed as the stranger from the past two nights of the ball, and she begged the Queen for her help.
The Frog Prince
The poor frog Prince was deeply unhappy.
The frog quickly brought up her ball, but no sooner did she have it than she skipped back to the castle, completely forgetting both the frog and her promise.
The middle Princess noticed the frog was looking a little self-conscious. “Why do you want a princess for a friend anyway, Mr Frog? Why not a lizard, or a fish, or another frog?”
“Ah, well, you see… Oh you’d never believe me.” Said the frog sadly.
He was woken with a bump and a thud in the morning, having suddenly become much too big for a pillow and fallen to the floor, as the enchantment unravelled and he regained his true form.
A fine feast was held for the Prince and he was given new clothes and a horse with which to travel to his own land, for his own family were no doubt missing him greatly.
Short Fairy Tales
The Little Mermaid
She leapt into the air, instantly transforming into a swan.
The Queen went to her mirror as usual, but from the doorway who did she see but Snow White, standing in front of the mirror as the Queen usually did, asking “mirror mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
“I know what you want,” said the sea witch as she approached. “You want to be with your Prince.”
“Oh yes,” replied the little mermaid.
“You want to give up your beautiful tail for two legs, and walk on the land as he does.”