Fairy Tale Lost and Found

“Oh dear,” Mother Hubbard said. “Has someone lost something else?”

“I’m afraid so,” Robin said. He opened the door a little wider. A flock of sheep flooded the little office.

“Sheep?” Mother Hubbard asked. “Wherever did you find them?”

“They were just wandering around,” Robin said. “Do you think you could watch them until their owner comes for them?”

“Of course.” Mother Hubbard looked around at all the sheep. A few were starting to nibble on the drapes. “Maybe they should stay outside in the yard. I’ll just bring my dog in so that he doesn’t bother them.”

“I brought your poor dog a bone,” Robin said, pulling a large soup bone out of his pocket.

“You are so kind,” Mother Hubbard said. “I’m so grateful you found me this job. I don’t know what I would have done.”

“We needed a lost and found,” Robin said. “You are doing a great service to our community.   You’ve been very busy, haven’t you?”

“Well, those kittens were so happy to see their mittens,” Mother Hubbard said. “And I really don’t know how those pigs managed to lose the hair off their chinny-chin-chins. Or how they reattached it.”

“Those bears and the little blonde girl seemed so happy to see their porridge again,” Robin said. “I do wonder how they lost it.”

One of the sheep bit the edge of Robin’s coat and started chewing. Mother Hubbard shooed the sheep away with her apron. “I’d better go bring Spot in so the sheep can go out.”

“I’ll start to herd them back outside,” Robin said.

Once the sheep were all outside in the fenced yard, Spot curled up on the armchair and chewed on his soup bone. “He’s such a good dog,” Robin said.

Mother Hubbard smiled. Just then, someone knocked on the door. Mother Hubbard answered it, and a girl wearing a red hooded cloak stepped inside. “Is this the lost and found?” she asked.

“It is,” Mother Hubbard said. “Did you lose something or find something?”

”I lost my basket of treats,” the girl said.   “I’m on my way to Grandma’s house.”

“Were they in small basket?” Mother Hubbard asked.

“Yes, and the cookies were chocolate chip and pickle, Grandma’s favorite.”

Robin made a face. “Really?”

The girl scowled. “Really.”

“Here they are dear,” Mother Hubbard said. “Have a lovely visit with your Grandma.”

“Thank you,” the girl said. She took the basket and smiled at Mother Hubbard. She scowled at Robin again and left.

“I’d better go, too,” Robin said.

“I made you some cookies,” Mother Hubbard said. “Chocolate chip and no pickles.”

“My favorite,” Robin said. “Thank you, dear lady.”

Mother Hubbard laughed. “Robin Hood, you are such a charmer.”

As Robin left, a girl with a staff came in. “Is this the lost and found?” she asked. “My name is Bo Peep and I’ve lost my sheep.”

Robin whistled as he walked down the street. Perhaps he’d bring the cookies to the lady in the shoe. The kids would love them. He turned down a side street. Something shiny caught his eye.

A bugle sat next to a snoring haystack. “Hmmm. I’d better take that horn to the lost and found. To keep it safe, of course,” Robin said.

Prince Sebastian, his Cousin, and a Mermaid

Prince Sebastian had been training his whole life to one day be king. He studied history and laws. He met with foreign leaders and learned foreign languages. He studied problem solving and negotiating and diplomacy.   He sat with his father during the open court sessions and listened to the needs of the people. He answered letters and offered advice.

And then suddenly, one day, his father became very ill.   A week later, he died. Sebastian and his mother sat in tears by his father’s bed. “I can’t believe he’s gone,” she said.

The door creaked and they looked up. Sebastian’s Uncle Roderick was standing in the doorway, and a group of soldiers stood behind him. “Selma, Sebastian,” he said. “I like you both. But I want to be the next king. You can leave if Sebastian promises to never return to become king, or you can both die now.”

“I promise to never return to become king,” Sebastian said. “Now let us go.”

“Start packing,” Uncle Roderick said. “You leave at dawn.”

They left without looking back. They had tickets for a boat that would take them across the sea where they planned to stay with Selma’s sister and her family. During the trip, there was a storm and the ship began to sink.

The next thing Sebastian knew, he woke up on the shore next to his mother. A girl was sitting and watching them. “Sebastian, are you all right?” his mother asked.

“I think so,” Sebastian said. “How are you?”

“Wet and cold and grateful to be alive,” his mother said. “This girl saved us, but she doesn’t talk.”

“Bring her along. We need to see if there’s a town nearby where we can ask for help.”

A week later, they arrived at the palace.   Sebastian’s cousin Ferdinand came out to greet them. “I’m so sorry to hear about what happened. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you’d like. Aunt Selma, Mother is waiting for you inside.”

Sebastian’s mother hurried away. Sebastian sighed. “She’s been handling all of this so well. It will be good for her to finally have a chance to mourn.”

Ferdinand nodded.

Sebastian looked around. “Where did the girl go that came with us?” he asked.

“I think she’s looking at the rosebushes. Should I send her in with your mother?”

“No. Honestly, I’m not sure what to do. She saved us from the shipwreck, but I don’t know who she is. She doesn’t talk and doesn’t know any sign language. Mother calls her Anna, but we don’t know her real name.”

“We can do what we did last time I met a mysterious mute girl,” Ferdinand said.

“This happened before? Did you teach her some sort of sign language?” Sebastian asked.

“No, I asked my advisor. You’ll see. Invite her to follow us in,” Ferdinand said.

“Anna,” Sebastian called. He waved her over and she stopped trying to eat the flowers and smiled. As they walked inside, she followed.

“So what happened the last time you met a mute girl?” Sebastian asked.

“It turned out she needed to be left alone to weave coats for swans. So, we just made sure to send her food and check on her every so often,” Ferdinand said.   “She went home with her brothers when she was done.” He entered an empty office and stopped and turned. “Here we are. Meet my advisor.” He waved to a mirror.

“Your advisor is yourself?” Sebastian asked.

A vague face appeared in the mirror. “No,” it said. “I’m the advisor. How can I advise you today?”

The cousins turned to see that the mysterious girl had followed them in and was pulling books off the shelves to build a tower.   “Ah,” the mirror said. “She’s a mermaid princess who signed an unwise contract with a sea witch.”

“We should send a note to her father,” Ferdinand said.   “Do we know anyone who knows mermish?”

“I do,” Sebastian said. “My father believed in a classical education.”

“Excellent,” the mirror said. “Let me show you the contract. It has some obvious loopholes.”

“I’ll call in the lawyers,” Ferdinand said.

The next day, they sent a message by dolphin to King Triton. They met him a week later in a deep, sheltered cove. Some burly mermaid guards surrounded the sea witch.   The King greeted them in mermish.

“He asked if he can cast a translation spell,” Sebastian said.

“That’s handy,” Ferdinand said. “Say yes.”

They explained the contract to King Triton.   “My daughter needs to come home,” he said. “How can we break the contract?”

“It can be broken if you kill the prince,” the sea witch said with a cackle.

“Or you could kill the sea witch,” Ferdinand said. Everyone looked at the witch.

She sighed and snapped her fingers. The contract appeared in front of her and she tore it in pieces. In a puff of smoke, Anna was once again a mermaid princess. At the same time, the sea witch escaped her guards and swam away.

“But I don’t want to go home yet. I wanted to try chocolate cake again,” the princess said. “It’s not fair.”

“We’ll send you some,” Ferdinand said.

The king thanked them and offered to meet later to discuss possible trade agreements. He and his daughter went home.   So did Ferdinand and Sebastian.

“You know there are loopholes in the agreement you made with your uncle, too. Right?” Ferdinand asked.

“It’s not time to go back yet,” Sebastian said.

“Fair enough,” Ferdinand said. “Let’s check on Aunt Selma and see how she’s doing.” And they did.

A Year Under the Endless Sky

Myrtle hatched in a warm, cozy cave high in the mountains. She was the first dragon born to her clan in a long, long time. That meant that everyone was a little overprotective. When it was time for her to go and see the world, her family didn’t want her to leave.

“I don’t know,” her mom said. “When I left the cave, humans were dying from a terrible disease. Everyone seemed to be sick. It was all terribly frightening.”

“When I left the cave,” her grandfather said, “there were humans sailing around the ocean attacking people and burning down villages. It really isn’t safe.”

“Things were fine when I left the cave,” her father said. “Although everything seemed quite dirty and smelly.   Maybe she can just make a short trip out and hurry home.”

“It’s tradition to let her go,” Grandfather said. “But that doesn’t mean she has to leave right now. We could wait another one or two hundred years.”

“I’ll be fine,” Myrtle said. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back in a year.”

And so they unsealed the entrance to the cave and Myrtle left. It was summertime first. The bugs were plentiful and the days and nights were warm.   Myrtle spent her time hiding and observing. Things weren’t as dirty or scary as she’d expected. In fact, there was so much to see and do that she wished she had longer than a year.

Time passed. Soon the worms were burrowing deeper at night to get away from the frosty night air. Dried leaves settled in layers over the brown, sleeping lawns. It was autumn time. The crisp, chill air was the early warning system informing everyone that winter was coming.

Myrtle was a little dragon, only a few decades old.   She was small enough to not really need a cave to sleep in, so she had a little burrow instead at he base of an oak tree. The squirrels living upstairs were mostly good neighbors, and the people living in the house nearby never seemed to notice her.

Just before dusk, she hurried out and joined the other little animals trying to gather materials to ready their homes for winter.   One day, Mother Squirrel was sitting on a branch, chewing the fingers off a soft, cloth gardening glove.

“What do you have there?” Myrtle asked.

“Sleeping bags for the little ones,” Mother Squirrel said. “They’ll sleep warmer at night now.”

“Well done,” Myrtle said.

Father Squirrel was burying acorns over by the pine tree. He waved as Myrtle flew past, and then went back to his work, his bushy tail twitching. He snatched up another acorn and hopped a few feet away and started digging again.

Myrtle kept an eye on where the ladybugs and caterpillars were burrowing into the piles of leaves. She’d get up early and eat a few for breakfast. Yum.

She reached the sidewalk and flew low over the gutters, looking for a bit of sparkle. Most of the time, she darted down, only to be disappointed by bits of broken glass.   Tonight, she was lucky and found three pennies. It’s better than she’d done all week.

She flew home with the pennies and pushed them into the piles that lined her burrow. She settled into her hoard, and it soon warmed up as it conducted her heat.   She would be warm this winter as she hibernated.

And when she woke up, it was spring. Her time outside was running out. Myrtle spent more time peeking into windows and spying from trees. The robins had returned and kept her company in the afternoon. They told her stories about strange people and scary cats and worms eaten at dawn when they tasted best.

The people mostly kept to themselves. The animals were a little friendlier. But everyone seemed so busy now that spring was here.   They dashed about fixing up their shelter and checking in with all their favorite places.

And so, Myrtle watched the sky. She loved the sunsets and sunrises. She loved the clouds that so easily changed their shapes from one moment to the next. She loved the rain that fell from nowhere and washed everything clean again.

She loved the graceful trees and flowers and the brilliant green that was everywhere. She even tried eating berries, at the urging of the squirrel family.   They tasted sticky and far too sweet.   She didn’t love the berries.

And then it was summer again and time to go home.   Her family met her at the entrance to the cave. They cheered when she stepped inside. “How was it?” they asked. “Was it dirty? Was it scary? Was it awful?”

“It was nice,” Myrtle said. “I think I may want to go out again someday.”

 

The Real Story

Red quietly closed the door and hung up her riding hood in the closet. She tiptoed into the kitchen and set the basket on the counter.   The kitchen lights turned on.   Her mom stood in the doorway.   Red groaned.

“Tell me why you’re getting home so late,” Mom said.

“Well, you see, it’s like this,” Red said. “I would have come home on time, but I couldn’t.”

“Why not?” Mom asked.

“Ummm. I was eaten by a wolf,” Red said.

“You were eaten by a wolf on the way to Grandma’s house,” Mom said. She raised an eyebrow. Red hated it when she did that.

“No, really,” Red said. “A wolf ate me.”

“And yet you’re still here,” Mom said.

“A woodsman saved me. You know, the one who checks in on Grandma? He cut the wolf open and I was just fine, except for being late of course.”

Mom sighed. “The woodsman happened to walk by and cut open a wolf?”

“He probably thought it looked suspicious because it was wearing Grandma’s clothes,” Red said. “And it made a lot of noise when it ate me.”

“The wolf was wearing Grandma’s clothes,” Mom said slowly.

“Yeah, I imagine he put them on after he ate Grandma.   You know, to trick me,” Red said.

“How did he know you were coming?” Mom asked.

“I told him I was going to Grandma’s house when I met him in the woods,” Red said. She patted the basket. “He asked about the basket.”

“So the wolf talked to you. And then he found your Grandma’s house and ate her?” Mom asked.

“Yup,” Red said. “Boy was it cramped in that wolf’s stomach. And dark and squishy. I felt really bad for Jonah. But I imagine he had a little more elbow room. After all, whales are a lot bigger than wolves, and he was in there by himself.”

“And the wolf dressed as Grandma to trick you?” Mom asked.

“He dressed in her clothes and hid in her bed and pretended to be her, so that I’d walk right up close,” Red said.

“And that worked?” Mom asked.

“Well, I noticed right away that his eyes were too big to be Grandma’s eyes. And his ears were too big to be Grandma’s ears. And his teeth…”

“Yes, yes,” Mom said. “Of course they were. And you didn’t notice that the face shape was wrong, or that he was covered in fur?”

“No,” Red said. “Mostly I noticed his teeth. They really weren’t like Grandma’s at all. They were all sharp and pointy.”

“And then he swallowed you whole and you ended up inside the wolf with Grandma,” Mom said.

“That’s why I’m late,” Red said. “All that time waiting for the woodsman while the wolf slept.   He snored quite loudly. In fact, I think it gave me a headache. I should probably go to bed now. Maybe I should sleep in tomorrow, too. It was pretty traumatic to be eaten. We should probably never talk about it again.”

“Red…” Mom said.

“Oh, and don’t mention this to Grandma. She’s probably traumatized too. After all, the wolf ate both of us,” Red said.

“Elfreda Louise Renard,” Mom said. “Tell me the truth. Did you really meet a talking wolf that ate you and your Grandma?”

“Well…”

“Elfreda.” Mom raised her eyebrow again.

Red sighed. “No. There wasn’t a wolf.” She reached into the basket and pulled out a book.   “I took my new book with me on my walk.   I ate all the cookies you sent for Grandma while I read my book in the woods. Grandma never remembers whether I come of not so I thought it wouldn’t make a difference, but I lost track of time.”

“Thank you for telling me the truth,” Mom said.

“Does that mean I won’t be punished?” Red asked.

Mom frowned. “You ate Grandma’s cookies and told me a lie. To make up for that, tomorrow you get to help me make another batch of cookies, and I’ll go with you this time to deliver them.”

“But mom,” Red said. “I’ve got plans for tomorrow.”

Mom raised her eyebrow.

“Fine,” Red said. “But that eyebrow thing really isn’t fair.”

Another Frog Prince

The frog hopped into the wizard’s office. He jumped onto the chair by the wall, and from there he leapt onto the desk.   The wizard put down his pen and straightened his glasses.

“It’s me, Humphrey,” the frog said.

“Your majesty? What happened?” the wizard asked.

“That princess who was visiting for the week in order to discuss the new trade agreement,” Humphrey said.

“Oh, was she a witch then?” the wizard asked.

“How did you know?”

The wizard snorted. “Most of the old royal families are. How else would they manage to keep power this long?”

Humphrey smacked the desk with a webbed foot. “Hey! There aren’t any witches or wizards anywhere in my family.”

“No, yours is a relatively young royal family,” the wizard said. “Your ancestors were barbarians. Besides, technically you’re part of a constitutional monarchy now.”

“Why does that make a difference?” Humphrey asked.

“Well, you have less real power,” the wizard said.

“Never mind that,” Humphrey said. “Can you fix this? The witch princess says I have to agree to marry her, and then she’ll break the spell.”

“You don’t want to marry her then?” the wizard asked. “It would make the trade agreement discussions easier.”

“I think it would set a terrible precedent, don’t you?” Humphrey asked. “Now, you’re a wizard, so magic me all better. Please.”

“Fine, fine.” The wizard got up and pulled a book off the shelf. He thumbed through it while muttering. “Fairy wings, feathers, there we go, frogs. Hmmm. This’ll take ten straight hours to brew. I’ll give you a list of ingredients to gather.”

“How am I supposed to do that?” Humphrey asked. “I can hardly go out like this. What if someone saw me? And I’m not really able to carry things around.”

“I’ll come with you then,” the wizard said. “But you’ll have to help gather the ingredients, or the cure will be less effective.”

“All right. So, what’s the first ingredient?” Humphrey asked.

“Hair from the witch that cursed you,” the wizard said.

“How am I supposed to get that? I never want to see her again,” Humphrey said.

“I’ll tell you what,” the wizard said. “Ride on my shoulder. I’ll find her and distract her. You grab one of her hairs.”

“Okay,” Humphrey said. “Just don’t let her turn me into anything else. I think I’d have a panic attack if she turned me into a spider.”

So, the wizard and Humphrey strolled around the castle. The wizard asked a few people about the witch princess.   She was in the library. Humphrey and the wizard hid between some aisles of bookshelves and waited.

Finally, the witch princess hurried by, carrying a stack of books. The wizard stuck out his foot at just the right moment and tripped her. The witch princess and her books went flying. Humphrey hopped to the ground and raced towards her, then froze.

She was lying next to a mound of black fluffy fiber, and her head was completely bald. He turned and hopped back to the wizard, just as the witch princess sat up and started screaming.   The wizard scooped Humphrey up and dropped him on his shoulder. Then he pointed at the witch and mumbled something.

She stopped screaming and turned into a frog. “That solves that,” the wizard says.

“No it doesn’t,” Humphrey said. “I’m still a frog.”

“I’m sure no one will notice,” the wizard said.

The witch princess frog tried pointing and mumbling. Nothing happened. “What have you done?” she asked.

“Nothing much,” the wizard said. “Is it lunchtime?”

“Stop it,” Humphrey said. “You’ve got to find a way to change me back.”

“If you change me back, I’ll change him back,” the witch princess frog said.

“Hmmmm. I’ll have to look at my books again,” the wizard said. “Now neither of you has any hair. Maybe I’ll start looking after lunch.”

The wizard scooped up the witch princess frog and put her on his other shoulder. “I think I’ll make up some spaghetti today. With fresh meatballs,” he said. “And maybe some garlic bread. And a nice side salad. I could make biscotti for dessert.”

“When I’m myself again, I’m turning you into a frog for making me wait,” the witch princess frog said.

“I’ll help,” Humphrey said.

“On second thought, maybe I don’t need to check my magic books at all,” the wizard said.

“Do you need help making the biscotti?” the witch princess frog asked.

“I’ll make the salad,” Humphrey said.

After lunch, the wizard started looking through his books. Two hours later, he looked up from a large, dusty old book. “If a princess kisses you, you change back,” the wizard said. “Know any princesses?”

“No one can see me like this!” the witch princess frog said.

“Me neither,” Humphrey said. “It’s embarrassing.”

“All right then, I’ll keep looking,” the wizard said.

Four hours later, he flicked a spider off the book he was reading.   Humphrey shrieked and hopped off of the desk onto the chair by the wall. “Why did you do that?” Humphrey asked. “You know I’m scared of spiders.”

“I love spiders,” the witch princess frog said. “I have a room full of spiders in glass tanks.”

“Never visit me again,” Humphrey said.

“I wouldn’t want to visit someone who hates spiders,” the witch princess frog said. “You obviously have no taste.”

“Fine,” Humphrey said.

“Fine,” the witch princess frog said.

An hour later, the wizard sat up and smiled. “I think I’ve got it. I just have to say the spell backwards. Hold still.”

He pointed at Humphrey first and mumbled, and then he pointed at the witch princess and mumbled some more. They changed back into their normal royal selves and hurried out of the room.

They left in opposite directions.   The trade agreements were finished quickly, and Humphrey and the witch princess never talked to each other again.   They lived happily ever after.