Sunday, May 27, 2012

Best Fairy Tale Book Ever

This, Dean's 'A Book of Fairy Tales', is unquestionably the best and most gorgeous book of fairy tales in existence. It includes not only the more well-known stories, such as The Princess & the Pea, Beauty and the BeastThe Frog Princeand Little Red Riding Hood, but more obscure ones as well. My favorite of these less well-known stories is definitely The White Cat.
In this story, a king does not want to give up his kingdom so he send his three sons on a quest to find him a tiny dog for a companion when he gives up the throne. Whoever brings back the tiniest and prettiest little dog will become the next king. So the sons go their separate ways, trying to find a dog worthy of their father's attentions. The youngest prince becomes lost in a forest in a big storm, and must take shelter in a mysterious castle serves by ghostly hands and whose halls are paved with lapis-lazuli. He is greeted by a small white cat served by a court of cats, who invites him to stay. He agrees, and for a year he stays with the cat, seeing plays in the theatre and hunting. Eventually he must go back home to his own castle, but the white cat gives him a walnut to take with him, telling him that it holds the dog he needs.
The prince cracks open the nut before his father's court, and finds a walnut inside. Inside the walnut is an acorn, and inside the acorn is a cob-nut. I'm not certain what a cob-nut is, but it's tiny. Inside the cob-nut is a fluffy little dog that dances around and barks for the king and his court. Unfourtunatly, the king still doesn't want to forfeit his kingdom, and sends the sons on another quest. This time, he asks for a piece of muslin fine enough to thread through a needle. The prince returns to the White Cat, who puts on a fireworks display in honor of his return. After another year has passed, the White Cat, who by now has been named as Blanchette, gives the prince a Brazil Nut. Then she puts him in a coach and sends him off home to his father, though the prince only wishes to stay and spend time with her.
When the youngest prince gets home, his brother's muslin is only fine enough to go through the eye of a very large needle. So he cracks his Brazil Nut, and finds a hazel nut. Inside the hazel nut is a cherry pit, which cracks to reveal its kernel. Inside the kernel is a grain of wheat, which contains a millet seed. By now everyone is laughing, and the youngest prince is ready to give up, but the feeling of a cat scratching his arm makes him open the millet seed. Out pours a piece of muslin as fine as  mist, that passes through the eye of the smallest needle six times. The king agrees that the youngest prince has won again, but says that a king must have a queen to rule by his side. He gives his sons another year to find themselves each a beautiful princess for a wife. The youngest prince tells this to Blanchette, and she tells him that by the end of the year he will have a lovely princess to take home with him.
So, when the time comes, he goes to Blanchette and sadly asks where the princess is that he must marry. In response, she gives him a sword and tells him to cut off her head. The prince begs her not to make him do it, but she insists, and he finally agrees. The sword is swung, and instantly a lovely princess stands before him. Blanchette, the white cat, was actually Princess Blanchette, ruler of six kingdoms and formerly under a spell. All her courtiers come in, each carrying the skin of the cat they had been turned into. The prince and Blanchette go to his father, and Blanchette tells the king that he may keep his kingdom. She gives one of her kingdoms to each of the older brothers to rule with their new wives, and lives happily ever after with the youngest prince. And "The Prince and Princess had beautiful children who were all very, very fond of cats and kittens."

See, isn't that a lovely story? For the Community Folk Dance, Rosa and I plan to dress up as Blanchette, during and after the spell. Micah shall be one of the sword-wielding retainers. Wish us luck, and never lose your imagination!


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