The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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King Who Loses His Wife

Perhaps I tried too hard to please my neighbors. I was too kind. I created false expectations, rivalries and the jealousies. The long and the short is, I was always at war.

Shortly after I married, I lost a hard battle and we had to retreat behind the walls of my capital. I made preparations for a long siege and sent my wife to a secure castle. She didn’t want to go, but the old castle was well fortified and stood on the outskirts of a great forest two hundred miles away.

The siege went on for a long time. My wife and I continued to send messages back and forth, but when the siege became intense, I forbade all messengers to leave the castle.

After several months, the battle ended and then I received a message. My wife had gone hunting and had not returned.

Years passed and I did not hear a word. After nine years, I decided to marry again. Then, just before the wedding, when I was in the Hall of Audience, examining wedding clothes, a tiny procession came down the gallery and into the hall. First came a contingent of grasshoppers, followed by a tiny green field frogs mounted on snails, followed by water-rats dressed as pages, and lastly, a frog. She was seated on a tortoiseshell litter borne by eight toads.

With one bound, she jumped out of her litter and landed on the floor. With a second bound, she landed on the arm of my chair. She proceeded to inform me that I could not marry because the queen was alive and well in the underworld. She gave me a letter written on a handkerchief in my wife’s blood. I kissed the handkerchief three times and burst into tears. I’d go anywhere to find her; I’d go to the depths of hell.

King Who Loses HIs Wife in The Frog and the Lion Fairy, Orange Fairy Book. Painting “Orpheus and Eurydice” by Adelaine Sparkes.