The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Queen Who Beheads the King

I had been put in a castle far away, on the other side of sea filled with giants and birds who would peck out the eyes of anyone who dared to sail through their territory. The king’s outrider, a handsome lad named Ferdinand, made the trip. He fed the giants, and when he came to the castle, the giants had become his servants. I was sleeping when the giants picked up my bed and carried me to Ferdinand’s ship.

They forgot my private papers, though, and I was very distraught about it. Then Ferdinand went back for them.

Meanwhile, the king married me. I wasn’t interested in him. For one thing, he didn’t have a nose. And for another, I loved Ferdinand. So, after Ferdinand returned with my papers, I played a little trick at court. I told the king that I could cut off a head and put it back on again. Ferdinand volunteered. I beheaded him, and then I put his head back on again. He healed immediately. Only a red thread appeared around his neck where I had cut him. “Shall I try it on you, too?” I asked the king.

“Oh, yes,” he said.

I cut off his head, but I didn’t put it back on again. Oh, I pretended to, but I couldn’t get the head to stick. So the king was buried, and I married Ferdinand.

Queen Who Beheads the King in Faithful Ferdinand and Unfaithful Ferdinand, Grimms. Tarot picture “Queen of Swords” by Bonifacio Bemo, fourth century.

Queen Who Beheads the King