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Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Shading Tree

Themes: Sacrifice | Vanity

Oh what a thing I have seen tonight! The Captain of the Guard took the Princess Miranda out into the forest. He was ordered by the king to kill her. Imagine! His youngest and sweetest daughter. He wanted his captain to bring back her heart and her tongue as proof that he had carried out the awful deed.

The Captain said to the princess, “I would far rather die myself than hurt you, but if I am killed you still won’t be safe. We must find some way to make the king believe that you are dead.”

Then Miranda’s black servant Patypata came forward and said, “Madam, I offer you my life. Let me be killed! I shall be only too happy to die for such a kind mistress.”

“That would never do!” cried the princess. “Your life is as precious to me as my own.”

Then her pet monkey Grabugeon came forward. “I offer you my tongue and my heart most willingly, especially as I wish to make a great name for myself in Goblin Land.”

“No, no, my little Grabugeon, I can’t bear the thought of taking your life,” said Princess Miranda.

Her little dog Tintin leap forward and said, “If anyone is to die for the princess it must be me.”

What a dispute there was! Their voices rose higher and higher, and then the monkey Grabugeon, who was quicker than the others, ran up my truck to the top of my crown. She let herself fall head-first, to the ground, and lay at my foot, quite dead!

The Captain of the Guard cut out the monkey’s tongue, but it was too little. No bigger than the princess’s thumb! They were no better off than before, but while they were looking at the monkey, the servant Patypata took a knife and cut her own throat. Her tongue was not the right color, so her terrible loss was all in vain.

In the end, Tintin sacrificed himself and the Captain went away with his tongue. Miranda was left alone in the forest with her three dead friends. She buried them in a pretty moss grave at my feet, and wrote their names on my bark. She carved out the whole story of how they had died to save her life, and you may be sure, I felt all that pain. All for the vanity of a king…

The Shading Tree in The Wonderful Sheep, Blue Fairy Book. Painting by Blandford Fletcher.

Shading Tree