Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Seven in a Blow - Part 1 of 2

Long back, there lived a little cheerful tailor. He laughed and did about his work well and enjoyed his work a lot.
It was during that time, that a lady came into the town to sell jam.
The tailor brought some jam from her and ate some of it with some leftover bread and old cheese. He smiled at the little bird in his home as he was eating the food and gave some of the leftover crumbs to the bird.
After that he got about his work.
Some time later, the tailor was annoyed to find plenty of flies around the jam and leftover crumbs. Annoyed, he pulled a duster from nearby and swamped at the flies. His blow found the mark and seven flies fell dead.
Looking at the dead flies, the tailor felt extremely happy. He decided that this was an occasion which had to be recorded and he pulled out his belt and started stitching on it.
An hour later, his belt looked very impressive and it now read the words “SEVEN IN ONE BLOW.”
The tailor was very proud of his belt and wore it. He studied himself in the mirror and decided that he looked extremely handsome.
The tailor then picked up the cheese, the little bird and closed his home and set off from his home.
The tailor walked cheerfully and soon he reached the outskirts of the kingdom. There, the tailor was slightly shocked to see the huge giant which was sitting on the branches of one the thickest trees that the tailor had ever seen in his life.
The Giant did not even notice the puny little tailor as it was grimacing angrily looking at the kingdom.
Hello!” The tailor shouted as he came near the Giant.
The Giant turned to find something squeaking near him and was surprised to find a little human in front of him.
WHAT?” The Giant asked in a normal voice which was quite deafening.
Unfazed, the tailor climbed up the branches of the tree to get closer to the Giant so that he did not have to shout all the time.
I am the one who killed “Seven in a blow”,” the tailor said proudly as he showed the Giant his belt.
The Giant stared at the puny young man and then at the belt and stared some more as he figured out what was written in the belt.
Looking at the cheerful face of the tailor and that fact that the tailor had himself come to the Giant to talk to him, naturally, the Giant misunderstood. He thought that the “seven” in the sentence meant “seven people”. The Giant moved aside grunting as the tailor sat beside.
With a huff, the Giant picked up a huge rock from the ground. He looked at the tailor with a vicious smile and then squeezed the hard rock.
The tailor was shocked because the Giant had used so much force that he was able to squeeze water out from the rock.
Let us see you do that.” The Giant told the tailor with a sneering look.
The tailor was shocked for a whole of a second and then he recovered. Smiling, he pulled out the cheese from his pocket and pretended to pull it from the ground.
The tailor then squeezed the cheese tightly as he looked at the Giant with slight contempt.
It was the Giant’s turn to look shocked as he saw water dripping from the tailor’s hands.
Angrily, the Giant picked up a huge rock and threw it.
He threw it so far that it took quiet some time for the rock to even land and the tailor saw that it had landed nearly two kingdoms away.
The tailor smiled and this time he picked up his bird and threw it.
The bird was shocked at first. But then when it found that it was free, it flew high up in the air and flew far away.
The tailor shrugged looking at the Giant. “Your rock landed somewhere. Mine...” The tailor left the sentence unfinished as he pointed at the horizon which was clear of any rocks or birds.
Now the Giant was really furious, as he looked at the tailor and then huffed angrily as he got down from the tree. “We shall see who is stronger.” He said angrily. And as he spoke, he uprooted a huge tree in a single blow.
The tailor watched shocked as he saw the tree fall and the Giant looked at the fallen tree with disdain. “Let us see, how far both of us can carry this!” The Giant said looking slightly wary.
The tailor shrugged. “I have proved that I am better than you.”
The Giant bristled angrily as the tailor continued. “So you can carry the trunk of the tree. Because I am stronger, I will carry the heavier part of the tree – which are its branches and leaves.”
The Giant agreed and picked up the trunk and turned started walking.
The tailor smiled as he got on the branches of the tree and whistled and sang loudly and pretended to carry the tree whenever the Giant looked back.
Very soon, the Giant was huffing and puffing unable to carry the weight of the tree, whereas the tailor never stopped being cheerful.
Disgruntled and unable to carry the tree anymore, the Giant threw the trunk away.
As the tailor saw this, he just jumped to one side of the tree and looked at the rolling trunk.
You are very weak.” The tailor told the Giant with slight disdain. “Could you not eve carry the trunk until we had reached the forests?”
The Giant was furious, but then slight fear had started building up in his eyes. He realized that the human before him was no ordinary mortal.
Determined to get the better of the human, the Giant pretended to smile at him.
Why don’t you come to my home? It is right here in the forests. You can stay there for the night.”
The tailor happily agreed and walked with the Giant.
The house of the Giant was enormous.
Everything there was huge – built to the size of the Giant.
After dinner, the Giant led the tailor to an enormous bed and asked the tailor to lie down there. The smirk on the face of the Giant, immediately told the tailor that something was wrong. But he did not know what it was.
He looked at the huge bed and slept on one corner because he just found the bed too huge.
It was a good thing because right around midnight when the entire house fell silent, the tailor was shocked to find that the Giant had used a huge club and broken the bed right at the middle.
The bed shattered and he fell to a side and felt thankful that he had slept at the side. If he had slept in the middle, he could have died.
The Giant had decided that his attack at the night had finished the human. Humming to itself, the next day, the Giant did not even bother checking what had really happened to the human, as it set about to the forests.
There the Giant was in for a shock as he saw the tailor cheerfully walk and smile as if nothing had happened.
The Giant was so afraid when he saw that the tailor was not even hurt that he let out a terrified growl and ran away from the forest and was never seen again. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Wise Carpenter

Gendong was the king of Snalong. He was a good king – kind and just. After his death, his son Genchong ruled the kingdom.
In Genchong’s kingdom there was a painter and a carpenter who just would not see eye to eye. They hated each other so much that they could not even stand to be in the same room.
When things were such, the painter went to see the King, with a letter in his hands.
Yesterday night an angel from the Heavens came to see me, your majesty.” The painter said with his eyes shining brightly.
What did he want?” The king asked eagerly.
The angel took me to the heavens and there I saw that your father was extremely rich and happy.” The painter hid a smile as he saw that the king was ready to believe anything that he said. “But your father has a small worry, your majesty.”
The first spasm of worry tore through Genchong’s face as the painter continued. “Your father wants to build a temple there. But he has no carpenters to build the temple.”
Genchong looked even more confused. “What am I supposed to do for that?”
The painter smiled. “Your father wants you to send your best carpenter to the city of the Gods for three months, so that the carpenter can go there and build the temple.”
The King nodded slowly and then looked at the painter. “How will the carpenter reach the heavens?”
Your father has thought of that in the letter too.” The painter said with a flourish. “Your father wants the carpenter and his tools to be placed on a pile of logs and then he wants the logs to be set on fire. So that when the smoke rises up, the carpenter with his tools can ride up to the heavens with the smoke.”
A few minutes later, the king sent for the carpenter.
The carpenter came to the court looking completely bewildered. He just did not understand what was going on. He had been minding his own business when he received news that the king had summoned him.
The first person whom the carpenter saw on coming to the court was the painter. Seeing, the smug smile on the face of the painter, the carpenter knew that something was wrong.
And the first words of the king did not help. “You have to be sent to the heavens immediately.”
The carpenter blinked.
Slowly, the king repeated everything that the painter had told him and also showed the letter of the king’s father.
When the king finished, the carpenter looked at the king and then at the painter and just did not know what to say.
Well?” The king demanded looking annoyed at the continued silence of the carpenter.
Give me seven days to collect all my tools, your majesty.” The carpenter squeaked finally.
The king agreed.
The carpenter avoided the painter and went to his wife and told her everything. Though the carpenter was aghast at first, he then started thinking. He worked very hard for the next seven days and then went to the King at the seventh day.
I am ready to go to the Heavens, your Majesty. I want to go to the Heavens from my very field which is near my home.” The carpenter told the king looking completely confident.
The painter was in the background and smirked. He did not understand the request of the carpenter. No one did.
The painter saw the logs being placed on the carpenter’s face and then he saw the king set fire to the log. Then the painter returned home as he saw the smokes raising up. He was sure that that was the last he had seen of the carpenter.
The carpenter was a clever man with his hands. In the previous seven days, he had built a tunnel under his field. When the logs were placed on top of him, he stepped inside the tunnel and stayed safe there as the king set fire to the logs.
For three months, the carpenter lived under the ground and there he prepared the finest clothes available – clothes fit to be found in the kingdom of the Gods.
Three months later, the carpenter wore those clothes and he went to the court.
The people there were shocked at watching the carpenter. They were even more shocked to see the carpenter’s dress. And naturally, the carpenter brought another letter with him. The letter read thus:
Dear Genchong,
I have heard that you are a great ruler and a just king. The carpenter that you have sent me has done a marvelous job here. Please make sure that he is well paid.
Now that the temple is complete, I need a painter to paint the temple. Please send the best painter in your kingdom to help finish the temple.
Looking at the dress of the carpenter and his missing three months, no one even doubted that this was indeed a letter from the king’s father.
The painter himself was shocked and nearly believed that the carpenter had been to the Heavens and back. He agreed to collect his things and decided to go on his journey to the Heavens.
However, the painter did not come back from his journey.

This story is found in many cultures – the most popular one being that of Akbar and Birbal. In this story a hair cutter had wanted to kill Birbal by telling Akbar that Akbar’s father wanted the wisest minister to be sent to the heavens.

Naturally, Birbal escaped and he came back from the “heavens” with a new request that Akbar’s father wanted a hair cutter in heavens.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Briar Rose

Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a king and queen. Unfortunately for the royal couple, they had no children. Because of this, they were very sad.
One day, when the queen was walking back to the palace from the nearby river, the queen saw a fish which was struggling to swim. The fish had made its way to the shallow waters and was finding it difficult to swim there. The kind hearted queen took pity on the fish and scooped the fish and threw it in deeper waters.
Sighing, the queen turned and was about to walk back to the palace, when she heard a voice.
“Kind Lady, your wish will come true!”
The words were coming from the water and the queen was slightly shocked as she turned and saw nothing.
Puzzled the queen was about to again start when she was amazed and saw the nose of the tiny fish poking out of water. That was the very fish, the queen had just saved.
The queen did not know what to say as the fish continued. “Go home and be in peace. Your wish shall be granted.”
With that the fish disappeared from her view.
The queen was stunned for a whole of a second and stared at the water. And suddenly there was a beautiful smile on her face as the lady slowly walked back to her palace.
The queen could not stop smiling as she told the king all that had happened.

**********

And just like the fish had promised, nine months later, the queen gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was very beautiful and they had decided to name the girl Briar Rose.
And the parents felt that the child was very special, the king and the queen decided to hold a special party during the christening of the child. They decided to invite all the fairies of the realms for the christening of the child so that the fairies would bless the child.
The king and the queen made a list of the fairies and totally figured that there were seven fairies in the kingdom who were to be invited.
“We shall make all the seven fairies her godmothers!” the king told the queen. “That way she shall always have their blessings.”
The queen enthusiastically nodded her head and then frowned. “Isn’t there another fairy?” the queen asked studying the list. “She lived in the tall tower....”
“There has been no news of her.” The king said shaking his head. “That fairy is probably no more.”
The queen looked doubtful but she eventually nodded her head.
So it was decided that the seven fairies would be invited to the christening and all the seven of them would be presented with golden plates and ornate drinking cups.

**********

Soon the big day came and the seven fairies came. The king and the queen proudly presented the fairies with the gifts and then they presented their baby girl to them.
The fairies were really happy on seeing the child. Each one of the fairy blessed the child.
“I bless her with beauty!” the first fairy said.
“Wit!” said the second one.
“Grace!”
“I bless her with dance!” the fourth one said.
“Song!” the next one complimented.
“Goodness!” the sixth fairy said softly.
The king and the queen were unable to stop smiling. This was the best christening ever. The child was given so many gifts and it promised to look like a....
The castle doors opened with a thud and the king and queen looked around. And they were shocked. Standing before them and looking very furious, was a fairy. That was the eighth fairy, the one whom almost everyone believed was dead.
And the eighth fairy saw the proceedings before her, her face turning ugly as she watched them. “Why was I not invited?” the fairy asked as she saw the golden plates and the cups in the hands of the other fairies.
“We....we thought....” The king stammered and he was frankly not able to say anything. The queen tried to come forward and pacify the fairy, but to no avail.
“There was a christening going on here and I was not invited. I received no gifts!” the fairy said her eyes glittering dangerously. “But I am here!” the fairy said viciously. “And I shall bless the child!” she said watching the king and the queen dangerously.
“Please my Lady!” the queen said in a pleading voice. “Do not say anything...”
“One day this child shall prick herself on a spindle and die!” the eighth fairy intoned.
There was a shock. Complete and utter shock, all over and no one spoke. No one looked capable of speaking and suddenly a melancholy air filled the castle. What had been a happy occasion suddenly turned into an unmitigated disaster.
“Please....” The king stammered finding his words.
But the eighth fairy turned and walked away from the palace without a second glance.
The queen hugged her child as she wept.
But all was not yet lost. Not completely.
The seventh fairy came forward. “I have not yet given my gift!” she told the couple kindly.
“Can you reverse the curse?” the queen asked urgently, unable to stop crying.
“No!” The fairy said shaking her head. “I cannot do that.”
The shoulders of the queen drooped in despair as the seventh fairy continued. “I shall however modify the curse.” the seventh fairy said. “When the princess pricks herself on the spindle, princess shall not die but she will fall asleep for a hundred years!” the seventh fairy said. “And she will wake up on being kissed by a King’s son.”

************

“Burn it all!” the king said savagely as he saw the spindles which had been thrown before him.
Following the day of the christening, the king had ordered his people to bring in all the spindles from all over the kingdom and had them all dumped in the courtyard. The king had them all burnt. The king was sure that he had missed nothing and that the curse of the eighth fairy would never come to pass.

***********

Briar Rose was walking through the palace rooms. She was a bright and sunny girl and tried helping out all the people in her kingdom. And the people loved her. Today, however, her parents were out of town and she was exploring her palace.
As she was opening the older rooms of the palace, she came across a very old room, which had never been used. There she saw an old woman spinning what seemed to be a very strange device.
“What is this?” Briar Rose asked confused, as she came near the device.
“Come! I will show you!” the old lady said giving Briar Rose, the device.
“This is an old spindle!” the woman continued as Briar Rose touched it.
********
The prophecy came to pass and Briar Rose was pricked by the needle and because of the modified curse she fell into a deep sleep.
The king and the queen did not know what to do. They summoned the seventh fairy when they saw Briar Rose lying unconscious.
“I shall put the entire kingdom to sleep!” the fairy said on coming to the kingdom. “So that when she wakes up, she will not be distraught.”
The entire kingdom accepted the wise words of the fairy.
“And I shall ask the trees from the forest to shield the palace so that the Princess will not be harmed during her sleep.” the fairy continued.

*******

The Prince was galloping through the forest and was very surprised when he saw the strange formation of the trees right in the middle of the forest.
“What is that?” the Prince asked confused.
“No one knows, your majesty!” One of the servants said.
“Probably the place is haunted!” Another said.
“Probably, there are demons there!” The third one said.
“No! There is a beautiful princess lying asleep there!” a wise old man said finally.
“What?” the Prince asked surprised.
“I have heard stories from long back. Stories which are at least a hundred years old.” the old man continued. “There are stories that a princess whose beauty cannot be compared, lies sleeping in there.”
On hearing that the Prince just could not sleep. He felt that the old man was right. He could not explain it. Not even to himself. But there was something...Something powerful.
And so the young Prince hacked through the dense covering of trees. It was a difficult and exhausting work, but the Prince never gave up. As he continued hacking through the forest he saw the outside wall of the castle. Letting out a hoarse shout, the prince continued his work.
After working for a long time, the Prince finally found himself inside the castle. He saw the people there who looked like they were working and were frozen in time, just like that.
His heart soaring, the Prince entered the innermost chamber.
And there the Prince was shocked.
Lying on the bed there was the most beautiful girl that the prince had ever seen. She was just asleep, the Prince saw. And on seeing her, the Prince just could not help himself as he kissed her.
The Prince was shocked when he felt the spell around the castle break.
People in and around the place, went about their daily work as if nothing was wrong.
And the words of the seventh fairy had come to pass....

 Thereafter Briar Rose and the Prince were married in a ceremony and they lived happily ever after.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Bag with Ten Pieces of Silver

Long ago, there lived a poor woodcutter.
As time went by, the woodcutter became blind. However the woodcutter had a son who looked after him very well. The woodcutter ad his son lived happily with what the son got from selling his wood.
One day as the son was coming back from the forest, he saw a bag having ten pieces of silver. Astonished he picked it up and took it home. As he was taking it home, a greedy thought entered the honest boy’s heart.
He went home hurriedly and put the pouch before his father. “Father, look what I found.”
The blind man came forward and found the pouch and was surprised when he felt the cold surface of the silver coin. He looked blindly at his son as his son continued eagerly. “Father, look. This bag was lying the forest. No one has claimed it. These ten pieces of silver are ours. Let us keep it.”
But then the honest wood cutter would hear no more. Sternly, he shook his head. “This does not belong to us. Give it to the official in the village.”
The blind man himself counted the silver pieces and then handed over the pouch to his son to be handed over to the Official.
The son was crestfallen at first. But then he decided that his father’s honesty was right and he handed over the pouch containing the pouch to the Official.
Just as the boy was about to come out of the Official’s room, he saw a gruff looking man, harshly push aside the people and come inside the house of the Official.
I have lost my pouch in the forest,” the rude man said.
The boy heard the man and thanked his stars that he was able to get the pouch back. After all, his father had been right. The money had not belonged to him.
The Official smiled as the gruff looking man came forward. He nodded. “Just now the woodcutter’s son came forward, sir. He just handed over the pouch containing the money.”
The gruff-looking man was shocked as he saw the pouch in the hands of the Official.
As he watched the pouch, an ugly thought entered the mind of the man. If he was going to get his money back so easily, he might as well try to get more.
Check your money, sir,” the Official said handing over the pouch to the man.
The man looked into the pouch and then looked at the Official. “I had twenty pieces of silver in my pouch. There are only ten in this pouch.”
The man looked angrily at the boy who was looking stunned. “This boy has stolen ten of my pieces.”
The Official looked at the boy and then at the man. He then looked at his guard and whispered a few words to him. “Talk to the blind woodcutter. Ask him how many pieces of silver were there in the pouch.”
The guard nodded as he galloped away.
The Official nodded at the two of them. “Wait here. As soon as the man comes back….I will settle the matter.”
The two people were waiting for some time when the guard came back and whispered something in the ears of the Official.
The Official nodded his head as the guard walked away. He looked at the boy and the man sternly.
Sir, the pouch that you have lost, apparently, it contained twenty pieces of silver,” the man nodded as the Official continued. “But the boy’s father tells me that he found the pouch with only ten pieces of silver. So….” Both the boy and the man looked at the Official as he continued. “This apparently cannot be your pouch, sir,” The Official said handing over the pouch to the shocked boy.

 “This pouch was found by the boy and because no one has claimed it. It is his!”

Beauty and the Beast

Madame de Villenueve in 1695 wrote a story called Beauty and the Beast. This is her version of the story.
Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a very rich merchant. He had six sons and six daughters. As the merchant was very rich, he took good care of all his children and very happy with them.
Unfortunately, disaster struck as the ships of the merchant were feared to be drowned. It was at the same time that the house of the merchant caught fire and was burnt down. The merchant’s people also cheated the man and the merchant lost money that way too. Misfortune followed the merchant one after the other, and soon the rich merchant was reduced to utter poverty.
All that remained for the merchant was one little house which was far away from the town. Having no other choice in this matter, the merchant and his family shifted to this house. The merchant’s children also found that now in their situation, none of their friends were willing to help them out.
And so they were all unhappy as they were living in that small house. As they were unable to keep any servants, the sons of the merchants had to plough the lands themselves. The merchant’s daughters were also very unhappy because they could no longer enjoy what they had been doing all their lives. The youngest daughter of the merchant was however unlike her sisters. In all these times she tried to be cheerful and happy.
The other sisters and brothers were always morose, though the youngest daughter tried to amuse others and keep their spirits up. And because she was the most intelligent and beautiful among the merchant's children, the youngest sister was called as Beauty.
The unhappy affairs of the merchant and his children would have continued indefinitely. But destiny had willed otherwise. Two years later, the merchant came to know that one of the ships which he had thought was shipwrecked, had landed in the nearby port. His family was very happy when they came to know of the news and believed that the days of their misfortune were over. However before raising their hopes, the merchant himself decided to check the news. He left his family in the house and went to check on his ship in the port.
But his children all believed that their misery was already over and all of them made tall demands from their father from the fortune in the ship. Beauty however did not want to believe in the wealth and asked nothing from her father.
Just before the trip, her father noticed her silence and called Beauty aside. “What do you want, Beauty?” he asked smiling as his youngest one.
Just come home safe.” Beauty said with a quiet smile. “I want nothing more.”
And the merchant was filled with happiness like he had never known. He had known that his youngest daughter was the wisest among all his children and he badly felt the need to do something for his daughter. “Please, darling!” the merchant said. “Ask for anything.”
I love roses, daddy!” Beauty said. “I have not seen any roses since we have moved here.” Beauty nodded at her father. “It is because you insisted that I ask for it. Get me a red rose, father.”
The merchant nodded and left for the port.
Unfortunately, the merchant’s problems were far from over. When he reached the port, he found that though his ship had landed, his partners believing that he was dead, divided all the wealth in the ship among themselves.
As the weather in the port city was becoming terribly cold, the merchant was not able to stay in the place and fight it out with the partners. The merchant was forced to return home, no richer than before.
But as the weather was steadily getting worse, the old merchant was no longer able to make the journey, back home. When he was still further away from his home, he collapsed in the snow because of the cold and exhaustion. The night, the merchant slept in the huge hollow of the tree. There, he could hear the howling of the wolves outside in the blizzard. And because of this the man was afraid to go to sleep.
Through the night, the man stayed in the hollow and came out only in the morning, when the blizzard abated.
The merchant was shocked because all around him was snow, snow and more snow. He could see nothing else and as the merchant walked he realized that he was lost because he did not know the right way to get back home.
 And so the man stumbled and slipped in the snow a lot and was shocked when he saw a huge castle appear before him. The merchant realized that he was lost. But what really shocked the merchant was the fact was that though outside the castle it looked like a blizzard had come in. Inside the castle looked like any other normal castle. The weather did not seem to affect the inside of the castle at all.
The merchant was surprised because though the castle seemed huge and well kept for, there was absolutely no one there inside the castle. The merchant went through all the rooms and saw a cozy room where a fire was lit.
The merchant decided to wait for the owner of the castle to come and slipped into the chair which was in front of the fire. The man waited and waited, but no one came.
Startled the merchant opened his eyes as he realized that he had fallen asleep watching the fire and that was when the man felt ravenously hungry. And what really shocked the merchant was that there was food in the table in front of him. The best food that he had ever seen.
Not able to stop himself, the merchant ate to his full and decided that he was going to thank the owner for their kindness.
But even after all this, no one came. Despite the fact that the castle looked clean and neat and the merchant was well provided for, the castle was silent...Too silent. And the silence grew on the man’s nerves. Probably, someone wanted him to live in this castle. Which was why he was seeing it...The Merchant thought. I shall bring my children here and live here with them. The merchant thought idly as he was still walking through the castle. The merchant was walking through the castle when he came to the stable. That was where the merchant had kept his horse before entering the castle. And that was where the merchant saw a shrub of roses, the most beautiful roses that he had ever seen.
Remembering Beauty’s words, the merchant plucked a flower.
And that was when the merchant heard a loud growl behind him.
Startled the man turned and saw a huge, ferocious and ugly looking beast at him.
I let you stay in my castle – the castle of the Beast!” Beast thundered. “I protected you from the cold snow!” Beast thundered. “Is this how you repay me?” It spluttered. “By stealing my flowers?”
The merchant watched Beast trembling with fear. “I wa...wanted to than...thank you for your kindness.” The merchant stammered. “I did not think that taking a flower would offend you.” The merchant said hastily.
Your silver words would not save you now.” Beast growled.
Afraid that the Beast was going to kill him, the merchant told Beast everything that had happened and why he took the flower. The Beast heard the story with increasingly angry eyes. And after the merchant finished, the Beast watched the merchant with narrow eyes. “I will give you my horse. It will take you to your house and return in a months time to this castle. I will give you a months time. And within that time, you will convince one of your daughters to come and live here in this castle with me.”
The merchant watched the Beast shocked unable to talk as the Beast continued. “If none of your daughters agree to this, you will come and live here in this castle. Say good bye to your family, set your affairs right and know that you shall never see them again.” The Beast thundered angrily.
Why...? The merchant stammered unable to understand.
If any of your daughter does agree to come, you cannot lie to her but she must come here of her own free will.” The Beast finished. And thereafter, the Beast refused to listen to anything else that the merchant had to say.
Gloomily, the merchant stared at the rose in his hands as he wondered how such a simple wish from Beauty could go so wrong...
The next morning, a fine horse was waiting for the merchant and he was given a lavish breakfast, though the merchant did not enjoy it much. With a heavy heart, the merchant sat on the horse and also took the rose with him.
The horse galloped so fast away from the castle that the man reached his home almost immediately. His children came to meet him and thought that his adventures had been successful which was why, the merchant was driving such a handsome horse.
But the merchant looked crestfallen and handed Beauty the rose and after that said nothing. Beauty immediately knew that something was wrong. With her kind and understanding words, the merchant told his daughter everything.
The other daughters of the merchant were furious with Beauty. “You should have asked something sensible.” They all told Beauty.
How could I know that asking for a rose in summer was going to bring this misfortune?” Beauty asked unhappily.
Father!” one of the sons of the merchant told him. “Forget about the castle. Forget everything. Do not go back there.”
I promised the Beast.” the merchant told his sons. “And I intend to keep my word.”
No!” Beauty said quietly. “I was the one who got you in this trouble, father. It shall be me. I will go to the Beast.”
There was a silence. A complete silence as no one was willing to talk.
Everyone was shocked when they heard what Beauty had to say. And Beauty’s father and brothers were against it. But Beauty’s mind was made up and soon her father realized that nothing could change her mind.
Practical as always, as the one month was coming to an end, Beauty gave all the dresses that she had to her sisters and was prepared for the fate which lay for her at the hands of the Beast.
After a month, Beauty and her father got on the horse which the Beast had given the merchant and saying goodbye to all her siblings, Beauty set out for the castle of the Beast.
And the castle was beautiful.
If Beauty had not been so afraid of her own fate, Beauty would have actually enjoyed the castle. And it almost seemed to Beauty that the castle was made even more beautiful as if just to welcome her. And it did not make sense to Beauty at all. She just did not understand why the Beast was taking such pains to welcome her, if all he intended to do was just kill her.
Inside the castle, the merchant led Beauty to the same room where he had slept the last time he had come here. The service in the castle was impeccable as always and the fire was burning and the food was all kept ready for them.
The two of them had their food and then they heard the sound of the Beast coming inside the room and it terrified Beauty. She nearly gasped as she saw the hideous Beast for the first time. But deciding that she had promised her father, she controlled her fear as she saw the Beast.
Did you eat well?” The Beast asked in a gruff voice which scared Beauty badly. Remembering her promise, Beauty nodded at the Beast slowly.
The Beast fixed Beauty in a stern glare and asked her, “You would be willing to stay here in this castle after you father has left?”
Beauty nearly shook her head, terrified.
Then Beauty caught herself as she slowly nodded her head.
The Beast then nodded to himself as he turned to Beauty. “The next room is filled with riches. Make sure that your father takes as much as he wants when he returns to his family and you sir...,” the Beast said turning to the merchant. “Tomorrow morning, when the bell rings your breakfast would be ready. Have your breakfast and take your riches and leave.” The Beast shook his head firmly. “You shall never see your daughter again.”
The merchant was trembling in fear but was even more afraid for his daughter, but as he was terrified of the Beast, the merchant said nothing more.
And the next door was filled with so many precious gems and dresses that the merchant was shocked. Using a trunk there, Beauty and her father filled the trunk with as much gold coins and gems. As they were filling the trunk, the merchant grunted unhappily. “The Beast is just messing with us, Beauty.” the merchant said in a disgruntled tone. “He knows that I cannot carry all these riches back home. He is just taunting us.”
He offered us these riches, father,” Beauty said quietly. “We have to believe him.”
The next day morning, the merchant had his breakfast and was shocked to find two sturdy horses waiting for him. One of the horses carried all the riches in the trunk and the other was for the merchant.
Despite this, the merchant was unwilling to bid his daughter good bye. And Beauty watched her father and a great sadness threatened to overpower her. But even as her father had sat on the horses, the horses literally seemed to fly from the place and disappeared, leaving Beauty all alone.
Though Beauty tried not to show it, she was depressed. Realizing that she was all alone in a castle with just the Beast for company, Beauty ran to her room and wept. And weeping, she fell asleep.
And though Beauty had been unhappy, she had pleasant dreams. In fact, she had more than pleasant dreams. There was such a handsome and charming prince, who appeared in her dream and Beauty could almost remember nothing other than the prince.
Do not cry, Beauty.” The prince said. “You are destined for greatness and please find me. No matter how I am disguised, please find me.”
How can I find you?” Beauty asked confused.
Do not believe your eyes, Beauty.” The prince begged her. “Trust your heart and save me from this misery.”
Beauty was confused as a beautiful regal looking woman appeared before her, in the dream. “Do not judge anything that you see.” the woman told her as she disappeared.
Beauty’s dreams were so beautiful that she did not want to wake up from it.
Beauty! Beauty! Beauty...” Something was very softly calling her name as Beauty woke up slowly and saw that the cuckoo clock was calling her name, waking her up.
And overcoming her fear, Beauty started exploring the castle. And that was when she was shocked. The first room that she had entered had many mirrors and on the side of the wall, Beauty saw a portrait. A very handsome portrait and it was of the very prince whom Beauty had dreamt about!Shocked, Beauty studied the portrait and came to an inevitable conclusion – the Beast was keeping the prince captive and the Beast was keeping the prince captive somewhere in this castle, which explained why she was having these dreams.
As Beauty was studying the rooms, she found a beautiful bracelet hanging down the chandelier. She took it and found another room filled with musical instruments. Beauty tried playing them and then walked and saw a library. And Beauty was shocked because the library had every single book that Beauty had ever wanted to read.
And soon it was evening and Beauty found that the candles in the castle lit itself as Beauty made her way to her room.
The Beast came to her room and talked with Beauty about her day. At first Beauty was terrified. But slowly as she was talking, she realized that the Beast was actually a very intelligent man and did not find him as terrifying as she found him at first and after dinner the Beast asked Beauty an impossible question.
Do you love me, Beauty?” the Beast demanded in a gruff voice. “Will you marry me?”
Beauty looked shocked unable to say anything. She definitely did not want to marry the hideous Beast but she was afraid that if she said something wrong, the Beast would hurt her. Her heart was thundering real hard as Beauty was unable to talk.
Do not be afraid of giving your answer,” The Beast said gravely.
Beauty hurriedly shook her head, still afraid to speak. Beauty was afraid that if she said anything, the Beast would be angry with her.
The Beast said nothing as he got up and walked towards the door. “Because you will not marry me, it is Good night for now,” The Beast said as he closed the door watching Beauty sadly.
Beauty was thrilled as the Beast went out and that Beast was not angry with her. Beauty did not think anymore of the Beast as she closed her eyes and tried to think of her prince.
You said you loved me, Beauty!” The Prince told Beauty in her dreams, “Then why can’t you see me?”The Prince asked.
What?” Beauty asked confused.
But the Prince did not reply.
Beauty had many dreams, but the Prince was very sad in all of them.
The next morning Beauty looked around the castle again and found that because of her dreams, the entire castle was familiar to her. The castle was exactly the one which she had seen her dreams. The portrait of the prince was also found in the castle.
Beauty found beautiful birds in the garden and made friends with the birds and took it back to her room. Beauty found a room with a chair and black curtain covering the window. When she sat on the chair, the curtains opened and Beauty could see lots of entertainment through the window – Dramas were enacted, songs were sung. There was so much to do that Beauty never felt lonely or alone in the castle.
Every night the Beast came to see Beauty and after having dinner with her the Beast would ask Beauty to marry her.
As time went on, Beauty was not afraid of the Beast because Beauty realized that Beast despite his ferocious appearance was actually a very kind person.
And Beauty still refused to marry the Beast.
But after many months, Beauty yearned to see her brothers and sisters. She told the Beast of her wishes. The Beast was very sad when he heard her wish.
I cannot refuse you anything!” The Beast told Beauty, “Even if it kills me.”
Beauty was aghast as the Beast gave her a ring. “Wear this in your hands and twist it and say that you wish to see your father and go to bed. When you wake up you will be at your home. There are four chests in the next room. Take as much riches as you want, to give to your family.” The Beast caught Beauty’s hands tightly. “But please come back in two months!” the Beast said almost trembling. Beauty did not understand as the Beast continued, “Or you will regret it.”
Beauty filled the four trunks and did as the Beast told her to do. The next morning she was surprised to find herself in her own. Her father and brothers were overjoyed to find her.
But her sisters were another thing. They were only interested in the riches that Beauty had brought. But the sisters had no desire in asking Beauty how she was doing in the castle of the Beast.
Beauty over time told her father about her dreams and the Beast. Her father was able to understand that the dreams and the Beast was conencted. “I think there is something that you should be able to see in the castle but are unable to see because of some reason.”
Beauty thought what her father had said but was unable to find anything.
Two months passed. But Beauty’s father and brothers asked her to stay for some more time and Beauty agreed.
A few days later she had a dream of the castle. Beauty heard some panting and gasping and was shocked to find the Beast dying behind the bushes. Beauty tried to get near Beast when a beautiful looking lady came near the Beast and looked at Beauty slightly angrily. “This is what happens when you do not keep your promises, Beauty!” the lady told Beauty.
Beauty was shocked as she woke up from the dream. Terrified she did not even wait for anything as she slipped on the ring and said that she wished to see the Beast as she lay on the bed, trying to go back to sleep.
The next morning, Beauty found herself in the castle. She ran towards the bushes she had seen in her dream and was shocked as she heard the gasping noises coming from the bushes. Beauty took some water from the fountain and sprinkled it on the Beast.
The Beast woke up with a start as he saw Beauty as a sad smile lit up his face, “Will you marry me Beauty?” he asked weakly.
Beauty nodded tears in her eyes. “Only when I was with my family I realized how much I missed you and how much I loved you. I will marry you Beast.”
There was a sudden silence in the castle.
You will accept me even though I look hideous and horrible?” The Beast asked Beauty.
Beauty nodded again a beautiful smile in her face.
Suddenly Beauty looked around as a bright light filled the entire castle. It was so bright that Beauty was unable to look at anything. When Beauty finally opened her eyes. She was shocked to see the handsome prince lying on the ground in the exact place where she had seen the Beast wearing the huge clothes of the Beast.
The regal lady whom Beauty had seen in her dreams was a fairy Godmother, came before Beauty as another woman stood before her. “This is Beauty, my queen!” the regal lady said. “She was brave enough to free your son from the enchantment which made him look so hideous. Now if you agree, Beauty will marry your son and they will keep each other happy for the rest of their lives.”

The queen agreed and Beauty and the prince married each other and lived happily forever.

Seven in a Blow - Part 1 of 2

Long back, there lived a little cheerful tailor. He laughed and did about his work well and enjoyed his work a lot. It was during that t...