Day 2, Tale 2
retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow
A mother had three daughters, and it strangely happened that
girls one and two had little luck. Their hopes and plans went flat,
while number three, named Nella, who was fair as she could be,
had luck. A better natured girl you’d never ever see.
The more that she was praised the more her sisters’ envy grew.
They wished her buried underground. No other fate would do.
Now Nella caught the fancy of a young enchanted prince.
They soon enough were lovers, trysting every night, but since
they did not want it known, the prince devised a special route
from his palace to her bedroom by which means he could commute.
He built a crystal tunnel. And to signal her desire
she simply had to throw a magic powder on the fire.
He’d come dashing through the tunnel without clothes on, I might add.
Her sisters spied and found them out. It drove them nearly mad,
so they smashed the crystal tunnel. Nella summoned him that night,
and the prince’s skin was torn to shreds. He was a sorry sight.
He limped back to his palace where he put himself to bed.
Since the crystal was enchanted, we’ve no cure, his doctors said.
The king cried out, A Cure for a Reward! which will entail
his marriage if a female, half my kingdom if a male.
When Nella heard the news, she blacked her face and slipped outside
to go to see her lover one more time before he died.
She was deep inside a wood when night obscured her chosen way.
She climbed a tree to shelter there and wait for light of day.
It happened that the tree she chose was near an ogre’s house.
The ogre, having dimmed the lamps, was talking to his spouse.
The windows were ajar so Nella heard the ogress say,
Do tell me, hairy darling, what’s the news you’ve heard today?
The world’s a mess, the ogre said, and here’s a tasty bit.
The king’s son built a crystal tube through which he used to flit
to see his love. But someone smashed the tunnel. Now he’s gone.
He’ll surely bleed to death. There’s just one cure which, smeared upon
his bloody skin will save the prince and bring him back to life.
Do tell me what it is, my tusky darling, whined his wife.
You do not want to know, the ogre said. Don’t plead like that.
Well then, the cure is this. It is the grease from our own fat.
Tell no one! Oh, I swear it. I won’t breathe a single word.
Too late, for Nella in her tree had plainly overheard,
and, gathering up her courage once she reached the forest floor,
she hurried to the ogre’s house and hammered on the door.
Pray, let me in, my goulish lord and lady. Mercy, please.
I’m hungry and I’m far from home. I beg you on my knees.
The ogress would have thrown her crumbs and sent the girl away
but the ogre, who desired a meal of Christian flesh, said, Stay.
If we leave her in the forest, she’ll be eaten by a beast.
Let’s keep her here and then, tomorrow, we will have a feast.
That was their plan. But Nella, who had other plans, instead
picked up a knife and butchered them once they were in their bed.
She put their fat inside a jar and set off for the court.
She rubbed the fat upon the wounds. They closed at once. In short,
the prince was healed. The king said, You must take her for your bride.
Oh, no! the prince exclaimed, Not her. I sooner would have died.
My heart belongs to someone else. No one can take her place.
Why that girl? Nella said. She caused you harm in any case.
Not she, but her two sisters were the villains. And they’ll pay!
Then Nella asked for water, and she washed the dirt away.
Where once had stood a ragged wretch now stood his heart’s delight.
He took her for his wife. Her sisters soon learned of their plight.
They were sentenced to be walled up in an oven, there to die,
a fate that only Nella had the right to nullify.
Copyright © 2019 Laura J. Bobrow. All rights reserved.