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(c) 2002 by Rosemary Lake, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, in Once Upon a Time When the Princess Rescued the Prince (13 Fairy Tales) available in paperback and ebook from http://www.rosemarylake.com

Free sample excerpt from

Queen-of-the-May and the Vampires

    Once there was a pretty country girl whom everyone called Queen-of-the-May, because she seemed to have an almost-perfect life. She had charming manners, and everything she tried turned out well. She won all the village honors, whether for playing or dancing or crafts, and was chosen Queen of the May every single year; so that became her name.

    In all the village, the only people who did not love May were her own two sisters, who were mean and stupid and spent all their time looking for some way to get May into trouble.

    Now one autumn, just at the Harvest Festival, Prince Randolf, whose father was king of the whole country, happened to be riding through the village. He reined his horse for a few moments to watch the pageant, and happened to see May being crowned Homecoming Queen. He stared and stared, then told his attendants to ride on without him. When May stepped down from the stage, the prince was there holding out his hand.

    May and the Prince danced and danced; then they slipped away from the crowd to walk all night in the woods, sharing their hearts' secrets. “When I come of age,” the prince said, “then we can be married.” For they both knew that the king would not approve a romance between the prince and a simple country girl.

    “But how can we see each other in the meantime?” said May.

    They had come out of the woods into a hidden glade between a rocky cliff and a peaceful lake. The prince looked at the cliff and smiled. “Come here to this glade next week,” he said, “and I will have a surprise for you.” And then they bade each other fond farewell, and the prince rode on to the capitol.

    When he got back to the palace, the first thing Randolf did was to visit his chief wizard. “Build me a tunnel,” the prince commanded, “from my room in the palace to a certain rocky cliff in the country.…” And he told the wizard the whole story. “And I will need a way to travel back and forth very quickly,” he finished.

    The old wizard smiled. “Youth and love.… Just leave it to me!” Next day while the prince was dressing, a magic door opened in the wall of his room and the wizard popped out, bowed, and said: “Your tunnel is ready, your highness.”

    Beyond the magic door was a round tunnel lined with gleaming polished crystal. “Just take a running start, your highness,” said the wizard, “and – slide!”

 

 

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Though many details are mine, this story follows “Verde Prato”, Second Diversion of the Second Day, in the Pentameron by Basile, translated by Sir Richard Burton. Some of the motifs show up in stories in other southern lands: Lang’s “The Satin Surgeon” who disguises herself as a doctor to heal her lover, a pinch of magic powder thrown to bring the lovers together, etc.

When a girl sets off on an adventure, many old stories say she “disguised herself as a man” or “put on men’s clothing.” Often I think the point is merely that  women normally wore skirts, so trousers, boots, and practical jackets etc were referred to as “men’s clothing.”