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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
Once there was a princess whose father wished her to choose a husband, but she did not like any of the men she knew. Just what kind of a man do you want? her father demanded.
That's an interesting question, said the princess, whose name was Bianca. I will think it over. After a few days, she returned to her father and said: I want a husband who is handsome, but not too handsome. I want him to be sharp, but not too sharp. I want him to be sweet, but not too sweet. I want him to be spicy, but not too spicy .
The king became angry. You cannot just make up a man to suit yourself, like ordering a cake from the baker!
That's a good idea, said the princess.
The king began jumping up and down and screaming, so the princess went away to the kitchen. There she ordered the cooks to bring her twenty pounds of flour, twenty pounds of sugar, and twenty pounds of powdered almonds.
After they brought the ingredients, she sent the cooks home. She mixed the ingredients well, added water, and molded a handsome man just like she wanted. She worked very, very carefully for a long time till she got him just right. Then just after moonrise, she used a wheelbarrow from the garden to carry him to the woods where there was a fairy ring of mushrooms in the moonlight.
Luckily it was Midsummer Eve. Bianca laid the man on a bed of clover near the fairy ring, surrounded him with flowers, and waited for the moon to rise all the way to the center of the sky. While she waited, she sang softly over and over, Fairies, good fairies, help me.
This story is much changed from a Southern European fairytale which usually appears under titles with food in them, such as Mr. Semolina. Max Luthi, in Once Upon A Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales, Chapter 6, contrasts a Greek version of this story (titled Mr. Simigdali or the Gentleman Made of Groats) with a local legend about vulgar shepards bringing a dummy to life. The fairytale or Maarchen is light and wholesome, the local legend is gloomy and scary. Confusingly, many gloomy legends have a sort of twisted and cruel fairy in them and are labeled fairy lore etc. Most of our nice fairytales (Maarchen) have no fairies except fairy godmothers. Tolkien says our 'fairytales' are not stories about fairies, but stories set in Faery -- ie in fairyland. Still, Baum got the fairies right in Oz!