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The Tale Of Brave Grinelda by Séan Poole
 

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  • Once upon a time in the days of old
    There lived a poor tailor who, I am told
    Did brag that his daughter
    Spun straw into gold!

    When news of this feat
    Reached the ears of the king
    He dispatched some soldiers
    With orders to bring the girl
    Back to him so that he might see for himself
    If the tailor’s offspring
    Could really accomplish
    This alchemy thing.

    And so the poor girl to the castle was brought
    And down in the dungeon was
    Locked up with naught but
    A great heap of straw and
    An old spinning wheel
    Then told by the king
    That greedy old heel
    To spin straw into gold
    Ere he come back
    Else she’d pay for her father’s lies
    Stretched on the rack!

    If this were to happen
    To you or to I
    It’s very likely
    We’d sit down and cry.

    But the tailor’s brave daughter
    Did no such thing
    As if trapped in an opera
    She started to sing.

    “Oh my life is in an uproar
    This is my darkest hour
    Because of father’s boasting
    I’m locked up in a tower.

    The king’s a greedy man you see
    And he is rather old
    He’s locked me in this room all night
    To spin straw into gold!

    The reason I’m so frantic is
    My powers are a lie
    If I don’t change this straw to gold
    I’ll very likely die!

    So now I sit here weeping
    I sob and moan and cry!
    I really am in trouble
    I should be spinning now
    I’d sell my soul to Satan
    If only I knew how!”

    Suddenly in front of her
    Before her startled eyes
    A silly little man appeared
    Wearing a disguise!

    “You’re in a lot of trouble
    That is plain to see
    There’s no one who can help you now
    No one, that is, but me!”

    So the girl and the elf they struck up a deal
    She agreed to his price
    He sat down at the wheel
    Before morning’s first light
    O’er the threshold had crept
    The girl woke to find
    That the sprite had indeed
    Spun gold while she slept!

    “Well, well, well,” she said to herself
    I really wasn’t quite sure that the elf
    Could do it… Know what I mean?
    Though his cap cloak and shoes
    Were all very green.
    And everyone knows
    That elves who spin straw into gold
    Wear green clothes.

    Still I didn’t think to his word he’d be true
    But he was. Then he left
    Without saying a thing
    And surely this gold
    Will delight the king
    Who’ll spare me my life
    And let freedom ring!”

    Of course you know
    That wasn’t the case
    When the king saw that gold
    All over the place
    He rubbed his chinny-chin-chin
    And said “My! My! My!”
    Big Dollar signs appeared in his eye
    He led young Grinelda

    “That’s my nom de plume!”

    Down a deep dark steep stairway
    To an underground room
    And while locking the door
    Repeated her doom:
    “You’ll spin straw into gold
    Ere I come back
    Else you’ll pay for your Father’s lies
    Stretched on the rack.”

    Brave young Grinelda
    Alone in the dark
    Considered her future
    It seemed awful stark
    For the straw here was stacked
    From ceiling to floor and
    It looked like a whole lot more
    Straw than before!
    Courageous Grinelda trapped by the king
    What else could she do?
    She started to sing!

    “Help! I need somebody
    Help! Not just anybody
    Help! You know I need someone
    HELP!”

    Then POOF!
    That green elf he stood there a-grinnin’
    After just a few bars of that old song by Lennon.

    “You’re right! I’m shameless and
    It gets better from here
    I steal from the best
    I’ve got a good ear!”

    “Hey, Mister Songburst!
    While you’re up there bragging
    I’m stuck on this page and
    The scene is dragging
    So get back over here and act like the elf
    Quit standing up there being full of yourself!”

    “Yes dear I kinda got carried away
    For the next several lines
    As the elf I will say”:

    “Ah sweet Grinelda! What have we here?
    A roomful of straw and you my dear
    Standing alone and singing so bold
    I’ll wager you want all this straw turned to gold?”

    “Why how did you guess? You clever green man!
    Now spin it! Now spin it as fast as you can!”

    “Odds Bodkins my lady!
    Forsooth! Take a chill!
    When I name my price
    I reckon that you will think twice
    Ere a bargain we keep
    You’ll find that my fee
    For the job
    Is quite steep!
    You might think it twisted
    Consider it wild
    But my services this time
    Will cost you a child!”

    “You sick little man
    Just what do you mean
    Give you a child?
    That’s perverse and obscene!”

    “Best not to judge me, Grinelda my dear
    Lest I go as I came and sneak out of here
    And leave you alone in this dark, straw-filled room
    To wait for the king and to ponder your doom!”

    Just then to Grinelda the king’s words came back
    About how he’d stretch her out up on the rack
    And that little scene got her thoughts back on track
    So she called to the elf

    “Yo! Hey you, Jack!
    OK! It’s a deal!
    Hey come on back!
    You want a child and I want to live
    It seems such a very fair price I can
    Give you for saving my life
    If you know what I mean
    For a roomful of gold I should be made Queen!”

    And with those few words
    Her first-born was sold
    And the elf started spinning
    The straw into gold!

    Well you know what happened
    How when the King saw the
    Roomful of gold which
    Once had been straw
    He fell on his knees and
    He begged, “Pretty please!”
    For Grinelda to marry him
    That very same day and
    That little wench, she said
    “Yes! Right Away!”

    A year or so later
    On a night warm and mild
    Grinelda sat, feeding and
    Rocking her child.
    While to the infant
    A song she did sing
    The sound of her voice
    To her chambers did bring
    The little green man
    All gnarly and bent
    With singular purpose
    And wicked intent

    “Ah Grinelda, my Queen
    It really is you!
    Your time to pay up
    Is long since past due and
    I’ve come to collect
    All that which you did
    Promise to me
    In my hour of need.
    Oh yes, you promised!
    You know that you did!
    So c’mon hurry up
    Give me the kid!”

    “You warped little munchkin
    I’ve dreaded this day
    When you would return
    And I’d have to pay
    But I’ve thought it over
    Now I must say “Nay!”
    Your cruel little game
    I just will not play!”

    “Oh, Grinelda my pet
    You will play the game
    We’ll keep it simple
    You just guess my name
    And if you’re able
    With you the child stays
    Those are my rules
    I’ll return in three days.”

    Then brave Grinelda
    Really got busy
    Collecting strange names
    Put her all in a tizzy!

    There’s Shagrat and Wormwood and
    Salvador Dali.
    Just listen to this one
    Bhutros- Bhutros Gali!
    I’ve collected so many
    Some vulgar, some cute
    Why I found a fool
    Who calls himself Newt!


    So on the third day
    The pre-arranged time
    The little green man
    Whose only real crime
    Was helping a damsel
    In her hour of need
    Said, “Come, come Grinelda
    Do not let greed spoil
    Our friendship or interfere
    With our game
    Its time for you now
    To start guessing my name!”

    Then little Grinelda
    Wrinkled her brow
    “Oh all right then
    Is your name
    Deng Zheng Zhing Pao?”

    “No no that’s not it
    My sweet girly-girl
    Come on! Guess again!
    Give it a whirl!”

    Grinelda was cool, collected and calm
    She wanted just the right moment to
    Unload her bomb. So she said,
    “It’s a cinch that your name isn’t Tom
    Or Murgratroyd, Griswold or Absalom
    Or Shazbat, or Bazbo or even just Pete!”

    “Oh Grinelda, Grinelda
    You’re such a cheat!
    Still you’ve used up your guesses
    Far more than just three
    So be a good girl
    Give the baby to me!”

    “Oh please good Sir Elf
    Give to me just one more guess
    To try to make you answer yes
    To the question I ask
    Regarding your name
    If I get it wrong
    It’s all the same.
    So please, sir, please sir
    Answer “Yes”
    Give to me just one more guess!”

    “Alright, already
    Grinelda my dear
    Your pleas have not fallen
    Into a deaf ear
    I will say yes
    You may guess
    I’ll give you but one
    That’s all you deserve
    Though it beats me exactly
    What point it will serve!”

    “Is your name Rumplestiltskin
    You little green perv?
    I know that it is
    Don’t bother to lie
    I learned it last night
    From my most trusted spy
    The time of your banishment
    Quickly draws nigh!
    So leave now and hurry!
    You simply must split
    I’m sick of your game
    And I’m sick of your
    Shoes!
    They’re so green!
    They’re the ugliest green shoes
    That I’ve ever seen!
    And look at that cloak!
    And that hideous hat!
    Take them and go
    Get out of here!
    Skat!!!”

    Rumplestiltskin just vanished!
    Hell, wouldn’t you?
    With a foe like Grinelda
    What else could he do?
    He wanted a child
    All he got was a shrew
    That’s the end of this tale
    And I swear ‘tis all true.
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