Tale #135: What Is A Child Worth?

There lived a lord who was so worried by his wife’s failure to produce an heir that he sought out a witch and tried to secure her aid.

The witch said, “The price of my help is that, while any son shall be yours, any daughter shall be mine.”

The Lord agreed, and soon he was the father of twins. The lord looked on in pride as his children were delivered. The boy was the image of the Lord, with black hair, a stern face, and a tendency to turn to tears and tantrums.

The daughter looked exactly like her mother. Skin as dark as night, hair as red as blood, a smile as joyous and free as a bird, and a nature as fierce as any wolf.

The lord soon returned to his duties, and left the child’s care to his wife, for he was a busy man, and had no time for the trifles of domesticity. And while the Lord’s paling wife found love in her heart for them both, she could not find in herself any forgiveness for her husband.

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Notes:

1. Written on July 1st, 2019

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Tale #134: The Three Wives

There were three wives, who had married three brothers. The priestly wife was jealous of the princess wife, for the princess had a vast castle and abundant riches and the most splendid food cooks could cook, and did not need to worry about the strictures of poverty that held her in place like shackles.

The princess wife was jealous of the priestly wife, for the priestly wife had no politics to preside over, nor no courtly judgements to make, nor any of the other responsibilities that held her in place like shackles.

The dead wife was jealous of no one, for she was a corpse, and free.

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Notes:

1. Written May 15th, 2016
2. At the same time as last week’s tale
3. To which this is a sequel
4. Of sorts
5. And the same apologies and excuses apply here as they did there

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Tale #133: The Three Sons

A lord had three sons. One day, when they were fully grown, he took them to the top of the tallest tower of the castle and made them fire an arrow over the parapet and into the town. And wheresoever the arrow fell, there his son would find his wife.

The first son, the lord’s favourite, and upon whom the lord had lavished his entire life’s fortune and love, fired his arrow and his strength was such that the arrow flew out beyond the town to the castle of the neighbouring kingdom. It flew through the window and struck the headboard of the bed where the king’s fairest daughter was sleeping. And so the lordling and the princess were married that very afternoon.

The next day, the second son, about whom the lord was largely indifferent, fired his arrow, and his strength, though not as great as his elder brother’s, was still such that the arrow flew out over the town towards the church, where it struck the gate of the vicarage. The bishop’s only daughter was cleaning in the yard, and so the second son and the bishop’s daughter were married that very afternoon.

On the third day, the youngest son, who the king despised, fired his arrow. After years of abuse and neglect, the young man was so weak and useless that the arrow tumbled straight down into the market place below, where it struck a travelling merchant in the throat and killed her instantly. And so the third son and the corpse were married that very afternoon.

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Notes:

1. Written on the 18th May, 2016
2. So I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to include it here.
3. Perhaps cause it was a bit too bleak and cynical
4. Even for me.
5. (And the same applies for next week’s one, too)

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Tale #132: The Cormorant In History

The cormorant was considered a crow for far longer than you’d really think was possible.

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Notes:

1. Written on April 1st, 2019

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Tale #131: The Swan (A Morality Tale In Miniature)

When I was a child, a swan pecked off the fingers of my right hand, one by one, and swallowed them whole, with a gulp, and a sneer, or so it looked to me then, with those those haughty black eyes, those flecks of my blood smeared upon its beak, as I screamed in horror, screamed in fear, screamed in every possible way a scream is possible to scream.

In the aftermath, as I lay in bed, my hands swaddled in bandages, my body swaddled in quilts and covers, instead of sympathy, or alongside it at least, was an undercurrent of disdain, every empty platitude accompanied by some snort of derision, some admonishment of my judgement, as they made sure to tell me it was my own damn fault. I should have known better. I shouldn’t have been down by the river. I shouldn’t have offered it those last few scraps of bread.

I should have left the poor thing alone.

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Notes:

1. Written on April 1st, 2019
2. And then re-written almost entirely on September 8th, 2020

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If you like the things you've read here please consider subscribing to my patreon. Subscribers get not just early access to content and also the occasional gift, but also my eternal gratitude. Which I'm not sure is very useful, but is certainly very real. Thank you.