Grace and Gracefuller


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“The Stories for Arabian Nights Entertainments,” by Andrew Lang illustrated by Rene Bull (Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1898). Wikimedia Commons.

“The Stories for Arabian Nights Entertainments,” by Andrew Lang illustrated by Rene Bull, Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1898. From Wikimedia Commons.

It had been a difficult trip to the post office to get all those letters off to Focused in Fernwood. A sudden chilly rainstorm had caught Sagacia and Simplia sleeveless, the windshield wipers could barely keep up with the pounding drops, and then the car heater went on the fritz! Now, parked in front of their nearest refuge, the Fairy Tale Lobby — well, Dear Reader, should they wait it out or make a break for the door?

“I’ve got my key ready if there’s a slow-down in the downpour,” Sagacia said.

“Why don’t you give it to me,” Simplia suggested. “I’ll run over and unlock the door, and when you see I’ve made it, then you come.”

“Or I could . . .” Sagacia began.

“No! I don’t want you turn your ankle again.”

Sagacia handed her friend the key. It was true. Pain still shot up her leg when she landed on it in a certain way, and besides, her friend was gracefuller than she. More graceful. She knew.

Fleet of foot, her fellow Simpleton simply flew up the footpath, fitted the key and flung herself into the foyer.

“Come on!” she called back, signalling with her whole arm.

Sagacia opened the car door a crack, then shoved it wide open. She emerged quickly, slammed it shut, then hurled herself toward the door.

“Whew!” she said, landing inside. The pair shuddered at their drenched hair and clothing, dabbing and patting away at their faces and shoulders.

“What’s that stuck to your shoe?” asked Simplia. “Don’t let it make you slip!”

Sagacia leaned over and tugged a drenched envelope from the mud on her sandal, which had been another unfortunate apparel choice for the day.

“I don’t know,” she said, handing it to Simplia while she slipped out of the wet shoes and kicked them toward the baseboard by the door.

Simplia peeled back the flaps of envelope and lifted out a soggy card. She tugged at the corners to pry it open and pressed it out on the mirror of the hall tree. The gals both knew it was the magical third day of the month, so no sudden appearance of anything written could be ignored!

Luckily, the ink had not run. Thank heavens for Sharpies! Simplia thought to herself as she began reading aloud:

Dear Vasalisa the Wise:

I’ve been thinking about this for about a week, now.

Last Sunday our minister preached on the topic of “grace,” describing it as an undeserved gift of love, something wonderful that comes your way through no efforts or merit of your own.

Now, I’m not trying to go all religious on you, but it occurred to me that there are some perfect examples of “grace” in fairy tales. It is like that magical thing that happens that becomes a turning point in the tale or some small enchantment that gives the protagonist the ability to complete the quest.

I’m thinking of things like the little animals helping Cinderella with the housework, keeping her happy even though she is oppressed. Things like there being enough boiling oil in Morgianna’s little copper kettle to scald to death all the thieves in their man-sized clay jugs, lest they leap out and kill Ali Baba. (I suppose you could call facilitating murder a “grace” in this instance.)  Things like the huntsman being moved to compassion and declining to kill Snow White, even going to some lengths to create evidence for his false report to the queen.

Would you call it “grace,” or am I being silly about this? What are some instances of grace in fairy tales that you or your magical friends can think of?

Gratefully — Grace near Graceland
(And you wondered why I asked!!)

At that moment, the Simpletons heard voices in the next room and realized they were not alone in the Fairy Tale Lobby. They looked at one another.

“Some of Vasalisa’s magical friends?” Sagacia whispered. “Seeking refuge from the storm?”

“Shall we . . . ?” Simplia shrugged.

“You first!” said Sagacia, and she followed her friend into the parlor where a nice glow from the fireplace lit some familiar faces.