As the two simpletons toted their important bundle of replies from the Fairy Tale Lobby to the village post office, it seemed to Sagacia that the dark woods were more eery, more ominous than ordinarily, as though there might be someone lurking behind each tree. She couldn’t help thinking about what Charles Kiernan had said:
How can you say there are few fairies in fairy tales. Each one is filled with them. They are everywhere, within fairy tales and without. True, they are hiding. Are you thinking because you don’t see them, they are not there? Tsk!
Do you dream at night? Where do you think dreams come from? Fairy dust. The moment you close your eyes they come out of the woodwork and sprinkle you with fairy dust.
We all know the myth of Atlas holding up the world. One should maintain a healthy skepticism toward myth. It’s fairies that hold up the world, uncounted numbers of them fluttering their little wings.
You could get scientific and explain to me the gravitational pull of universal bodies, but it is all much more simple than that. Fairies!
Walking briskly ahead, Simplia seemed bold, but at every little chirp and and rustle, she, too, jumped. She kept hearing the words of Barra the Bard echoing in her brain:
…the ogres, genies, trolls, giants, elves, and merfolk (because there are mermen too), along with brownies, piskies, knockers, wills-o’-the-wisp, gruagachs, kelpies, and so on, are other kinds of faery folk. Some, like the silkies/selchies, are shape-shifters. Some fairy godmothers are indeed fairies—but according to Mercedes Lackey, some are human women with magical gifts who have served an apprenticeship. And there are some humans with magical abilities, such as the witches, wizards, etc. it varies from place to place, culture to culture, what size the fairy-folk are. For example, in France and parts of England long ago, they were small enough to sleep inside a flower. In others, such as Scotland, they could look very much like humans—which is one reason why good manners were stressed. “After all,” my wise old grandmother said, “you never know who a stranger may turn out to be! And the faery-folk will reward you seven times over if you are kind and helpful to them, BUT if you anger them, they WILL have their rrrrrrrrrrrrevenge!” (She was partly Scottish, and could really roll her r’s). I was a very polite little girl.
Crossing the old wooden bridge, they both remembered Tarkabarka saying that, in Hungary, fairies…look like people, except more beautiful, and when they pee in the river, you can wash gold from the mud. Kid you not. They dutifully checked the banks for golden glints and were relieved to see no temptation that might delay their errand!
At last they reached the village! Walking past the library, Sagacia remembered something Nick Smith had mentioned on Storytell:
I am noticing an interesting shift in terminology that children are using. Kids are referring to traditional fairy tales as “princess stories.” This is largely the Disney influence, but other publishers have contributed, by creating new fairy fiction that has nothing to do with the traditional fairy tales.
So, we have kids coming into the local libraries asking for fairy stories when they want the modern fiction by Daisy Meadows, and for princess stories when they want the traditional versions of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.
Is this happening in other places, or is this just a California linguistic shift?
And Simplia reminded her of Schuyler Ford’s response from far away Sleepy Hollow:
My humble observation, I think a renewed interest grew out of literary tales and contemporary picture books stories featuring princesses. And young readers were looking for literally more “princess stories”. Yippeee…that search allowed librarians and parents to introduce fairy tales. Glad it’s happening, right?
“Yippeee!,” said Sagacia as they reached the post office at last.
The postmaster took their package and handed them a letter. “Vasilisa the Wise,” the address read.
“We’ll get it to her,” they said together. Then they stepped outside, slid ‘round the corner of the building, and eagerly tore it open. Greedily they read:
Dear Vasilisa the Wise:
My two older brothers make fun of me all the time. True, both of them are handsome and clever and charming. Girls chase after them, grownups admire them, and my teachers and the coach seem duty bound to let me know I don’t measure up. I’m sure even my parents think I’m a failure compared to their first two sons! Some days I just want to sit on a stone and weep. Is there nothing a third son can do to prove himself worthy? –Frustrated in Fresno
“Well, we must let our magical friends know about this new situation,” Simplia said.
“Indeed,” Sagacia agreed. “And right away!”