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from Forty-Four Turkish Fairy Tales, Dr. Ignacz Kunos, 1913, illustrated by Willy Pogany

from Forty-Four Turkish Fairy Tales, Dr. Ignacz Kunos, 1913, illustrated by Willy Pogany

And so it was that Simplia clasped her head in her hands and directed her feet to the medicine cabinet, and Sagacia sat down at the laptop and typed “Fairy Tales” into two search engines. She’d been hearing that late-night “Bing it on!” commercial, and today seemed as good a time as any to run her own comparison study.

Both Bing and Google brought up Wikipedia first, that intrepid web-based collaborative multilingual recorder and purveyor of all information known and unknown without regard to currency or reliability among those acknowledged as experts in the field of–well, whatever. In other words, the place everybody goes first. The information marketplace. Well, if she’d wanted that, she could have just typed it into the address box herself!

Next, Google listed one annoying children’s site then SurLaLune Fairy Tales, and Bing listed three children’s sites and an e-text of Grimm before naming the treasure trove that is SurLaLune.

“Hmmm…,” she thought. “This does not bode well for our microsoft-headed friends at Bing.”

She clicked onto SurLaLune and typed “letter” into Heidi Ann Heimer’s own search engine, skimmed a few entries, and picked out “The Fish in the Ring” from the Joseph Jacobs’ collection, “Rich Peter the Pedlar” from Asbjornsen and Moe, and “Vasily the Unlucky” from Post Wheeler’s Russian Fairy Tales, each of which narrated a case of letter interception and forgery. In addition, she called up a Slavonic tale, “The Spirit of a Buried Man,” which had a letter intercepted but no forged letter replacing it. When Simplia came back into the room, Sagacia related her task and her findings.

“Try ‘Ashliman,’” Simplia whimpered, lying back on the Chesterfield and gently placing a cool, wet washcloth on her forehead. Murzik hopped up and nestled into her side.

Sagacia typed the name into the two search boxes. Bing brought up the University of Pittsburgh’s fine “Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts” site first, and Google reported first the modest home page of the revered folklorist himself, now retired and living in Utah, then, second, the grand resource site. She smiled as she clicked to the clean, familiar homepage, but discovered it had no index listing for “letter” under the L’s or “Intercepted Letter” under the I’s. The motif would not be so easy to find here!

Boldly, Sagacia typed “fairy tales intercepted letter” straight into the Google and Bing search boxes.

“Look at this!” she shouted, leaping from her chair. “Bing lists Fairy Tale Lobby first, and second! Two pages!”

“Great!” said Simplia, sitting up, her hurting brain forgotten–or miraculously healed. Murzik blinked and directed a cat sneer toward the Simpleton who’d disturbed his sleep.

Sagacia clicked away. “And Google lists it first, too, but just one page. Then it goes on to other things.”

“Well, then; clearly, Bing is the better search engine,” Simplia asserted.

“Indeed,” Sagacia nodded.

“But you know what I just thought of?” Simplia asked.

“What?”

“Well, we’ve been intercepting Vasilisa’s letters for over a year, now,” Simpia reflected. “And the USPS doesn’t seem to care.”

“Hmm…,” Sagacia pondered. “If by USPS, you mean delivery service by birds, frogs, chimneys, hens’ nests, arrows, the Sunday coupon insert, the internet,…”

“Okay! I get it!” Simplia interrupted, cutting her off.

“And, besides,” Sagacia continued, “She asked us to intercept them. We are simply helping a friend. And we’re not deceiving anyone, either.”

“True,” Simplia agreed. “We’re not fooling a soul!”

“Dilettante in Delhi wanted to know about interception and deception, not friendship and helping out,” Sagacia concluded.

“Yep. And I guess it’s time to help her out by letting her know what we’ve collected,” Simplia said, standing up. “Don’t we have a Flat Rate Box around here somewhere? I think it should all fit into the $5.35 size.”

“In the hall closet,” said Sagacia. “Just let me find a few more titles for her. SurLaLune has ten more pages of results here!”

Sagacia clicked on the keyboard. Simplia clambered in the closet. Murzik yawned and rolled over. Sleeping on one’s right side can be a refreshing change from sleeping on one’s left side, he noted.

Linking today to Granny Sue’s Storytellers’ Blog Hop.

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