This was the Mailmouse, who was taking a break from his daily rounds. Moments ago, Murzik the cat had chased a chipmunk into the woods, so the Mailmouse decided to avail himself of Simplia’s open invitation to join her on the front porch glider for a cup…in his case, half a thimbleful of tea.
Simplia, pouring, asked, “How did you know we were curious about fairy tale bad guys? Did you read these postcards you just delivered, from Jane Dorfman and Tarkabarka?”
“Of course I did,” he said. “Postcards aren’t as common as they once were. When they show up in the mail bag — two in one day, no less, to the same address — they merit perusal. I mean, if the message were really private, it would be sealed in an envelope, no?”
“Point conceded,” said Simplia. “I do it, too. When I get the chance. So what did our correspondents have to say?”
Sagacia came out with a plate of fresh ginger snaps for the humans and a sprinkling of crumbs in a bottle cap for their guest. As soon as her hands were free, she picked up the postcards and read aloud.
“How about Count Silvernose–the Italian Bluebeard? Sending those girls into a flaming pit, not to mention all that dirty laundry. That’s from Jane Dorfman.”
“I’ve never heard of Count Silvernose,” said the Mailmouse. “What’s the dirty laundry part?”
“I don’t know a version of Bluebeard with a lot of dirty laundry. Blood, yes. Laundry?” Sagacia said, and Simplia shook her head in cluelessness. “Maybe a Magical Friend will fill us in on that detail. But Count Silvernose is one of these rich guys who forbids his young bride to open one particular door, so of course you know she’s going to do that very thing, and…”
The Mailmouse finished her sentence through a mouthful of crumb. “…meet her doom.”
“Exactly,” said Sagacia. “And then this one from Tarkabarka: I’d list the incestuous father from the All-kinds-of-fur tales, and Bluebeard and Mr. Fox. Also, Koschei the Deathless. In Hungarian fairy tales, dragons are often also men, or at least described in a human form (just with multiple heads.)”
“Not a happy thought,” muttered Simplia. “I read that story Flossie Squashblossom was talking about recently — The Battle of the Birds. There’s a giant in that one who bashes out the brains of two little boys, kidnaps a prince, and tries to hunt down his own daughter. That’s pretty bad.”
Sagacia said, “Yes, and what about those randy young gentlemen at the end of the story who think they are entitled to buy the favors of the giant’s daughter just because they’re noblemen? Maybe they’re not evil, but they are as ridiculous and vain as any step-sister.”
The Mailmouse astonished both of the Simpletons with this: “I just finished reading a story called ‘Snowdrop.’ It’s an English version of the story you’d probably recognize as ‘Snow White.’ Shakespeare drew on it heavily for his comedy ‘As You Like It.’ In ‘Snowdrop’ the king is the wicked step-parent who wants to kill the princess, and he dresses up like a hag to try to get to her.
“And don’t forget Aladdin’s false ‘uncle.'” Sagacia said.
Simplia said, “We could go on forever. But now that I’m thinking along these lines, I wonder if the ratio of Bad Males:Good Males is on a par with the ratio of Bad Females:Good Females. For that matter, do male characters outnumber female characters — never mind heroes, I’m talking plain old characters — in fairy tales?”
“More questions,” said Sagacia, “for wiser heads than ours.”
Fairy Tale Lobby Dutch Treat Dinner
at the NSN Conference in Kansas City.
Friday evening, July 22 at 5:45
at the Kona Grill in Country Club Plaza.
Take the hotel shuttle at about 5:30 to Country Club Plaza; Kona Grill is three doors east of Plaza III, facing Brush Creek. Dinner Menu.
RSVP in your comment below or email Mary Grace: mgk_at_talesandlegends.net