“Well, THAT’s something different!” Sagacia exclaimed, pulling a large post card out of the day’s bounty of mail mailmouse had just handed her.

“What?” Simplia asked.

Sagacia held up the card. “A political mailer with a picture of both candidates.”

“Nope! Happens all the time,” said mailmouse with a sigh. “One candidate saying something bad about the other. You can tell where it came from right away, though. Look! One of the candidate photos looks great! Well-groomed, happy, smart, professional. The other looks sneery or mean. Out of control. Sometimes pixilated.”

“Let me see that,” said Simplia, and Sagacia handed her the mailer.

Simplia studied the photos and then turned it over.

“What’s this?” she exclaimed. “Listen.”

Mailmouse didn’t, though. He whisked himself on to his next stop, but Sagacia listened closely to her Simpleton friend. She knew it was the magical third day of the month, and anything was likely to happen. Sure enough, the back of the giant card didn’t explain the front of the card. It said . . .

Dear Vasilisa the Wise,

I’m a storyteller and there is one tale that I love but had never told until yesterday; it’s that Chinese tale of The Magical Pear Tree. I should say that I love it, “but….”  There was always something about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then, yesterday, when I told it for the first time, a listener spoke to me afterwards, and he nailed it!

He said, “It’s just not fair that the priest took away all of the farmer’s profits for that day. All of his pears. It seemed more like revenge or vindictiveness more than just deserts for a rude and greedy farmer. Did he get a ‘pass’ just because he was a religious character? Uh-uh! Shouldn’t be!”

Well, Eureka, Vasilisa! That’s what had been gnawing at me, too!

Now, I know that a fairy tale is not like a wisdom tale or some kind of story that satisfies because it ends just as it should, but still it is a distraction when there is an imbalance in the outcome. Is it me and my 21st-century, so-called enlightened sense of justice imposing my standards on an ancient tale?

Also, it made me start thinking: maybe there are other fairy tales that people love, “but….”

Has that happened to you, Vasilisa? Would you ask your magical friends for me, too? I bet there are lots of similar cases out there! Thanks!

Puzzling in Pomona.

PS: Give Murzik an ear rub for me!

“Well,” said Sagacia, opening the door, now that mailmouse was gone, to let their cat into the kitchen.

“I have a vague sense it has happened to me, too,” said Simplia. I’ll think of it, but I know of times that I’ve read a great tale, ‘but . . . .’ for one thing and it kept me from telling it. Probably happened more than once.”

Sagacia gave Murzik the requested ear rub and an obligatory chin scrunch and got a rewarding purr. “Me, too!” she said. “And I bet others. Come on! Let’s go post this question at the Fairy Tale Lobby!”