Growing up, I never read any fairy tales. Never. Why would I want to read about dragons and other talking animals and magical things, right? But people grow up and come to their senses, or so someone once said.
I discovered this original fairytale, and now I see why people do read fairytales and why there is a huge market out there for fairytale books. [Cinderella might have been the earliest one, now we have Twilight.] I won’t tell you why I think fairytales have something going for them. Figure it out for yourself.
Once upon a time, there lived a princess in a castle in a kingdom far, far away.
Her castle was a lonely place, for the King had separated from the Queen. The princess’ only brother suffered from the parental fallout, and had a nasty temper and took it out on the princess.
To get away, the Princess took to long walks alone in the forest at the edge of the castle grounds. She was never quite alone, of course, for the King’s ladies-in-waiting would watch over her and make sure no harm ever came to her. This forest was a magic forest. The animals who lived in it were talking animals, and it was rumoured that fairies and pixies lived under the giant roots of the 100-year-old oaks and cedars that towered like cathedrals in the wood.
One morning, she was leaning against the trunk of an old oak reading a book about music. She fell asleep reading. When she woke up, it was early afternoon, and as she got up to go back to the castle for tea, she saw some pawprints on the ground. (It had rained a little in the morning, and the ground was soft and damp.) On a whim, she decided to follow the pawprints. It led down a narrow trail and into a small clearing. What she saw took her by surprise. A rabbit was playing a tiny piano. It played as if it were a part of the music, and the princess was entranced by the way thoughts and feelings and pictures whirled around in her head like ballroom dancers as the music played.
Suddenly, the rabbit stopped. It turned around. “Hello, Princess!” The princess was surprised, but then remembered the wood was magical. She curtsied, and said, “Hello. What’s your name?” The rabbit said, “I have many names, but none I’d like better than the one you would give me.”
“But I hardly know you,” said the princess. “And names come from somewhere, but not at the beginning.”
“That is true,” he said. “But this is not the beginning.”
The princess thought for a while. “That is true.”
And so they talked, and forgot the time. And time itself forgot.
The story has a continuation of course, but I won’t post it here. It may mean a trip into the magical wood, but I’ll save it for next time.