A Patchwork Fairy Tale: the one with the witch, the dragon, and the iron stove.
A foolhardy girl and a cursed boy adopt each other and leave their home to find a way to lift his curse.
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[Gentle theme music]
Laura: Hi, you can call me Laura, I’m here to tell you a story if you like. If you want to read as well as listen you can find a transcript and mp3 download on patchworkfairytales.wordpress.com. You found one of my Patchwork Fairy Tales. This is the one with the witch, the dragon, and the iron stove.
The Duke’s Adopted Daughter
Once, in a cruel time when many people died and left their children behind, a duke and duchess were without children of their own.
At first they were sad and then they were angry and then finally they grew sad once again, but this time they were sad because they had been wanting a child, while there were so many children without anyone to care for them. So they adopted three young girls, all in want of a family and home, and raised them as their own, because now they were.
The youngest was grave and sincere and the middle one was stout and strong, but I must tell you of the eldest, for she was foolhardy and loving and she became the heroine of a great adventure.
Because one day, when the Duke’s three adopted daughters were just about to walk home from a visit to the nearest village, the eldest daughter saw a small crowd of people gathered around a crying child. Everyone looked worried, but no one attempted to comfort the child, and the duke’s daughter immediately drew near, her sisters trailing behind, to ask what was going on.
The little crowd parted immediately and the crying boy looked at the three girls with fearful eyes. His face was grimy with dirt and his hair was full of knots, and he was so young and looked so miserable that the eldest daughter stretched her hands out to him immediately. The boy fled into her arms, hiding his face, and her youngest sister asked the people:
“Who’s child is this?”
“Why is he crying so?” the middle sister added.
And the eldest asked indignantly: “And why would no one comfort him?”
The villagers looked very distressed, but in between their apologies they spoke of curses and misfortune and they warned the duke’s daughters that there was no helping him.
“Nonsense,” the eldest daughter scowled. “Am I not helping now?”
Because even though he was still frightened and shaking like a reed, the little boy had stopped crying, and though he did not speak, he held her hand very tightly. The girl held his hand fast and said:
“We will bring him home to father and mother.”
So despite the wringing of the villagers’ hands, the three girls brought the boy home with them. The duke and duchess exclaimed in horror over the state the child was in. They immediately ordered him to be washed, clothed and fed, and all the while the eldest girl never left his side.
She talked gently to him and held his hand when he was frightened and slowly the boy grew calmer. With his face clean and his hair combed he looked almost like a different child, but even though he had eaten well, he still looked pale and sickly. And even though he looked at the duke’s daughter with thankful eyes, he never spoke a single word.
“Something is not right with this child,” the duke said gravely.
“Whatever it is, we shall see about it in the morning,” the duchess decided. “After all, a good night’s sleep often does wonders on its own.”
This was very true and the duke’s eldest daughter tucked the little foundling boy into a soft, warm bed and sang for him until he slept like a rose.
Sadly though, when morning came and the boy woke up, he was still silent and sickly. The duke and duchess fretted and their three daughters worried, but to no avail. Nothing they could think of seemed to help the little boy. Neither treats and sweets nor balms and medicines.
Finally they had him examined by a wise and powerful healer, who was known far and wide for his talents. The healer mumbled and sighed and mumbled again and finally he said in a grave tone of voice:
“There is a curse on this child, but how this came to be I cannot tell. All I know is that three things have been taken from him without which he can never be truly healthy or happy.”
The duke and duchess were startled and exchanged a look of fright, but their eldest daughter asked:
“And what are the things that were taken from him?”
“The laugh on his lips, the spring in his step and the light in his eyes,” the healer replied.
“Goodness me,” the duchess gasped and she stared at the little boy, with his pretty curls and big round eyes, who hung his head so sadly.
“You will let him stay, won’t you?” begged the daughters. “You will not send him away?”
Their father looked grave, but his heart was moved.
“Of course he can stay,” he said. “And who knows, perhaps things will be better when he gets older.”
This quieted the fears of the two youngest daughters, but the eldest girl was not easy. That night she lay awake thinking about the little boy. She thought about his eyes that were always sad, his movements which were always tired and his lips that never smiled or spoke.
“I found him,” she said to herself in the dark of her quiet room. “And now I must help him.”
Softly she slid out of bed and quietly she walked to the room where the little boy slept. She woke him up and smiled at him with a determined smile.
“I do not know who laid a curse on you,” she said. “And I suppose we’ll never know, but I will take you into the world and find a way to lift it all the same.”
The boy looked at her with large, round eyes and seemed to silently ask her why.
“I found you,” the girl explained. “And I loved you as soon as I did. So if I may be your sister you will be my little brother and I will take care of you no matter what happens.”
Even to this speech the little boy did not reply or even smile, but he nodded his head and slid out of bed, ready to follow her.
So the duke’s eldest daughter took the cursed boy by the hand and that same night they set out into the world to find a way to cure his curse.
They did not know where they were going, so they never had to wonder what road to take. They took the roads their feet found for them and the duke’s daughter asked every person they met, be it young or old, rich or poor, whether they knew a way to lift the curse.
But it did not matter whom she asked, everyone answered exactly the same:
“The laugh on your lips, the spring in your step and the light in your eyes, once lost are lost forever.”
Whenever they said this, the little boy cried, but his sister said defiantly:
“We’ll see about that! Dry your tears, little brother, we are not giving up.”
So he would dry his tears and they would keep on walking. With such discouragement to endure and determination to keep them going, they finally arrived in a place where there seemed to be no people at all. Only trees and rocks and rising hills met the eye, not a village or farm in sight. If ever there was a place where trolls would live, this was it. But the girl and boy bravely went on walking, for they had not yet found what they were looking for.
As they were walking along a winding path that was nearly overgrown, the duke’s daughter and her little brother heard a strange sound. Like the shuffling of impossibly big feet.
The little brother whimpered fearfully, afraid that a troll would jump out and eat them. But the duke’s daughter was not scared and bravely called out:
“Troll of the green path so near, you made a sound and I did hear.”
The shuffling grew louder and scarcely a moment later a giant troll woman emerged from the trees.
“What do you want, little chit of a human girl?” she said in a rumbling voice.
“This is my little brother that I found all on my own and we are walking until we find a way to give him back the laugh on his lips, the spring in his step and the light in his eyes.”
The troll roared with laughter.
“Now that is a determined girl!” she said. “But what you wish will not be easy. If your brother has been cursed there is only one place you can go to help him. You must go to the garden of lost joys and hope what he lost can be found there.”
The duke’s daughter felt her heart dance inside her chest. Here at last was a chance to set everything right.
“How do we get to that garden?” she asked eagerly.
The troll stooped down low to look the girl in the eye and said in her rumbling voice:
“On the other side of these rolling hills is a forest and on the other side of that forest is a lake and in that lake is an island and on that island is a great wall and behind that wall grows the garden of lost joys.”
After she had said that there was a terrible silence and the little boy began to feel hopeless once again, but his sister smiled at the troll and stood up straight.
“Then that is where we will go,” she said.
“Good luck to you then, foolhardy girl,” the troll nodded. “And may your feet never be sore.”
The duke’s daughter thanked the troll, took her little brother by the hand and walked bravely on, determined to cross the rolling hills.
How they did it they knew not, nor how long it took, but they did cross the rolling hills and they did cross the dark forest, and when they had come to the end of it they were very surprised to see a lovely, big farmhouse.
“What farmer would live all the way out here?” the girl wondered out loud.
Her little brother shook his head, he did not know.
“It doesn’t matter,” the girl said. “We will go and see if it is really a farm and if there is someone there that will help us along.”
So they went to the door and knocked three times.
“Come in, come in, whoever you may be,” a voice chimed from inside and the duke’s daughter opened the door.
It was indeed a grand farmhouse, with big window and stone floors. In the middle of the house stood a big iron stove, positioned in such a way that every side could warm a different room. Beside it, in an old rocking chair, sat an ageless woman with hair as golden as the sun and eyes as grey as the October sky.
She looked at the girl and the little boy with a suspicious smile. “What a strange time of year to come knocking on a witch’s door,” she said.
“It is as good a time as any,” the girl replied. “Because it is the time we arrived.”
“What have you come for?” the witch demanded to know.
“We have come to ask if you know the way to the garden of lost joys,” the duke’s daughter said. “Because that is the place where my little brother may retrieve the laugh on his lips, the spring in his step and the light in his eyes.”
The witch looked at the little boy and then at the foolhardy girl and laughed cruelly. “You are no sister of his,” she said. “For those kinds of curses are put on all kin and if you were his sister, you’d bear the same curse.”
“If I call him ‘brother’ and he me ‘sister’, then that is what we are,” the duke’s daughter said defiantly. “And as his sister I ask for your help.”
The witch chuckled softly and said: “I can tell you very well where the garden of lost joys is. It is on an island in a great lake. If you go out through the backdoor of my farm and follow the dusty path you will find it, but you will not be able to cross it.”
“Why would we not?” the duke’s daughter asked.
“Because its water will not let you,” the witch grinned. “You must pay the ferryman to row you across, one fee for every passenger. And then you need to pay the man that guards the garden wall. And both must be paid with something of great value.”
“What kind of thing?” the duke’s daughter asked.
“You might pay them with the memory of your first love, or the second word you ever spoke, or the third song you ever sang,” the witch smiled coldly.
The little boy tugged on his sister’s hand and shook his head fearfully, but the duke’s daughter was not fazed.
“I am sure there is something else they would take as payment,” she said.
“Indeed they would,” the witch agreed. “And since you are such a brave, foolhardy girl I will make a deal with you. You can stay here and work for me for one year. When the year is over I will give you a coin minted from sunrays. If you will then stay another year, I will give you a coin minted from moonbeams. And if you will stay a third year I will give you a coin minted from starlight. Those coins will be good enough to pay the ferryman and the guard with.”
“And when the three years are over we are free to go?” the duke’s daughter asked suspiciously.
“Of course,” the witch said.
The duke’s daughter did not like it much, but she wanted to help her brother so badly that she agreed. “Then I will work three years for your three coins,” she said. “And then we will go to the lake.”
“Very good,” the witch nodded. “Then you must cook and clean for me and take extra good care of my big iron stove here, for it is the heart of the house.”
The duke’s daughter promised to work hard and she started right away. She swept the floors and scrubbed the kitchen and worked in the vegetable garden and prepared a fine meal for dinner. When they had eaten, the witch went to bed early, but the duke’s daughter did the dishes and all the time while she worked her little brother followed close behind her.
When all the work was done the duke’s daughter wanted to go put her brother to bed, but she remembered she had not yet cleaned the big iron stove in the middle of the farm. So she took a bucket of polish and went to clean it.
It was a very big stove and it looked almost like it had been forged from a single piece of metal.
“That is strange,” the duke’s daughter said to her brother. “The stove is hot, but I do not hear the crackle of coal or wood.”
She bent forward and looked through the little slits in the heavy metal stove door. Something red was moving inside, but to the girl’s shock and surprise it was not a fire, nor smouldering coals. Inside it was a dragon that spewed fire with every breath and kept the stove glowing with heat.
“Hello there, dragon in the stove,” the duke’s daughter said kindly, when she had recovered from her surprise.
“Hello, foolhardy girl,” the dragon answered sadly.
“Why do you hang your head, dragon?” the duke’s daughter asked.
“Because I am locked in the stove,” the dragon sighed. “And the witch feeds me nothing but coal, so I have grown so weak I am good for nothing but lighting the kindling.”
“Poor dragon,” the girl said compassionately. “I will get you some food directly.”
She quickly went to the kitchen and came back with fruit, meat and bread. The dragon ate it all and licked her fangs.
“You can be sure of a good meal every day as long as I’m here,” the duke’s daughter promised.
“That is kind of you,” the dragon said, but then she once again hung her head.
“Why do you hang your head now, dragon?” the duke’s daughter asked.
“Because I will be locked in this stove until the end of time,” the dragon sighed. “And there is no way out.”
“Has the witch imprisoned you here?” the duke’s daughter asked indignantly.
The dragon nodded soberly.
“Can the door not be opened?” the girl asked.
“No, it cannot,” the dragon sighed. “It has been sealed by magic. The only way out for me would be to break the iron walls and I am not strong enough.”
“But surely you will be strong enough if I feed you well,” the girl said encouragingly.
“The iron is far too thick,” the dragon mourned. “I will not be able to break it.”
“Then I will thin the iron,” the duke’s daughter said. “I shall mix sand into the stove polish and wear down the iron polish by polish until the walls are thin enough for you to break.”
“But that will take three years at least,” the dragon said.
“I will be here three years,” the duke’s daughter said stoutly. “In three years I will earn my three coins and then my brother and I will leave this place. And now I will make sure you can leave too.”
“If you would do that for me,” the dragon said. “I will make sure to warn you whenever the witch is scheming against you, as I am sure she will try to do.”
The duke’s daughter thanked the dragon and wished her good night. The dragon wished the girl and her little brother sweet dreams and they all went to sleep, the siblings in their beds and the dragon in her stove.
A whole year the duke’s daughter and her little brother lived in the witch’s house. The duke’s daughter took care of her brother, she fed the chickens, told stories, sang songs and talked to the dragon in the stove.
Because she was being fed well and because she was being spoken to kindly, the dragon was getting stronger every day. And every night before they went to bed, the duke’s daughter wrapped her little brother in a blanket and sat him in the rocking chair beside the stove. Then she took out the bucket of stove polish, mixed with sand, and while she scoured the iron stove she told a bedtime story to her brother and the dragon.
When the story was finished and the stove gleamed, the iron once again worn a little thinner than it had been the night before, she said good night to the dragon and took her little brother upstairs.
This was the way in which they passed every day, until there was only one more night’s sleep until the day that the duke’s daughter would receive her first payment.
That night, when she was polishing the stove, the dragon said:
“I must warn you! The witch is scheming against you. Tomorrow she must give you your pay and she does not wish to part with her coin minted from sunlight. Tonight she means to go into your room while you are asleep and steal your shadow so you will have to take that back as payment instead.”
The duke’s daughter grew red with anger.
“Oh does she!” she snorted. “Well, we’ll see about that!”
“You cannot fight her,” the dragon said. “But if you take care to sleep in a room that is all dark and no light, she will not be able to find your shadow and she cannot take it. She will come at precisely eleven past one, for that is the only time that a shadow can be taken.”
The duke’s daughter thanked the dragon for her advice and when she went to bed that night she made sure the windows were all covered with blankets and the fire was covered with ash. It was dark as dark could be and the duke’s daughter was so certain of her safety she slept like a rose.
The next morning the witch was in a terrible temper. She had gone to the room where the duke’s daughter slept at precisely eleven past one to steal her shadow, but there had been no shadow in sight. All there had been was darkness and she had had to return to her own room empty-handed.
“Here you go,” she said with a sour face. “A coin minted from sunlight for your year’s work.”
“Thank you very much,” the duke’s daughter said cheerfully. “Two more years I will work for you and then me and my brother will be leaving you.”
And so the second year began and it passed just like the first. The duke’s daughter did the housekeeping, took care of her brother and the dragon, and scoured the iron stove every day. The witch did not suspect a thing and almost every night the duke’s daughter assured the dragon:
“The iron looks thinner already, I am sure we will get you out yet.”
The dragon was always thankful and when the duke’s daughter was busy and the little boy was tired of following her around the house, he would sit beside the stove and the dragon would talk to him. He never replied, but he did not look so forlorn and that was enough for both the dragon and the duke’s daughter.
Then the last evening of the second year arrived and once again the dragon warned the duke’s daughter to be on her guard, because the witch would surely try to steal her shadow again.
“This time you must place as many lights as possible high above your bed,” the dragon advised. “For if light shines from every side there will be no shadow for her to steal.”
“Thank you, dragon,” the duke’s daughter said. “I will do that.”
She followed the dragon’s advice and that night she slept soundly in a room lit up like a ballroom so bright.
Once again the witch went to the room where the duke’s daughter slept at precisely eleven past one to steal her shadow, except this time she had brought a candle. The light would make shadows appear in the dark room, she had schemed. But when she quietly opened the door to the bedroom, the light of her candle was nothing to the brightly shining lanterns that lit the room like the sun itself was shining. There was nothing she could do before the clock had ticked it’s precious eleventh minute away, and grinding her teeth she went back to bed.
The following morning the witch was in an even fouler temper than she had been last year, but she gave the duke’s daughter the coin minted from moonlight.
“Thank you very much,” the duke’s daughter said with a determined smile. “One more year I will work for you and then me and my brother will be leaving you.”
The witch made no reply and with the work of that day the third year began.
Day after day went by and the duke’s daughter worked harder than ever.
“Soon we will have our three coins,” she told her little brother. “And we will get you to the garden of lost joys.”
And to the dragon in the stove she said: “The iron of the stove is wearing thin already, soon you will be able to break through it, I am sure of it.”
But she stood alone in her optimism. Her little brother was scared of the witch and was as silent and sickly as ever and the dragon did not dare to hope that she would truly be freed from the prison she had been in for so many years.
At long last the last night of the third year came and the duke’s daughter asked the dragon:
“Will the witch try to steal my shadow again? I cannot let that happen now we have come so far.”
“If she does, I will make sure she fails,” the dragon promised her.
“Thank you, dragon,” the duke’s daughter smiled. “And now I will scour the stove like I have never scoured it before!”
She scoured with all her might and the dragon and her little brother watched her progress anxiously.
“I am sure you will be able to break free,” the duke’s daughter said after a while.
The dragon tried, but to no avail. The iron of the stove would not give way. The duke’s daughter was sorely disappointed, but the dragon told her to go to bed.
“You did your best for me,” she said. “Now you must go rest, you and your brother have a long journey ahead of you tomorrow.”
“Very well,” the duke’s daughter said with a sigh. “Good night, dragon.”
All went quiet and still on the farm, but the dragon did not go to sleep. She waited and counted the minutes of the night. When it was almost eleven past one she heard the shuffling footsteps of the witch. The dragon took a deep breath and roared. The stove shook, the whole farm shook.
“Hold your peace, dragon!” the witch screeched, as she came flying down the stairs. “Or I will beat you with my cane!”
The dragon closed her muzzle and cowered down inside the stove, but before the witch could get back upstairs the eleventh minute of the first hour had passed by and the shadow of the duke’s daughter was safe.
Morning came, the three years were up and scornfully the witch handed the duke’s daughter her third coin, the coin minted from starlight. It sparkled like the stars itself and she held it carefully in her right hand, clutching the other two coins in her left.
“You have your pay,” the witch said ill-temperedly. “Now get out of my sight and never return.”
But the duke’s daughter could not leave yet. She was certain she had nearly weakened the stove enough to free the dragon, she just needed a little more time.
“My little brother is not strong enough to travel right now,” she said hastily. “May we not stay one more day?”
The witch’s eyes sparked and she laughed:
“Of course you may, but you are not my servant anymore so you must pay for your bed. The price is the coin minted from sunrays.”
The duke’s daughter felt her heart sink, but she could not leave her friend the dragon in this awful place. She looked at her little brother. He looked back at her with sad eyes and nodded.
“Very well,” she answered. “We will pay your fee.”
And she handed over the first coin.
One more day they stayed in the witches house and that night the duke’s daughter scoured the stove once again.
“It is no use,” the dragon sighed, but the duke’s daughter said:
“I will not give up.”
But still the dragon could not break free and when the next day came the duke’s daughter could not persuade herself to leave.
“Please let us stay just one more day,” she begged the witch.
“Of course you may stay,” the witch laughed. “If you will pay me your second coin for your board.”
The duke’s daughter handed over the coin minted from moonbeams and though her heart ached, its strength did not falter.
That night she scoured the stove again, even though her little brother and the dragon both sighed with hopelessness.
“Try again, brave dragon,” the duke’s daughter urged and the dragon tried, but it was no use.
“One more day will do it,” the duke’s daughter vowed and the next day she asked the witch for a third time if they could stay just one more day.
“But of course,” the witch smiled. “Just give me your coin minted from starlight and you may stay.”
With a heavy sigh, the duke’s daughter gave her the third coin back.
That night she waited until the witch was asleep and then snuck down to the iron stove with her little brother by the hand.
“Now I will scour,” she said. “The whole night through if I have to. I will scour until you are free my friend.”
And scour she did. She scoured so that her hair frizzed, she scoured so that her brother became dizzy with the movement, she scoured so that the iron of the stove began to creak. She scoured so that she did not hear the witch emerge from her room.
“Now I’ve found you out you deceitful wretch!” the witch cried. “Wait until I get my hands on you!”
But at that very moment the dragon inside the stove took a deep breath and puffed out a great burst of fire. The iron stove glowed red hot and suddenly the sides began to crack.
The witch gave a terrible scream, but the dragon roared louder. She dug her claws in and unfolded her wings and thrashed with all her might. With a terrible groan the iron gave way and the stove cracked open.
The witch fled as dragon’s fire burst forth joyfully, finally free from the iron cage, but the duke’s daughter and her little brother ran to the dragon and climbed hastily onto her back. Triumphantly the dragon took off, immediately turning in the direction of the lake.
They flew for a while and then they walked and it was not long before they saw the glittering water of a lake before them.
“There is the lake,” the duke’s daughter said. “And there is the ferryman, but we have no coins to give him.”
“No matter,” the dragon said. “I will fly you across.”
“You cannot fly to the island,” the ferryman said with a shake of the head. “The mist from the water would dampen your wings and make you fall down into the cold, cruel waves.”
“Then I will pay you with something of value,” the dragon said. “This girl gave up the coin she earned to save her brother to save me and I will make it up to her.”
“Then give me your glorious scales,” the ferryman said. “And I will row your friend across.”
“No, my friend!” the duke’s daughter protested. “I will not let you give up your scales.”
“But I let you give up your coin of sunrays,” the dragon said, and slumping her strong shoulders the dragon shook off her glorious scales. The scaly skin fell to the ground like a thick coat, and out from under it stepped a girl, still adorned with the sharp claws, mighty horns and leathery wings of a dragon. “There you have your first fee,” she shivered.
“Oh dear, dear dragon,” the duke’s daughter cried out and she took off her coat and wrapped it around the dragon girl and hugged her tight.
The ferryman took the scales and said:
“Now give me your sharp claws, and I shall row the little boy across.”
“No, my friend!” the duke’s daughter protested again. “I will not let you give up your claws.”
“But I let you give up your coin of moonbeams,” the dragon girl said, and stretching out her strong arms she shook off her sharp claws. “There you have your second fee.”
“Oh sweet, sweet dragon,” the duke’s daughter cried out and she took hold of the dragon girls naked hands and kissed them.
“Now give me your mighty horns,” the ferryman said, taking the claws. “And I will row you all across.”
“No, my friend!” the duke’s daughter tried once more. “I will not let you give up your horns.”
“But I let you give up your coin of starlight,” the dragon girl said, and willingly she bowed her head and shook off her mighty horns. “There you have your final fee, now row us across.”
“Oh lovely, lovely dragon,” the duke’s daughter cried out and she raised herself up on the tips of her toes and pressed a kiss on the dragon girl’s empty forehead.
“Consider me rewarded,” the ferryman nodded and he rowed them all across.
They stepped onto the shore of the first island and the ferryman said:
“Should you return then I will row you back again, I do not ask for payment twice.”
They nodded at him silently and followed the only path that crossed the green grass that covered the ground. The dragon girl, the duke’s daughter and her little brother, all walking one after the other.
They walked faster and faster, knowing they must come to the garden soon. But what they came to instead was an overgrown wall with an old wooden gate in it. A guard stood beside it, waiting patiently for them to approach and the duke’s daughter’s heart sank. She had forgotten about the guard.
“Please open the gate for us,” she begged. “We have come from very far and have endured much to reach the garden of lost joys.”
“I cannot not open the door without a trade,” the guard said, shaking their head regretfully.
“No matter,” the dragon girl said. “I will fly you over the wall.”
“You are welcome to do so,” the guard said. “But you will not reach the garden. The garden of lost joys is not behind this wall, it is through this gate.”
“Then I will pay you with something of value,” the dragon said. “This girl gave up the coins she earned to save her brother to save me and I will make it up to her.”
“Then give me your wings,” the guard said. “And I will open the gate for you all.”
The dragon girl sadly unfolded her wings, but the duke’s daughter cried out:
“No! Not your wings. Three years I worked, three coins I paid, three times you paid the ferryman.”
She turned to the guard.
“Name something I can give you as pay,” she demanded. “For my darling friend will give no more.”
They nodded and said:
“Then give me the rosy colour that blooms on your cheeks and your lips.”
“Very well,” the duke’s daughter said and as soon as she did, the rosy colour on her lips and the blushes on her cheeks faded for good.
“Dear, sweet, lovely girl,” the dragon girl exclaimed and without even thinking she kissed the duke’s daughter so softly on one cheek, then so sweetly on the other, and then so earnestly on her pale lips, that the duke’s daughter felt herself glow all over.
She was still glowing when the guard opened the wooden gate with a graceful bow, but it did not make her shy. She took her little brother’s hand in one hand, the dragon girl’s hand in the other, and together they walked through the gate into the garden of lost joys.
They stood silently for a moment, staring at the strange beauty of the quiet garden in the morning twilight, but then the little boy let go of his sister’s hand and ran. As soon as his feet touched the velvety grass something came over him that made him skip and jump and fairly bounce along. The duke’s daughter and the dragon girl ran after him, just in time to see him kneel behind a little brook. The water looked almost white in the morning light, but the brook babbled like peals of laughter. The little boy eagerly dipped his hands into the water and drank like he had never quenched his thirst before. When he lifted up his head the corners of his mouth curled and his laughter rang out so merrily his sister nearly jumped for joy. At that very moment the sun rose above the horizon and two rose coloured rays fell through the leaves of the trees and into the little boy’s eyes.
They lit up with a spark and a twinkle that would make a heart sing and with his face full of sunlight and laughter he bounded towards his sister and cried:
The duke’s daughter cried and laughed for joy. She hugged her little brother and she hugged the dragon girl and she kissed them both by turns. Never had the garden of lost joys been so full of actual joy and never had there been three people more outrageously happy.
So that is how the duke’s daughter saved the little brother that she had found for herself.
They went back through the gate, all three of them laughing all the way and the ferryman rowed them back across the lake. When they were safely back on the bank, however, they did not go back the way they had come. They did not need to pass by the witch’s farm ever again.
“You have saved my wings,” the dragon girl said happily. “And now I will fly you home.”
So the duke’s daughter picked up her brother and the dragon girl took the duke’s daughter in her arms and she spread her wings and flew.
The journey was of course too long, as all journeys home tend to be, but dragon wings go a great deal faster than children’s feet and the way back did not take nearly as long as the way there.
They arrived at the duke’s house one fine afternoon and the two sisters came running to greet them immediately, screaming for joy. The duke and duchess followed close behind, lightheaded with relief. They hugged their daughter and they hugged the boy and they scolded them both and then hugged them again.
The duke’s eldest daughter laughed, winked at her sisters and said to her parents:
“Here I have brought you our brother!”
For if parents can choose their children, then children can surely choose their siblings. And the duke and duchess agreed wholeheartedly, so that they that had once had no children at all now had no less than four to love. And there was another share of love to be given away, because their daughter soon introduced them to the strange girl with fiery eyes and leathery wings that had brought them home.
The time that had passed may have gone unnoticed by the duke’s eldest daughter, but it had certainly passed. Her little brother was no longer quite that little and she herself was a young woman now. And since she was the eldest of the three sisters it was only right that she would choose to marry first.
So some time after their coming home, however long that may have been, the duke’s eldest daughter married the dragon girl. Their wedding was full of kisses on pale lips and blazing fires in every stove and the two of them and their whole family were gloriously happy for the rest of their days.
Laura: And with that last word stitching up the very last sentence, this story has its proper end.
That was my last Patchwork Fairy Tale, at least for now, the two dozen are complete. Thank you so much for coming along to listen. All I’ve ever wanted was to put stories like this out into the world and it’s been absolutely wonderful to learn that people actually wanted to hear them.
Even though Patchwork Fairy Tales is complete, I’m thinking of recording some of my short urban fantasy stories and sharing them here as well. I will probably let the subscription go at some point, so the episodes will start disappearing again, but you can always download them at patchworkfairytales.wordpress.com. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast and you’re able to, you can tip me on my kofi, where I am simply laurasimons. A very warm thank you to everyone that has done so already, you’re all gems.
I’ll probably be making a book of these fairy tales, just for myself to hoard, but whether I make it publicly available depends on whether there are enough people interested in that to make it affordable. Whether you want a book or not. I would absolutely love to hear what you thought of the podcast.
You can send me a message via the website, email me at laurasimons.author.gmail.com, or find me on tumblr at laurasimonsdaughter.tumblr.com, which is also where I post my rants about folklore and mythology and write a lot of urban fantasy. Speaking of more writing, I also have an AO3 account “laurasimonsdaughter”, where I’ll occasionally post reimaginings of existing fairy tales and mythology. And hey, if you do have a craving for more fairy tales, nothing makes me light up with inspiration like talking to people excited about rules of three and happily ever afters.
So, perhaps I’ll hear from you, and hopefully you’ll hear from me again, but until then…
Guard your name, bow to birds in flocks of three, and be safe~
Copyright Laura Simons, please do not copy my stories without my permission, lest you insult the fae.