Princess Goldenlocks’ kingdom was endangered by three warring kingdoms whose violence threatened to spread across hers. To secure an ally from amongst them and spare her realm, she summoned their eligible princes to a challenge. ‘If you consent to our simple test, the reward is marriage to us and joint rule of our kingdom.’
Her locks were golden bright, her beauty legendary, and her kingdom rich, so Prince Boris, Prince Theold, and Prince Bear accepted.
‘Prepare our porridge, fix our chair, and make our bed,’ she said. ‘Those who best suit our needs will win our hand. You have until evening, when we will make our judgment.’
When the day was done, Princess Goldenlocks tested the outcome. She tasted porridge from three bowls. She went from chair, to chair, to chair. Finally, she lay on each bed, and then rose to address those assembled.
‘Prince Boris, your porridge was left on the fire so long it was burnt and tasted horrible. Prince Theold, you stirred cold water with oats. Your porridge was inedible. Prince Bear, your porridge was warm, thick with cream and sweet with honey, just right.’
Prince Boris’ scowl was blacker than his wild beard. Prince Theold nervously pulled at his brown hair. Prince Bear let a small smile warm his serious gaze.
Princess Goldenlocks continued. ‘The seat you chose for us, Prince Boris, suited you better. It was unyielding. Prince Theold, your rush seat snapped beneath us when we sat. Prince Bear, you filled our cushion with goose feathers scented with lavender. It was just right.’
Prince Boris bristled, and his hand brushed his knife sheath. Prince Theold adjusted his sword belt. Prince Bear gave Princess Goldenlocks a thoughtful nod.
The Princess paid no notice to the rising tensions. ‘Prince Boris, your bed was so high off the ground we risked injury climbing onto it. Prince Theold, a thin sheet could not disguise a lumpy mattress. Prince Bear, your horse-hair mattress was firm and covered with a fine quilt that made the bed perfectly right.’
Prince Boris and Prince Theold drew their weapons on Prince Bear, who stood unconcerned at his peril. Princess Goldenlocks stepped between them. ‘You consented to our trial,’ she reminded them with a hand on Prince Bear’s arm, ‘therefore our enchantment binds you.’
Princess Goldenlocks’ pronouncement conjured a magic fog about Prince Boris and Prince Theold before they could do violence. Prince Boris transformed into a black bear locked in an iron cage on wheels. Prince Theold transmuted into a brown bear with a chained collar and a yellow ruff about his middle.
‘Boris the Bear will henceforth be wheeled to our zoo,’ Princess Goldenlocks said. ‘Theold the Dancing Bear will amuse children at our fairs. Prince Bear, if he still desires us, will be our husband and our king.’
‘We will, Princess Goldenlocks,’ Prince Bear said, ‘For you have passed our scrutiny too, and proven that to be our princess, you are unquestionably right.’
Twisted Fairy Tale Copyright 2012 by Maureen Ungar