King Throstlebeard

I enjoy looking up obscure fairy tales and messing with the characters. The following is my interpretation of the beginning of "King Throstlebeard", a story I read as a little girl and which no one else seems to remember.

"Because they're vile! Because they're all too fat or too old or ugly and greasy. I swear."

"As bad as all that, then?"

"As bad as more than that! The duke! The duke with his livery-freckled hands and sweaty head? You hug your mother. You hug your miserable great aunt. You don't hug crinkly old men who pinch your butt when you turn to walk away."

Milo sucked on the raw inner line of his lip. He noticed the way his competition, slick and stiff in buffed brass and collars, leaned in to hear the King's response.

The King paused, chuckled, and said, "What about Great Uncle Norbert?"

She responded with a disdainful snort. Milo could picture her face, indignant and royally pained, and hear the subtle stamp of a slippered foot.

"Just once more," the King plied.

"Once?"

"Once."

"You're a liar. No wonder Abby ran off with that frog of a prince." The grand bay doors swung open and the princess swept out in a whirl of pink silks like a strawberry hurricane. The line of men in the hall visibly straightened at the sight.

"Too fat," she said, passing the porter's nephew.

"Too skinny."

"Too dirty."

"Too clean."

At her pronouncement, each man in the line slumped so it appeared the princess's very presence wilted them. She continued down the line, withering each man in one great swathe like the reaper.

"Too bald."

"Too - " she paused and turned on her heel in front of Milo. The sharp edges of her lips turned down and she threw out a hand to tug on his beard. "Too scruffy! My goodness!"

The strawberry hurricane passed on, right out of the hall. Each prince and noble turned his eye to the King, who still stood past the bay doors. He shook his head and waved them away.

The End

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