#750 Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

 Once Upon a Marigold by Jean FerrisOnce Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

Christian ran away from home and hid in the woods, that’s where Ed found him. Ed was a troll, who lived in a cave of crystals and wanted to get in on the tooth fairy business, but Mab wasn’t handing any of it over. Christian told Ed he would accuse him of kidnapping him if he ended up back at his parents’ house, so Christian stayed with Ed. Ed decided that Christian had to learn how to be a decent person, so he taught him all the manners he could find in his books.

Christian grew up and often watched the royal family across the river through a telescope. There were four daughters, three of them triplets. Christian watched as the older three got married and the youngest was still there. She liked to read on the terrace. 

One day Christian send a message to her with a pigeon he had trained to deliver letters. A correspondence soon started between the two. Her name was Marigold. Christian decided to get a job at the castle. At first, Marigold didn’t know who he was. He learned of a curse upon Marigold, but it didn’t bother him any. As it turns out the queen, Marigold’s mother was up to some nefarious plottings. Christian and his inventions would be central in stopping those plottings, or at least delaying them. 

What I liked

This story was definitely fanciful. It has many fairy tale elements we’re all used to, but a few more modern-day things thrown into the mix. Most of the characters were enjoyable. The story between Christian and Marigold is sweet. 

What I didn’t like

This book ends exactly as you’d expect. It’s not a bad ending; it’s just predictable. 

I find the use of “p-mail” silly. It’s clearly a play on “E-mail” which wouldn’t exist for quite some time after this era. It’s not a real era of history, but it closely parallels real eras of history that don’t have email. I know it’s pigeons, but in reality, they would have just said, “I’m going to send Bob a message by pigeon.” There wouldn’t be all this “p-mail” nonsense, but with this said,”p-mail” was intended to be a bit of a joke to lighten up the story, so pick your battles I suppose. 

I also find it highly unrealistic that Christian would be accepted just like that without any verification of his identity, but maybe that’s a result of growing up through a post-9/11 world. 

Overall

…Fun and cute story.

Weigh in

Would you use messenger pigeons if you had access to them?

Would you run away from home and stay there?


Jack the Dullard-an Old Story Told Anew

Jack the Dullard-an Old Story Told AnewJack the Dullard-an Old Story Told Anew

There was once a princess who declared that she would marry any man who could come before her and have a proper conversation. Many men had tried, but when they got into the presence of the princess they became shy and tongue twister.

Two brothers decided they would go and try for the hand of the princess. Both were learned and considered themselves to have a good chance. One of them even had the Latin dictionary memorized. Their father gave each of them a nice horse to ride to the castle on, but they forgot about their youngest brother.

The youngest brother was named Jack and no one talked about him because he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box. Jack wanted to try for the princess too. The brothers thought he was stupid and the father declared that he would not give Jack a horse. Jack decided to ride the goat.

On the way to the castle, Jack found several things he said he was going to give to the princess–a dead crow, a piece of a shoe, and some clay, which is said was of the finest sort and put in his pockets.

All three brothers arrived at the castle. The first went in. The princess said she was going to have dinner and the first brother couldn’t think of anything to say. The princess ordered him out.

Next went the second brother. The princess said she was having dinner and the second brother likewise didn’t have much to say; he did manage to sputter a few words and sounds though.

It was Jack’s turn now. The princess said she was going to have dinner, maybe peasant. Jack asked if he might roast his crow at the same time. The princess said he certainly could. The conversation evolved and ended up with Jack using the shoe piece as a platter and the clay as gravy.

The princess finally asked Jack what he would do about the men judging his conversation and writing everything down. Jack pulled some of the mud out of his pocket and flung it at one of the men. The princess thought this was wonderful and married Jack, who eventually became king.

Observations

It’s not very likely that a king would let his daughter marry anybody who fulfilled some contest requirement. King’s daughters were for strategic alliances, not fun and games. So this concept is a little far-fetched, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make for a good story.

There are many variations of this story. There are multiple Grimm’s fairy tales that have a similar story line. There is always that one brother whom no one thinks can accomplish the task, but it turns out he is the only one who can because he is blessed in his simplicity and lack of skill in such a way that is fortuitous.

"Carlo VI di Francia, Maestro di Boucicaut, codice Ms. Français 165 della Biblioteca Universitaria di Ginevra" by Meister des Maréchal de Boucicaut - De Vecchi-Cerchiari, I tempi dell'arte, volume 2, Bompiani, Milano 1999.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carlo_VI_di_Francia,_Maestro_di_Boucicaut,_codice_Ms._Fran%C3%A7ais_165_della_Biblioteca_Universitaria_di_Ginevra.jpg#/media/File:Carlo_VI_di_Francia,_Maestro_di_Boucicaut,_codice_Ms._Fran%C3%A7ais_165_della_Biblioteca_Universitaria_di_Ginevra.jpgThemes

The whole idea here is to count that person whom you think doesn’t count. You would be surprised what he/she can actually do. Does it matter that Jack may have had a mental handicap? Well, for this story, no; in a matter of a man ruling a country, yeah, probably; it probably matters a lot, but countries have had mentally unstable rulers before. Who was that guy that thought he was a glass animal? Ah, yes, Charles VI of France; the dude needed help.

This story is about the underdog. Don’t count that guy out.

Overall

Was this princess like five? Why would you marry a man who threw mud in some guy’s face unless you were five?

Weigh In

What do you think happened to the brothers after this story?

What do you imagine happened to the country under Jack’s leadership?

The Snow Queen-Fourth Story-The Prince and the Princess

The Snow Queen-Fourth Story-The Prince and the PrincessThe Snow Queen-Fourth Story-The Prince and the Princess

Gerda continued on her way away from the conjuring woman. She met a crow. The crow asked her how things were going and she told him her story. She asked about Kay. The crow said he saw someone who might be Kay.

The nearby Princess decided that it was time for her to be wed. She wanted to marry a man who could actually talk to her and not lose his words when he came into her presence. There had been many men, but only one had not lost his words. All the other men forgot everything they were going to say and would only repeat the last two words the princess said.

The crow said he could sneak Gerda into the castle to have a look at the prince who would not be confounded with words. Gerda thought his description sounded enough like Kay that it could be him. The crow was engaged to a crow that lived in the palace. The girl crow also knew where a key was kept. That night, the crow took Gerda to the castle. She curtsied before the crow.

They would have to go upstairs to the room where the prince and princess slept. As they crept up the stairs shadows of men and horses sped past them upon the walls. These were dreams flying to their dreamers. They appeared to Gerda as shadows upon the wall.

They finally made it to the room where the prince and princess slept, but the prince was not Kay. He had hair like Kay, but he was not Kay. He awoke and so too did the princess. In the morning, they straightened things out. Gerda asked to be given a carriage and a horse to continue on with her journey. The prince and princess were very kind to her. The crows got married. Gerda went upon her way continuing on with her search for Kay.

Corvus_macrorhynchos_HardwickeObservations

Crows are very smart birds. They can get quite large as well. When I lived in Okinawa, there were crows in Nago that were chicken-sized. They didn’t have quite the same body shape, but they were large birds. Being as they’re so smart, it is said that if you split a crow’s tongue it can mimic human speech. I don’t know if this is true or not, even if it is, it’s rather cruel.

Crows do seem to be talking to each other. If you ever have the chance to listen to two crows caw back and forth, it definitely sounds like a conversation. They’re so smart. It makes sense that this story would use a crow to sneak a girl into a castle.

These birds are parts of so many stories. Maleficent’s bird friend is a crow. There are crows in multiple Grimm’s fairy tales. There is a lot of lore associated with crows. They are mystery keepers. They are close to death. They are playful. They’re beautiful in their own dark way.

9d88de068c17b85f515e7a463bf3b9bcThemes

The princess wanted a man who would not be intimidated by her. This story was published in the 1800s. It’s not as if this story was from the 1500s or the 1600s. Women had more of a right in the world in the 1800s than they did way back when, but powerful women have always been admired. While powerful women have always been admired, they have not been admired as frequently as powerful men, and they were still looked down upon to a degree. Speaking of the same women, they can also intimidate men. Men can be a little scared of a woman who is smarter, more powerful, older, richer, or any other number of “ers” and “mores.”

Men have this idea in their heads, not all men, but usually men have an idea in their heads of how their lives are supposed to work. They have been told they’re the ones who are expected to be the provider, breadwinner, the protector, and many other labels. When they encounter a woman who challenges their idea of what they’re supposed to be, things can get a little odd. Maybe a man is struck dumb at the sight of a woman who is more powerful and has more money than he does. How many men have had the chance to meet their celebrity crushes, only to act completely stupid when they get the chance? Women do that too, by the way.

All these men that had come to see the princess were intimidated. They took one look at her and lost their places in the world. If the princess already had her own money and her own kingdom and her own army, what good were they? The prince who did come along, obviously wasn’t bothered by any of these things. He either was comfortable with the fact that maybe the princess had more or he was comfortable with being able to offer the Princess other things and considered his other offerings just as valuable to her. Because he had this attitude, he wasn’t intimidated by this princess.

This prince teaches us a valuable lesson. Maybe you don’t have all these awesome things about you. Maybe you’re not rich. Maybe you don’t have an army. Maybe you’re not skinny, or tall, or white, or you don’t have a nice booty, whatever the case may be that you feel you lack in, you have to consider that you may not actually be lacking. You have to have the attitude that what you do have to offer, and even your perceived faults, are things that are going to be valuable to people. You have to believe that you’re good enough, even if you can’t afford caviar.

Overall

The thought of shadow dreams running all around the house when we’re asleep is kind of weird.

Weigh In

Do you think the prince and princess ended up being happy together?

Do you think crows are wise? 

Prince or Swineherd

Prince or SwineherdPrince or Swineherd

I don’t want to move on from The Swineherd just yet. There is more I want to discuss.

Let’s do a quick recap of the story. A princess refuses to marry a poor prince. The prince then disguises himself as a swineherd but makes wonderful gadgets. He agrees to let the princess have these gadgets for various amounts of kisses. The ladies in waiting all gather round while the Princess gives her kisses. The pair are found out by the king and he’s not too happy about any of it. He banishes them both. The Princess laments the fact that she didn’t marry the Prince. The Prince reveals himself and says he has learned to despise the Princess.

Alright, we’ve got our summary, let’s talk about this Princess. She had her chance; she did, but she did not choose the man who brought her exquisite presents. She was more interested in the gadgets belonging to the Swineherd. She even gave this guy kisses for these gadgets. The gadgets were pretty impressive, I’m not going to lie, but look at what she gave up for them. She not only gave up the chance of being with the Prince, she gave up kisses.

Let’s speak of the kisses for a minute. This was a princess. Princesses did not go around kissing random men if they knew what was good for them. Their reputations were everything. If someone started a rumor that Princess So-and-So was a ho, her chances of being married to a suitable match were diminished. Public opinion was very hard to sway; it still is. Her father banished her because he feared that she had damaged herself beyond repair.

Now, we don’t go in for this “damaged goods” thing today, but back then, yeah, people believed in it. People used it as a measure of your worth, especially if you were a woman. This girl’s father pretty much thought she had ruined her chances of marriage because he feared she gave a lot more than kisses to this guy that kept the pigs.

Why the gadgets? Why pick the gadgets over a relationship? I hate to say it, but gadget obsession is a sign of immaturity. You may not believe me and you may argue with me, but it’s true. There are plenty of relationships being ruined left and right these days because one person or the other is obsessed with video games, their phone, and any other number of devices. There is a difference between obsession and curiosity. You can be interested in a gadget and want a gadget in your home, but the minute you let that gadget supplant human interaction, you’ve become gadget obsessed. In ways, it’s like an addiction, but, like I said, it’s also a sign of immaturity.

This princess was immature. I feel sorry for her. No matter what age this girl was, twenty, sixteen, thirteen, she would have been expected to be mature. Princesses used to be married off pretty young. The princess in this story probably wouldn’t have been quite as young as some of the princesses in the Grimm’s collection, for example, but she wasn’t above twenty. We’re talking about a child.

This girl was too young to even begin to make the decision of getting married. She was swayed by public opinion. She was swayed by gadgets. If everyone else thought gadgets were cool, she wanted gadgets. Essentially, she was too young to make up her own mind. She didn’t even begin to realize what consequences her actions might have. That’s a notorious mark of a teenager right there; they just don’t get consequences.

If you take these things into consideration while thinking of this story, you do begin to feel sorry for the Princess. Yes, she was a spoiled brat, but she was also a child. She probably never thought her actions would have put her in such a terrible place. She could only play one song for crying out loud. That sounds like such a childish thing.

The Prince was a little unkind in how he ended up treating the Princess, but really, can you blame him? She turned him down and then wanted gadgets to play with. She sounded like a complete child. This man was probably ready to start a family and have an adult relationship all while this Princess was busy being a brat.

The Princess is definitely the loser here, and, honestly, it’s mostly her fault, but given the fact that she’s a child, you kind of have to feel sorry for her.

The Swineherd

The SwineherdThe Swineherd

There was once a poor prince. He wanted to marry the daughter of the emperor. He sent her a beautiful rose growing upon the grave of his father. He also sent her a nightingale that sang the most beautiful songs. The princess did receive them and remarked how beautiful each was, but when she found out they were real items, she was not impressed. She let the bird go.

The prince traveled to the kingdom and disguised himself as a common man. He asked for a position. He was rewarded with the position of a swineherd. In his hut, he had made a teapot. This teapot played the only song the princess knew how to play. It did something else amazing as well. If one put their finger on the steam, one would immediately smell what other people in the village were having for dinner.

The princess walked by the swineherd’s humble house and heard the music. She asked her ladies to ask him how much the teapot was.

The swineherd said he would not sell it, but for ten kisses, from the princess. He would not take kisses from anyone else. The Princess agreed. Her ladies stood all around and hid her while she was kissing the swineherd. She was delighted with the teapot.

The swineherd again made something wonderful. He made a rattle, that when spun, would play any song in the world since the creation of time. The princess just had to have it. She once again asked her ladies to find the price of the item. The swineherd said it would be a hundred kisses from the princess. The princess agreed, once again. Her ladies stood around shielding them from onlookers.

As it happened, the king was wondering what all the commotion was near the pigsty. He looked and saw his daughter kissing the swineherd. He threw a shoe at them at hit them as they were kissing for the sixty-eighth time. He banished both the swineherd and the princess from the kingdom. The princess began to weep. She lamented the fact that she had not accepted the prince earlier.

The prince cleaned himself up and revealed himself to be the very prince the princess had refused. He told her that he had learned to despise her. She had refused an honest prince but sold kisses for trinkets from a swineherd. She could be alone and sing the only song she knew.

“A jolly old sow once lived in a sty,

Three little piggies has she.”

The End

Observations

How can one be a poor prince? Well, there aren’t nearly as many princes as there used to be. There used to be multiple kingdoms in what we now consider only one kingdom. There would be various princes. They may not all have that much money. There were such things as poor kingdoms. They still had a prince and a king, or whatever, but compared to other kingdoms, they were poor.

An emperor would have had a lot of wealth. A prince from a poor kingdom would have seemed paltry compared to other suitors.

Themes

This princess is obsessed with gadgets. I honestly have never really thought about gadget obsession being something that would have been a thing two-hundred years ago, but I suppose it was. You have to remember that it was a time when new inventions were exploding left and right out into the public. People were really beginning to get all these things they had never had before. The princess didn’t want something alive, she wanted something that did something else. She wanted a feat of mechanical engineering.

The Prince created a teapot that gave a person smells of what other people were having for dinner and it played music. He also created a rattle that could play any song. While we do have devices and the internet to look up any song we want to look up, we don’t have a device that inherently knows all the songs in the world. We also don’t have devices that can give us smells. Smells are actually extremely difficult. Companies spend billions of dollars a year buying flavors and smells from factories that specialize in artificially creating smells. What the prince created is impossible. It would be a pretty impressive gadget.

The princess loved gadgets. She just loved them. Gadgets are great and all, but they’re no substitute for living things. You can’t substitute a gadget for a tree. You can’t substitute a gadget for a person. People try, but those gadgets break. Those gadgets have glitches. The princess was trying to substitute gadgets for real life. It doesn’t work. You may be happy for a while, but your happiness will fade when your gadget breaks, or a newer, better gadget comes out.

The princess ignored real life in favor of the pursuit of gadgets and look where it got her.

Overall

This reminds me of a song. It goes something like this, “I’m a twenty-first-century digital boy. I don’t know how to live, but I have a lot of toys.” Yep, sounds exactly like the princess.

Weigh In

Do you think we should make gadgets to substitute real life things or do you believe there is no substitute for real life?

Do you think we try to simulate reality with all our gadgets and ignore the real world?