Seven Dwarfs and a Princess
At the top of the tallest tower in a castle that took security concerns very seriously, Captain Moth of the Queen’s personal Guard was eye-deep in paperwork. His ink-stained fingers ached and every bone in his body creaked as he added his signature to the final documents pertaining to the arrest of the notorious Ovine brothers, aka the three little pigs. After months of huffing and puffing and blowing every house down, he had these bandits where he wanted them - behind bars.
They were not the only criminals at large in this Magical Kingdom, he’d been Captain of the Guard for almost ten years and things had rotted from bad to worse. There was a time when he was respected, back in the good old days, when the general policing philosophy was to spear first, arrest later. But these day’s monarchs didn’t have as much power as they used to, there was no respect, and thanks to bureaucracy and bloody meddlers like the Equal Rights commission clamping down on brutality and unnecessary force, his job no longer afforded him the same satisfaction as it once used to.
Paperwork. He stared hopelessly into the deluge of scrolls that still needed attention on his desk and rubbed his eyes by the dimming candlelight. He hated paperwork. At that moment Corporal Broom, an awkward and over enthusiastic lad, marched into the office and saluted.
“Good evening, Sir!” Said Broom.
“It will be when you have heard what I am about to report, Sir!” Said Broom, grinning.
“Report?” Said the Captain.
“We found them, Sir. The kidnappers. We have several in custody, Sir.”
“How many?” Said the Captain with spiked interest.
The Captain frowned. “Six isn’t several, is it? Several indicates seven or above.”
“Perhaps I should have said a few then, Sir.”
“Well, a ‘few’ is more like three or four isn’t it?”
“Should I have said some, Sir?”
“No-no! ‘Some’ is far too general. Six. Just say six!”
“We caught six, Sir. We have them in custody awaiting your interrogation, Sir.”
“And the seventh?”
“Still at large, Sir.”
“Is that supposed to be a joke?”
The corporal took a moment to ponder, then smiled. “No Sir, but I can see how you would think the pun was intended, Sir.”
“Whatever. Bring in the first!”
“Very well, Sir.”
Broom bellowed into the corridor “BRINGINTHEFIRST!”
Moments later two guards arrived with a disgruntled and agitated dwarf in manacles. The captain didn’t have a good track record with dwarfs, ever since the Pub Riots of 92’ when dwarfs took the streets in droves demanding people of all heights should be allowed to drink in human bars. He found them to be a race of troublemakers.
The dwarf stood before him wearing huge boots, floppy hat and layers of grey scruffy rags; dwarfs weren’t known for their fashion-forward sensibilities. He smelled of fish and stale bread, and his long grey beard almost touched his toes.
“This is Moody, Sir!” Said Broom, glaring at the dwarf with disdain.
“Grumpy,” corrected the dwarf, glaring back.
“What’s the difference?” Asked Broom.
“The difference is that my name is Grumpy, not Moody! If you are going to steal me from my home in the dead of night and illegally incarcerate me, I would appreciate it if you took the time to learn my bloody NAME!”
“You will be silent dwarf!” Said Broom. “You are in the presence of the Captain of our Queens Personal Guard!”
“I don’t have a Queen!” Said Grumpy in defiance. “I’m a dwarf, mate! We don’t live by monarchist slave-owner values, or support the fascist social structures that oppress the working classes! We are an egalitarian culture! Everybody’s equal under the stone!”
“Silence!” Broom stamped a petulant foot. “Or I will have you hung for treason!”
“Ha! I bet you have no luck with women do you mate? ”
“Enough!” Said Captain Moth. “Listen here young man…”
“Young man?” Grumpy protested again. “Firstly, I’m not a man, I’m a dwarf! If I was a ‘man’ I doubt I would be held up in chains in a ‘human’ court without any due process. Secondly, I’m 97 and so old enough to be your Granddad mate! If you don’t respect the height, the very least you could do is respect my age! Bloody kids!”
Captain Moth took a deep breath. “OK. Lets start again. As Captain of the Queen’s Guard it is my duty to ask you a few questions. It would be very wise, if you wish to avoid torture, not to waste any more of my time. Tell me what you know about Snow White.”
“Snow White, our Princess.”
“Never heard of her.”
“So you haven’t happened to come across a beautiful pitch perfect Princess roaming through the woods in the last week or so?”
“Not me mate. I’m a dwarf. We don’t mix with royalty. It’s against union rules.”
“I see,” said the Captain sitting back in his chair. “So it would come as a surprise to you to hear that a few of my guards saw you and your little hi-hoing chums two days ago with a stunning wench baring remarkable resemblances to our Princess at the Enchanted Fair not so far, far away from here?”
Grumpy looked down at his feet. “You are not getting another bloody word out of me, mate. I know my rights!”
“Very well,” said the Captain. “Bring in the next one, let’s hear what he has to say.”
“BRINGINTHENEXT!” Bellowed Broom.
Two guards pushed a sleeping dwarf in a wheelbarrow through the door and parked at the Captain’s table.
“This is Sleepy, Sir!” Said Broom.
“Well, wake him up!”
“Her,” said Grumpy.
“That’s a woman?” Said the Captain staring at the long golden beard flowing from Sleepy’s chin.
“Oh, I get it.” Said Grumpy. “We all look a like to you, don’t we? Is that what you are trying to say? Bloody racist!”
Sleepy snored peacefully.
“Wake her up!” Insisted the Captain.
“We’ve tried, Sir.” Said one of the guards anxiously. “Tried everything. We even tried torturing him, I mean, her, but she just turned over.”
“Give me strength. Bring out the next!”
The third dwarf presented to the Captain had red swollen eyes and snivelled insistently. His nose dripped like leaking tap and he scratched everywhere in agitated discomfort.
“You are?” Asked the Captain.
“Ah-ah-AH-CHOO!” The dwarf sighed deeply, despondent, tired of his life. He wiped his nose on his arm. “Bloody hell! Nice Kingdom you’ve got here! Is your atmosphere made of hah-AH-CHOOOO! Hay?”
“This is Sneezy,” Said Broom snickering.
“Yeh-yeh. Laugh it up buddy!” Said Sneezy blowing his nose. “It’s not my fault I have ah-ah-AH-CHOOO! Sensitive system! It’s not ba-ah-ah-AH-CHOO! Bad enough that I have to inherit this particular infliction, but I ha-ah-AH-CHOOO! Have to carry the bloody name!”
“Would you prefer it if I called you something other than Sneezy?” Asked the Captain sincerely, having suffered with allergies most of his boyhood life he understood the pain more than most.
Sneezy thought about this for a moment. “You could call me Jo-ah-ah-AH CHOO! John.”
“Wait one minute,” said Grumpy piping up. “You can’t call yourself John!”
“Why-ah-ah-AH CHOO! Not?”
“Because it’s one of their names!”
“I don’t want to be called Sn-ah-aah-ah-CHOO! Sneezy any more! It’s not my fault I can’t digest dairy, or gluten, or roll in ah-ah-ah-CHOO! Bloody-bugger-MEADOW! It’s bad enough not being able to go ou-ah-ah-AH-CHOO! Outside for three months of the year without being the butt of everyone’s bloody jokes or sympathy!”
“But you’re a dwarf! All dwarfs have names that depict their personality or usefulness, like my wife’s brother Lazy Bastard or my next-door neighbours son Passive Aggressive. You know where you stand with a dwarf as soon as you meet them! What you see is what you get! If you change your name you’ll have to change your ways, and we can’t be having that boy!”
“You sound like my-ah-ah-AH CHOO! Dad! One dose of Piriton, that’s all I ah-ah-AH-CHOO! Asked for! But would he bloody let me ha-ah-AH-CHOO! Have it? Would he sod as like!”
“If I may?” Intervened the Captain moving things along. “We have brought you here before us on a matter of grave urgency concerning Snow White.”
“Snow White? Is that ah-ah-AH-CHOO! Is that a new detergent of some kind? Can’t go next to anything that isn’t 100% Bio otherwise I get a ra-ah-ah-AH-CHOO! Rash in some very itchy places.”
“She is a missing Princess.”
“Oh. Don’t meddle with roy-ah-ah-AH-CHOO! Royalty myself. It’s against union rules.”
The Captain sighed.
“Bring out the next…”
Broom shuffled his feet. “Er, we are having a bit of a problem getting her out of the cell. She said she refuses to come up unless her friend comes with her. She’s a bit shy.”
“This is bloody ridiculous! Force her!”
“Yes, we tried that. She bit one of the Guards so hard she took two fingers.”
“Very well, bring the next two.”
A dwarf strolled in smiling from ear to ear with another, far more awkward dwarf in her wake. “Good Evening!” said Happy. “Hope you are well, Captain!”
The Captain was taken aback. “Yes – very. Thank you.”
“Love what you have done with the place. I’m a big fan of stone, mildew and fire motifs. Your tapestries are delightful too. Were they done here in the castle?”
“Er…I think so…”
“Nice. We dwarfs don’t go in for sewing much on account of poor lighting conditions and having fingers like sausages,” Happy chuckled. “Can’t have it all, I suppose.”
The Captain was utterly charmed. “Who is the dwarf behind you?”
“This is Bashful,” said Happy. “She doesn’t talk much.”
“And you are?”
“Happy.” Said Happy, smiling.
It was impossible not to smile back. The Captain regained composure and continued. “We are currently holding investigations into the disappearance of a Princess…”
“Oh dear,” said Happy. “They do get themselves into some trouble, don’t they? Whether they are being locked in towers, dropping slippers or meddling with pricks on their fingers, teenagers today are wild!”
“What do you know about Snow White?”
“Is that a riddle? Not much good with riddles. Got a joke or two though, have you heard the one about the dwarf, the elf and the man who all walked into a bar and…wait, no, it’s a troll not an elf…a dwarf, a troll and a…”
“We have no time for jokes, Happy. This is a serious investigation! Our Evil Queen’s Step Daughter has been kidnapped and…”
“Did you say evil Queen?”
“Well, that’s your answer right there, isn’t it Captain. If we dwarfs know anything it is to judge a person on first instinct. That’s why we outlive humans. Let me guess, is this Princess stunningly beautiful, stacked like a deli counter and light on her feet?”
“And, just by any chance, was this Queen once beautiful but now finds herself left on the shelf, going out of date?”
“She is the fairest in all of the land!”
“Ha! Who told her that, the mirror on her wall?”
“Well, yes, actually…”
“Now who is joking? I knew it. We lady-dwarfs know a thing or two. This is a classic case of envy if ever I saw one. Seen it in a million Kingdoms from here to never-never land! If you want to know where this Princess is, you need to look no further than to her own evil mother.”
“Case closed!” Said Happy, smiling.
The Captain shuffled in his seat. The thought had crossed his mind more than a few times. “That is treason dwarf!”
“Treason?” Said Happy. “Can’t be treason from where I am standing, I don’t mix with royalty…”
“Against Union rules?” Said the Captain, losing his mind.
“Exactly!” Happy grinned.
The Captain sighed. “Bring up the last dwarf!”
The congregation of Dwarf’s all exchanged nervous glances as the last of their kin was presented to the Captain. This is where it could all go very wrong.
Dopey was starry eyed as he was pulled along by his guards. He waved at the other dwarfs as he passed them, tripped on a loose slab, and fell flat on his face. His guards lifted him back to his feet.
“You should,” he spoke in a slow and deliberate manner that gave his listeners the false impression he was about to say something deeply profound. “You should get that fixed man. Health and safety first, you know?”
“What is your name?” Asked the Captain.
Dopey stared ahead smiling inanely.
“Hello?” The Captain gesticulated wildly for his attention.
Dopey ignored him.
“What’s wrong with him?”
Broom stepped forward. “We found several mushrooms on his possession, Sir. We don’t know how many are actually inside of him, Sir.”
“He’s Dopey,” said Grumpy.
“DOPEY!” Screamed the Captain.
Dopey focused as hard as he could on the Captain and smiled. “Hey…how’s it going?”
“Do you know why you are here?”
Dopey shrugged. “That depends man…where am I?”
“You are in the custody of the Queens Guard!”
“Oh…cool…have you got any biscuits? Anything with chocolate?”
“Perhaps you did not hear me? You are in the Queen’s Guards custody dwarf! We don’t give out candy!”
“Oh…anything savory then? Really hungry man, like, I was arrested. But worse than that, I was about to have some pie that this girrr…” Dopey became distracted by the fruit bowl on the Captain’s table, much to the relief of his fellow dwarfs. “Hey, like, are those strawberries?”
“What were you about to say?” Said the Captain. “Something about a girl?”
“Like, I really like strawberries man.” Said Dopey salivating.
“Dopey, I will give you a strawberry if you tell me who cooked you the pie.”
“Deal…” Dopey paused. “Have you got pie?”
“No. You were about to tell me who cooked you the pie.”
“Did a girl cook you a pie?”
Dopey nodded and smiled.
“A Dwarf girl?”
Dopey shook his head.
“And how long have you known this human Girl?”
“About a week…maybe seven days…can’t say for sure...total babe too, and man, like, the cottage has been spotless since…” Dopey’s mind drifted like a bee in a honey shop.
“Since?” Said the Captain.
“Since?” Repeated Dopey.
“You said since…”Said the Captain impatiently.
“So did you, man. Since when?” Said Dopey genuinely curious.
The Captain stared blankly at him.
Dopey smiled. “Have you got any crisps?”
“I will give you a three course meal if you tell me where the Princess is!”
“Princess?” Dopey shook his head. ”I don’t, like, know any Princess. Dwarf, you know, things and stuff. Rules.” Dopey shrugged. “That’s all I know bro…”
“Yes, I’m sure. This little fairytale is suddenly beginning to take shape, wouldn’t you say?”
At that moment a breathless guard ran into the office. “Captain! We have caught their leader!”
“We don’t have a leader!” Protested Grumpy. “We are collective!”
“Bring him to me!” Said the Captain.
There was something different about the seventh dwarf. His eyes were bright and alert behind his metal-rimed spectacles, and he had an air of knowing about him that was completely disarming.
“This one is Doc,” Said Broom.
“Doc?” Said the Captain. “Are you a Doctor?”
“Of letters, medicine law and science.” Said Doc.
“I see. So you would be the brains of this organization?”
Doc smiled like a poker player on the verge of revealing a winning hand. “Are you the brains of your organization?”
“I am the Captain of the Queen’s Guard.”
“Very well Captain. Let us begin. Section nine, paragraph three to four of Grimm Law states quite clearly that it is illegal to detain or examine any member of this Magical Kingdom without their council present.”
“I didn’t know that.” Said the Captain. “I was just on the Queen’s business.”
“I see,” said Doc. “And where did your men detain these dwarfs?”
“In the Enchanted Forest.”
“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.” Said Doc, folding his arms. “This is Castle Dark, is it not?”
“Well, according to new ordinance surveys the Enchanted Forest is not in your jurisdiction. The Guards of the Wooden Realm will not take kindly to you trampling all over their patch, will they? They have been known to behead and disembowel any guards from any other realm for trespassing.”
“This is ridiculous! I am investigating a kidnap and the possible murder of our most beloved Princess Snow White! Tell me what you know, dwarf!”
“Do you have any evidence of this kidnap? Has there been a note issuing demands or any body parts sent to you?”
“Well…no. But she has been missing for over a week, and three of my off duty guards saw this lot with her at the fair!”
“Bring these men here!” Said Doc.
“I don’t take orders from dwarf’s!”
Doc smiled. “Captain, I do hope for you sake that you are not discriminating! I happen to have some very close friends on the Equal Rights commission, they are just waiting for an opportunity to take someone like you down!”
The captain considered his options. “Broom, get those men here now!”
Broom left and returned five minutes later with three guards.
“State your name,” said the Captain to the smallest of the three.
“I’m Corporal Hot,” the Guard shuffled uncomfortably.
“Corporal Goat,” said the Guard to his left.
“Corporal French.” Said the last.
“Which one of you men filed the report on the sighting of Snow White at the fair?”
“Me, Sir.” Said Corporal French. “But Billy…er…Corporal Goat and Hot were with me, Sir.”
“Here,” said Grumpy piping up. “I recognize you! Weren’t you the clumsy sod that knocked the tray of ale out of my hand?”
Corporal French stared at the floor.
“What’s this?” Said Doc. “New evidence?”
“It is you!” said Grumpy. “I never forget a debt mate! This bloke barged right into me with no reason, he knocked an ingot’s worth of beer out of my hand then refused to pay for a round!”
“Is that true?” Said Doc.
“It was an accident,” Said Corporal French. “I spotted the Princess and was in pursuit and he got in my way. He kicked me in the shins so hard I couldn’t walk properly for a day!”
“Give me strength,” said the Captain slowly unraveling.
“So,” said Doc. “Is it also an ‘accident’ or coincidence that the very same dwarf to which you owe a debt of one round, is now up on allegations of a crime that no one in this Kingdom can actually prove took place?”
“The crime took place,” said the Captain. “Our Princess is missing!”
“How do you know she has not run away with a woodsman, or eloped with some feckless Prince whose got a chip on his shoulder for not getting his inheritance?”
“We don’t, but…”
“Captain I’ve heard enough,” said Doc. “If you do not set this company of dwarf’s free I am going to unleash a legal hell upon this Kingdom! This is the problem with evil dictatorships, everyone is following orders, and no one is asking questions! I could sue you for every ingot of gold you have in this castle! And I would win!”
Those were his final words.
After much deliberation, the dwarfs were set free, Dopey was made a round of sandwiches and Grumpy was fully reimbursed.
“That was close!” Said Grumpy as the company followed the winding path over the little bridge towards home.
“I told you taking her in was asking for trouble!” Said Doc ahead of the pack. “But – oh no! You lot were so hypnotized by her charm and domestic habits that she had you wrapped round her fancy knickers!”
“We didn’t know she was a bloody Princess, did we? She told us she was a servant girl!” Said Grumpy.
“I knew there was something fishy going on when I saw all the bloody birds helping her do the laundry!” Said Doc. “Well as soon as we get home she is gone!”
“We can’t do that!” Said Happy in shock. “She hasn’t done anything wrong! Who could blame someone for wanting to run away from that horrible place?”
“I wou-ah-ah-AH-CHOO! I would!”
“Don’t you lot get it?” Said Doc. “We are going to have heat all over that cottage until they find her! Surveillance! We are lucky she was at the Well when they raided, or we would all be a head shorter! And what do you think would happen to us if the union found out we were harboring a bloody Princess! We’d have our cards taken!”
“But,” said Dopey desperately. “Like, what about the pie…she cooks the best pie I have ever eaten man! Like, prioritize…you know!”
“Let’s vote on this.” Said Doc. “All those in favor of keeping your lives and your livelihoods raise your hand.” They all raised their hands. “All those in favor of dying a horrible death for letting the Princess stay for more than five minutes longer, raise your hands.” Dopey raised his hand.
“The people have spoken,” said Doc. They headed to the cottage.
There were thoughts that Captain Moth could not let go of. He knew the dwarfs were involved in the disappearance of his Princess, and he was going to prove it, somehow. They may have won this round, but he wasn’t about to throw in the towel just yet. His more pressing concerns were with his duty to the evil Queen. She would have his head on the block if she knew he was conducting his own investigations into the disappearance of her stepdaughter. But there were some thoughts he just could not let go of. The game was on.
“We’ve been robbed!” Said Grumpy, looking at the green door of the cottage hanging from its hinges.
“Or searched,” said Doc, pushing ahead of the pack and entering first.
“Check to see if the gold is still here,” said Grumpy searching the rooms.
The dwarfs spread out in frenzy.
“Look!” Happy was the first to see the listless body of Snow White lying flat on her perfect back in the pantry. They all gathered round her as a perfect red apple, with one bite removed, fell out of her hand.
“This is bad in so many ways,” said Grumpy. “What do we do now?”
“Freak out?” Said Dopey, rocking. “Oh man, oh man…”
“Run awah-ah-AH CHOOO! Away!”
Doc pushed through them all and examined the body. “Wait…I don’t think she is dead.”
They all heaved a massive sigh of relief.
“What’s wrong with her?” Asked Happy.
“She’s enchanted or under a dark sleeping spell of some kind. My cousin once told me about a Princess he encountered that slept for a hundred years and didn’t age a day!”
“A hundred years? We don’t have that kind of time! If those guards find her here in that state we are all for the chop!” Said Grumpy panicking. “We need a plan!”
“Run awah-ah-AH CHOOO! Away?”
Three hours later the dwarfs all gathered in their garden to welcome a strange visitor.
“This is your plan?” Said Grumpy staring at the old woman. “A crone?”
“She is not a crone,” said Doc. “She is a fairy Godmother!”
“She doesn’t look like a fairy Godmother!” Said Grumpy, surveying her as if she were a second-hand car for sale. “She’s got warts!”
“And how many Fairy Godmothers have you met then?” Asked the Godmother.
“Including you? None!” said Grumpy defiantly.
“And what exactly do you expect me to look like? Whizzing about farting silver and shitting rainbows?” Said the Godmother, making no attempt to hide her offense.
“You don’t even have a wand!”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” said the Godmother. She lifted the heavy grey sleeves of her robes and presenting a small wooden stick. “This is Elder wood, and it is one of the most powerful wands in all of the Magical Kingdoms! This wand has turned frogs to Princes and scrubbing wenches to A-list celebrities! So, unless you have ambitions to turn into a pumpkin, or spend the rest of your days as a cave troll, I suggest you start showing me some respect.”
Grumpy took a step back.
“Would you like to follow me, Godmother? She is this way.” Said Doc, leading her into the cottage.
“I don’t like this,” said Grumpy.
“You should have let her turn you into a pumpkin dude,” said Dopey. “I like pumpkin.”
Doc escorted the Godmother to the bunk where Snow White was resting. She was as perfect as a Bing Crosby Christmas. “You are telling me that you didn’t realise this was a Princess?” Said the Godmother, amazed.
“All humans look alike to me!” Said Doc honestly. “Can you fix her?”
The Godmother got to work immediately, placing her hand first on Snow White’s cheek, then to her forehead. “I need you to leave the room. Women’s business.” Said the Godmother checking Snow White’s pulse.
Doc didn’t need to be asked twice.
Six dwarfs paced outside the door in nervous anticipation and Sleepy slept.
“What is she doing in there? It’s been half an hour!” Said Grumpy biting what remained of his fingernails.
“Don’t ask me,” said Doc.
“But aren’t you supposed to be a doctor?” Said Grumpy.
“I only practice medicine, I leave magic up to the experts!”
The door opened and the Godmother stepped out wiping her hands on her robe. “Well lads, you’ve got a cursed Princess there and no mistake.”
“We could have told you that!” Said Grumpy. “In fact, no - wait a minute, we did! That’s why you are here!”
“Don’t get your axe in a twist, Grumpy!” Said Doc. “What caused this?”
The Godmother pondered. “I don’t suppose there is an Evil Queen around here anywhere, is there? Is she growing old in years, losing her looks, feeling a little insecure?”
“I told you!” Said Happy nudging Grumpy. “That is exactly who I said it would be, didn’t I?”
“I can see why your Ma didn’t name you Modest,” said Grumpy.
“The Queen has cursed her?” Asked Doc with new interest.
“Poisoned.” Said the Godmother. “Seen it before, she probably dressed up as an old apple saleswoman and passed by the window. These airheads fall for that trick every time!”
“How do we wake her up?”
“She needs to be kissed by true love.”
“Me first,” said Dopey wiping his lips.
“No! A dwarf won’t do. She’s a Princess! She needs to be kissed by someone with legitimate blue-blood affiliation, like a Prince, or true love.” Said the Godmother. “And it needs to be within the next 48hours or she will probably never wake up again.”
“Oh great!” Said Grumpy. “And where, exactly, are we supposed to find a Prince? We are dwarfs! We don’t mix with royalty! It’s against union rules!”
The Godmother paused. “Strictly speaking I am not allowed to do what I am about to offer to do, it’s not – strictly – legal. But, as you are in a pickle and I am a Godmother and there is a fairy Princess involved, I suppose I could make an exception.”
“What exception?” Asked Doc hanging on this last strand of hope.
“I could grant you a wish.” Said the Godmother in almost a whisper.
“What kind of wish?” Said Grumpy with suspicion.
“A wish that could, for example, have a kiss-thirsty Prince knocking at your door within the next 24 hours. But it will be extra.”
“How much?” Asked Doc.
“Twenty Ingots?” Said Grumpy. “We’ve already paid you ten for half an hours work! This is not enchantment, it’s daylight robbery!”
“Have it your way dwarf,” said the Godmother leaving. “I can show myself out.”
“Wait!” said Doc. “Would you be so good as to wait in the kitchen Godmother? I would like to confer with my colleagues.”
“Suit yourself, but I charge double-time after midnight, so don’t be keeping me waiting too long!”
Doc waited until she was out of earshot.
“I’m in.” Said Doc.
“I can’t believe you are even considering this! She’s a quack! A fraudster!” Said Grumpy.
“She is the only chance we have!” Said Doc.
“I’m not often in agreement with Grumpy but it does seem like rather a lot of money for one spell! It’s one week’s sah-ah-AH CHOO! Salary!”
“It’s not a spell, it’s a wish! And a black market wish at that!” Said Doc. “We can either pay twenty ingots to her, or pay with our lives to the guards! Lets vote!”
“Aye, I say we buy.” Said Happy.
Bashful nodded in agreement.
Sleepy grunted in her sleep, which was taken as a no.
“Three dwarfs say yes, and three dwarfs are against.” Said Doc, looking directly at Dopey.
“Dopey?” Said Doc.
“Aye or nay?”
“OK, I need you to focus here Dopey. Do you remember what I was telling you about the democratic system and how every vote counts?”
“Good. Now you have an important vote to cast here because it is up to you to decide whether or not we die a horrible death. No pressure.”
“OK. So, do you vote for us buying the wish?”
“A fairy Godmother has just offered to grant us a wish…you were standing right there when she made the offer not five minutes ago.”
“Really? I heard talking, but…”
“OK. We don’t have time for this. Vote aye if you want to be high tomorrow. Vote no if you want to be hung tomorrow.”
Dopey paused. “What was the first one?”
“Yeh, I’ll go with that one.”
“It is a miracle you survived past your 50th birthday.”
Doc called the Godmother back into the fold.
“OK. We agree to your price. What happens next?”
The Godmother removed a small tablet of paper and pencil from her robe pockets, scribbled a note, and handed it to Doc.
He read: This is one wish. Use it wisely.
“Now what do I do?” Said Doc.
“Make a wish. But be warned, you must be very specific. Say exactly what you want, and when you want it by. And make sure that you start by saying I wish for…”
“Seems straight forward enough,” said Doc forcing each of the dwarfs to come up with their share of the price. Doc gave the Godmother her ingots and showed her to the door.
The dwarfs gathered. After ten minutes deciding what to say, Doc finally proclaimed the wish. “I wish for a handsome Prince to come in the next 24-hours – with pizza, kiss the Princess, and live happily ever after.”
Now all they could do is wait.
Captain Moth had been watching the comings and goings of the cottage for some time now. He had watched the crone leave and observed the hive of activity through the windows of the cottage before everything calmed to a total still. Then - a sharp ray of ultra-blue energy shot out from the chimney top and out into the far- reaching sky, scraping stars in its wake. It was incredible, awesome, a wish come true for the Captain.
He smiled at the beautiful spectacle. “Gotcha!” He said, and ran back to the castle to gather his men.
The dwarfs waited. They paced. They waited some more.
“We’ve been had!” Said Grumpy. “He’s not coming!”
“There are twenty hours left.” Said Doc staring at the clock.
“Why do we have to leave everything to the last bloody minute!”
“It’s not the last minute, is it? It’s…”
There were three heavy knocks on the door.
The dwarfs froze.
“Do you think?” Said Doc easing from his chair.
Three heavier knocks on the door.
“Wait!” Said Grumpy. “It could be law!”
“Hello” said a charming voice through the letterbox. “Anyone home? I was on the way to the castle with all this pizza and my horse threw a shoe…”
Doc opened the door. “Hello!” He said to the 6ft man in shining armor standing on his doorstep.
“Hello,” said the man awkwardly. “Sorry to be a nuisance, but my horse threw a shoe…”
“Oh, that’s a shame.” Said Doc looking at the white horse tethered to his gate. “Looks like a nice horse. Pricey.”
“Yes, well, I was wondering if you knew of any blacksmiths around this area?”
“Why don’t you step inside young man and we can talk more about it.”
The Knight in shining armor sat at the small table surrounded by the seven dwarfs, each of them munching through a slice of heavenly pizza.
“Let’s not beat about the bush here mate. Are you a Prince?” Said Grumpy with a mouthful of half-chewed ham and pineapple.
“Well, yes…” said the Prince. “How did you guess?”
“Posh accent, shiny clothes, and your expensive horse sort of gave you away a little.” Said Grumpy.
The Prince smiled a dazzling smile. “As I was saying to your friend, my horse threw a…”
“Would you like me to give you a tour of the place?” Said Doc finishing up his last slice from the box. “I have something that I think might interest you…”
“Well, I really should be getting away.”
“We insist.” Said Grumpy, shoving the Prince from his stool and leading him to Snow White’s bed.
It was love at first sight.
“She is beautiful! Oh my God!” The Prince swooned at the sight of Snow White.
“Yeh, scrubs up nicely eh? Er, fancy giving her a kiss?” Said Grumpy giving the Prince an encouraging prod.
“Oh, I could not do that.” Said the Prince flatly.
“I could not kiss a beautiful young maid without her permission. I am a Prince and Knight of Honour.”
“Listen mate, I paid good money to get you here and…”Doc kicked Grumpy in the shin. “I’ll take it from here,” Said Doc rather more diplomatically. “Dear Prince, being a man of honour I aim to appeal to your chivalry and goodness. This poor, poor beautiful Princess was forced to run from home and seek refuge here in this dank and dusty slum to live with us, where we thought we could protect her from the envy and hatred of her evil stepmother. But we failed her. Her evil mother poisoned her with a cursed apple, and here she sleeps and will sleep forever if a Prince does not kiss her. You, brave Sir Knight, are our only hope!”
The Prince wiped a tear from his eye, touched to the soul by the sad tale. “Very well, this one time I will make an exception.”
He bent down on one knee, took her hand and kissed it gently. Nothing happened.
“Er…” Said Doc awkwardly. “Perhaps you should kiss her face.”
The Prince stood up, gently bowed over and kissed Snow White on the forehead. Nothing happened.
“You have done this before, haven’t you son?” Asked Grumpy.
“Done what?” Asked the Prince innocently.
“You know – been with a girl?”
“Well, no.” Said the Prince. “I get a little nervous around the gentler sex and usually end up making a fool of myself.”
“OK.” Said Grumpy; “perhaps we should have added that to our wish list?”
Doc nudged the Prince. “Try kissing her on the lips lad, she won’t mind. Girls like that sort of thing when it comes from good looking fella’s like you …trust me.”
The Prince did as he was instructed. Nothing happened to the Princess, but suddenly and for no apparent reason, the Prince felt happier than he had ever felt. “Wow!” said the Prince. “That was amazing! Like! I feel like I could live happily ever after for the rest of my life! Thank you!” He shook each of the dwarfs by the hand, left the cottage and walked into the sunset.
“Er, what just happened?” Asked Grumpy, staring at Snow White as she still lay sleeping in her bed.
“I have no idea,” said Doc. “But I know a woman who might.”
“Your wish didn’t work!” Said Grumpy, pacing in front of the Godmother. “We want our money back!”
“Did a Prince not come?” She asked.
“Yes, he bloody came!” Said Grumpy.
“And, like, he brought nine different flavors of pizza!” Said Dopey, “nice dude!”
“It would seem my wish worked perfectly.” Said the Godmother.
“But the Princess still sleeps!” Said Grumpy pointing at Snow White. “Look at her! A firm resident in the land of nod!”
“Did he kiss her?” Asked the Godmother with genuine surprise.
“Three times!” Said Grumpy.
“Oh,” said the Godmother. “Well, that is a little unexpected. Tell me exactly what you wished.”
Doc took over. “We wished for a Prince to come with Pizza in the next 24 hours, and for him to kiss the Princess and live happily ever after…oh bugger…” Doc caught on.
“What is it?” Asked Grumpy.
The Godmother smiled. “Did he, by any chance, leave here in a very good mood?”
“Yes.” Said Doc. “I can’t believe how stupid we are.”
“Oh, don’t be so hard on yourself. There is an art to wishing that very few can master first time round. Did you wish for the Princess to wake up?”
“No,” said Doc shamefully embarrassed.
“I did warn you to use your wish wisely. Well, no harm done, just one more happy Prince in the world.”
“Grant us another wish!” Begged Happy. “We will use it better this time.”
“I’m afraid I can’t. I don’t know if you were aware of this but a guard from the castle has been watching this cottage closely. He was hiding in the bushes as I left earlier. I can’t afford to be pulled in again! I could get three years for wish-granting. Sorry lads, you are on your own.”
“What can we do?”
“Nothing. Unless her true love happens to walk by in the next 24hours with a fresh kiss, she will sleep here forever.” The Godmother left with haste.
“Great. So, now what are we going to do?”
“Run awah-ah-AH CHOOO! Away!”
“We got them Captain!” Said Corporal Broom.
“Yes sir! They were trying to make a run for it Sir. Shall I bring in the first?”
“By all means,” said Captain Moth.
Grumpy was lead before the Captain.
“We meet again,” said the Captain. “Small world!”
Grumpy retained his right to remain silent.
“Not quite so quick with the comebacks this time, eh? Perhaps that is because I have caught you red handed this time.”
“Ha! Doing what? I was minding my own business, heading off on holiday to visit some cousins who are having a bit of dragon trouble and your men snatched me again! Disgraceful what this Kingdom has come to, you wait until the union hears about this!”
“How does your union feel about crones?”
“I don’t affiliate with the spectrum of magic, mate. I’m a dwarf…”
“Against union rules?”
“Yes, now you come to mention it.”
“I’m sure,” said the Captain. “Broom, bring the rest of the dwarfs in.”
The company of dwarfs were escorted in.
“Now,” said the Captain addressing Doc. “Before you get any smart-arse ideas about Equal Rights commissions, I warn you, I am not in the mood. I have been watching the comings and goings of you lot, I know about the sleeping girl you have stored up in your cottage. I know about the wish you made!”
Doc stared ahead.
“Are you aware, dwarf, that the penalty for making an unlicensed wish is three years imprisonment?”
Doc stared ahead.
“I take it from your silence that you are. A few hours ago you made a wish from your cottage in the forest, didn’t you dwarf.”
“You can’t prove that,” said Doc.
“I was in your garden and I saw the bloody thing shoot through your chimney.”
“Your word against seven, then Captain.” Said Doc.
“I am a Captain! People will believe me!”
“Are you saying that dwarfs are untrustworthy, Captain? The Equal Rights…”
The Captain interrupted, his temper rising. “You can’t get out of this one with your clever answers, dwarf. I know what I saw! I’ve gone through the proper channels, I’ve got a search warrant, and my men are searching your cottage as we speak. If you have anything to say in your defence, now would be the time to say it.”
Doc stared ahead.
“Just as I thought. We will talk again when my men return.”
Red Riding Hood entered the cottage, starving, desperate for some scraps to eat. She had been on the run for seven days, living on berries and squirrel, hiding from the guards of the Kingdom. It had all gone so terribly wrong.
She crept in through the open door and ran straight to the remainder of the crusts of pizza that she found lying in the empty boxes on the kitchen table, eating every morsel she found. The place was deserted. Memories of her last encounter with her lover flooded her mind; the last time she kissed those perfect lips was in a place like this.
She collapsed to the floor and wept with exhaustion fear and desperation. She couldn’t bare the thought of being separated from her only love forever. They were supposed to meet by the brook that night; when her darling failed to arrive, she could only assume the worst had happened.
Red Riding Hood finally managed to control her tears and dried her eyes. On the floor beside her she saw a small piece of paper. She picked it up and read: This is one wish. Use it wisely.
She gasped. She was prepared to try anything.
She cleared her mind and cleared her thoughts, then closed her eyes and proclaimed, “I wish for my lover to be here, now.” She kept her eyes tight shut. It was the first wish she had ever made so she wasn’t sure what to expect. There was no music, no thunder, no lightening. She opened her eyes slowly. Nothing had happened. She lifted herself from the floor and looked for somewhere to lay her head. What she saw lying before her in the bedroom took her breath away.
She staggered. “Oh my God, it worked!” Red Riding Hood ran to the bed of her true love, and without hesitation, planted a kiss on Snow White’s cherry lips. Snow White woke up in a moment. Their eyes met and they embraced with joy.
“I thought that bitch had killed you,” said Red Riding Hood holding Snow White tight.
“I think she tried to,” said Snow White thrilled by the touch of her lovers skin. “I found this place to hide out with these filthy dwarfs, I can’t remember what happened next. Sweet Red, I’ve never been so happy to see you in my whole life!” They kissed again.
Red Riding Hood pulled back. “We have to run! Get as far away from here as possible! If your evil stepmother finds out we are still alive she will kill us both. Or worse, she will have you marry that foul Prince.”
“I’m going wherever you are,” said Snow White taking Red Riding Hoods hand and climbing out of bed. They ran as far as their feet could take them, and they both lived happily ever after.
The company of dwarfs were lead to the Captain for the final time. All of them were under strict instructions to let Doc do the talking. He had no idea how he was going to explain away this one.
The Captain glared.
“Do you have any last words, dwarf?”
Doc stared ahead.
“My men have just arrived at the castle from your cottage. If they have a Princess with them, I am going to take a special interest in your torture!”
Doc preyed to the dwarf gods in alphabetical order.
Corporal Broom entered the office.
Doc gawped at the other dwarfs and they gawped back at him.
“Nothing?” Asked the Captain.
“A few empty pizza boxes, Sir. Nothing else!”
The captain felt his nostrils flare. “That’s because they wished her away!”
“Captain?” Said Broom with concern.
“I was in the bushes! I was outside their cottage and I heard them talking about a curse, and a sleeping girl, and an apple! Then a crone came, and they made a wish, and now she is gone!”
“I’d like to see you prove that, Captain.” Said Doc.
“You know I am telling the truth!” The Captain glared down at Doc. “You wished her away!”
“Let me get this straight,” said Doc. “First you arrest us all under false charges of kidnapping a Princess when you can’t prove she has been kidnapped. Now, you are holding us on charges of wishing a Princess away because you can’t find her in our cottage?”
“I saw a wish leave the chimney stack of your cottage with my own eyes!
“Er,” said Broom awkwardly intervening. “You can’t ‘wish’ someone away, Sir. You can wish for things to happen, sir, but there is no magic strong enough to vanish someone from existence, sir.”
“And how do you know so much about this?”
“My Aunty Poppy is a herbalist, Sir. She helps women with their business, and she knows a thing or two about wishing, sir.”
“I saw it with my own eyes!” Said the Captain on the verge of nervous dismantlement.
“That is your story,” said Doc. “But, correct me if I am wrong here, don’t you need two or more witnesses in order for any charges to stand up in a court of Grimm Law?”
“That is true, sir.” Said Broom.
The captain was beat; it was a familiar feeling to him. He hated dwarfs. He hated Broom. He hated the law. “Get these dwarfs out of my sight.”
“You’re setting them free, sir?” Said Broom astonished.
“Unless you have a better idea, Broom?”
“Should we not take this to the Queen, sir?”
“The Queen is having looking-glass therapy at the moment. Would you like to disturb her?”
“Not on your life, sir.”
“Then, get out of my sight. Now. And take those filthy dwarfs with you!”
Broom ushered the dwarfs to the door.
“Don’t be so glum, Captain.” Said Happy. “Every cloud has a silver lining.”
“For other people perhaps,” he waited until the dwarfs were gone and then tore his office apart in a primal rage. It felt good for a while to launch books from his window, smash shelves to the floor and push scrolls from his upturned desk and scrunch them in the dust. He didn’t hear Corporal Broom re-enter or try for his attention the first three times. “CAPTAIN!”
The Captain, breathless, stopped in the midst of the chaos he had created. “What is it, Broom?”
“The Queen wants to see you, Sir. Something about a Red Hood Riding, Sir.”
“Very well,” said the Captain sucking it up. And the beat went on.
“What do you think happened, Doc?” Asked Happy as the dwarfs all made their way home.
“Perhaps the kiss had a delayed reaction…who knows?” Said Doc.
“It’s the last bloody time we are meddling with royalty, I’ll tell you that!” Said Grumpy, and they all enjoyed the walk through the forest in peaceful silence.
“Who are you?” said Grumpy to the beautiful girl dressed in rags tidying the kitchen.
The girl smiled and waved to all the dwarfs as they entered the cottage.
“I’m afraid, young wench, you will have to leave!” Said Doc sternly.
The young girl started crying. “Oh,” said Doc reaching for his handkerchief. “Don’t cry, please, here – blow your nose.”
The girl thanked Doc and blew her nose so lightly a butterfly would not have felt it.
“I’m sorry,” said the beautiful girl. “I saw your door was open so I crept in. I’m hiding from my two ugly sisters. You don’t mind if I stay for a few days, do you? I’ll be no trouble”
“Hey,” said Dopey. “Can I smell pie?”
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