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A Fairy Tale from the Editing-Room Floor:  Feet-of-a-Goat

This was one of my favorite broken tales from The Kingdom, but Editress Liz was firm and the book probably didn't need it.  I present it here from my feet to yours.



Once there was a mother who resented her daughter, not for being beautiful, because the girl was plain at best, but for being of such an age as to begin her life, not wind it off with a sagging chin and a belching husband.  So when the opportunity came to marry a prince, the woman told the girl she must do everything possible to make this come about.  They plucked the girl’s brows and the lower line of her hair, they squeezed in her waist and rubbed her hands and face with a mixture made of eggshell and urine to whiten them. 

But they soon learned this would not be enough, for the prince was enamored already of a young woman who had a foot so dainty that he could barely fit two fingers of his hand into the tiny shoe she had lost as she fled his overeager advances. 

         The solution was clear, and the mother took  some pleasure in executing it.  She borrowed the sharpest knife from her husband’s shop (he was the village butcher) and, herself, sliced off enough of her daughter’s toes to make a fit.  The girl teetered; her feet looked like blunted cat’s paws, and they were very painful.

         “Not small enough!” opined the mother, and she sliced away the backs of the girl’s heels, till her feet were like the delicate hooves of a baby goat.  Then she brushed her daughter’s hair and sent her up the hill toward the palace to win her fortune.

         Unable to breathe in her corset, shedding a rush of blood with each lurching footstep, the daughter expired long before she reached the palace. 

         Where Feet-of-a-Goat fell at the roadside, a slender tree grew from her bones.  Each time that her mother passed (thinking herself well rid of the troublesome girl), a delicious waft of cherry blossom carried over the countryside, though in all the years that the story was known, the tree was never believed to bear fruit.

              The prince found his true love by another means, and the two of them lived happily until the princess, too, became a mother, and began to resent her little girl.



SINCE 1372
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