Upon a time in a land faraway,
Within the great green plains of old Scotland,
There outside town a creaky mansion lay,
The penned sheep bleated and the postal donkey brayed.
Once with a lovely father now quite dead,
Upon the hearth lay our lady CinderBeth.
Slept among ashes instead of a bed,
Plotted and schemed with each and every breath.
From morn to noon she swept her stepmother’s lair,
Brushed, plaited, and curled her stepsister’s hair.
And from noon to night she polished each chair,
Scrubbed, cleaned, and scoured every remaining stair.
But our CinderBeth was truly no fool,
Bided her time and collected many a tool.
Pitter patter steps against the attic floor,
Three small mice tittered and squeaked up a storm,
“CinderBeth lives right beyond this very door.
But we three mice know she is destined for more.”
CinderBeth heard all from the foot of her bed.
Sat up and said, “do these mice speak truth?
They are only but mice clamoring for a crumb of bread.”
Six black eyes meet CinderBeth, “why forsooth!”
Stepsister burst into the dingy room,
Wanting only for a mug of warm tea,
Seeing mice almost compelled to grab a broom,
“Well I never! Out with them!” Shouted she.
“CinderBeth shall be King,” on hind legs they squeaked,
“And for her stepsister, a long line of kings grows after.”
“Rubbish!” And out the door fled stepsister.
CinderBeth trembled within threadbare skirts,
“King? Perhaps I shall indeed need no mister.
Play my cards well and be on high alert.
Those three mice speak as if in tongues,
Yet what they say may not be so far flung.”
Long rolls of scrolls thrown from the royal carriage,
reading “masked ball tonight for all maidens.”
Stepsister grins with ideas of marriage,
Our Hero still hanging up washing, arms laden.
All within the town dress up and prepare,
Donning linens and tulle, yards of ribbons in hair,
Watching anxiously in the market square,
Betting who the prince would dance with and snare.
Stepmother commanded stepsister to attend,
Told CinderBeth to sort the peas from the lentils,
And there was still much laundry to clean and mend.
CinderBeth stared after their carriage with a look ungentle.
Brave CinderBeth had a trick up her sleeve,
Let in all of those outside birds who weave,
They separated those lentils and peas by the day’s eve,
And CinderBeth hastened now to leave.
Task complete, CinderBeth stood deathly still,
Without a stately dress she should surely fail.
Those thoughts thoroughly dismissed as she spied downhill,
A woman floated down from the garden trail.
“You want to marry the prince,” the woman started,
Said CinderBeth, “I want to be the king.”
The response: “You seem of a nature too faint-hearted.
“You could not go through with the action required.”
The woman procured a coach and four horses,
A dress spun with thread from the sun and moon,
A pair of shining glass slippers, of course,
And a sharp glass dagger as an added boon.
“Is this a glass dagger I see before me?”
The woman nodded grimly knowing what must be done,
“Murder the king and marry the prince, it’s easy to see.”
CinderBeth right stuttered and turned to run.
“Poor CinderBeth, I knew you could not do it,
Could not go through with what is required,
You would make for a weak king, you admit.
Me? I see that glass dagger and grow inspired.
For you, I shall march straight up to the throne,
Use this sacred dagger and cut right to bone.
You need only say the word, CinderBeth.
I only desire one thing, and the one thing you desire too.
Bring me your firstborn child with the prince, and this murderous boon I shall grant you.”
To agree to a murder was no small feat,
This woman took the idea as a delightful treat.
What was in it for her? CinderBeth spied little deceit,
Only a forest woman wishing another’s goal be complete.
And perhaps to once again to return to society to eat,
Seated among royals in the main crown suite.
“I will go to the ball and meet with the prince.
I will look him in the eyes and ascertain his intent.
In my daring dress he will be easily convinced,
That with me by his side he should be content.
You shall not mock me and call me weak-willed,
You shall slip inside the castle at midnight with murderous intent,
In your forest cover you will have the king killed,
And with the prince by my side the body will be discovered, spent.”
The forest woman grinned, teeth sharply gleaming.
The faerie folk work in mysterious ways,
Often acting only with something to gain.
CinderBeth had fallen right into faerie domain.
“If that is your wish, then it shall be done.
I shall kill the King and leave you with his only son.”
Ear to ear the woman grinned, brought carriage to girl,
With a flick of her fingers disappeared in a twirl.
CinderBeth arrived late as was the plan,
Collected appraising gazes at her entrance,
Affixed her own on the crown above the man,
He walked up to her and invited her to dance.
The pair waltzed around the room with great grace,
A practiced pair who each knew what was at stake,
The prince an heir and the girl a ruling place,
Each convinced of the other’s obvious mistake.
The prince decided to propose then and there,
She was pretty enough and would not wound his pride,
“Will you marry me,” he said with unnecessary flair.
“I shall agree and henceforth become your bride.”
Deal over and done with, the two returned to dance,
Spun around like dual threads until midnight.
When a loud shrill shriek sent shocked faces askance,
Noble CinderBeth feigned a faint in fright.
Royal guards burst onto the ballroom floor,
Hustled the prince and CinderBeth off and away,
Broke the sordid news and one lone tear poured,
CinderBeth acted the distraught girl in play.
She then snuck out and met the woman in the shadows,
Who gave her the glass dagger coated in regal blood,
CinderBeth spat, “lest you want to find yourself six feet below,
Put that dagger back in the King’s chest with a thud.”
In the woman’s haste to return to the chamber,
She spied the new king’s guard searching around,
Fled from the castle and descended the stairs,
Flung the reddened glass dagger to the ground.
The blood seeped slowly into the carpet,
Reddened the white, created a grotesque target.
The King and the Queen ruled over the land,
Sent out the royal guard with the weapon,
Once the murderer found, a hanging planned.
But still CinderBeth felt uneasy, leaden.
A Queen had no power over the masses,
And the King wanted his required expected heir,
She found him slow as slick molasses,
She wanted him gone and out of her hair.
Stepmother and stepsister long since gone,
A “doting” King resting upon her arm,
She still had a master plan to act upon,
She had not forgotten the spoken charm.
Her stepsister would beget a great line of kings,
And all Cinderbeth had was one stately ring.
In a week, it happened in one fell swoop,
Poor stepsister set up with the dagger,
And her hanging arranged by the troop.
(It was quite easy to see why she had done it, of course.
Jealousy gallops quickly and soon unbridled, a runaway horse.)
Her fingers chopped to never again hold a dagger of glass,
And then her pretty head rolled in the grass.
Stepmother fled for the hills,
And then a gaunt wolf howled, seeking its fill.
CinderBeth turned her sights to her husband,
Arranged for a trio of thieves to sneak inside,
Do away with him as initially planned,
Become King herself and not just bride.
(A few paper notes and a few whispered nods was all it took,
The King now lay beneath the floorboards of a gleaming church.)
His life now a solidly sealed and closed book,
Long live the King from above her golden perch.
CinderBeth, in all her glory, became a King killer that day,
Spurred by bloodlust and the three mice’s whispered words,
Perhaps forgetting she had no child on the way.
The forest woman’s deal momentarily forgotten and blurred.
From the regal throne a lone ruler sits,
Crown heavy with leaden crystal jewels,
From nowhere in the hallway does anyone flit,
And with a firm hand the King still rules.
Three small mice scurry into the throne room,
Perch behind CinderBeth’s kingly head,
Whisper inside her ear “we see you have no groom.”
“Mice, of course, he is quite presently dead.”
Whiskers brush against CinderBeth’s stern brow,
“Fear nothing but if the faerie wood marches toward you.
Fear no one but the one who was never born.”
“I shall fear no more and fear no coup,
For forests do not walk, people do.”
But in her bedchambers that evening,
CinderBeth tossed and turned and found no sleep,
She just lay there until the day dawning,
CinderBeth never felt that darkness creep.
Past the stairs and down the corridor,
The forest woman paced from wall to wall.
Wringing her hands together, staring at the floor,
She paced unnoticing as if under a faerie thrall.
The cut of the knife, the sawing down to the bone,
The crash of the crown against the wood of the throne.
The moment of hesitation, the moment of saying grace,
The one second of putting someone in their place.
The glass dagger long gone and yet still here,
The deal shattered between faerie and CinderBeth,
Trying to wash her hands until the blood ran clear,
Washing and washing to her very last breath.
The washing in the river, the scrubbing in the stream,
The rubbing down to bone that made her momentarily scream.
The shout of the king, the shove of the blade,
The knife’s cool, dark handle of deep green glass jade.
The woman felt the glass dagger pierce her palm,
Its side scratch her fair faerie conscious bare,
Washing her hands provides no balm,
Into the mirror she stares at unkempt hair.
A murder rests heavy on the head,
Especially when strict faerie law must be fulfilled
Pressing more and more until you are dead,
The fair faerie’s palms twitched and then stilled.
From deep in the Faerie Wood, a golden horn sounded.
The Wild Hunt readied their shields and footsteps pounded.
The castle now all cold and alone,
A forest approached from the Northern fae hills,
Led by stepsister’s bastard faerie son, all grown,
Faeries holding sticks seeking blood to spill.
They marched onwards for a deal unfulfilled.
Marched in and all breached the stone castle walls.
CinderBeth’s ballroom dress of no real use,
She disregarded it in favor of glass dagger to maul,
There was no hope that dark day for a truce.
Old blood crusted against cold sharpened metal,
CinderBeth had for her whole life never wanted to settle,
Creatures now stole her plans, wanted to meddle.
The faerie son raced after the tyrant King,
Faced her once and for all, exposed the mice’s riddle,
“Faeries are not born but from petaled flowers we spring.”
And in one more second, CinderBeth felt her neck prickle.
Without much ado, the faerie lopped off her head,
Showed it off to all the others,
And put her body in a cold dark wormy bed.
And the son lived happily ever after, fathering a strong line of kings.
Still to this day, the Faerie Wood listens for that glass dagger to once again sing.