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A Matter-Of-Fact Fairy Tale
by [?]

“Why do you walk like that?” he said pleasantly to Charming. “The baby is not asleep.”

Charming stopped short.

“You see me?” he cried furiously.

“Of course I do! Really, you mustn’t expect to come into a house without anything on your feet and not be a LITTLE noticeable. Even in a crowd I should have picked you out.”

“That miserable dwarf,” said Charming savagely, “swore solemnly to me that beneath this cloak I was invisible to the eyes of my enemies!”

“But then we AREN’T enemies,” smiled the Giant sweetly. “I like you immensely. There’s something about you–directly you came in … I think it must be love at first sight.”

“So that’s how he tricked me!”

“Oh, no, it wasn’t really like that. The fact is you are invisible BENEATH that cloak, only–you’ll excuse my pointing it out–there are such funny bits of you that aren’t beneath the cloak. You’ve no idea how odd you look; just a head and two legs, and a couple of arms…. Waists,” he murmured to himself, “are not being worn this year.”

But Charming had had enough of talk. Gripping his sword firmly, he threw aside his useless cloak, dashed forward, and with a beautiful lunge pricked his enemy in the ankle.

“Victory!” he cried, waving his magic sword above his head. “Thus is Beauty’s brother delivered!”

The Giant stared at him for a full minute. Then he put his hands to his sides and fell back shaking in his chair.

“Her brother!” he roared. “Well, of all the–Her BROTHER!” He rolled on the floor in a paroxysm of mirth. “Her brother! Oh, you–You’ll kill me! Her b-b-b-b-brother! Her b-b-b-b–her b-b-b –her b-b–“

The world suddenly seemed very cold to Charming. He turned the ring on his finger.

“Well?” said the dwarf.

“I want,” said Charming curtly, “to be back at home, riding through the streets on my cream palfrey, amidst the cheers of the populace…. At once.”

. . . . . . .

An hour later Princess Beauty and Prince Udo, who was not her brother, gazed into each other’s eyes; and Beauty’s last illusion went.

“You’ve altered,” she said slowly.

“Yes, I’m not REALLY much like a tortoise,” said Udo humorously.

“I meant since seven years ago. You’re much stouter than I thought.”

“Time hasn’t exactly stood still with you, you know, Beauty.”

“Yet you saw me every day, and went on loving me.”

“Well-er–” He shuffled his feet and looked away.

“DIDN’T you?”

“Well, you see–of course I wanted to get back, you see–and as long as you–I mean if we–if you thought we were in love with each other, then, of course, you were ready to help me. And so–“

“You’re quite old and bald. I can’t think why I didn’t notice it before.”

“Well, you wouldn’t when I was a tortoise,” said Udo pleasantly. “As tortoises go I was really quite a youngster. Besides, anyhow one never notices baldness in a tortoise.”

“I think,” said Beauty, weighing her words carefully, “I think you’ve gone off a good deal in looks in the last day or two.”

. . . . . . .

Charming was home in time for dinner; and next morning he was more popular than ever (outside his family) as he rode through the streets of the city. But Blunderbus lay dead in his castle. You and I know that he was killed by the magic sword; yet somehow a strange legend grew up around his death. And ever afterwards in that country, when one man told his neighbour a more than ordinarily humorous anecdote, the latter would cry, in between the gusts of merriment, “Don’t! You’ll make me die of laughter!” And then he would pull himself together, and add with a sigh–“Like Blunderbus.”