Once upon a time there was a queen who ruled over the land with her consort. They had many children together and would have been happy if it were not for the ogress that lived nearby. As the little princes and princesses grew, the ogress would send them out into the world to seek their fortune. None of them ever returned.
The queen fought valiantly for every one of her children, but the ogress was too powerful to resist. No matter what the queen and her consort did, the children were all lost to them. The queen missed her children and envied them. Ever since she had been a small princess, she had been forced to stay within the castle, never leaving it for more than a day. This made ruling their kingdom difficult for the royal pair, but they did their best to fulfill their duties despite the interference of the ogress.
Many years passed in this way until the time came when the queen could bear no more children. The ogress became angry with her, but there was nothing to be done. She called the queen from her castle and told her that she was to be banished from the kingdom. The queen fought to remain with her youngest, a princess, who was still too young to be separated from her mother, but the ogress ignored their protests and cast the queen out into the world. To make sure the queen did not return to lead the people in revolt, she sent her far away with a passing merchant.
“Where shall I take her?” the merchant asked the ogress, looking at the angry queen, who was locked in a cage of iron.
“There is a giantess several kingdoms over who has said she wants this queen. I don’t know why, for the queen is barren and no longer useful, but if you take her to this giantess, you will be paid handsomely.” The ogress waved him away and so he went.
The queen had fallen far from the glories of her youth. All of the years under the ogress’s thumb had left her sickly and weak. She wanted to hide her face, ashamed of her condition, but her pride would not let her. Her once fair hair was covered in filth and her lean limbs were rounded from bad food and idleness. She knew that she no longer looked like the queen that she was, but she stared out at the passing world, as proud as if she were still ruler over her own kingdom.
The merchant felt sorry for the little queen and tried to reassure her.
“The giantess is quite hideous, but she is kind. I am sure she will care for you.”
The little queen could not be consoled, and turned her back on the merchant who was carrying her so far away from her home and consort.
The journey was long and terrifying for the little queen. She had only rarely left her castle and then for very little time. She had never left her own kingdom, not even as a young princess. Now she traveled swiftly across the lands, watching the scenes pass with despair. What would become of her? Would she ever see her children and consort again? Why did the giantess want her? Did she have a taste for royalty?
After many hours, the merchant’s wagon slowed to a stop in the courtyard of a large inn. He took her from her cage and put her in chains. The queen barely had time to look around before the giantess appeared.
The giantess towered over the little queen and frowned down at her, dismayed by the queen’s appearance. Although she spoke honeyed words, she could not hide her revulsion at the filthy hair and distended body. The giantess was indeed huge and hideous, but her hands were gentle as she took the queen from the merchant. The queen had never felt so small and helpless, but she held herself stiff and dignified as the giantess carried her away.
They traveled many more miles before they reached the giantess’ lair. Unlike her own castle, this lair was huge and busy, with much noise and commotion. There the queen was set down in the inner court with a loud crowd of other captives. The queen assumed they were peasants, but realized quickly that at least one of them was former royalty. The largest and most commanding of them, a blond queen, quickly told the others to leave the little queen to her ministrations. She then had the effrontery to try to embrace the little queen. Even though the stranger was taller and larger than she, the little queen did not hesitate to put her in her place.
“Do not dare to touch me! I may be a prisoner, but I am still a queen!” She snapped and pushed the other queen away.
The large one laughed but did not take offense. However, the little queen could not forgive her for her forwardness and she became watchful with this one, never letting her guard down when she was near.
The giantess offered the queen many tidbits, but she refused the food, fearing poison. She waited and watched for her chance to escape, hoping to find her way home, or perhaps find one of her long-lost children. That chance came on the second day in the giantess’ lair. Two of the giantess’ friends came with captives of their own to gloat over the queen and they settled themselves in the courtyard to enjoy the summer air.
While the giantess was distracted by the visitors, the queen sought and found a hole in her defenses. Moving quickly and quietly, she wormed her way through and ran off into the surrounding forest. A passing peasant saw her escape, however, and warned the giantess who came after her, shouting and threatening.
The queen ran for her life, but the idleness and illness of her former life left her with little energy and the giantess soon trapped her in a bend in the river. The queen looked at the rushing waters and back at the giantess and hesitated a moment too long. The giantess pounded up and scooped her up in her arms, scolding the queen and threatening with angry words. Despite her anger, the giantess handled her gently as she carried her back to the lair. The giantess and her friends helped to strengthen the defenses.
The queen had lost her chance to escape.
After a few months, the queen began to lose her fear of the giantess. Although she was rough and loud and terrifyingly large, she was kind. When the queen was forced by hunger to try the food that the giante offered, she found it delightful and filling. The giantess did not seem to mind if the queen wandered away from the lair as long as she stayed within the confines of the courtyard. They also went on frequent visits to the giantess’ mother. The giantess’ mother had a busy castle with many comings and goings but the little queen found a quiet corner where she could be alone. The healthy food, clean air, and activity soon returned the queen to her former beauty and her hair shone fair and lovely once more.
The queen never really forgave the larger queen for her forwardness and a rivalry developed between them. The queen’s consort, a handsome king with an intelligent brow and kind eyes, never interfered in their arguments and, indeed, treated the new queen with deference. However, he had little to do with her, probably fearing the wrath of his own queen if he did. The other captives ignored the little queen unless they thought she was getting more than her share of the food.
One day, the larger queen found two intruders in the surrounding kingdom and set out to defend the land, not waiting for her consort. The little queen followed and joined her threats with that of the larger queen, and between the two of them, the intruders were repelled and the kingdom was saved. This should have made the two queens more friendly, but it did not. The little queen grew tired of being second to the larger queen and one day they had an argument. The argument led to blows and, to her humiliation, the little queen was grievously injured.
The giantess called for the nurse who shook her head and said that she could do nothing for the little queen. The giantess searched for the best physician in the land and plied him with the last of her gold, begging him to save the life of the little queen. The physician refused until the giantess sent out a call for more gold, asking for help from all over the land. When the physician received the gold he had demanded, he took pity on the little queen and cured he of her injuries. He was able to save her life, but the little queen was scarred; her face would never be the same.
The giantess did not seem to care about the queen’s deformities and she lovingly held her for hours each day, soothing and protecting her from the larger queen. The little queen began to realize that the giantess, although still ugly and terrifying on the outside, was kind and caring and would not hurt her.
After the incident that left the little queen scarred, she began to love the ugly giantess and to trust her. She was allowed out of the courtyard and taken on adventures to far away places where she met many people who worshiped her. She went to markets and on long trips to the ocean. She never saw her consort or her children again, but her life was a happy one. In fact, the only unhappiness left in her life was the rivalry between her and the larger queen.
One day, the giantess came to get the little queen and her other captives from the giantess’ mother’s lair. The giantess led them from the lair, through the courtyard, to her wagon, but the two queens and the consort lingered on the way. When the giantess got to the wagon and realized that her captives had not followed her, she called for them by name. The larger queen and her consort arrived promptly, but the little queen did not appear. The giantess called again and again, her voice more frantic with each call, but no little queen was to be found. The giantess and her mother lit torches and searched the hillside.
“Do you think a monster grabbed her?” the giantess asked, fear in her voice.
“I don’t think a monster would dare come on our lands,” the mother answered. “If a monster had come to take her away, the others would have called for help. Perhaps she has fallen and hit her head and now lies unconscious.”
“What if she fell into the water?” the giantess asked and headed for the river behind her mother’s home to search. “She never learned to swim, she could drown.”
They searched and searched, but could not find the little queen. The giantess called her name until she was hoarse. Finally, the two gathered at the top of the hill and looked down.
“I don’t know what else to do. Should we send for the hunters and their dogs? They could find her, couldn’t they?” the giantess asked her mother.
“That is an excellent idea,” her mother responded. The mother had a magic mirror that allowed her to speak to anyone, no matter how far away. She ran to get this mirror and they called upon its magic to consult with the hunter.
“I am sorry, madam giantess, but I am too ill to travel and my dogs can’t work alone. Have you thought about asking your other captives about the little queen? Maybe they could lead you to the lost one.”
The giantes did not know how this could work. They cared for their captives as if they were their own children but they had never learned to speak their language. They explained this to the hunter who nodded.
“Even though they do not understand your language, you must try. Choose the most intelligent of your captives, bind them to you so that they do not wander away as well, and ask them to find the little queen. They will understand, I promise.”
The giantess just shook her head, sure that it would never work, but desperate enough to try. She knew the consort was the smarter of the captives, but she also knew that he did not care about the little queen. No, only one of the captives was smart enough and concerned enough about the queen to be of any help. She would have to rely on the little queen’s most bitter rival.
She bound the larger queen to her with a light line to ensure they would not get separated on the dark hillside and set forth.
“Find the little queen,” the giantess said, hope mingled with fear in her voice. “Find her.”
The larger queen looked at her and took a few steps down the slope of the hill. She stopped and looked back at the giantess.
“Please, I need you to find the little queen. She could be hurt and in danger. She is lost and and probably scared and only you can save her.”
The larger queen looked around her and sighed and headed straight down the hill. Far down the slope was a single tree, standing tall in the moonlight. The queen led the giantess straight for the tree. The giantess looked hard but could see no sign of the lost, little queen.
“This can’t be right, she’s not here,” she said, trying to hide her frustration.
The larger queen just pointed and there, under the tree, the giantess saw a crack in the hillside. Rushing forward, she held her torch close and saw the little queen, standing in a deep pit, shaken but unharmed.
The giantess called on a nearby knight to descend into the pit and rescue the lost queen. He complied and, soon, they were reunited. The giantess made a fuss over the little queen while the larger queen was praised as a hero.
I wish I could say that the rival queens became the best of friends after this last adventure, but, alas, that is not true. The little queen continued to torment the big queen, and treated her with contempt. However, the two grew to have affection for one another and became like sisters despite their rivalry.
The little queen never forgot her old life, but she learned that love can come in many forms. She had learned to love the giantess and her family despite their differences, and they adored the little queen.
In her own way, she loved her rival the most, although she would never let her see it. The little queen found love and contentment in her new life and she lived happily ever after.
This story is a fairy-tale version of my rescue of Pooka, a rat terrier/Chihuahua mix. She lived with a pet hoarder where she was ignored, mistreated, and half-starved while she gave birth to many litters of puppies. The puppies were sold up and down the East coast until Pooka became too old to have any more litters. The woman who had used her as a breeding machine had no further use for her and surrendered her to a rescue organization. When I found her listing on https://www.adoptapet.com she had been on the site for months without any interest. People usually want a young dog, if not a puppy, and Pooka was listed as 7 years old. I was looking for a senior dog, so I was happy to take her. Her owner put her into the hands of a rescue transport service who drove her up to us.
Pooka had never seen grass, heard a TV, or known love. She was terrified of things that most dogs either take for granted, a running sink, or things they love, a squeaky toy. The first day she was with us, I took her to my parents’ home where my older rat terrier, Scooter, tried to wash Pooka. Pooka snapped at her and, as in the story above, a rivalry was born. Scooter was extremely tolerant of Pooka’s anger, almost all of which she focused on poor Scooter. However, they found things in common – like barking at the neighbor’s dogs when they came too close to our fence.
They did get into a quick fight a few months into Pooka’s time with us, and Pooka broke her jaw, trying to bite Scooter. The doggy dentist said that her bones were fragile from the years of malnutrition and neglect on top of the many litters. If she had not broken her jaw, biting Scooter, she could have done it bumping into furniture. He was able to save her life, but had to pull all of her teeth and she was left with a permanently disconnected jawbone. We think she’s cuter than ever, but her tongue often hangs out of her mouth because of the break.
The story of Pooka falling into a pit is also a true one. Much like I described above, she found a manhole cover that wasn’t completely closed and fell into a pit 6-8 feet deep. We looked for her for a couple of hours before calling our friend, Anne Wills of https://dogsfindingdogs.com.
Anne told us to take our smartest dog, put them on a leash and give them Pooka’s scent. As in the story, I knew that Harley (the consort) wouldn’t care enough to try, but Scooter is a born mother and would do her best. I put her on a leash, gave her Pooka’s bed to sniff, and she led me right to the open manhole cover. A neighbor climbed in and lifted her out.
As in the story, we still have rivalry between the two, but it’s interesting that Pooka chooses to sleep near Scooter almost every night, curling up back to back. She also likes to chew on Scooter’s ears, which we are working to discourage without much hope.
I don’t know yet if Pooka will live happily ever after. After all, her story is not yet finished. I just know that I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen.
Here is a picture of Scooter, the larger, blond queen, on the left, and Pooka, the little queen herself, on the right.
Here is my entire crew
in my mom’s art studio, where they spend their days while I’m at work.
From the left: Pooka, Scooter, Harley, and Pixie.