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Non-static method Area::get() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/models/area.php on line 160 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::get() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/models/area.php on line 127 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::key() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/cache.php on line 117 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::getLibrary() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/cache.php on line 122 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::get() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/models/block.php on line 63 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::key() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/cache.php on line 117 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::getLibrary() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/cache.php on line 122 Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/models/package.php:84) in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/view.php on line 776 The South Bank Review :: Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter

There have been many versions of the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, this is mine. 

Rumpelstiltskin rested by the fire. Her silver hair coiled around her bare foot and licked at the ashen stone. Her body was jaded but her hair seemed to skip jauntily with the flames, as if they were dancing a duet. Only one month had passed since her daughter became Queen, yet her daughter had already taken a year’s worth of gold thread from deep in her breast, from within her breaking heart, and Rumpelstiltskin’s magic was dwindling.
     Evening came quickly, and Rumpelstiltskin was gathered up by her son and delivered to her daughter’s bedroom, where she was placed at the spinning wheel. Her daughter, cruel and insolent, smirked as her brother kneeled before her. She thrust out her hands to him, which he took and tenderly kissed, for he adored her and her wealth. Now she was married to the King, she could give her brother whatever and whomever he desired, yet the brother coveted only one and it was her, for she had had a spell cast over him many years ago.
     Rumpelstiltskin wept as she began to spin the thread. She loved her son and daughter so, and she despaired at the sight of her daughter’s evil deeds. She closed her eyes and thrust out her chest. The thread span violently out of her heart, it yanked and tugged and strained and jerked as if Rumplestiltskin was possessed. Her daughter watched callously for hours, rubbing her swollen womb while her mother became hunched over and pale. Suddenly, the huge King burst into the room, glaring at the daughter with huge round eyes. ‘Where’s my gold, wife?’ he said.
     Seeing the gold thread piled high, and ignoring the emaciated Rumpelstiltskin in the corner by the faded windows, the King took his wife and devoured her by the fire. Rumpelstiltskin, too exhausted to move, wrapped her thick hair around her ears to block out the sound of the King’s grunting and snorting, and wept.
     Many weeks went by like this until one night the King would not take his wife anymore as she had become too swollen with child. Rumpelstiltskin, frail and weak, was happy for her daughter, and hoped she would love and care for her child, despite her evil ways. However, no sooner had the King left her alone in her bedroom that she had her brother sent for. He crept to her side and gently caressed her arms and hands.
     ‘This child is not the Kings!’ she whispered into her brother’s ear. ‘He is impotent, my brother, the child is yours and we will raise him together!’
     Her brother, spellbound by her beauty and wealth, wept for joy.
     Rumpelstiltskin, still sat in her corner spinning in the half light, heard the words of her evil daughter. She was sickened and repulsed that the Queen would soon be giving birth to her own brother’s child. She slowly rose up from her wheel and confronted her daughter. ‘My Queen, my daughter, you are young and beautiful and are with child. I am old and frail for you have worked me hard and long over the years. When the King finds out about the child he will have you both beheaded! You are evil and cruel but you are my only daughter, and I love you. Please mend your ways and let us live as a loving family again’.
     ‘Mother you are old and frail and I am young and beautiful. I am adored by my brother whereas he only feels resentment in his heart for you, I made sure of it.  You will die cold, withered and alone; I shall bear many children and have many lovers to take care of me. The King knows not of his impotence and he believes this child to be his, he is lazy and selfish and when I have given birth I will have him executed! The child will belong to us, dear brother!’
     The Queen shrieked with laughter at her bitter plan, but the King burst through the door, having heard every word, and started for her. Rumpelstiltskin dashed as best she could towards the Queen while her son melted away and seeped into the dark crevasses of the stony wall. She managed to get between the King and Queen just in time, and begged the King not to kill her only daughter.
     The Queen knew that they would soon both be killed if she didn’t think of something. Perhaps, she though, if she could grab hold of the tip of the gold thread from within Rumpelstiltskin’s heart, she would be spared.
     Rumpelstiltskin had been watching her daughter’s face. She saw her gaze drop to her chest, and was instantly wise to her plan.
     ‘My daughter,’ she cried, ‘you have wronged me over and over, and have violated and poisoned your brother. You have stolen the golden thread from my heart and so now you must pay the price with your own flesh, and with your child.’
     Rumpelstiltskin reached into the fire and pulled out a scorching log and thrust it deep into her chest. She illuminated the whole room as streaks and shards of golden light poured out of her heart, raining down upon the King and Queen. They were so astonished by Rumpelstiltskin’s fiery golden light that they could only just stand and stare. Rumpelstiltskin reached out a blazing hand and placed it gently on her daughter’s swollen belly.
     ‘This child of your brother you cannot take, nor any ever again make’, she said and her long white burning fingers scorched and destroyed the unborn baby and womb inside her daughter. The little creature was blackened to ash and drifted to the floor and curled up and disappeared.
     Rumpelstiltskin burned away until all was darkness again, and the Queen was alone with her King.
     It was understood throughout the Kingdom that the poor Queen was beaten within an inch of her wretched life by her husband, and then banished to a dark and gloomy room at the very edge of the castle, where she was chained up. With her womb scorched out she was never able to conceive again, and those who lived within the castle walls claimed she soon became fat, ugly and swollen with milk. The King had decided an unusual punishment. He sent word to all who lived on the very outskirts of the farming towns, the poorest and most impoverished of peasants, to send any babies born with any kind of impediment, in speech, sight, sound, or hearing, or with missing limbs, to the far end of the castle to meet their new mother, Rumpelstiltskin’s daughter.
     The children came by the hordes, some with no ears, some with only stumps for arms, and some entirely mad and frothing at the mouth. He locked all of the poor children in with his wife, and left her there to care for them. He never returned to that place in the castle again.
     It was said that the poor impoverished children whined, and wailed, and howled, and screamed, and screeched, until the Queen’s ears began to bleed and she was sent mad. Others said that she became silent, overcome with pure exhaustion, and just stared at the walls. It was believed that many of the children died from living in their own filth and excrement, but others say some were murdered. One woman said she swore she saw the Queen take a small screaming baby in her arms and madly devour it, gnashing away at its little head and body, and that below the small window there had been discovered tiny bones from fingers and toes of poor babies.
      The King soon remarried, somewhat despondent after running out of gold thread.