Mary Had a Little Lamb – Three Pigs Wonder, Who's Next?
Storybook Forest, Once Upon a Time – A simple bowl of stew.
That’s all it took to throw the fabled Storybook Forest into a frenzy of rumor and fear.
Last Thursday, whilst traipsing gaily through the Forest on their way to nowhere, Hansel and Gretel reportedly noticed a strange smell coming from the window of Mary’s little cottage on the outskirts. Upon further investigation (which these two admit has gotten them in trouble in the past – see, Gingerbread House), it was discovered that Mary herself was enjoying a bowl of what the two children described as a “thick, hearty vegetable stew filled with large chunks of meat.”
“It was definitely not curds and whey!” Hansel told me later with a shudder.
The pair immediately ran to Grandma’s House, where they knew they would find the Woodsman, paragon of authority for all of Storybook Forest. After questioning the children at length, the Woodsman set out for Mary’s house, axe firmly planted on his shoulder.
Meanwhile, the two children proceeded to make their way rapidly around the Storybook Forest in what was apparently a heightened state of terror, spreading the news to all who would listen. This reporter caught up with a number of the Forest dwellers in the wake of this unfolding story.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Little Red Riding Hood, as she picked flowers off the beaten path that runs through the middle of the Forest. “Mary’s always trying to be the center of attention.”
“Could your comment merely be a reaction to your ongoing rivalry with the person in question?” I asked.
“Rivalry?” Red answered, looking up at me from beneath her floppy hood with wide, blue eyes. “What rivalry? Everyone knows I’m the princess of this forest!”
Lurking in the bushes nearby, slobber dripping from his jowls into the underbrush, another lifelong denizen of the forest had a different take.
“I can’t say I blame her,” said the Big Bad Wolf, his words coming in a harsh, breathless growl. “I mean, have you ever tasted mutton in thick brown gravy?”
As he spoke, he looked at me and bared his glistening fangs, and I quickly retreated to other parts of the forest, where safer citizens were sounding off.
Over on Drury Lane, I ran into the Muffin Man.
“It’s been days since anyone saw the wee lass cavorting with her bonnie lamb,” he said, holding out a large tray of fragrant treats. “’Twas bound to be some mischief afoot, if ye ask me!”
Taking one of the proffered treats and taking a huge bite of cinnamon goodness, I asked the Muffin Man around a mouthful of crumbs if the people of the Forest should be afraid.
“I reckon,” he answered, beaming over his mound of muffins. “Not me, mind ye, but p’raps the Blind Mice, if they’re not careful, or the wee Pigs, to be sure! In any case, she ought to be stopped. I ken there ain’t no room in the Storybook Forest for cannibalism!”
Others had a more pragmatic outlook. Speaking from the upper window of a gargantuan shoe that is all that’s left from the long ago demise of a certain giant from the sky, the Old Woman told me she could understand the alleged actions of Mary.
“When you have as many mouths to feed as I do,” said the Old Woman, breaking off to yell back over her shoulder: “Nellie! Trevor! Harold! Untie your brothers!”
She looked back at me. “When you’re down to your last crust of bread, even the family pet looks appetizing.”
Another of the Forest’s more matronly patrons disagreed.
“This old beast has eaten me out of house and home ever since I can remember,” said Old Mother Hubbard, looking down at a small brown dog who lay at her feet. “But no matter how bare my cupboard has ever been, I would never think of murdering him to feed myself. Even if he deserved it.”
As if on unspoken command, the dog rolled over with his feet in the air and made a choking noise, his tongue lolling out of his mouth.
“Oh stop it,” Hubbard said, kicking at the dog and looking at me. “Don’t mind him. He’s just a little prankster.”
I made my way to a grassy hillside at the edge of the Forest, where I found Little Bo Peep staring off into the distance with her hand shading her eyes from the sun.
“That tramp better keep her hands off my precious sheep!” she said, her mouth a hard line in her face. “I mean, I have no idea where they are right now, but I know they’ll eventually come home with their tails wagging behind them.”
She looked at me with a fierce glare, her hand tightening around the shaft of her shepherd’s crook until her knuckles were white.
“And there better be seventeen little tails wagging, you understand, or I’ll have words with Miss Mary!”
Further on into the Forest, I happened upon a huge pile of straw next to a huge pile of sticks. Beyond, a quaint little brick house gleamed in the afternoon light. Between the house and the piles, the Three Little Pigs stood wringing their hands and staring at each other.
“I just can’t abide this,” said Peter, oldest of the three and builder of the solid brick house. “I just had Mary and her lamb over for tea not a week ago!”
“I’ll never let her in my house again!” wailed younger brother Paul. “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!”
“You’d have to rebuild your stupid stick-house first, brother,” said Peter, looking pointedly at one of the
To the side, Percy Pig merely clutched his head with his eyes squeezed shut. “The lamb is in the stew!” he whispered. “The lamb is in the stew!”
Opening his bloodshot eyes, Percy looked straight at me with a haunted stare.
Who’s next, indeed?
This reporter will have more details as this on-going story develops.
UPDATE: Within two hours, back at Grandma’s House, the Woodsman returned, wiping brown gravy from his mouth and belching softly in the evening air.
“Nothing to see here,” he said firmly. “It’s all been just a big *burp* misunderstanding.”
Mary could not be reached for comment.