The Gingerbread Tower
Once upon a time, the three bears sat down to eat breakfast. Unfortunately, their porridge was too hot. So, they went for a walk in the woods while they waited for it to cool. While they were walking, they wandered into an area of the woods that they’d never visited before.
They paused as they heard voices up ahead. Peering through some conveniently placed bushes, they saw a strange sight. A woman dressed all in black was standing at the foot of a gingerbread tower.
“Rapunzel, I said to let down your hair. I forgot something, and I’m going to be late.” The woman stomped her foot.
A window opened at the top of the tower and a younger woman looked out. “What did you forget? I’ll toss it down to you.”
The woman in black stomped her foot again. “Just let down your hair. I don’t have time to describe it to you.”
The woman at the window tossed out a very, very long, blond braid. The woman in black used it to climb the tower. She climbed back down a few minutes later and pointed a stick at a pumpkin in the garden next to the tower.
The pumpkin turned into a carriage. With a few more flicks of her wand, some mice nibbling at the tower became horses. The bears, hidden in the bushes, shuddered. They were glad they’d decided to remain hidden. It could have been them turned into horses!
The witch, for what else could she be, hitched the horses to the carriage and rode away. The bears looked at each other.
“If she’s not home, it might be safe to look a little closer,” Mama bear said.
“The gingerbread smells heavenly,” Papa bear said.
“Did you forget what happened to the mice?” Baby bear said. “They were turned into horses. We might be turned into pigs. Then we’ll be eaten!”
“Nonsense,” Mama bear said. “With all this gingerbread, who would want bacon?”
Papa bear shook his head.
And so, with Baby bear trailing behind them and looking around suspiciously, they approached the tower. Because they hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, they were all quite hungry. Soon there was a large hole eaten from the side of the tower.
“Oops,” Mama bear said. “I just meant to taste it to see if I could bake something like it at home.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Papa bear said. “They needed a door anyway. Now they won’t have to climb out the window.”
“I could go in and bake them a door to put in the hole,” Mama bear said. “I have a nice brownie recipe.”
“That’s a terrible idea,” Baby bear whispered loudly. “We should run away now!”
But they went inside anyway, and Baby bear followed them in. Inside, seven very short men were busily working in a kitchen that filled the base of the tower. One of the men looked up and scowled.
“It looks like we need a five by six patch.”
“Five by six?” The man in glasses next to him put down his mixing bowl and took out a notepad and pencil. He wrote on the pad and then tore the page out and handed it to the bears.
Papa bear took the page. “Is this a bill?”
The man in glasses nodded. “We charge by the square foot.”
“I thought I could bake you a door,” Mama bear said. “I make great brownies.”
“Brownies are terrible construction material. Too soft,” the scowling man said. “And we don’t need a door.”
“But the witch…” Mama bear began.
“She’s just overly efficient,” said a voice behind them.
The bears whirled around. The blond woman was behind them. Baby bear squeezed himself between his parents and tried to wish himself invisible.
“Weren’t you trapped in the tower?” Papa bear asked nervously.
“No, I just spin in there. My hair grows unnaturally fast, so I spin it and braid it into ropes. The witch is my product tester. She insists on using my hair ropes to enter and leave so that product testing is built into her day. If she was really in a hurry, she’d ride her broom.”
“So if you wanted to leave…” Mama bear began.
“There is a door on the other side of the tower.” Rapunzel yawned. “Wow. Spinning sure makes me sleepy. One of these days, I’m going to fall asleep at the wheel and prick my finger on the spindle.”
Papa bear pulled out his wallet and paid, and the bears went home. Inside their house, they found that the porridge was eaten, a chair was broken, and a little girl was asleep in Baby bear’s bed. Baby bear woke up the girl.
She looked at her watch and leaped out of bed. “You’re late!” she threw on a red cloak and picked up a basket that was waiting by the bed. “I’m going to be late getting these goodies to grandma’s house.”
“Just don’t stop to talk to strangers this time,” Baby bear said.
The little girl made a face at him, then jumped out the window and ran away. The bears looked at each other.
“That was different,” Papa bear said. “But it’s fun to try new things.”
“It was fun,” Mama bear said. “We should go back to the tower again. I want to taste a window. Just to see if I could make one at home, of course.”
Baby bear sighed. “That was stressful and exhausting. I need a nap.” And hew went upstairs and went to bed.
“Should we have told him about the magic beans?” Mama bear asked. “Maybe he needs a bit of warning.”
“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Papa bear said. “Just toss them out the window. Let’s see if they grow.”
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