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Author's note: It's a twist on Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". Although I do not own anything Disney, I put some elements from the film into my book. Disneystrology played a big part in writing this story. So, again, I apologize for the not-so original parts in my book.
Wedding bells were ringing, a sound heard all across the kingdom. It was a joyous occasion, for their ruler, King Jack, was getting married. He came out of the church with his new wife, who was newly crowned Queen Orchid. Everyone was cheering and congratulating the newlywed couple. This great news brought happiness to everyone in the kingdom. Everyone except the queen herself.
At the reception, she was asked to recite a poem. She complied and recited:
Oh, blooming flower of blue,
Why on a hill stand you?
For surely you will be found
And taken homeward bound
It was a poem of her creation and the king’s favorite. He loved her since the day he met her at the market. He was looking to escape the stress of royal life, so he dressed up as a peasant and stowed away in an outgoing cart. When the cart stopped at a booth, Jack slipped out and began exploring the marketplace. At that moment, Orchid was running an errand.
Jack glimpsed at her and thought she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. He fell instantly in love with her and just had to have her. He walked up to her and offered to help her with her purchases. Orchid took him up on it and they continued to do their shopping. Soon, Jack hired a cart-driver to take Orchid home and he revealed his identity then. Orchid was surprised at this and when he offered to let her stay at his castle for a week.
Orchid decided to take him up at his offer and came to his castle two days later. They became very good friends and later got married. The whole idea of a wedding was suddenly thrust upon Orchid and she didn’t know how to respond. As much as she wanted to keep a happy face for her new husband, she felt sad. Her new life with Jack didn’t begin so well that night.
After the reception, they were exhausted and wanted to rest. Their peace was interrupted when a servant came up to tell them that they had one more well-wisher. Jack couldn’t wait to rest with his new wife, so he had the well-wisher brought up to their quarters. The visitor was an old woman who had come to offer them a vase with painted orchids. Orchid happily accepted the gift, but Jack impatiently sent the woman away. The result of his actions would come only too swiftly.
The old woman transformed into a beautiful enchantress and had come to deliver a message. She spoke in a firm tone, “You have stolen away someone’s wife to make her your own. You banished one of your officials just so she can be yours. And for that, a curse will be placed upon you and your castle.” She recited this spell as she transformed the castle, Jack, and it occupants, save Orchid:
“I place a curse on you
That your life I will bar
Until a soul cherished by your wife
Accepts you for who you are.”
While the rest of the castle had turned into objects, Jack had turned into a hideous monster. Orchid looked on in horror as the spell was cast. The enchantress turned to Orchid and said, “I will put you into a deep slumber until the spell is broken.” Before she was put under, Orchid managed to say, “Jack…” Jack gazed in shock as Orchid collapsed to the floor. When he rushed to his wife’s side, the enchantress disappeared. There was nothing Jack could do now but succumb to grief.
He placed her in the chamber next door to his quarters. She was laid on a bier and decorated in flowers and her beautiful nightgown. An orchid was placed beneath her folded hands on her chest. Above the double doors was a plaque that read “THE QUEEN ORCHID”. Jack placed statues of armor on each end of the doors. He had a key made in case somebody tried to take Orchid.
There was a condition to this spell: if it wasn’t broken in time, Orchid would die and Jack would remain a beast forever. He didn’t want to bring her first husband back, so he spent many years in misery and sorrow. Soon, he found that time was running out. Repentant of his actions, he prayed for a sign or help. That came in the form of a traveling psychic.
She wasn’t afraid of the master of the castle and offered him an answer. She gazed into the crystal ball until the image of a young maiden popped up. Jack thought there was something about the maiden and the psychic explained that she was his stepdaughter! “My stepdaughter?!” he cried. “Yes,” the psychic continued, “from the official you stole Orchid from. She had a daughter before she met you.” The only thing Jack could say was, “I…didn’t know.”
Now, he felt guiltier than ever; not just because he stole someone’s wife, but also someone’s mother. He asked what could be done to get his stepdaughter out to the castle. The psychic had an idea and was already coming up with a plan.
The official, Pierce, returned to his home village with his daughter when he was banished. She had been just a baby at the time and grew up to be a beautiful young woman. Her beauty, her father told her, rivaled that of her mother’s. When the spell had been cast on the castle the night of the wedding, Pierce had been told that something had happened to Orchid. He was then led to believe that King Jack had killed her. For that, he grew bitter and hateful of His Majesty.
When his daughter, Abalonia, was growing up, he taught her to hate the king and told her what happened to her mother. She had detested King Jack, but it was nothing compared to what her father held against him. Pierce wanted to restore his position of power, so he had plans to marry Abby (as she was mostly called) to a rich young fellow. Fortunately, he knew just the guy: Troy, the most handsome, eligible young man in the entire village. He was wealthy and was good in a lot of things. Abby, however, was not impressed with him and wanted to choose someone on her own will.
Her uncle, Elmer, agreed with her. He was eccentric and humble. He always offered advice to Abby and was like a second father to her. She could always turn to him whenever she needed him and could care less about what everyone, including her own father, said about him. The villagers didn’t quite take kindly to Elmer due to his reputation. They thought he was just a crazy old man who tried to create things of his design. Abby, however, applauded his efforts and encouraged him to keep at his work.
One day, Elmer sent Abby to fetch certain items needed in his work. She complied and thought she could pick a little something else up as well. She went into the village and got the key compartments. Before heading back to the house, she made a little stop on the way. The bell rang as she opened the door. “Well, Abby,” the bookkeeper smiled. “Back again so soon?”
She chuckled, “I know, I know.” “You’re becoming quite the favorite around here,” he said. “So, are you running errands for your uncle?” “Yes,” she answered. “He’s building something he says is going to be revolutionary. That it’s going to change the way we live.” He chuckled, “I should say.”
Abby was glad to have someone like Old Gus, the bookkeeper, since he was one of the few who seemed to accept Elmer for who he was. “Do you want to check anything out while you’re here?” Old Gus asked. Abby knew just the one as she strode across the room and pulled out her book of choice. “Again?” he asked. “For, like what? The third time?” “Actually, fourth,” Abby corrected him.
He scoffed playfully, “Well, I never was good at keeping count. You go on ahead and take it. Consider it a gift from your old pal.” Abby was astonished and said, “Gus, I…” He insisted that she took it home with her. “Besides, I think you’re the book’s rightful owner,” he added. “Thank you very much,” she said as she was leaving.
The bookkeeper said as she was going, “Give my regards to your uncle for me.” Abby couldn’t help but read the book while she was walking. Not too far from her house, her book suddenly snatched out of her hands! “Hey!” Abby cried. She looked to see Troy mishandling her book. “Troy, give that back please,” she extended her hand.
“Are you reading this?” he asked in an ignorant tone. “I’m so sorry. Here, let me return it to you.” He was about to give Abby back her book, but then he threw it over his shoulder onto the road. “Oops!” he said. “My bad!”
Abby grew peeved with him and walked around him to retrieve her book. But before she could grab it, Troy got between her and it and placed one foot on the book. “You know, is it even right for a woman to read? I mean, one has to wonder,” Troy wondered. Abby grabbed the book and pulled it out from underneath Troy’s foot.
“Troy, you’re living in the past,” she said. “Nowadays, a woman gets to make her own choice.” “Even if your father wants you to marry me?” Troy asked. “Precisely,” she replied, “and I’m certainly not going to marry you.” He sighed, “Oh, my dear Abalonia…” “I’d prefer if it was Abby, thank you,” she pointed out.
Troy couldn’t help but look offended as she went past him. Then, he noticed the items Abby carried. He said, “Buying things for your crazy uncle, huh?” She turned and barked in defense, “Elmer’s not crazy! He’s a genius you’ll never understand!” Suddenly, an explosion from behind her shook the ground. Seeing this as an emergency, Abby rushed to the house. Troy laughed, “Yeah, right. Uh, say hello to your crazy uncle for me!”
Abby ran up to the house as quickly as possible. She saw smoke coming from the workshop. She immediately dropped her load and opened the double doors. Her sight was temporarily blinded by a sudden burst of smoke. She coughed, “Uncle?”
She heard him mumbling incoherently. It sounded like he was stuck in something. The only words she could make out were, “That darn, malfunctioning contraption…” She called out again, “Uncle?” This time, she opened her eyes and found that he was stuck headfirst in a box.
He answered in a muffled voice, “Abby? Is that you? Say, why don’t you get this box off of me?” “Don’t worry, Uncle,” Abby strode towards him. “I’m coming.” No matter how many failures he had endured, Abby was glad to help out her Uncle Elmer.
As soon as she pulled the box from him, he grumbled, “I’m done.” “Uncle Elmer, what happened?” she asked in a tone that offered sympathy. “I’m ready to give up on this contraption,” he explained. “It’s just no use!” “You can do it, Uncle,” she reassured him. “I know you can. I have faith in you.”
“Hmph,” he said in a low voice. “Easy for you to say. What about the other villagers? They all think I’m nuts.” “Don’t worry about what they think,” Abby said. “The Elmer I know isn’t nuts. He’s a genius…and always will be.
“He would never give up on something he worked so hard for. Please don’t quit for my sake.” Elmer smiled, “Aww, I could never say ‘no’ to a niece like you. You have exceptional faith in me, so no, I’m not giving up that easily.” “Thank you, Uncle,” Abby kissed him.
When he stooped to work some more, Elmer asked, “Hey, where are the rest of the parts I asked you to get?” She remembered, “Ooh, right! I’ll be right back!” She dashed out the door and came back in with the requested items. “Here,” she said as she set them near her uncle.
He picked up her favorite book and asked, “A book? Why would I need a book for?” Abby chuckled in embarrassment, “Oh, forgive me. I believe that’s mine.” “Is that the fifth time you checked out that book?” he asked. “Fourth, Uncle,” she replied, “and Gus let me keep it this time.”
“Well, I think you deserve it,” Elmer smiled. He got underneath his invention and requested, “Uh, Abby? I need the screw-wrench thing.” Abby knew exactly what he was talking about and gave the tool to him. After he thanked her, he asked, “So, did you meet anyone while on your trip?” “I did bump into Troy again,” she answered in quite an annoyed tone. “Troy?” Elmer said. “He must really like you.”
“It’s quite the opposite for me,” Abby sighed. “Why? What’s wrong with Troy? He’s attractive, sleek, and he’d make a good husband,” Elmer inquired. “He’s just not for me, Uncle,” she replied. “I don’t really go for popular types or show-offs, you know what I mean?”
“Well, cheer up,” he said as he pushed himself from underneath the contraption. “You might find him someday.” He pulled himself up and wiped his hands saying, “I think it’s done. Shall we take it out for a test drive?” As Abby and her uncle pushed his invention outside, she asked, “So, Uncle, what is this sort of thing?”
He answered, “It’s a heat-powered cart. Don’t need a horse to drive you. You just turn on the heat and you can drive this thing anywhere at anytime.” “Wow,” she said. “That sounds incredible. Are you sure this will work?”
“Of course it will work,” he said with full confidence. “This cart hasn’t failed me yet.” He hopped on it and grabbed the controls. He warned Abby, “You might want to step back a little bit. This could get extremely hazardous.” “Just be careful, okay?” she told him.
“Don’t worry, my dear,” Elmer smiled as he started the machine. “I’ll be okaaaaaaaay!” The machine started to propel at breakneck speed. This was the fastest Abby had seen out of any cart…until Uncle Elmer crashed into the bushes. She ran towards the cart shouting, “Uncle Elmer!” As soon as she arrived at the bushes, she asked in a worried tone, “Uncle Elmer, are you okay?”
He rose from the shrubbery, dazed and bobbling. He answered, “Didn’t I tell you I’d be okay? Now I know that the cart works. All I need are the brakes.” Abby giggled as he collapsed into the bushes again. He may have been eccentric at times, but that’s what Abby loved most about her uncle.
Elmer had decided to take his invention to the king near the village. Abby and her father were quite relieved when Elmer said it wasn’t King Jack. Pierce wasn’t much on farewells, especially to his brother, but Abalonia said good-bye for the both of them. Her uncle was especially grateful for her and had full confidence when he left. He was finally going to show that world, and the villagers, what he could do.
Elmer thought he had read the map correctly, but he didn’t expect there would be a fork in the road. “Odd…” he mumbled to himself. He carefully looked at both roads and came to the conclusion, “If I had to pick either side of the road, I would pick the right.” His horse was hesitant on going to the right, but Elmer insisted. When he went down there, he was completely unafraid of the dangers ahead. But a few minutes later, he was getting to be quite jumpy. For a moment, the horse seemed to nicker, “I told you so.”
Just then, a twig snapped from underneath the horse’s hooves. Suddenly, crows and ravens came flying from behind. This spooked horse and driver and cause them to race onwards. The flurry of birds seemed to have covered the wagon and distort Elmer’s vision. He was so busy swatting at the birds and he didn’t notice he was still driving. Not more than ten seconds had passed till the birds flew away. Then, Elmer saw a most unusual sight.
He saw a seemingly deserted town. Although it didn’t feel empty, it gave off the impression that everyone had left. Elmer got down from the wagon to investigate. He was heading towards the first house on his right when a flash of lightning scared the horse. It went into frenzy and ran off, wagon and all. The front right wheel of the wagon crushed Elmer’s ankle.
Elmer didn’t feel like he could move at all. He tried to crawl to the nearest house, but he found it too hard to move. He tried calling out to anyone who could hear him, but he got no reply. Then, he saw a cane lying on the cobble. He reached out towards it with all his might. He was successful and slowly pulled himself up. He then set out on his journey for shelter to rest and let his ankle heal.
All through the town, he didn’t find a trace of assistance and went to the castle uphill as a last resort. Very slowly, he made his way to the foreboding fortress where the center of the storm seemed to be. Elmer thought he had better hurry before he got hit by lightning. He found that both the gates and the doors were open. It started to pour by the time he had entered the gates. How relieved he was to be inside from the freezing rain.
It took his eyesight a while to adjust to the dimness of the castle. After some time, he called out to anyone who would be willing to help him. Then, he heard small voices whispering:
Voice #1: “We must do something to help him.”
Voice #2: “No, no. Absolutely not.”
He called out again and explained his story. The first voice took pity on him and was going to help him, only to be stopped by the second voice. Just then, the second voice cried out in pain. The first voice said, “Of course, monsieur. You’re welcome here.”
Elmer, curious about the voice, took a candelabrum and lit his way in the dark. Suddenly, the first voice went, “Ahem! I’m right here.” He looked shocked at the candelabrum with a face. It smiled, “Allo.” He gasped and immediately dropped it.
It shouted, “Hey! Is that any way to treat a lady?” As she sat up to brush herself up, Elmer asked, “You’re a girl?” “Well, yes, I would be if…” she replied. “Dahlia!” the second voice scolded. It seemed to belong to the clock that jumped off the table. “We will not reveal ourselves to this stranger.”
“Oh, come on,” Dahlia rolled her eyes. “Where’s your heart, Ruth? We cannot turn away those in need.” “But we hardly know him!” Ruth pointed out. “You expect me to help out a complete stranger?” “Look, just because you’re the niece of…” Dahlia began to argue.
But in the middle of her sentence, Elmer picked up Ruth, who responded with a shout. “Incredible,” Elmer gasped. “Hey! Put me down! Who do you think you are?” Ruth rebuked. Dahlia giggled when Elmer shook Ruth. Ruth gave shouts of pain as the old man turned the key on the back of her head to move the hands on her face.
He then opened the door on Ruth’s body as she yelped, “Eek! Do you mind?!” She slammed the door on Elmer’s finger as she was saying, “Get into my personal things, will you?” “Well, I do beg your pardon,” Elmer apologized, “but I’ve never seen anything…like this…” Before he could finish his sentence, he sneezed on Ruth. She said, “Well, at least enchanted objects like us can’t get sick.”
Dahlia said, “Oh, you are soaked to the bone, monsieur. Come. We’ll warm you up by the fire.” Ruth shook her head and said, “No, no, no! You’ll know what the master will do if he finds this man here.” She pulled on Elmer’s cloak, but to no avail. “I demand that you stop right there!” she ordered as she fell down the stairs.
She looked up to find Elmer in an armchair by the fire. “Oh, no, no,” she moaned. “Not my uncle’s chair.” She was spun as a footstool who acted like a dog flew past by her. She panicked as she was closing and opening her eyes, “I am not seeing this! I am not seeing this!”
The footstool growled playfully as Elmer petted him and said, “Why, hello, little boy.” The footstool then lowered itself under Elmer’s ankles and gave them a swift rise. This, of course, hurt Elmer’s injured ankle. “Ouch!” he cried. Dahlia gasped, “Oh! You’ve got a broken ankle! We’ll patch that up in no time.”
Ruth grumbled, “Oh, great! First he intrudes the castle, and then my fellow servants are turning against to help this simple man. Not only has he possibly got a cold, but he has a broken ankle! What more does this man need?” As soon as she said that, a tea cart ran her over. It skid to a stop near Elmer. The teapot and the cups were alive, but Elmer didn’t care now.
“How would you like a nice spot of tea, sir?” the teapot offered. “Well, I’d be much obliged,” Elmer nodded. “Thank you.” The teapot poured tea from her spout into one of the cups. Elmer grabbed it and put it into his mouth to drink. “His whiskers tickle, Mama!” the cup laughed. Elmer pulled him from his lips and chuckled, “Why, hello…”
But before he could say any more, the doors slammed open and a cold wind rushed in. Everyone froze in fear and most shivered even. Suddenly, a monster crept around as if in search for his prey. “There’s someone else in here,” the monster rumbled. “A stranger, perhaps?”
“Um, Master,” Dahlia uneasily started, “please let me explain. You see, this man was in need of help. I couldn’t turn him down. Why, he needed…” But before she could say anymore, the monster gave a roar.
Ruth spoke up, “Uncle, let me just say this.” She continued in a hurried and panicked tone, “It was her fault! I was against this from the start! The servants wanted to help him, but did they listen to me? No, they wouldn’t! And now, they’re…” The monster gave another roar that caused Ruth to hide in fear.
Elmer couldn’t see the beast anywhere, so he sat still in the chair. Suddenly, he came eye to eye with the hideous being. The beast growled, “Who are you? What are you doing here?” Elmer scrambled out of the chair and smiled sheepishly, “Oh, this is your chair? I’m so sorry. If you would just let me leave peacefully, I could…”
“Why?” the monster snarled. “So you can leave with my most precious?” “What?” Elmer looked on in confusion. The beast barked, “First, you steal my chair, and now, you’re probably going steal my wife, too!” Elmer denied, “What? No, I could never do that!” But he sounded surprised when he learned that the master of the castle had a wife.
“I’ll just make sure that you’ll never leave with anything!” the beast growled as he grabbed Elmer. “No! Please!” the kindly old man pleaded. “Have mercy on me!” But the doors slammed shut.
There was a knock on the door and Pierce answered it. He whispered, “Troy! I’m so glad you made it.” He turned his head to Abalonia and said, “Uh, I’ll be out for a while, Abby! I won’t be gone long!” “Okay,” she replied from inside the den.
Pierce gently closed the door behind him and asked Troy, “Is everything set?” “Yep,” Troy nodded. “Abalonia will get the surprise of her life when she sees it.” They walked all the way towards a tented area with guest, food, and a band. “When she sees all of this, she’ll have to marry you!” Pierce smiled. Troy chuckled, “I’m going to be one lucky guy.” No, Pierce thought, I’m going to be lucky to be part of the elite again.
He spoke out towards the crowd, “I want to thank you all for coming. Troy and I have brought you all here so you can witness Abby being engaged to one of our best young men in the village.” Most of the crowds cheered, but those who had a crush on Troy were sobbing in losing the apple of their eyes. “You’re quite the charmer, aren’t you, Troy?” Pierce whispered to him. He motioned for him to go to the house as he continued, “Now, go on and propose to the girl.”
Just then, the band started and Pierce hissed at them, “Not yet!” As he said this, he threw one of his shoes that landed in the tuba. The tuba suddenly squeaked to a stop. Pierce said to them, “You better get that out of there! Shoes don’t come cheap nowadays!” The tuba player said in a low voice, “I think I’m going have shoe mouth for the rest of the day.”
Meanwhile, Abalonia was in the middle of her favorite part of the story when there was a knock at the door. She sighed as she strode towards the door, “Never fails. Once you’re engrossed in something, there’s always something to pull you from it.” She looked through the peephole to see who it was. To her dismay, it was Troy. She groaned as she thought, Oh, no. Not again.
She did her best to put on a polite disposition as she opened the door. “Why, Troy,” she said as he entered the house. “Hello. What brings you here?” “I’m here on more than just business,” Troy implied with a sly tone. “Abby, I’ve known you since we were kids.”
Abby hesitantly said, “Yeah. So?” “So…” Troy slammed his hand onto the table, though not in an angered way. He continued, “…that would make a big difference in our lives, wouldn’t you say?” “Meaning?” she pressed the question. “Well, we’re bound to get married, and fortunately, that day is today!” he answered.
Abby looked quite surprised and Troy replied to that, “Oh, don’t look so surprised. You knew this day was coming.” She gasped, “Well, I didn’t know it would happen sooner than I imagined.” “Let’s go outside,” Troy extended his arm towards the door. “Your father is waiting.” “All right, but first…” she smiled.
She lunged herself at him and kissed him on the lips. She then spun him around the room until he was leaning against the door. “You’ve made this day more meaningful than I ever would’ve imagined,” Troy beamed. “I knew you would give in to my charms one day.” Abby said, “Yes, and I’ve got just one thing to say.” “Yes?” Troy asked rather hopefully.
Abby grabbed for the knob and turned it. She said to him, “Good-bye, Troy!” As he staggered backwards, Abby gave him a push that made him flip over the banister and fall into the bushes. She looked out to see the area her father and Troy had set up as the band began to play. She sighed and shook her head. She thought, This is the most ridiculous I’ve seen from Papa.
Pierce looked on in exasperation as his daughter closed the door. But he kept his cool as he walked to a dazed Troy. “So, I take it didn’t turn out so well,” he said as he crouched over Abby’s suitor. “No,” Troy groaned. “Well, I’ll have Abby marry you if it’s the last thing I’ll do,” Pierce said. “How are you going to do that?” Troy asked. “Somehow, just somehow, she has just got to marry you, even if I have to force her,” the father vowed.
When she was certain that everyone, including her father, had left, Abalonia stepped outside and was growling in frustration. She said to herself, “How could Papa? How dare he try to marry me off to Troy? *sighs* If only Uncle Elmer was here, he’d know what to do. Or I could use Mama’s help if she was around. I’m sure she wouldn’t let me get married to someone I absolutely despise. Oh, Mama, where are you?”
By that time, she had arrived at a field with fresh flowers a-blooming. This reminded Abby of a poem that her father said was her mother’s. She recited:
Oh, blooming flower of blue,
Why on a hill stand you?
For surely you will be found
And taken homeward bound
Suddenly she heard the sound a hooves trotting behind her. She thought it was a sign from her mother, so she said, “Okay, that’s weird.” But when the horse got nearer, she saw it was the family horse. She raced towards him calling out, “Chestnut! What are you doing here?” She saw that Chestnut had no driver and this worried her.
“Where’s Uncle Elmer?” she asked him. “He might be hurt or something terrible could’ve happened to him.” She unhitched the wagon from Chestnut and said, “Oh, you have to take me to him, Chestnut. Please.” As much as Chestnut didn’t want to go back to that horrid town, he knew he couldn’t resist Abby’s beautiful eyes. He complied and rode her back to where he had left Elmer.
They arrived at the town and Abalonia pressed Chestnut on whenever he wanted to turn back. They searched all over town and didn’t find Uncle Elmer. She, too, knew some people had to be there, but they wouldn’t come out. Finally, Abby and Chestnut reached the castle and the horse had just about enough. He was starting to go back, but Abby beckoned him to calm down. Then, she saw something on the ground between the gates and doors that made her get down from Chestnut. She said as she found it was a cane, “Uncle?”
Meanwhile, inside the castle, Ruth was chewing Dahlia out for aiding the man who was now locked in the dungeon. “Couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you?” Ruth scolded. She then mocked Dahlia, “‘Here, let him sit in your uncle’s chair, serve him tea, pet the pooch.’” “Well, you’re not much of the hospitable type, anyway,” Dahlia spoke back. “What?” Ruth took offense of this. “I never said was…”
Just at that moment, Abby entered the castle and called for her uncle or anyone living there. Virtue, the little teacup, saw her and raced to tell his mother, Mrs. Treasury. “Mama, there’s a girl in the castle!” he cried. She turned to him and chastised him, “Now, Virtue, I’ll not be having you make up such wild stories.” He tried to explain, “But really, Mama! I saw her!”
“Not another word, Virtue,” she shook her head. “But…” he tried to say. She scooped him up and put him in the tub while saying, “Not another word.” Just then, a feather duster appeared and told Mrs. Treasury, “There’s a girl in the castle!” Virtue resurfaced and spat out water. He told his mom, “See? I told you.”
As Ruth and Dahlia were arguing, they heard an unfamiliar voice call out, “Uncle?” They turned in astonishment to see Abby walking by. “Did you see…?” Dahlia whispered. “I think I did,” Ruth whispered back. They crept for a closer look at the girl walking down the hallway. “She’s looking for her uncle,” Dahlia said. “Do you suppose she means…?” “Well, let’s not waste time,” Ruth said.
They rushed without being seen by Abalonia. Then, they opened a door for her. Abby looked in curiosity and said, “Uncle?” The door revealed a flight of stairs leading to the dungeon. As Abby was climbing up, Ruth came to her senses and whispered to Dahlia, “But, Dahlia, what about Uncle….?” She scoffed, “I don’t think we have to worry about him for a while.”
Suddenly, they heard a distant growl. Dahlia’s voice grew more panicked and said, “I take it back. Worry!” Ruth and Dahlia raced upstairs to see Abby still searching for her uncle. Then, a voice echoed from the other side of the chamber, “Abby?” Abby, filled with relief and hope, called out, “Uncle!”
She rushed to where the voice was and grabbed a torch. She almost cried of relief when she found Uncle Elmer locked in a cell. She asked, “Uncle, are you all right? What’s happened?” Elmer looked at her in worry and anxiety and said, “Abby, you must get out of here, quick!” “Who’s done this to you?” Abby continued to ask.
“Please, you must leave before he catches you!” he groaned as he grabbed his ankle. “Oh, Uncle, you’re hurt! I have to get you out of here!” Abby cried. “No, please!” Elmer pleaded. “Leave me! Save yourself!” “I won’t!” she refused.
Just then, she felt something grab her and turn her around. A gruff voice growled, “What are you doing here?!” Before she could see who it was, she dropped her torch and the flame went out. She was filled with nervousness as she asked the voice, “Who’s there? Who are you?” The voice replied, “The master of this castle.”
She felt a strong wind move to her right; that made her assume that was where the voice now was. She asked again, “Are you the one who locked my uncle in here?” The voice growled back, “That depends. Who might you be?” “I am Abalonia, the 17-year-old daughter of Pierce, and I demand that you set my uncle free!” she answered. “Then he shouldn’t have trespassed here!” the voice shouted. “What did he ever do to you?” she asked in such agitation.
“He tried to steal what was mine,” the voice rumbled. “My uncle is known for many things, but never a stealer!” she retorted. “Please release him! I’ll do anything!” “What do you have to offer for a prisoner such as him?” the voice traveled again; this time, in front of Abalonia. She said in a low voice, “Me.”
There was silence, and then the voice spoke again, “What? What did you say?” “I said, take me. Spare him,” Abby enunciated. “You would do that for your own uncle?” the voice asked in a gentler voice. “Yes,” she nodded.
Elmer shouted, “Abby, no! I can’t let you do this!” She chose to ignore him and stick with her choice. The voice asked, “Will you promise to stay here forever and not leave?” Abby was now curious and requested, “Only if you would come into the light, and then I could see the face of my new master.” The voice was hesitant at first, but then, he complied.
He crept into the light and Abby looked on in horror at a hideous monster towering over her. She couldn’t help but gasp at the sight of him. Elmer tried to talk her out of it, but Abby stood in front of the beast and sighed, “You have my word.” The creature growled, “Then it is done!” He ran towards the cell as Abby fell on her knees in despair.
Elmer crouched beside her and wrapped his arms around her. “Abby, you needn’t worry about me,” he said. “You’re young. You need to live your life.” But he couldn’t say anymore, for the beast dragged him away from Abby. “No! Wait!” she cried.
The creature took Elmer outside to a thorn-laden carriage. Elmer pleaded for him to spare his niece, but the beast wouldn’t listen to him. He threw him inside and said, “She is no longer your concern!” He slammed the door and instructed the carriage, “Take him back to where he came from.” As Abalonia saw the carriage take Elmer back to their home from the tower window, she couldn’t help but cry for her loss.
The beast marched up the stairs before a voice beckoned, “Uh, Master?” He snapped at Dahlia, “What?!” Dahlia suggested, “May I suggest offering her a more comfortable place to stay? I mean, she’s not going to want to sleep in the dungeon. You know how it gets during the winter…” The creature only snarled at her and she stood there in silence when he continued to trek the stairs. She managed to squeak, “Then again, maybe not.”
The monster found Abby crying in a small room. “You horrible, mangy beast!” she sobbed. “You didn’t even let me say good-bye! I might never see him again! And all because you’re so selfish and ignorant.” The beast, feeling guilty enough not to argue with her, only said, “I’ll show you to where you’ll be staying.”
“Um…I thought…” she said in confusion. “Well, for the love of Pete, stay here then!” the beast snarled in agitation. Abalonia gestured to halt him and cried, “Wait, wait! I’ll come with you to my new room.” “Good,” the creature gruffly said. “Then follow me.”
Abby observed her surroundings and found them to be quite dark and foreboding. She thought of the idea of someone living here for most of, if not their entire life. Gee, she thought, if this is the king that Uncle Elmer was going to see, I’d hate to see what King Jack is like. Abby couldn’t help but miss her family, her village, and her mother. Dahlia noticed how sad Abby was, so she whispered to her master, “Say something nice to her.”
The beast took a moment to come up with the words. After some time, he said to Abby, “I hope you’re going to like it here. It’s not as bad as it seems.” Dahlia pressed him to say more, so he said, “You may explore whatever you wish…except my quarters.” “Why?” Abby asked. She jumped when he barked at her, “It’s forbidden!” They walked on, leaving it at that.
They came to a very beautiful bedroom. As Abby stepped inside, the creature said to her, “Now, if you need anything, my servants will attend to you.” Dahlia whispered to him, “Dinner! Don’t forget dinner!” The beast, not knowing exactly how to say it, just ordered her, “You will join me for dinner. That’s not a request!” With that, he slammed the door before Abalonia got to say anything else.
She couldn’t believe the situation she was in. She was now trapped by a monster in a dark, gloomy castle. She was ripped from her family all in one day. She ran to her bed and began to cry. All she ever thought about was her mother. She thought aloud, Oh, Mama, where are you?!
Back at home, Troy and Pierce were hanging out at the local bar. Troy was griping about the way Abby rejected him. “Who does Abby think she is?” he grumbled. “Uh, you’re forgetting that she is my daughter,” Pierce reminded him, “and I will get her to marry you. You can make sure of that.”
“But how?” Troy asked in frustration. “How can she not want to marry me? I’m the most wanted young man there is.” “I’ll think of something,” Pierce said calmly. “If you ever want me to restore your wealth,” the young man said, “then I suggest you find a way soon. I’m not going to be young forever.”
Pierce turned to the patrons and asked, “Hey, everyone. Do you have any ideas on how to get Abby to marry Troy?” One of them suggested, “How about we throw her a surprise party that’s secretly a wedding. Then, we’ll blindfold her and trick her into marrying Troy.” Pierce shook his head, “No, she might figure it out.”
More ideas came and none of them seemed right. Suddenly, Elmer burst in and cried, “Help! I need help!” He limped as fast he could to each table asking for help. He sounded as if he was going crazy, so Pierce spoke to him, “Elmer, what are you on about?” Elmer explained how a hideous and cruel monster had imprisoned Abby.
If under the right circumstances, Pierce would’ve been worried about his daughter and march right up to the castle. But since Elmer’s reputation of being crazy preceded him, not even his own brother believed him. He reassured Elmer, “Now, now, Elmer. I’m sure Abby’s staying somewhere with friendly hosts. Am I right, everyone?” As he was saying this, he spoke louder so that the patrons could hear. Needless to say, some laughter ensued.
When Pierce asked if he was right, most, if not all of the patrons agreed with him. But Elmer insisted that Abby was in trouble, Troy offered to go with him. But as soon as they reached the door, Troy threw Elmer out. Troy walked back to his stool next to Pierce’s and asked, “Do you suppose he’s right about Abby being in danger?” “Nah,” Pierce denied. “I know my brother, and he’s as crazy as he’ll ever be.”
Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. First, he made sure no one was in close earshot. When he was certain, he whispered his plan to Troy. He said, “What if we send Elmer to the asylum? Since Abby dearly loves her uncle, she would do just about anything to keep him from going there. Then, she would have to marry you!”
Troy looked on in surprise and asked, “You would send your own brother to the asylum in order to get Abby to marry me?” Pierce nodded, and Troy smiled, “Smart move, old man.” But Pierce wagged his finger, “Ah-ah-ah. I’m anything but ‘old man’. In fact, I’ll be everything but once my daughter marries you!” The men couldn’t help but laughed at their new plan.
Abby was still in her bedroom crying over everything she had just lost. Just then, there was a knock at the door. She faced the door through quite teary eyes. She asked through a choked voice, “Who is it?” A voice replied from the other side of the door, “Mrs. Treasury, dear. Please open up.”
Abby got up and wiped away the tear streaks from her face. She opened the door and found nothing. Then, she heard the clattering of china and was startled when she looked down to see a live tea set. She was even more startled when it began to speak. “I thought you might like some tea,” the teapot said. Abby gasped, “The teapot! It spoke to me!”
She gave a yelp when the wardrobe behind her came to life. “I hope you’ll get used to it, or else, it’s going to be a long time here for you,” it said. “But…how can you…?” Abby began to say, but she was too surprised to even finish her sentence. She sat gently down onto the floor beside her bed. The teapot apologized, “We’re sorry to have startled you, but I think it’ll grow on you.”
“Are there any regular servants in the castle, ones who are not as material as you?” Abby asked. “Oh, no,” she answered. “The only ones who are human in the castle are you and Her Highness, may she return soon.” This got Abby curious, so she asked, “Who is Her Highness? Maybe she could help me out.” But the teapot only sighed, “If only she could, dear.”
Then, she remembered something and piped up, “Oh, excuse me for talking while there’s a supper going on. Well, I best leave you get ready. The master will be waiting downstairs.” The teapot and the rest of the tea set soon left the room. Abby was left alone with only the wardrobe as it made several suggestions on what to wear to dinner. Abalonia wasn’t sure if she was going or not. She sure didn’t trust the beast, but she didn’t want to incur his wrath at the same time.
Finally, when the wardrobe picked out an outfit, Abby had reached her decision. Abby declined both the outfit and dining with the master. The wardrobe tried to talk her out of it, but just then, a clock had entered the room. It cleared its throat and stated, “Dinner is served.”
The beast was pacing the room on all fours as he impatiently waited for Abalonia to come down. “What’s taking her so long?” he growled. “I thought I told her to come down.” Then, he snapped at Dahlia and Mrs. Treasury, “Why isn’t she here yet?!” “You must have patience, Master,” Mrs. Treasury explained. “The girl has had everything ripped from her in one day.”
Dahlia wondered, “Master, do you think that this is the one you’ve been looking for?” “Of course I know!” he barked. “She told me so.” “Well, that’s good, then,” Dahlia beamed. “You’ll be nice to her, she’ll call you her own, and poof! The spell will be broken.”
“Oh, but I’m afraid it’s not that easy, Dahlia,” Mrs. Treasury pointed out. “I’ve seen these kinds of situations before. It might take years before she’ll ever accept him.” “Which is something my wife and I don’t have,” he rumbled. He groaned, “Oh, it’s no use. She’ll never see me as for what I truly am.” “Then you must help her see past your exterior,” Mrs. Treasury calmly said.
He turned away from her as he said, “I don’t know how.” At that point, Dahlia and the teapot gave him lessons in etiquette he hadn’t used in a long time. Just as they told him to control his temper, a knock came on the door. Dahlia whispered, “There she is!” The creature was filled with anticipation until the door opened to reveal his niece. Ruth sheepishly said, “Hello.” The beast impatiently asked, “Well, where is she?”
Ruth stammered for a bit before she explained that Abby wasn’t coming. The beast roared, “WHAT?!” With that, he dashed his way to Abby’s bedroom while his servants tried to stop him. He jumped and landed in front of Abby’s chamber. He pounded on the door and roared, “Abalonia, I thought I told you to come down to dinner!” Abby replied from the other side of the door, “I’m not very hungry!”
This infuriated the creature and he shouted, “You come out, or you’re not getting a bite!” Dahlia stopped him by saying, “Uh, Master? Maybe shouting is not the best way to appeal to the girl.” “Please,” Ruth pleaded, “try to be a gentleman.” “But she is acting like such a teenager!” he gritted through his teeth. Dahlia mumbled, “That’s probably because she is one.” But the beast seemed to have heard this, so he retorted, “Who asked for your opinion?”
“Uncle,” Ruth said in a firm tone. “If you want the spell to be broken, listen to me. You must act suave, genteel.” The beast was reluctant, but he did so by bowing and saying through gritted teeth, “It would be my pleasure if you would join me for dinner.” Ruth added, “Say ‘please’.” Her uncle repeated this, but Abby replied, “No, thank you!”
“Respect your elders, little one!” the creature shouted. “I’m hardly little anymore!” she scoffed. “There’s no way you could stay in there forever!” he barked. “I could if I tried!” Abby defied him. “Fine!” he roared. “So be it! As of right now, you will never eat again!”
And with that, he rushed to his room. “Oh, dear…” Mrs. Treasury shook her head. Ruth then ordered Dahlia to keep watch at the door while she and Mrs. Treasury cleaned up dinner. In the beast’s quarters, he entered in frustration and grabbed for the magic mirror. He ordered it, “Show me Abalonia!” The mirror obeyed and an image popped up of her and the wardrobe. She told the wardrobe that she would never want to see him again.
He placed the mirror down and sighed, “It’s hopeless. She’ll never see me as anything…but her stepfather.” Then, he noticed that two petals from one of the orchids in the vase had fallen off. He was quite shocked to see this and grabbed them in his hand. With despair building up in his body, he thought, Orchid…why?
It was late at night when Abalonia crept out of her bedroom. Dahlia didn’t see this, for she was making out with a feather duster. “Dahlia, you burned me the last we did this!” he playfully said. “Well, I’ll make sure I won’t do it again this time,” Dahlia smiled. But just as they were about to kiss, Dahlia caught a glimpse of Abby walking down the hall. She immediately dropped him and cried, “Zut alors! She has emerged!”
She silently went down the stairs and found herself in the kitchen. The teapot turned and gasped, “Ooh! Don’t look now, but we have a visitor.” The activity in the kitchen stopped all of a sudden as every animate object turned to look at her. When introductions were made, Abby stated that she was a little hungry. This got most everyone excited and they made the food for her.
After such a late-night supper, Abalonia didn’t feel tired. Instead, she wanted to explore the castle. Ruth protested, “But it’s so late at night!” Abby slyly said, “Yeah, but won’t the master be still asleep?” Ruth paused, and then she said, “I suppose you make a good point.”
She took Abby on a tour of the castle and took Dahlia with her. Abby was just about ready to drop to the floor and sleep there…until she noticed a new flight of stairs she hadn’t been to before. She was curious and took only a few steps up before Dahlia and Ruth blocked her path. “Um, guys? What’s going on?” she asked them.
“Nothing!” Ruth answered. “You wouldn’t be interested up there, with it being my uncle’s quarters and all. Oops!” “Who’s the big blabbermouth now?” Dahlia gave a laugh. “Shut it!’ Ruth hissed.
“So that’s his quarters,” Abby said most intrigued. “No, you can’t go up there!” Ruth cried. “It’s forbidden!” “Well, do you have a garden you take care of?” Abby asked. “Why, yes!” Ruth beamed. “We have lots of flowers!” When Dahlia and Ruth seemed occupied with going to the garden, Abby slipped back to the stairs and began exploring.
Abby found the hallway to be foreboding and yet, mysterious. She thought there might’ve been some history to this. She opened one of the very large double doors. Behind it, she found a room in ruins. Everything was shredded, especially the portraits. But one portrait was still intact.
She found a portrait that was mostly obscured behind curtains. The only thing that was visible was a woman in a wedding gown. Abby knew she saw that face before when she thought, Mom? She took a closer look at this new picture of her mom, who was giving a half-smile and yet revealed sad eyes. Abby was about to pull back the left curtain when something else caught her eye.
She turned to see a vase filled with orchids: three perfect ones, one that still had a petal, and a petal less one. Then, her eyes hovered to another pair of doors, though not as large as the first pair. Above these ones was a tarnished plaque that only read, “THE QUEEN”. She thought that it might the queen of the castle…or her mother. But before she could grab the handles of the doors, a shadow loomed over her. She turned in shock as she saw the beast towering over her.
“Why are you here?” the beast rumbled. “I’m sorry,” Abby stammered. “You are very disobedient, girl!” he said in a raised voice. “I didn’t mean any harm!” she said as she backed away. “When will you learn to follow my rules?!” He roared as he pushed a table aside. “Please, don’t!” Abby pleaded.
“Get out of my room!” he roared as he continued wreck everything around him. But before he could harm Abby, she raced out of the room in fright. After the creature had calmed down, he saw the last petal from the second orchid fall and realized what he had done. He moaned and thought, I failed you, Orchid.
Abby scurried down the flight of stairs leading to an outside door. She was putting on her cloak when Dahlia asked, “Where are you going?!” “Promise or not, I’m not staying another minute with that monster!” Abby said as she opened the door and left. It was unusually stormy when she rode Chestnut out into the wilderness. After a minute or two, she found that they were being chased by crows. The flock caused Abby and Chestnut to stop.
Just then, the beast showed up and attracted the attention of the birds away from Abby. It took only a few minutes to drive them away, but once the flock was gone, the creature was wounded and exhausted from the fight. When he was too weak to walk back to the castle, Abby decided she couldn’t just leave him here after all he had just done for her. She lifted the beast onto Chestnut and rode him back to the castle.
Once they got back to the castle, Abby attended to the beast’s wounds and remarked, “Yeah, bird bites and scratches do hurt a lot, don’t they?” He didn’t say anything, only squirmed whenever Abby tried to dab the wounds. Finally, she said, “Stop that.” “I will if you won’t run away again,” he said. “I will if you won’t frighten me again,” Abby added. He also said, “I will if you promise to be obedient.” She got him by saying, “I will only if you promise to control your temper.”
Dahlia whispered, “Ooh. Got him.” He seemed to have heard, for he gave her a glare. “Anyway, I want to say thank you,” Abby told him, “for saving me from those crows.” He smiled at her, “You’re welcome. From now on, your safety and well-being will always come first.” “Really?” Abby asked, half-astonished, half-happy.
“I promise,” he nodded.
After some time, Abalonia got used to her surroundings and even took delight in her bedroom, which was all decorated with orchids. One day, she was opening some of the drawers when she found a bunch of letters. She gasped in shock when she read this letter:
My loveliest Orchid,
As long as we have been together, I’m rather thankful to have you here. It is always such a delight. I’m sorry if I’m always away on business, but I will come back soon. Do not forget me or reject me; I am coming home to help you make plans for our wedding. I am very sorry about Pierce, but what happened to him, you’re not the blame. I still hope you can turn to me in need. I love you very much, my darling.
Your dearest Jack
A mix of feelings bubbled within Abby. They were feelings of anger, frustration, shock, and sadness. But she was so filled with the first two, she summoned a servant to tell her where the master was. Only, to her, he wasn’t ‘the master’ anymore. Once the servant told her that he was in the library, Abby marched there to tell him about her findings.
“You’re King Jack?!” she asked in a perturbed tone once she entered. Jack looked at her in shock and offense, but before he could say anything, she continued, “You knew my mother?! What have you done to her?!” As calmly as he could, he only managed to say, “Now, please, Abby. Allow me to explain.”
“No, you listen!” Abby shouted. “My father told me you killed my mother, but if you loved her so much, why did you take her away from my dad?! From me?!” Before long, Jack interrupted her, “Your mother is not dead and I’ll show you! Come with me!” He took Abby’s wrist and marched her upstairs to his quarters.
He took a key from one of his drawers and unlocked the double doors underneath the tarnished plaque. He opened the doors and said, “Look! Here’s where your mother lies!” Abby looked at her mother, still lying on the bier unchanged. She walked towards her and asked Jack, “Is she…?” “It’s a sleeping spell she’s under,” he explained calmly. “She won’t wake up until the spell is broken.”
“How can the curse be broken?” she asked again. “I’m afraid it’s not that simple, I realize,” he answered. “It takes someone your mother loved to accept me for who I am. I didn’t want to bring back your father in fear that your mother might abandon me. There is a reason why the spell was cast. Your mother was still married to your dad when I met her. I didn’t find out till she was spending a week in the castle that she was married. She never told me about you.
“So, I sought to banish your father by framing him for a crime that was mine. I sent him, and maybe you with him, far away from this kingdom. I told your mother what the public believed about your father and had her marry me. After your mother and I got married, an enchantress came and cursed me and the castle with transformation and your mother with sleep. See this vase?” He then pointed to the vase of orchids and continued, “The enchantress gave it to us just before she cast her spell.
“Afterwards, five orchids grew from it. They’re to stay alive for as long as the spell’s on us. Every time I do something bad or if time’s running out, a petal falls and your mom is that much closer to death.” Abby gave a shocked look as he explained, “Not only would the inhabitants and I would remain like this should the very last petal fall, but your mom would die, too.” “And you kept from her from my family and me all these years?” Abby asked in agitation. He nodded as she continued, “If you knew she was dying, why didn’t you do anything? My father told me you took Mom away when I was a baby. I didn’t even get to know my mother, and like my father, I thought she was dead!
“You were a big-time jerk who hit an all-time low. You ripped her from her family, her life, everything she knew, just so you could have her. And if she ever found out about the truth behind that story…No wonder Mom would hate you.” All that time, Jack just stood there in silence with his head hanging low in guilt.
He said in a low voice, “I know how your mother feels. I know how you feel. I’ve done such bad things and, yes, I take the blame. But if I ever let anything bad happen to you because of me…” He looked up at her with teary eyes before he turned his back on her and leaned against the table.
He could hardly contain his grief and sorrow, so he said in a choked voice, “I love your mother dearly. Every day, I go to her chamber and give her my love. That’s what kept me from getting much harsher. But you were right. I am a monster. I am but your stepfather, and it’s my job to protect and care for you and your mom. And if I ever fail…”
He was at the breaking point and he could hardly speak. He summoned all of his strength to tell her, “If I ever do anything to harm you, I fear your mother will never love me again…because of what I’ve done.” Abby felt sympathy for him as he started to weep softly. She pulled out a handkerchief and walked up to him. She tried to walk around him, but he stopped her and said, “No, you mustn’t see me like this.”
In defiance, she grabbed his shoulder and turned him towards her. She saw the tears spilling on his cheeks and wiped them away in pity. He chuckled weakly, “You’re as every bit kind as your mother. She would be proud of you to do this for me.” “How much time do you have before the spell becomes permanent?” she asked. He answered more calmly, “Besides the first two or three bad acts at the beginning of the spell, the orchids began wilting about some time ago.”
“What must I do to break the spell?” she asked once more. He replied, “You must see me not just as your stepfather, but also as someone closer. I realize it would take time. Mrs. Treasury said it could take years, but that’s something we can’t afford. If you don’t want to consider me anything more than your stepfather, I understand, given my past actions. You may leave whenever you wish.”
But she shook her head and said, “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here until I break the spell, turn you and everyone back, and awaken Mom.” He smiled and hugged her. He said, “Your mother and I are grateful for someone like you.” She responded, “Well, as long as I know you love Mom and are willing to do anything for her and me…” “Hey, your safety and well-being come first, like I promised,” Jack smiled. They could both tell it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship…between steps.
Night had fallen in the village when Troy and Pierce met with a person from the asylum. “I hope this is not just a waste of my time,” the asylum person said, “and that you have something truly important to tell me.” Pierce nodded his head to Troy and the young man gave him a bag of money. The asylum man smiled, “I’m listening.” “Here’s the gist: I have a daughter and I want to marry her off to him because he can restore my status,” Pierce explained, pointing his thumb at Troy. “Only she refuses me!” Troy added.
“Do you mean to tell me I’m the answer to your marital problem?” the asylum man asked. “I am not amused.” “Wait, there’s more,” Pierce said. “My brother, Elmer, is her uncle, and she’s very close to him.” “Elmer’s not that crazy,” the man said. “He may have a few screws loose, but he’s not qualified to be in the asylum.”
“Oh, yeah?” Troy asked. “What about tonight? He came in here raving about a beast taking Abby. How’s that for nuts?” The man looked at him dubiously. Pierce put a hand to his head and sighed, “Look, what I’m trying to get at is if you would take Elmer away, Abby would do just about anything to save him.” “Including marrying me,” Troy said.
“You would be willing to send Elmer, who’s your brother, to the asylum unless your daughter agrees to marry Troy?” the man summed it up. “That borders on despicable.” He then gave a laugh and said, “I’ll do it!”
Back at home, Elmer was packing the essentials to go look for Abby. “If they won’t help me,” he said, “I’ll do it myself. I will get her out of there, if it’s the last thing I do.” Fortunately, he left before Troy and Pierce arrive. Pierce saw that the house was empty. “That crazy fool must’ve gone to find Abby,” Pierce said.
“What are we going do?” Troy asked. “Wait for them?” Pierce shook his head, “No, I’ll wait for them, and you are going to plan your wedding. I’ll give you a signal as soon as they return.” “I’m beginning to like this already,” Troy smiled.
Shortly after Abalonia found out about her mother and Jack, he showed her the garden. It was the loveliest garden Abby had ever seen, especially the orchids planted for her mother. “Trust me,” Jack said. “No orchid’s lovelier than your mother.” Abby smiled at this compliment directed at her mother.
For months afterwards, Jack and Abby shared secrets, including how she was named. “My dad gave Mom an abalone necklace the day she gave birth to me,” Abby said. “It was very special to her, so she named me after that. But Dad wanted to name me ‘Orchid II’.” “Oh, really?” Jack chuckled. “Either that, or a type of flower,” she added. “Well, thankfully, your mother gave you a very unique name,” he stated.
One day, they were talking about Ruth. Abby asked, “So Ruth’s your niece, right?” Jack nodded, “Yes. When her parents died, I took her in. I thought that she’d be my heir if I didn’t marry. From the time she was a very little girl, I gave her the job of my second-in-command. She loves to boss people around and uses her familial ties to her advantage.”
“If you could, would you disown her?” she asked. “Oh, no, no,” he chuckled. “True, she may get to be too much at times, but I could never do that to my niece.” “What’s going to happen to her once the spell’s broken?” she asked again. “If you want, you can be the princess and Ruth can be your lady-in-waiting,” he said. “Well, I’ll have to decide that for myself,” she said. “As you wish, my dear,” he said.
At one time, Abby mentioned that she was bullied when she was young for a story the children thought she made up. “They used to call me, ‘Balonia’,” she recollected. “Well, if I had been there, I would’ve defended you,” Jack said. “You mean, if you were your regular self?” she asked. “Precisely,” he confirmed. “I think that would’ve been the right thing to do,” she smiled. “I’m glad you think so,” Jack beamed.
When spring was getting near, there was but one orchid still living. Jack knew he had to tell Abby something very important. He sent a servant to fetch her. She was curious about what her stepfather wanted to say. Jack sat with her and warned her that what he was going to tell might confuse her. Abby told him that she’ll get the message. And with that, Jack readied himself to tell her what he needed to say.
“I can communicate with your mother in dreams,” Jack revealed. “Since the curse took effect, she had been able to travel into the dreams of those closest to her. She appeared in my dreams and your dad’s dreams. I’m not sure if she appeared to you.” Then Abby remembered she had dreams of her mother on her birthday. She realized that her mother was actually there in her dreams.
“She has,” she stated. “For as long as I can remember, she came to me on my birthday.” “Yes,” he said. “In my dream the night the curse took place, I told her the truth.” “You did?” she gasped in astonishment. He nodded, “She had hard judgment against me at first, but then I pleaded for forgiveness. She learned to forgive me after some time.
“I daresay, she began to love me via dreams and even then, she didn’t tell me about you.” Abby was surprised and confused, so she asked, “What about my dad? How did she fall in love with you and not Dad anymore?” He sighed, “Your mom told me that she went inside your dad’s dreams and saw that he changed. He wasn’t the man your mother knew prior to marrying me. She told me he was now motivated by bitterness and hatred towards me. Soon afterwards, she didn’t visit him anymore.”
Abby told Jack, “My father wants me to marry a guy I don’t even like just to regain power. I knew Dad possessed a deep hatred towards you, but I didn’t think it would be deeper than I imagined.” “Do you trust and love your father?” he asked her. “I respect him, sure,” she answered, “but I’m closer to my Uncle Elmer than him.” She then chuckled, “Before I came here, my dad and Troy, the boy I mentioned, set up this wedding sort of thing. Troy proposed to me, but I refused. I pushed him out the door and he fell into the bush.”
Jack chuckled with her, “That showed him.” “Yeah, I guess,” Abby agreed. “Still, I don’t think Dad would ever do anything more despicable than that.” “Well, do not underestimate him, that’s for sure,” he cautioned. “We’ve yet to see what he’s capable of.” “I guess I’ll have to take your word for it,” she shrugged. “See that you do,” he said.
That night, Abby had the most peculiar dream.
She was hearing a familiar voice calling, “Abby!” She hadn’t heard that voice since her birthday, so she replied, “Mom? Is that you?” She heard the voice call out again, “Abby? Where are you?” Abby answered, “I’m here, Mama? Can’t you see me?”
Just then, she saw a blur in the distance and called, “Mama?” The blur got closer and closer until the image of her mother appeared before her. She was as beautiful as ever since the last time they met. Abby hugged her and said, “Oh, Mama! I thought you were dead! I thought it was your spirit coming to visit me all this time!”
She replied, “I am a spirit in a way. I’ve traveled the Dreamverse for as long as the curse is in effect.” “What is the Dreamverse?” Abby asked. Her mother answered, “It is a universe found only in dreams. It’s the place imagination takes flight. Unfortunately, I’m getting closer to death, so I’m losing my ability to appear in dreams.
“But I think I have just enough energy to take you on a tour of some parts of the Dreamverse. Would you like to come?” Abby accepted her offer and off they flew, into dimensions that were unknown to her till then. She saw all kinds of things: stars, colors, and stuff that was physically impossible. She thought it was all wondrous, even though it was only part of the Dreamverse. She loved it all, mainly because she was with her mother.
Finally, just before dawn, her mother took Abby back to where she was at the beginning. “So, how did you like it?” the queen asked quite wearily. “Oh, it was more than that,” Abby answered gleefully. “I loved it all! And I loved it because of the time I spent with you.”
The queen then became sad and told her, “Abby, tell your stepfather about this and that I won’t be able to visit him, or you, like I used to.” Before Abby could ask her what it meant, her mother evaporated away from her. She pleaded for her to come back, but to no avail.
She woke up with a startle as the sun began to rise. She was half-joyous, for she had seen her mother, and half-saddened, for she was afraid she might never see her again. Later that morning, she told Jack about her dream last night and her mom’s message. This shocked Jack and there was silence for a few moments. Finally, he managed to whisper, “We’re running out of time.” They turned to look at the last orchid, which had just lost its first petal.
Abby asked in desperation, “Jack, am I there yet? Are we close to breaking the spell?” He shook his head and sighed, “I do not think so. You care only about saving your mother and not about accepting me. I don’t blame you, but I don’t want to rush you, either.” Abby knew he was right about what she wanted. She only wanted to break the spell to get her mother back.
About a week had passed since the dream about her mother. Abby couldn’t help but feel ashamed about focusing on her mom and not Jack. Just then, the wardrobe told her how she can make it up to Jack. A few months ago, Abby started wearing her mom’s dresses that Jack gave to the queen. They required some altering, but other than that, they fit Abby perfectly. Abby loved them as much as her mother did, so she wore them most of the time. But there was one dress she wanted to save for a special occasion, and now was that time.
The wardrobe told her that a dinner and dance would be arranged for her and her stepfather for a little bonding time. Abby agreed to it and so did Jack. Everyone got ready for this occasion, even Jack, who wanted to make an impression on his stepdaughter. Only, he didn’t know how to do that. Fortunately, Dahlia gave him tips while he was changing into his outfit. Just when he got ready, Ruth came in and told him, “Your stepdaughter is waiting.”
Both were waiting on the stairs, Abby in her aquamarine ball gown and Jack in his formal outfit. He took her by the hand and led her to dinner. Everything went smoothly from there. When they finished dinner, they went out into the ballroom. There, they did a stepdaughter/stepfather dance. It reminded Jack of when he danced with Orchid and took great pleasure with it. Both Abby and he wanted it to last forever because she had never felt closer to her stepfather.
When it was over, Jack took Abby out on the balcony. He told her, “This is the very same place I took your mother after we danced.” They both noticed an old etching on the stone bench. He pointed to it and said, “Oh, look! Here’s the heart I made for your mother and me.” “It’s very nice,” Abby complimented in a sad tone.
Jack knew something had to be wrong, so he asked, “Abby? What is it?” She answered, “It’s just that…It’s been so long since I’ve seen my father or my uncle. If only I could know if they’re alright.” Jack suddenly thought of something and told her, “There is a way. Come with me.”
Back at his quarters, Jack showed Abby his magic mirror and told her, “This will show you anyone or anywhere you wish to see.” She grabbed it and knew what to ask. She requested, “I would like to see my uncle, please.” The mirror complied and showed him struggling in the woods very ill.
She gasped, “Oh, no! Uncle Elmer! He’s sick! He might be dying, and he’s all alone out there!” Jack knew what must be done, but he was hesitant to do it. He looked at the orchid that had just two petals left before he said to Abby, “Then you must go and help him.”
She looked at him very surprised and asked, “What? What did you just say?” “You have to go,” Jack repeated. “It’s the only way to save your uncle.” “But what about you?” Abby asked. “I’ll be fine,” he told her. “No matter what form I am, I was always be your stepfather.”
She contemplated that before she asked, “What about Mama?” “She would sacrifice herself if it meant saving your uncle,” he said through teary eyes. “It’s what she would’ve wanted.” Abby was touched, so she embraced her stepfather and whispered, “Thank you. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for Mama and me.”
She wanted to give the mirror back to Jack, but he refused and said, “Take it with you, so you’ll always remember your mother and me.” She smiled and she went to her mother’s chamber to kiss her good-bye. “Bye, Mama,” she whispered through teary eyes. “I’ll always love you.” Just then, a tear spilled on the queen’s face. She wanted to wipe it off, but Jack stopped her, “Don’t! Leave it; your mother knows you love her.”
After Abby left the quarters, Ruth thought that everything was going right. But after Jack told her what had happened, she became shocked and dismayed. After Ruth told her fellow servants, Virtue chose to sneak out. When he saw Abby riding away on Chestnut, Jack shouted in agony, “Orchid!” Just then, the penultimate petal fell from the orchid.
Abby rode along the forest, desperately calling for her uncle. She gasped when she found him lying on the ground unconscious. As soon as they arrived home, Pierce gave the signal using Elmer’s invention of a message traveling by wire. Pierce then ran out of the house and helped Elmer inside. While they were treating Elmer, her father asked Abby, “Where have you been all this time?” She replied, “I was living at King Jack’s castle.” But Pierce chose to ignore this and only scoffed, “You’re getting to be as bad as your uncle.”
While Pierce went to get more wet cloths, Elmer woke up. Abby shushed him, “It’s all right, Uncle. You’re home now.” Elmer hugged her as he said, “I thought I’d never see you again. But…how on earth did you escape?” “I didn’t escape,” she explained. “Jack let me go.”
This startled Elmer as he asked, “Jack? As in King Jack? The one who murdered your mother?” “Mom’s not dead,” she told him. “She’s still alive, only under a curse. And Jack’s not like Dad says he is. He’s sorry for what he did and wishes he could make up everything…”
But before she could say anything else, her bag opened and Virtue popped up. “Well, looky here,” Abby smiled. “We have a stowaway.” Elmer scooped him up and chuckled, “I remember you, little fellow.” “Hi,” Virtue said to him. He turned to Abby and asked, “Abby, why did you leave? Don’t you like Jack?”
“Of course I like Jack,” she smiled. “But I needed to…” Before she could finish, there was a knock at the door. She shouted, “Dad! Will you get the door, please?” But there was no answer and the knocks became more insistent. Finally, Abby sighed, “I’ll be right back, Uncle.”
She opened the door to find a stranger. She reluctantly asked, “Yes? May I help you?” “I’ve come to collect your uncle,” the man told her. “What?” she asked. “Don’t worry, my dear,” he continued as he motioned to the wagon waiting for Elmer. “We’ll take good care of him.”
“Are you daft?!” she retorted. “My uncle’s not crazy!” He just chuckled, “My dear, when you’ve been working in the asylum as I have, you’re hardly anything but.” She just fumed before Troy caught her attention. He spoke out before the crowd, “He was acting like a loony! We were all there, weren’t we?” As the crowd shouted in agreement, Pierce just stood by the house and gave a most sinister grin.
“No!” Abby cried. “It’s not like that!” As she raced to stop the commotion, Elmer took a step outside and said, “Abby?” Troy taunted him, “Oh, Elmer. Tell us again about how big this beast you saw was.” Elmer was unaware that when he repeated his story, the crowd just laughed.
Troy said, “I think we’ve heard enough. Take him away!” She tried to stop the men from hauling Elmer away, but to no avail. Pierce went to her side and asked in a faked worried tone, “Abby, my darling! What’s happening?” She pleaded to him, “Dad, you’ve got to tell them Uncle Elmer’s not crazy! Please!”
“I’m sure I’ll tell them that this is all a big misunderstanding…” her father said, “…if you’ll do one thing for me.” “What?” she asked in desperation. “What, Dad?” “If you’ll marry Troy,” he requested. “What?” she gasped. “Dad!”
“Oh, come on, sweetheart,” he tried to motivate her. “Isn’t a rich and luxurious life what you wanted? You’ve got to do what’s best for this family. For us.”
She pulled away from him and replied, “No, Dad! It’s what you want. You set all of this up just so I can marry Troy! But no matter what, you cannot make me marry him!” He sneered at her and said, “Fine. Do what you want. I could care less.”
But she couldn’t let Elmer get taken away, so she went inside and retrieved the mirror from the bag. She spoke out to the crowd, “My uncle’s not crazy and I can prove it!” She told the mirror, “Show me King Jack!” She held it out to the crowd and the image of Jack roaring in agony appeared before them. The crowd gasped and wondered if he was dangerous.
Abby went on to explain to the crowd, “No, he won’t hurt anybody! The rumors you heard about him are not true! The queen is alive!” She turned to her father and said, “Mom’s alive.” But he looked on in disbelief as she told the people everything she learned about Jack and her mom at the castle.
But before long, Pierce interrupted her, “Just how would you know whether your mother’s alive or not?” She explained to him, “She appeared to me in a dream. She said that you changed, and now I believe her.” He looked at her suspiciously and said, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re in league with the monster.” She pulled back and replied angrily, “Jack’s not the monster, Father. You are!”
This angered Pierce and he accused Abby, “She’s as crazy as my own brother!” He then proceeded to take the mirror from her and told lies to the people about Jack. Before she could stop him, he shouted to the crowd, “We’re not safe until the king’s head is mounted on the wall! I say we kill this beast!” Abby could see her father was now driven by revenge of the wrongdoing Jack did to him many years ago. When the crowd was motivated to kill Jack, she raced to stop her father and told him, “No! I won’t let you do this! Think about Mom!”
But he grabbed her wrist and retorted, “Your mother’s dead, little one! Now Jack must pay for what’s he done! And just so you don’t get any ideas…Put Abalonia and her uncle in the shed!” Some of the men threw Elmer and Abby in the shed and locked the doors. She pounded on them pleading, “No, Dad! Don’t!”
Before long, Troy and Pierce led the angry mob out of the village and onwards towards the castle. Meanwhile, Abby tried to get out. “Uncle, we have to get out of here! Mom and Jack are in serious trouble! We have to do something!” “Now, calm down, my darling,” Elmer stroked her. “We’ll find a way, I’m sure of it.” Outside the window, Virtue felt helpless…until he saw the heat-powered cart still sitting in the wagon.
The mob marched on and cut down a tree to use as a battering ram. When they arrived at the town, the people inside were hiding in fear. Meanwhile, at the castle, Ruth and Dahlia were expressing their doubts about Abby and how the situation might’ve been different if she had never came to the castle. Suddenly, the footstool dashed to the window and barked. The objects wondered what was going on with him, so they checked out for themselves. They were shocked when they found the mob marching towards the castle. They prepared themselves to defend their home.
Just as the plethora of servants arrived at the front door, the mob was already ramming at it. They tried to hold it, but the objects knew they couldn’t do this forever. Suddenly, Dahlia got an idea. After a minute or two, the mob finally got through and entered the castle. They found a mass of furniture and objects. Before long, Dahlia shouted, “Now!” At her command, all of the objects began attacking the men.
Meanwhile, back at the village, Virtue had just figured out how to work the heat-powered cart. He pointed it at the direction of the shed and started it up. As he was driving it, he shouted, “Get out of the way, guys!” Abby and Elmer did just that and hid. The cart smashed the doors open and crashed inside. When Abby and Elmer rose up, they saw Virtue hanging from a hook. He chuckled, “That was totally awesome!”
Back at the castle, the servants had managed to drive the mob away, but amidst it all, Troy and Pierce had managed to slip further inside the castle. They searched for Jack until they found him in his quarters. He was leaning over on a bench, despaired about soon losing his queen. Troy drew his arrow and shouted, “Hey, Your Majesty! Let’s play.” This drew Jack’s attention, but as soon as he turned around, Troy shot the arrow into the creature’s right shoulder. Pierce then proceeded to push him out the window.
Troy and Pierce jumped out and made ready to push Jack to his death. “Aww,” Troy taunted. “Are you too defenseless without pretty-witty Abby? Well, you should.” “Let’s just kill him before anything else happens,” Pierce said. He raised his dagger and told Jack, “Say good-bye to life, you treacherous beast!” But before he could make the killing blow, shouts came from a distance.
Jack heard the distinct cries of “No! Stop!” He looked down to see Abby and Elmer riding Chestnut. Abby cried out again, “Dad! Don’t do it!” This regained strength and confidence in Jack and before the dagger was planted into him, he grabbed both Troy and Pierce.
A fight ensued while Abby made her way to Jack’s quarters. When she entered the room, Jack had knocked out Troy and held Pierce at the neck. Pierce pleaded for mercy and Jack knew that killing him wasn’t what Orchid or Abby would’ve wanted. Jack set his former official down, and unfortunately, Troy and Pierce pushed him over the edge of the balcony. In a split-second, Jack grabbed both men as anchors. As he dragged them with him, Abby cried, “Jack!”
Jack then grabbed hold of the balustrade with Pierce hanging on to him. Troy, however, was not so lucky. He fell over the edge and to his death. Abby raced over to the railing to grab either of them. Jack strained, “Abby, you can’t save us both. Save your father.”
Abby shook her head and grabbed Jack’s wrist to pull him up. But in that moment, she saw her father plunge a dagger into Jack’s back. She cried, “No!” Pierce shouted, “It’s one or the other! Make your choice!” As soon as he pulled it out, he got ready to strike another blow. Abby wasn’t about to let that happen, so she pushed him off Jack’s back.
The last word she ever heard from her father as he fell was, “WHYYYYY?!” She pulled Jack to safety and laid him on the balcony. He managed to gasp, “Why…why did you kill your father...just to save me?” “I couldn’t let him kill you and let Mom die, too,” she responded in a shaky voice. “She loves you, Jack. I do, too.”
“I’m sorry…that…your effort was…in vain,” Jack breathed in labor. “That…I couldn’t do more…to ensure…your mother’s…and your welfare.” She shook her head, “You’ve done more than that. My mother and I would be very grateful to have someone like you.” “I’m glad…you think so…my dear…Abalonia,” he stroke her hair before he breathed his last.
Abby gasped and cried, “No. No, Jack! Jack, please come back!” Her eyes filled with tears as she laid herself against his body. “Jack, don’t do this to me!” she continued in a choked voice.
“Please! Mom needs you! I need you! We all need you…Dad.” The last petal fell as she began sobbing. All the servants felt the loss as they looked on at Abby and Jack.
Just when all hope seemed lost, something magical happened. Jack’s body was being lifted into midair and Abby gazed in amazement. She was blinded by the light for a moment before she saw something truly spectacular. She looked at a young man who looked handsome for his age. And yet, there was something familiar about him…
“Abby, it’s me, Jack!” the man rushed to her. There was a moment of silence before she said, “You don’t look like Jack.” He gave an expression of surprise before she continued, “You look more like Dad.” He hugged her for accepting him. Then she remembered something and cried, “Mama!” She rushed to the queen’s chamber with Jack following her. When she opened the doors, they just stood in surprise at what they saw.
Orchid was stretching on the bier and said through a strained voice, “Boy! Sleep like that for almost eighteen years and you’d find it hard to move even an inch!” Abby cried, “Mama!” while Jack smiled, “Orchid!” They both embraced her and Jack and Orchid kissed like they were a lovesick couple separated for many years. They were only too happy to notice that the entire kingdom had changed back to the way it originally had been.
A few days after the spell had been broken, a lot of changes had been made for the better. King Jack established an official route from the kingdom to Abalonia’s home village. Elmer had been offered to live at the castle, but he declined, stating that he wanted to be treated like other folk. He showed his inventions to the people and they loved him. Jack made Abby’s small home his own personal summer retreat for him and his family. But perhaps the biggest change of all was that Abalonia had been made a princess!
The day after the memoriam in honor of Troy and Pierce, a coronation was held to formally adopt Abby into the family and make her a princess. Jack kept his promise that Ruth would be his stepdaughter’s lady-in-waiting. Ruth was only too glad to serve Princess Abalonia. Abby was called by her full name by the people, but she still went by her nickname to her closest friends and family. Now that she had gotten her mother back and made a closer bond with her new dad, she couldn’t have asked for any more.