Story Time Sunday #32

I’ve been sinking my teeth into this retelling of a classic Grimm’s Fairytale, “The White Snake.” Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the story first. Today, I’m sharing Part 3 where our protagonist’s wit and willpower are tested. Enjoy!

Mayra sprinted from the sight of him but found herself running head-first into a mist net set to catch small birds by the water’s edge. Two sparrows were already tangled in pouches that sagged on the net.

“Clumsy me.” Mayra attempted to unhook her hair which hung in the tiny mesh knots of the trap.

“We’re goners now, Floyd.” The female bird scrambled trying to loosen the net’s grip on her tail feathers.

“Quit your yapping and start snapping” the sparrow seized the net with his beak biting at it in a feeble attempt to free himself from the fine mesh.

“May I help?” Mayra cautiously tugged on the net to get closer to the birds. All her interactions with creatures so far had been bloody affairs, and she hoped to finally do something good.

“You? Help? I highly doubt that. I think I’ll take my chances with the net,” the female sparrow continued to squirm, chirping for her friends as she picked at the mesh tangled by her talons. Surely one of her own kind would come to rescue her soon.

“Touchy, isn’t she? Yeah, sure, lassie, help me out.” Floyd stood still. He figured he could struggle onwards or conserve his energy in hopes that this mysterious child was able to untangle him with the strength to fly free. 

“You’ll just get yourself more tangled, love.” The female bird cautioned, but Mayra was pleased to finally be able to help a creature in need without interference. She pulled her way to where Floyd sagged in the net. The tiny mesh entangled in his tawny feathers and the webs of his golden feet.

“You’re wrapped good, friend. Be still now, and I will set you free.”

But after an hour of untangling and twisting she’d only managed to free his wings. Meanwhile, around the bend the huntsman approached, checking his nets along the waterway one last time. Hungry, he was well-past ready to return to the manor house for his midday meal.

When he came upon the girl picking at his catch, he steadied his rifle before he spoke. “What’s the meaning of this?”

Mayra saw the hunter’s fur jacket and the feathers in his cap. She could tell right away he was a man accustomed to completing his kills. “These sparrows are suffering. I only meant to help.” She stopped her hands waiting to see what the hunter would do next.

“These birds are a burden to the Baron, and I’ve been ordered to have them destroyed. Stand out of my way.” Mayra saw the rifle steadied at her head and let go of Floyd’s tangled talons.

“I wish I could, you see, but I’m stuck.” She lifted strands of her strawberry blonde hair still entangled in the mesh. “Besides, you can’t murder innocent birds for no real reason.” Releasing her hair, Mayra grabbed fistfuls of nets and waited for her chance.

The huntsman sat down his rifle. So, there was a third little birdy caught in his net today. How fortuitous.

“Go and fetch me a pint, maid, and stop fussing about in the forest.” He laughed. Yes, she was a pretty little birdie. And right as he reached out to grab her by the hair, she mashed the net against the fur of his jacket entangling him in a similar fashion.

“You wench!” The huntsman began picking himself free from the net prepared to give this girl a good old-fashioned spanking when he was finally freed, but Mayra’s small hands were quicker, and she had mostly untangled already.

“How does it feel to be trapped and terrified?” Mayra released the net from the tree and wound it tightly around the huntsman’s coat leaving him in a cocoon of minuscule mesh.

“Barbarous bitch! Come back here! Free me at once.” Mayra may not have been able to fully free her friends, but she left their captor there to experience the same anguish he had inflicted on so many of their kind.

As Mayra disappeared around the river bend, she looked back to see Floyd picking at the huntsman’s head.  As Mayra rushed away from the entangled trio back towards the manor, she realized why she was given this curse. The small creatures needed an advocate, and she was ready to speak up for them.

The fisherman’s backside was barely visible among the rising weeds, his body sinking in the muck of the pond at a rapid rate. By nightfall, he would likely be completely covered from view. But the yard around the manor house was already out of view. A foggy smoke clouded out the portico. Ear-splitting shrieks of thousands of unseen creatures cried out in unison.

“Flee if you can! Flee if you can!” Words whizzing by her ears, too fast to recognize.

Then, Mayra spotted a tiny creature lying in the grass at her feet. She placed him on the tip of her finger. “It burns! It burns! My vision’s gone. What have we done? What have we done to deserve this death?” Mayra watched the small black legs go still. She placed his body back on the grass and moved rapidly towards the back of the estate.

Circling the veranda were two men in hats with mosquito nets pulled over their faces. Each carried a hand pump spraying artificial white clouds out into the yard. After a few more puffs, Mayra realized these men were executioners. If only they could hear the screams of the millions of creatures dropping dead all around them. Mayra was sure they could never carry on if only they could hear the horrible screams.

“Stop!” She yelled, dashing across the lawn waving her hands in panic. Doing anything to get their attention. Her presence seemed to startle the men, but there was a deadline to be kept. The Baron would want his supper on the veranda as scheduled. The men pressed on, paying no mind to the scullery maid.

“You can’t do this,” Mayra yelled out at the men, but they pushed down on their nozzles releasing more chemical-filled clouds into the air.

After a brief pause and a few steps forward, the men kept right on swiveling their cans left to right pumping the sprayer on all sides.

 Mayra found her way in front of the pair and laid down on the manicured lawn, spreading her arms and feet wide. “Halt, this instant!”

Seeing the kitchen maid spread out on the lawn, the men stopped, put down their cans. Now they would be late to complete their task. Had this lass gone mad?  Nodding at each other, they knew they had no choice but to lift the girl off the lawn and carry her into the house. They moved towards her cautiously, but before they could seize her arms and legs, Mayra sprung up from the ground, seized one of the sprayers, and cupped the glass bowl of poison in her hand.

“You’re killing thousands!” You’re monsters.” And she gave the nozzle a squeeze.

“What’s the meaning of this?” The Baron entered the Veranda just in time to see his two groundsmen collapse after inhaling full sprays of poison to the face. 

He watched as the golden-haired girl still wearing her scullery apron came casually strolling towards him.

“There was only one way to escape death, girl, and it was not in this direction.” The Baron put two fingers in his mouth and whistled, waiting as two hawks alighted on his shoulders. Their stern faces aligned with their masters. “Do you desire to end the voices so soon? Come and let me cure you of your disease.”

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