Seven is an important number. There are seven sacraments, seven deadly sins, seven virtues, seven gifts of the holy spirit, seven days of the week… and as of this month, it’s been seven years since I wrote my first fantasy story. Covering six sheets of lined paper in a big, messy handwriting, and dated 4/17/12, this fairytale never properly had a name. (I find “Prince Gabriel” the handiest thing to call it.) I could say that this is the foundational work of all my later writing, the first full story that I wrote, and that it was a remarkable achievement for a ten-year-old—but I’d rather say that I now find it very amusing.
I’ve come a long ways in the last seven years of writing, and for me much of the amusement (and a good bit of non-amused emotion) is from glimpsing bits of an earlier self through the writing, and from seeing how I had already adopted certain mannerisms, certain viewpoints. There were nascent turns of phrase there, and I already liked semicolons; I couldn’t quite use them properly, but I liked them. I loved fancy words and archaic word orders, and loaded them into runon sentences. I also appear to have liked extra capitalization—though my added and left-off capitals here appear somewhat Indiscriminate. I misspelled guard as gaurd: a habit which I only mostly trained myself out of in 2016, and have kept on making occasionally.
This first completed story was prompted by a game of Once Upon a Time which I played with my mother—in the picture, I have included some cards which I noted as having been in the game. While transcribing, I’ve removed the wearisome errors of erratic spacing and deficient carriage returns, but the grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are intact. Hope you enjoy it!
“Mother, tell me, what happened to my father?”
“Must I tell you my son, my Gabriel?” answered the lady Elizebeth sadly
“Yes mother I must know”
“Alright said she if you must know, when your father was out hunting one day when you were but a baby, a cruel giant captured him and killed all with him exept one man who he left for dead with a lump the size of a goose egg on his head. Later the man returned and told the tale his name is Hans Goodman.”
“Hans Goodman!” cried Gabriel “why I know him, he is one of our most faithfull servants. Now Mother, if you know tell me where the Giant is that I may rescue him.”
“My son I know you must do this; but it greives my heart for you to go. I know not where the giant is but I have a ball of string that was given to me at your Christening by a good fairy named Helena, who said that one day you would need it to find your father one day. I belive it will lead you to him.”
“Mother,” said Gabriel “Bring me now the ball of string and help me to Get some travelers fare, so that I may leave Imediatly.”
As he had said Prince Gabriel set out the next day among many farewells and a few tears. He rode out far into the woods until He was in a place he did not know. He then began to search for the Hut of a wise woman wich he should know by the talking animals in the yard, also by the animals if it were a wicked witch the animals should be Snackes, scorpions or other such animals. If it were the house of a good fairy in disguise the animals should include among them a Unicorn and a butterfly. By and by Gabriel came upon one of the former, being tired and hungry he decided to take his chances and his horse (which could talk) thought it a good idea too, However she told him to be on his gaurd and by no means to let the witch know she could talk. He went in and found the table set with two places at one of which sat the inhabitent an old witch named ursla.
“Evening good mother,” Gabriel said “who are you expecting?”
“Why Prince Gabriel,” she said “Who do you think other than you” in s flattering voice.
“Thank you but it was not nescessary” Said Gabriel and they set to.
After the Meal she offered Him A cup of win but Gabrie who was on the lookout noticed that She put some Green powder in before she gav it to him and he resolved not to drink it. So when the cup was proffered He said
“No Madam I will not drink for it looks as if you had tampered with it.”
at that she saw he was not to be tricked that way. So She schemed as she showed him a bed for the night. After she left he wisely decided not to sleep in the bed so he aranged the pillows on the bed so as to look like a sleeping man. After which he set up vigil in the corner and waited. soon she cam in with a club and hit the pillows several times with it.
“Ah” said he “So that is what would have become of me if I had slept In that bed”
Then he settled Down in His corner and fell fast Asleep. In the morning he went downstairs and Said Good morning to the witch
“I think you ruined som of your pillows last night.” he siaid
“Do you mind checking the oven and see if the oven is hot enough for baking bread” she Said.
“How do you do it he said please show me.”
“Alright” said she unsespecting.
She had proven wicked enough to kill without having it on his consience, so when she stuck her her head in the oven she got the fate she had intended for him; that of being burned alive.
Afterwards he rode onwards until the path narrowed and was a slender bridge over gaping depths. And in the middle was a sphinx. Its Apearence was of of stone yet it was a living creaturure for it talk in this manner asking him a riddle:
“How much dirt is there in a hole ten feet deep, five feet long, two inches wide.” said she
“none” said Gabriel “for the reason that that it is a hole.”
“you have ruined me.” she said, and fell shriecking into the depths.
After which our prince rode on heartened by these ventures. Soon he became very hungry and tirsty then he came to a great lake but the water was yellow and green so he decided not to drink of its waters. then he saw a bottle and its water was crystal clear. so he drank of it and his thirst was quenched. Later he came to an orchard which had much delicous fruit in it yet there were many inhabitants who all looked as if they had forgoten everything except how delicous the fruit was. It was Here he found out that the water he had drunk had made him able to understand the toungs of beasts and birds, for he saw a flock of ravens
“I do hope” said one “that this young man has drunk of the water of understanding.”
“Yes” said another “he looks as if he has.”
“Ah” he thought “It sounds as if I had better not eat of this fruit.”
so he went on his way and soon found a large basket of fruit much more delicous looking and smelling than the poisened fruit.
“This fruit is safe to eat.” cried one of the ravens.
“Thank you very much” said Gabriel and ate heartily.
After which he passed on and came to a little cottage with a unicorn in the yard. I was the cottage of a good fairy. He knocked on the door and it was answered by a little old woman. She had Silvery white hair that shimerred in the moonlight (for it was now dark on the eve of a full moon.) her sweet old face had no wrinkles but her eyes were deep as if she had memory of many things both joyful and sorrowful. She bade him good evening and invited him in saying
“Welcome my son. come in and rest yourself.”
He the thanked her say “Good mother, I am heartily Glad to find a safe resting place for the night.”
as he went in She laid her hand on his head and he felt Greatly refreshed. that night he slept peacefuly and long, and in the morning he was greatly rested. He went downstairs taking with him the ball of string for he knew not how to use it and intended to ask. he saw her bustleing about the kitch in a simple blue frock with white lac trim using her wand to get breakfast ready.
“Good morning” she said “what would you like to ask me?”
“how can I use this?” he asked holding up the ball of string.
“I will show you after you have breakfast.” she said,
after breakfast she took the ball of string laid it down on the ground and tapped it with her wand. It immediately started unrolling alon the Path away from Gabriel and the fairy
“follow that” she Said pointing at the thail of string “it will roll itself up behind you and unroll itself in front of you. Make sure never to Stray from its path.”
“I will.” said prince Gabriel.
He rode on and at length he reached the ruins of a Great castle. there was a young and beautiful maiden drawing water from a we outside the castle.
“shush” said the maiden “Get away from this place it is the home of a horrible ogre if he finds you he will eat you.”
“Madam, let me enter now that you have said what you have said I am firmly resolved to enter for I am sure that my father is kept hostage here.” said Gabriel and briefly told her the manner of his adventures, after which he said “but now, tell me your name and adventures.”
“My name” she began “Is Miriam. I am the eldest daughter of the lady Cecilia Bonham, Husband of the Lord Mark Bonhan. I have seven sisters and Seven brothers. my siblings and I were playing at the riverside one day all fourteen of us, suddenly the ugly ogre came upon us, siezed us, and bore us all away to his castle. Where he mad us his slaves. earlier I seemingly contradicted my self, I should have said All of us older children for my Seventh sister the youngest of us was but a baby. that was seven years ago I am seventeen now. She will have celebrated her seven burthday not long ago. I know not If your father is here But If you will tell me what he Looked like I will tell you If he is here.”
“my mother,” said Prince Gabriel “has told me he looked like an older version of myself.”
“Than he is here” Miriam joyfully said “come in I will you from the ogre,” she said and then bitterly after a pause “I am his cook.” After which she took him in and said you shall help us in the kitchen.”
“here” she said “please chop these vegetabales.”
Gabriel chopped them and mentaly thanked his mother for teaching him a little bit about cooking.
“Now she said “Would you mind if I Itroduced you to my brothers and sisters.” without waiting she said. “Come here all of you, Charlotte leave that potato for a moment. This is prince Gabriel”
“just call me Gabriel” said the person in question.
“Oh all rihgt Gabriel.” she said “these are my siblings in age order: (they quikly rearranged themselves) Henry, Mary, George Elizebeth, James, Grace, Jhon, Maria,”
“You have two siblings named after our lady” observed Gabriel.
“yes my Parent like that name” she said “Now, stop interrupting so I can finish my list, Alright Manuel, Katharine—Also called Kate—Matthew, Rebbeca, and luke.”
After that they comenced to cook Dinner for the Giant Miriam appeared to be head cook and bossed everyone around superbly. right Before the dishes were sent up Miriam sprinkled sleeping powder over them. But she told Gabriel that before he slept he would intoxecated and answer any question put to him truthfully. Then she put the dish in Gabriels hands and told him to take it to the Giant and start asking questions as soon as the Giant took a bite. Gabriel did this and the first question he asked was
“were is my father?”
“In the servant quarters.” answered the giant as if in a daze.
“How can I defeat you?” was the next question.
“my heart is under the hearth stone Bake it and I will die.
so they Baked the heart set the prisoners free and fled home. Later among Great rejoycings Gabriel and miriam were married.