Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a simple village girl. Her name was Belle, and she was the daughter of an old inventor. The people of the town thought her very pretty. In fact, many suitors had come to the old inventor, begging for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Belle, however, thought them all strange and pathetic. No, she had no interest in marriage. Instead, she loved reading books and feeding the chickens on her father’s land. She was a sweet and timid girl—friendly, cordial, warm, amiable, pleasant, and all those other words that mean nice things.
Her father, the old inventor, loved his daughter and let her live her single life as she pleased. Though he tried to persuade her to be married, she refused. All the boys in the village were only interested in hunting, working out, and drinking beer. Not one of them showed interest in fantastical stories with swordfights and magic spells. Not one of them loved to dream or even simply think on a cool summer evening on a familiar front porch, as she always did. No, Belle thought: one day, if she were to marry, she would find a wonderful man who loved doing everything she did. And he would love her for who she was, and not what she looked like.
The king of the land was just and fair. He was a big man—the biggest in the land, for he loved pork chops. He lived in a castle with many servants and hanging gardens. His loyal subjects loved him dearly. His daughter, however, was not nearly as adored.
The king’s daughter, Snow White, was named after her mother, Sleeping Beauty. (Her mother had died giving birth to her, many years ago). Unfortunately for the entire kingdom, Snow White…was not a beauty at all. In fact, she was the ugliest girl in the entire kingdom, with warts on her nose and hair on her chin. The king, though aware of his daughter’s unsightliness, was desperate to find a handsome prince to be her husband, for she was nearing the marrying age. No one, however, would have her.
Princess Snow White was terribly hurt and confused. She did not want to be married. She was tired of living in a rich castle with everyone shrieking when they caught sight of her. She was tired trying to meet everyone’s expectations. She spent her days making beaded jewelry while reading every encyclopedia she was given. (She was, indeed, quite the nerd). She would read books on protons, microorganisms, and even dissecting worms, (which she had done at the table, much to everyone’s disgust). Snow White merely wanted someone to have geeky fun with her, and not be laughed at any longer.
Her father was loving but stern. He persuaded her to not spend so much time being nerdy and to keep hoping that one day she would be the happiest girl in the world. Snow White would only sigh. Her constant beauty treatments and plastic surgeries were not doing a single thing.
Then, one morning, on the country road leading into the kingdom, came a cat with a hat, and a sword, and a belt…and some boots. He was strong, dashing, and tabby. He came prancing proudly into the village of the kingdom. He was Puss in Boots, and he was looking for adventure and gold. His eyes fell upon the king’s castle and instantly waltzed up the palace steps, his nose in the air.
He entered the castle and spotted the distressed king upon his throne. The king set eyes on this…interesting animal. His whiskers were curled just so, and his boots on his back legs made him look almost as tall as an average-sized man. Puss in Boots drew his sword in courageous confidence as he shouted:
“I am Puss in Boots! And I have come for adventure and gold! Give me a task, O King, and I will defeat your enemies and win the heart of your beloved daughters and maidens!” (He was always proud of his dashing looks).
The king sat up. “You…you would marry my daughter if you completed a task I have given you?”
“Indeed, O King!” Puss cried in triumph.
“Well then!” the king jumped out of his throne, thoroughly relieved. “There are bandits roaming the Dark Woods. Bring them to my dungeons, and I will give you my daughter’s hand!”
“I shall not fail, O King!” Puss replied, and he dashed out of the palace.
Puss had always been longing for a beautiful maiden and all the food and comfort he could consume. For many years, he had roamed the roads of many kingdoms, confronting many dangers and many foes. Finally, perhaps, this was his chance to rest in his splendor and bravery.
In the Dark Woods, he found the bandits and captured them all with his two paws and two boots. Tying their hands behind their back, he brought them before the king. The king was overjoyed that this “Puss in Boots” had come back alive. The bandits were rid of, and he could finally marry off his daughter.
“My prize, O King?” Puss inquired.
There, from behind the throne, came Snow White. Puss jumped back in shock. She was the most hideous woman he had ever laid eyes on! (And that was saying a great deal). She gazed at him, instantly entranced. (He was a very handsome cat). But Puss in Boots was disgusted.
“I can’t marry her!” Puss cried, stepping back.
“AND WHY NOT???” the king bellowed, quite perturbed.
“Well she’s…she…she is ugly!” Puss stammered. Snow White’s eyes began to blur. She whimpered. Her face was getting red.
“Wait…” Puss stepped forward, comfortingly. “Wait, don’t cry…” He failed to sooth her. She wailed and howled as tears streamed down her mottled face and bulgy warts.
“Don’t cry…” Puss continued to say, but no good did it do.
“See what you’ve done!” the king roared, his big arm over his daughter. “You have disgraced this kingdom with your heartless words!”
“But I…” Puss didn’t know what to say. She was ugly, but no one seemed to want to admit it but him. Snow White continued to bleat and wail in her father’s arms. It was pitiful, really. She was almost as obese as her father, and she cried in his bulging arms.
“You will pay for your misdeed!” the king bellowed. He glanced at the guards. “Take him to the dungeon!”
The guards approached, but Puss in Boots drew his sword. “Wait, my lord!”
The king seemed to subside. Puss approached him pleadingly, putting his sword away.
“Snow White…” he tried not to grimace. “…is beautiful now. But I only meant…that she could be more beautiful. I know of a place that would stretch her beauty beyond anything you could ever imagine.”
“Beauty as in…what she has now? Or real beauty?” the king asked, loosening his embrace.
“Daddy!” the princess wailed.
“Oh no,” Puss continued. “I mean real beauty—beauty that would draw dozens of princes to your knees, begging for her hand.”
“You…you can promise this?” the king asked.
“Upon my sword, I can.”
So Puss in Boots was ordered to take Princess Snow White to the place he had spoken of. Many years ago, Puss himself had been to this place. It was where he had gotten his beloved boots and his magnificent hat and sword, so he told the princess! (Actually, he had gotten those things from his former master, but he had visited this place AFTER he had received them).
Walking alongside the princess, Puss in Boots led her into the Dark Woods. There, they found a brick house in the heart of the forest. The chimney puffed smoke, and there was light coming from the window. Puss rapped on the door, and the three little pigs answered.
Phil, Gil, and Bill were the three little pigs, and they mixed magical potions in their brick house in the Dark Woods. They all had little shirts and collars and little bowler hats on. Their pink snouts made Snow White snort a laugh. They squealed when they saw her, but Puss calmed them down. Puss asked the pigs if they could make her a potion that would make her beautiful.
“That’s complicated,” Bill said. He was the oldest.
“Quite right,” said Phil.
“Sure is,” said Gil.
“But you must!” Puss pleaded. “If you don’t do this for me, I will find that big bad wolf of yours and help him blow down your house!”
“This house is too sturdy—no one can blow it down!” Bill said.
“Quite right,” said Phil.
“Sure can’t,” said Gil.
“If you don’t make me pretty…” Snow White was stern, and quite desperate. “My father will come and destroy your house and all of your work and banish you from the kingdom!”
“Even if we were to give you a potion, you can’t take it by yourself!” Bill said.
“Quite right,” said Phil.
“ALRIGHT ALRIGHT!!!” Puss cried. He turned to Bill. “Who will she need to take it with?”
“Another girl,” Bill said, “—another girl to counteract the magic.”
Puss didn’t hear the rest. Dashing from the house, he rushed to the near village. The first girl he set eyes on was the first person he ran to. It was our dearest, beloved Belle. She was feeding her father’s chickens near the drinking well.
Grabbing her hand, he rushed back towards the forest, answering no questions. Belle tugged and struggled, but he held her hand tightly. They came back to the brick house, and Puss and Belle burst into the room.
“Here is your other girl!” Puss panted, desperate. “Now can you please get on with it?”
“We will have to have some payment,” Bill remarked.
“Quite right,” said Phil.
“Sure will,” said Gil.
“My father has loads of money,” Snow White boasted, noticing there was another girl in the room that was prettier than she was. “He will give you whatever you like!”
Bill seemed to like this answer, so he nodded. The three little pigs all began to mix and stir items into a big black cauldron in the middle of the room. Oregano leaves, raven beaks and the legendary heart of Cinderella’s stepmother…it all fell into the pot, as they stirred with song:
“Stir with caution,
Stir with ease,
Don’t sniff the garlic,
It’ll make you sneeze…”
“Don’t be scared,
If you sputter or cough,
Jack Sprat’s wife
Will finish it off…”
And the verses continued. Then, out of the cupboard, Phil took out a solitary red apple. He dipped it into the cauldron, let it dry, and handed it to Snow White.
“One bite will change it all…” Bill said whistfully.
“Ohhh quite right,” said Phil.
“Sure will!” said Gil.
Snow White took a bite, and everything did change, but not for the better. The bite of the apple made her even uglier! More warts popped up on her neck and arms. More hairs grew on her chin. Her nose got even lumpier, and her hair was stringy and disheveled.
Snow White screamed at her reflection in the cauldron, and Puss in Boots groaned.
“YOU SAID IT WOULD CHANGE IT ALL!!!” he roared at the pigs.
“We did, but we didn’t say for the better!” Bill snickered. They all laughed together—the three mischievous pigs.
“haha! Quite right,” laughed Phil.
“We sure didn’t, we sure didn’t…” Gil chuckled.
Puss fumed. “Do you want that money or not?” he griped.
“Alright, alright, keep your boots on!” Bill waved his hand. “Does it have to be a beauty potion?”
“My Daddy just wants me to get married!” Snow White blurted out.
“Ahhh, well this changes things!” said Bill.
“Quite right,” Phil said.
“Sure does!” echoed Gil.
With a nod from Bill, Gil went to the back room and came back with two warty frogs. He sprinkled something over them as it seemed to be a spell. The pigs gestured to the princess, and to Belle. Belle, who had watched in great confusion and wonder at these strange characters, had stood calmly and quietly in the back corner. She had her book wrapped in her arms, wondering why on earth she had been brought to the brick house.
But, as she was bidden, she sat beside the hideous princess and watched as the two frogs were placed in front of them.
“These two frogs,” Bill said, “are handsome young suitors. Well, one is anyway. Each of you will kiss a frog. Choose carefully, though, for there is only one frog that is a prince that is charmed to love you no matter what you look like. No matter what your face looks like, you are everything he ever wanted! The other frog, well…is something different. Choose carefully, princess,” he said, glancing at Snow White. “The king won’t be too happy if you didn’t come home with a prince.”
All were silent, as Snow White gazed with wondrous horror at the two frogs.
“Quite right—” Phil began.
“Oh DO be quiet!” Snow White snapped. She glanced at Belle with utter frustration. “YOU choose for me!” she demanded.
Belle jumped. “Me?”
“Yes you!” the princess retorted, with half a sob. “It’s too much pressure. Daddy says stress is the reason my hair is all frizzy.” Belle rolled her eyes. Snow White glowered. “And you better pick the right one! If you don’t, my daddy will punish you! Now do it quick—before I lose my patience!”
“Alright, alright,” Belle said softly. She glanced at the two ugly frogs that sat before them. They both lazily gazed up at her as if she was a boring old log. Suddenly, she grabbed the one in front of the princess.
“One…two…three!” the pigs counted. And on three, the two girls kissed their frogs. Belle squirmed. Hers was utterly slimy. Snow White didn’t mind—finally, a boy who would love her!
But when they let go, Snow White screamed. She had gotten the frog prince, but he was short and stout, with a big ugly nose and thinning hair combed back with too much gel. His shirt was buttoned a button too high, and his socks were pulled up to his knees. He wore glasses and snorted with his buck teeth when he saw Snow White.
“Yer perty…” he chucked, blushing and turning away.
Snow White whirled around in rage. “I’M NOT MARRYING HIM!” she cried. “How could you be so heartless as to give me an ugly brute for my prince?” And she burst into tears. “All I wanted was someone to be like me,” she wailed. “I’m a nerd!—an outright nerd! I never get anything I want! I’ve proven it scientifically! Aristotle himself couldn’t have proven it better!”
The young suitor snorted. “I like Aristotle,” he chuckled.
Snow White sniffed. “You…you do?”
“Yeah,” the suitor shuffled his feet in his bashfulness. “I read a whole book on him once…” He straightened his glasses.
Snow White straightened. “You did?”
“Yeah,” his buck-tooth smile showed.
“How long was it?” Snow White asked.
“Eh, ‘bout a thousand pages,” he answered.
Snow White marveled. Her eyes changed, and they were dreamy and entranced. “I’ve never met anyone that has read a book that long, except me!” she said dreamily.
The suitor shuffled his feet and smiled again.
“Garsh,” he said. “You’re even prettier than my mom.” He looked down with embarrassment.
“I bet that’s saying quite a lot!” Snow White gasped in delight. And she leapt forward and kissed him on the cheek. The suitor nearly fainted.
Snow White and the young suitor left the brick house and went straight up to the castle. The three pigs, Puss, and Belle watched them from the window.
Now, what did Belle’s frog turn into, you may ask? A lamp—that’s all. A lamp. Though it looked more like a squished teapot, Belle looked at it interestingly.
Puss, meanwhile, noticed again how pretty her face was. Puss realized that she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He glanced down at the book that had been wrapped in her arms.
“Robinson Crusoe?” he asked, looking up. Belle smiled.
“He’s one of my favorites,” she answered. “I love adventure stories.”
“Wha—me too!” he stammered, quite delighted. “I live for adventures!”
Belle sighed dreamily. “I wish I could,” she said. “I need to go on SOME adventure…I’m sick of every day here being the same.”
Puss grabbed her hand as he gazed into her eyes. “Come with me, my sweet,” he said, “and we will roam the lands together. I will take you away and we will have many marvelous adventures…together.” He purred.
Belle yearned to take him up on it right away. To go and watch daring swordfights and horrid foes…it was her perfect dream!
“You’re…you’re not obsessed with girls and beer?” she asked. “Everyone here is.”
“What good are those things to me?” Puss asked. “I seek adventure. You are the only one I could ever share it with…”
Belle beamed. She had fallen deeply in love. Finally—someone like her! But…but…
“But you’re a cat,” she remembered.
“I am not a cat!” Puss said. “I am a prince! A witch turned me into a cat when I asked her to help me escape from my palace life. She gave me my sword and these boots, and I have been on my own ever since.”
Belle’s eyes smiled. “Is there any way to undo the spell?” she urged.
Puss in Boots glanced at the lamp she had in her hand. “Bill, Phil, Gil,” he said. “What is this lamp?”
“That’s a magic lamp,” Bill answered. “It grants you only one wish.”
“Quite right,” Phil said.
“Sure does,” Gil said.
Puss took Belle’s hands into his paws. “Wish for me to become human,” he said. “And we will be together in every adventure we undertake. And one day, you will come home as my princess!”
Bell wished it, and Puss in Boots turned into a handsome young man. He gazed at Belle with loving eyes, and Belle fell madly in love with him.
After bidding goodbye to the pigs, Belle and Puss burst out of the brick house and ran freely through the Dark Woods towards the village. The nerdy suitor and Snow White, by this time, had reached the castle and were reading through Snow White’s many collections of encyclopedias, laughing with dreamy sighs and the embarrassed shuffling of feet.
As the three little pigs watched human-Puss and Belle leave the Woods, Bill smirked.
“You know, Snow White could have traded the nerd for the lamp and she could’ve just wished for a better-lookin’ prince.”
“Quite right,” Phil agreed. “Yeah she’s not very bright, is she?”
“Sure isn’t,” Gil shook his head.
So the king finally had a suitor for his daughter, and Snow White had an attractive comrade (so she thought) that enjoyed the things she did. Belle embarked on many adventures with one she loved, and Puss in Boots had the hand of the most beautiful maiden in the land.
And that’s why everyone lived happily ever after, for the present.