Driving into town, I consider my plan. I’m going to read the grade two to fours a funny story, then complain that there’s something missing from my new website–their stories. I’ll tell them I’ll be back next week with another story, and will give them flyers telling them how to submit their stories for my site.
Hmm. The book isn’t where I thought it was. Oh yes, now I know. It’s at home waiting by my office door.
With no time to go back, I decide to present The Lady or the Tiger?, with abject apologies to Frank Stockton.
“A long time ago in a land far, far away, there lived a king and queen [I choose two royal volunteers to stand sedately] and their beautiful daughter, the princess [a forest of hands shoot up, I choose the third royal].
“In those days, like in some countries today, princesses fall in love with princes. That’s it. And princes fall in love with princesses.
“But this princess fell in love with THE GARDENER [a gardener steps forward and proceeds to dig in the classroom floor]. And he fell in love with her.
“Every night she went out to her balcony and threw down a rose [a marker flies]. The gardener held out his arms [he does this] and the princess jumped into his arms [I decide against this].
“They walked in the garden and sang love songs, and he gave her beautiful flowers. They made plans to run away and get married.
“Then, as the sky turned pink in the morning, the princess climbed up the ivy to her balcony, went into her bedroom and went to sleep. When the Queen woke her up in the morning, she wondered why the princess was so tired.
“But one night when they were walking in the garden, a guard came! [Enter guard, feet stomping, pencil for a sword.]
” ‘ I’m going to tell your father!’ he yelled.
The princess cried [good job, Your Highness] and begged, ‘Please don’t tell my father!’ ”
” ‘I’ll give the freshest vegetables in the garden,’ offered the gardener.
” “I only like meat!’ thundered the guard, and he stomped back to the palace to tell the king.
“The king was so angry. His face turned red, then white. ‘Go to your room,’ he thundered, ‘while I think about your punishment!”
If you have read this famous story, you know that the commoner ends up in the arena. Behind one door waits a hungry tiger, and behind the other waits a beautiful lady, ready to wed the commoner. The hapless gent must choose one door without knowing what’s behind it. The princess, however, knows which door hides the lady and which hides the carnivore.
She signals subtly to her love, and without a moment’s hesitation he opens the door indicated and sees . . . .
That’s where Stockton ended his story, and I end my version there as well.
The children supply the ending, with the lady getting the most votes. And, in perhaps a comment on the times we live in, two of the children propose that the gardener first marry the lady, then divorce her and marry the princess.
As I’m about the leave, the after school care Writer in Residence (she puts her stories in booklets and reads them to the kindergarteners) tells me that her story for me is in the computer.
In the hallway, the Princess has me pose while she quickly does my portrait in coloured pencil.
Creativity brings a special joy, one which our Creator has chosen to share with us. I am grateful.