A short story by Fleur Helsingor
Rumpelstiltskin approached the palace guard. "I'm here to see the Queen," he announced, "and I do have an appointment!"
"Very well, sir," the very tall man replied. "I'll summon a page."
The guard rang a bell, and a young boy arrived to show Rumpelstiltskin the way to the Queen's morning room. Upon their arrival, the Queen burst into tears.
"Can't I offer you anything else instead? I'll give you all of my gold and jewels," she wailed. "Please let me keep my little girl!"
"Sorry, ma'am, a deal's a deal!" the scruffy little man replied. "I'm here to collect the payment that you promised me when I met my part of the bargain."
The Queen gave the baby one last kiss and handed her over. Rumpelstiltskin wrapped the little girl in the blanket that he brought, a fluffy pale straw-gold one that he had made especially for this occasion. The woman's sobbing grew louder, so he hurried out of the room.
As he made his way down the bridge across the moat, he became aware of an awful smell. To his horror, he realized that it was coming from the baby and the new blanket was damp.
His friend Columbine was a witch who had raised three children of her own, so he decided to visit her rather than go straight home.
"She needs her diapers changed!" Columbine announced. "Have you got any in the house? She's probably hungry, too!"
"Er, no, I haven't," Rumpelstiltskin replied. "I haven't a clue about such things . . . !"
"Well, let's go see what you need. We'll probably have to go shopping!" Columbine glared at him. "So what on earth are you doing with a child, anyway?"
"It's the tradition, isn't it? I mean, I spun the straw into gold, just as I agreed to do. The miller's daughter had run out of treasures to give me, and she couldn't guess my name!"
"Nobody demands a client's the first born child these days, that's so old hat! Why didn't you set up a loan, asking for double time and danger money, and make the first payment due when she became Queen? You could always add additional interest for late payments! You keep asking for kids, you're going to wind up with a houseful of little brats and broke to boot! So what's her name, anyway?"
"Uh, I don't know, I forgot to ask!"
"Well, you've got to call her something!"
"How about 'Stinkypants?'"
"No, silly, you've got to give her a nice name! You don't want the other kids to make fun of her, do you?"
"Um, I guess not. How about Heliotrope?"
"I suppose that's all right, but surely you can think of something better! Do you even know how to spell that?"
"Aw gee . . . ." he moaned. "You really know how to hurt a guy!"
To make things worse, Rumpelstiltskin had to borrow money as well as advice. The pile of disposable diapers and baby formula from the shopping trip barely fit into his cart.
Fortunately, he could spin some more straw into cloth. Columbine knew a girl who could sew and she was able to whip up some clothes for the baby within a few days.
Three months later, the baby was fussing in her crib and Rumpelstiltskin was sitting on his front porch sobbing into a dirty handkerchief. The infant kept him up night after night. He couldn't keep up with his regular work, and his clients threatened to take their miracle needs elsewhere. To make things worse, he still needed to pay Columbine back and settle the bill with the seamstress, and neither woman would speak to him anymore.
Suddenly, he realized what he needed to do. He went inside and washed his face. Then he grabbed the filthy pale straw-gold blanket and wrapped it around the screaming baby, ignoring the child's runny diaper. He took off at a trot for the king's palace.
"Here's the Queen's little brat!" He shouted, thrusting the bundle at the palace guard. "I can't take it any more . . . I'm bringing her back! I've had it! Give her back to her mother!"
Genre: a darkly funny fantasy tale, a possible sequel to the famous fairy tale. What might happen if the miller's daughter couldn't guess Rumpelstiltskin's name…?