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Once upon a time, underneath the deep, blue ocean, there lived a sea king who had 7 mermaid daughters, each one more beautiful than other. He had no sons, but loved all his princesses dearly and gave them everything they could ever wish for.

On the 16th birthday of each princess, it was a family tradition that they each get to spend a whole day on the surface to learn about the world above, and they would always have an interesting tale to tell when they return. The youngest of the mermaids, who grew up listening to those tales, longed for the day she would turn 16 so she, too, can see the world above for herself.

Finally, on her 16th birthday, the little mermaid got her long-awaited chance to visit the surface. After having a lavish birthday party the night before, she bid goodbye to her family and eagerly swam away towards the world above.

The surface was everything her sisters told her and more, and it just so happened that the prince of the land she was visiting on was returned from a long sea voyage and there was hustle and bustle about as the people prepared to celebrate and welcome the prince home. Curiosity overtook her as the little mermaid swam her way to where the prince's ship would be coming from and found it just beyond the horizon.

There was many a-merrymaking on the prince's ship as they congratulated him on a voyage well done, and as the little mermaid snuck a peek at the prince, she was heads over heels in love with him, unable to believe such a handsome creature could exist. Her tiny little beating heart wished with all her might that she could be on the ship instead, dancing and laughing along with the prince.

Suddenly a great storm crashed in, taking everyone by surprise. No one was prepared for such an unexpected event as the storm tossed the ship around the waves like a rag doll, destroying every inch of the vessel. They had no choice but to abandon ship, but the prince, after trying to rescue everyone on board, was overcame by the current and knocked unconscious, sending him sinking to the sea. If it weren't for the little mermaid who rescued him in time, he would've drowned and be done for.

The little mermaid swam with the prince in tow and brought him to land where there would be people passing by. She stayed out of sight, watching over the prince until a group of women from a nearby convent walked by and caught sight of the prince on the shore. Making sure that he was tended to, the little mermaid left with a heavy heart, feeling as if she had left a piece of herself behind.

She told everything she had experienced on the surface to her sisters when she returned, but could not bring herself to tell them about her feelings for the prince as she knew they would not understand. She would sneak out every night to where the prince's castle was and stare at him longingly from afar, hoping to get at least a glimpse of her beloved before she had to spend another sleepless night thinking about him.

She became more and more reclusive, beside herself with loneliness and yearning for the prince she fell at first sight for. She lost interest of her world and was obsessed about the human world instead. Her family was worried about her sudden change but did not know what to do to help her.

Finally, the little mermaid could not take it anymore and decided that if the prince could not be with her, she will be with him instead. She snuck out of her castle as usual and made her way to the shadows of the sea, where the devious sea-witch dwelled. The sea-witch, having the power of foresight, had expected the little mermaid's arrival.

"I know what it is you seek, my child," the sea-witch crooned. "And while what you seek is endearing, it is also expensive."

"Name your price, sea-witch," the little mermaid begged. "As long as I am able to be with my beloved prince."

"Drink this potion under the full moon's light," the sea-witch handed her a vial of purple liquid, "and your tail will be transformed in man-limbs. There will be extreme pain during the transformation, and walking on man-made land will feel like fiery needles on your delicate feet. But if you succeed in making the prince fall in love with you, all your pain will be gone and you shall remain human for all time."

"And if I do not succeed?"

"You will die and become the foam of the sea, never to be part of this world or the next ever again."

"And the price for this magic?"

"Your beautiful voice may serve as an equivalent exchange. After all, if the prince truly loves you, he would not mind this small detail."

The little mermaid, after some hesitation, accepted the deal. She took the bottle offered to her and swam to the shores of the prince's castle. She waited for the full moon's light before taking the potion, and within minutes, her tail started to peel and crack, revealing her newly-made human legs underneath. The sea-witch was not lying when she said the transformation hurt, and the slow pace was not helping either as she cried and sobbed till her voice was no more.

The next morning, she was found by the prince and his escorts when he was out riding. Taken by her innocence and the scars on her legs and feet from the transformation, the prince took pity on her and took her in, thinking that she may have been a slave of sorts who got caught in a shipwreck and was washed on shore like he did.

The sea-witch was true to her word; every step the little mermaid took was like walking on broken glass, and shoes felt like hot coals on her skin, but she could not utter a sound even if she tried. The prince took her as one of his escorts and treated her like the sister he never had, and often tell her about the tale where he was shipwrecked and washed to shore and saved by a woman whose face he could not remember. The little mermaid wanted to tell him that it was she who saved him, but she knew neither to read nor write in human language, thus her deeds went unsaid.

Time passed as quick as sand, and before they knew it, 2 years have passed since they first met. One day, on winter's eve, a king from a neighboring land came to visit, bringing along his daughters. The moment the prince laid eyes on the youngest daughter and spoke to her, he knew immediately that she was one of the girls from the convent who found him ashore. The princess admitted to the deed, saying that she was a student at the convent when she met him, and the prince wasted no time in declaring that she was the one he wanted to be his bride.

The little mermaid was devastated to hear the news. She recognized the princess as one of the convent girls, but she knew it was not her who saved the prince. Try as she might, she was unable to convince the prince otherwise, and the prince was too obsessed over the princess to listen anyway.

As their wedding drew near, the little mermaid was getting desperate and was crying to the heavens when suddenly her sisters emerged from the sea bearing a huge silver dagger and their hair cut short.

"We have heard of your plight," the eldest sister said as she handed the dagger to the little mermaid, "and we begged the sea-witch to break the magic that holds you."

"Take this dagger that we've paid with our hair, and kill the prince on his wedding night before the sun rises," the third sister said. "You must consume his heart to regain your voice, and you will return to your true mermaid form and be with us again."

"The prince has forsaken you," the second sister said. "We do not wish for you to die for this human, after all you've done for him. He's no longer worth your love."

The little mermaid took the dagger and watched her sisters return to the sea. Her sisters' words rang true to her heart: she had done so much to get here, sacrificing her voice and her tail and endured so much pain just to be with the prince and make him fall in love with her. She was so close, so close! And yet...

On that wedding night, as the prince slept with his new bride, the little mermaid snuck into their bedroom with the dagger in hand. She watched as his beloved prince slept peacefully and knew that he had found happiness, but was sad as she knew the happiness was not from her.

If I cannot have him, no one will, she thought as she reached forward to slit both the prince's and the princess's throat. Carving both their hearts out, her lips creased into a wicked smile as she devoured them while they were still beating, unaware of the changes going on in her body...

The little mermaid never returned to the sea after that fateful night. She did not die and turn into the foam of the sea, but she did not turn back into a mermaid either. An elaborate funeral was done for the prince and his bride, and the little mermaid's family mourned for the loss of her too.

But during dark, stormy nights, you can hear her maniacal laughter echoing in the dungeons of the prince's castle, the lightning illuminating her fire-red hair and green scaly skin...

Deep in the forests of old, there lived a woodcutter and his wife. They had two children named Hansel and Gretel, and they loved them dearly. Even though they were not very well-off, they were a happy family, and want for nothing.

Sadly, the wife died when the children were 10, but the woodcutter could not take care of two children alone, so he remarried again. His new wife was, unfortunately, very demanding, only caring for herself and had no interest in raising the children. And because the woodcutter was too soft-hearted and too good a Christian to divorce her, she got away with everything.

One day, while Hansel accompanied Gretel to get water, they accidentally eavesdropped on the woodcutter and his wife planning to get rid of them. The wife complained that they did not have enough food to feed one person, let alone four, and the extra mouths had to go. The woodcutter was not too thrilled about the idea, but the wife would not let up, and gave him no quarter until he was forced to agree with her decision.

"What are we to do?" Gretel asked worriedly. "If we are left alone in the woods, we will surely die."

"Don't worry, sis," Hansel assured her. "I will not allow that to happen."

After he tucked Gretel to bed, Hansel snuck out of the house to collect marble pebbles that shone under the moonlight, filling his pouch with them till it was almost near sunrise before he snuck back into bed.

The next day, after packing their breakfast, the woodcutter brought Hansel and Gretel into the woods as a pretense to teach them the trade. While they entered the woods, Hansel lagged behind to drop the pebbles, creating a trail for them to their home. The woodcutter wandered until they were deep enough before he snuck away, leaving the children to their devices.

Come nightfall, the children had really lost their way, but thankfully, because of the pebbles Hansel dropped, they managed to find their way home, much to the chagrin of their stepmother. They used that tactic for the next few nights until finally the stepmother decided to take matters in her own hands.

First, she inspected Hansel's belongings and found the pebbles in his pouch. Then she emptied the pouch of its pebbles and locked the door so that Hansel could not sneak out. The next day, she decided to take the children instead and brought them dangerously deep into the woods and into the territory where she heard legends about a flesh-eating witch lurking about before making a run for it.

Without the pebbles, the children could not find their way back home, and Hansel's alternative option of using a trail of breadcrumbs failed when the birds have picked it off clean. Poor Hansel and Gretel wandered for days, maybe weeks, with no food and only rain as their source of water.

Before they knew it, they have entered into the realm where the flesh-eating witch lived. Lured by the sweet-smelling aroma of candies and pastries, they found the sweet house that the witch built to lure her victims in and started digging into it, gobbling with abandon.

The witch was delighted to have caught them in her trap and lured them into her home with the promise of more candy and treats. Once the children had their fill and fell into a stupor from their hearty meal, the witch locked Hansel up in a cage made of bones and chained Gretel to the floor, giving them a rude awakening of their fate. Gretel was forced under the threat of death to do all the witch's chores, including fattening up Hansel, for the witch had a rather fond taste for boys' flesh.

Gretel watched helplessly as her brother, traumatized by starvation, devoured his meal portions without question. She was only allowed to have whatever scraps was left after Hansel and the witch was done, which was very little, and was beaten black and blue if her chores were not done right. As Hansel grew fatter and fatter, Gretel grew thinner and thinner.

Finally, the witch, after feeling his finger, thought that Hansel was fat enough to be cooked. She ordered Gretel to start up the oven to bake while she prepared to cut Hansel up. That was when Gretel had an epiphany and struggled before the oven.

"Please help me," she begged. "I'm too thin and frail to reach the oven."

"Then go and get the stool for it," the witch barked as she picked up her knives.

"But the oven door is too heavy, and I'm too weak to reach in to start the fire."

"Oh, for goodness sake, child. Do I have to do everything myself?"

Frustrated, the witch made her way to the oven and stuck into it to start the fire. Gretel seized the chance and pushed the witch into the oven, shutting her in and let the oven cook her alive, the witch's cries falling on deaf ears. She quickly hunted for the keys to release Hansel before opening the oven to make sure the witch was really dead.

The moment Gretel opened the oven door, the strong delicious smell of meat permeated the air. Gretel, who had not eaten a decent meal in weeks, couldn't help it as her hunger pangs hit her like a ton of bricks. Without even thinking twice, she dragged the cooked witch out of the oven and started devouring her, clothes, skin, meat and all. Hansel watched with eager eyes at her sister eating like no tomorrow.

"Does it taste good?" Hansel asked with intrigue.

"Very," Gretel replied as she gnawed on a foot. "Would you like to try some?"

Hansel didn't need to be asked twice as he dug in too.

Hansel and Gretel were no longer heard from again, as the woodcutter had been driven to madness with grief over the loss of his children and there was no one to search for them.

But the legend of the flesh-eating witch continued to live on through them, still striking fear in the hearts of many.

Long, long ago, in a faraway land, there lived a King and Queen who ruled their kingdom with kindness and just, and were beloved by their subjects. They have everything their hearts' desire, but the one thing they desired the most was a child of their own.

One winter afternoon, as the Queen was tending to her rose garden, she accidentally pricked her finger on a thorn of one of the roses. As 3 drops of blood trickled onto the snow, the Queen made a silent wish.

"I wish to have a child as white as snow, with hair as black as night, and lips as red as blood. How beautiful that child would be."

No sooner she made that wish, than a year later, the Queen was pregnant and soon gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. Sadly, the Queen died soon after giving birth, and the King was beside himself with grief. His only consolation was that his little princess grew to look just like the Queen wished, and thus she was named 'Snow White'.

As much as the King was content to rule his kingdom with his little princess by his side, a king cannot be without his queen, so when a royal diplomat came to visit with his daughter, the King couldn't help but fall for her bewitching looks. He courted her almost immediately and by the next spring, they were wed.

Unbeknownst to the King and Snow White, the new Queen was actually descended from a secret lineage of witches from her mother's side, and was as devious as her predecessors. With her cunning wits and powerful witchcraft, she assassinated the King and took control of the throne, making her the sole ruler of the kingdom.

The Queen was evil as she was vain, and she had a magic mirror she kept in her secret shrine to make sure that her beauty would never be surpassed. Every morning and evening, she would look into the mirror and say the magic words:

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"

And the mirror would always answer: "Only you, my Queen, are the fairest of them all" and the Queen would be satisfied, for it would always speak the truth.

As the years went by, Snow White grew to be a beautiful young lady, ignorant of the Queen's evil deeds. On Snow's 16th birthday, the Queen approached her mirror as usual and asked, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"

"You, my Queen, are fair by far, but Snow White is much fairer than thou are."

The Queen was filled with jealous rage, and decided there and then to kill Snow White. She sent for the best huntsman in the castle to do the deed, instructing him to bring her her heart as proof of her death. She then asked Snow White to go gather flowers for her birthday party. Snow, being innocent as she always was, went without question.

The huntsman waited until Snow White was distracted enough before he made his move. Unlike most of the Queen's subjects, this huntsman was fiercely loyal to her and would want nothing more than to please the evil Queen. Snow never saw it coming. The huntsman was swift and silent, and before she knew it, she was on the grass in her own pool of blood and a gaping hole on her throat and her chest.

The huntsman presented Snow's heart to the Queen, and the Queen served the heart to the guests during the supposed birthday party, and feigned ignorance when they asked of Snow's whereabouts.

As the kingdom searched for Snow White in vain, and mourned her death when they couldn't, they did not know that deep in the woods where Snow gathered her flowers, lived 7 dwarves who mined gems for a living. One of the dwarves witnessed the murder and dragged Snow's body into the mines to show to his brothers.

The eldest and wisest of the dwarves knew this was the work of the Queen, and since dwarves and witches have been mortal enemies since ancient times, they thought Snow would serve as their best medium to eliminate the Queen once and for all.

The dwarves dug deep into the mines for the biggest, reddest ruby they could find, while they kept Snow White's body in a glass coffin within the mines to shield her from the elements. After days of digging, they finally found one that was almost the size of a fresh, ripe apple and inserted it into the gap where her heart was supposed to be.

Within minutes, the ruby attached itself onto the cavity and started beating in its own accord, pumping new, dark blood throughout the fair princess's body. Snow White's eyes fluttered open as she slowly came to life and the dwarves watched with quiet pride as she made her way out of the mines and into the kingdom where the Queen reigned.

Snow White was unstoppable the moment she set foot into the castle. It was like a great power resides within her and nothing stood in her way. Every attack and defense was useless to her, and she stormed through the castle and into the throne room with great ease, her ebony-black hair crackled and flowed like midnight fire. The Queen tried everything, but her magic was no match against the darkness that boiled through Snow's veins...

As Snow White loomed over the shredded body of the once evil Queen, her eyes caught sight of the mirror within the secret shrine. Stepping slowly into the shrine, she stood before the mirror, smiled and whispered:

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"

And the mirror answered: "Only you, Snow White, are the fairest of them all."

And Snow White was satisfied, for she knew it spoke the truth.

Once upon a time, in a quaint little village, lived a young girl with her parents. She had a grandmother who lived deep in the woods, and she was very much loved by the old lady. Her grandmother gave her a beautiful red hood and cape on her 1st birthday, and she had been wearing it ever since, and because of that, everyone called her 'Lil Red'.

One day, Lil Red's grandmother got the flu and couldn't take care of herself. So Lil Red's mother gave her some money and a basketful of fresh-bought groceries, packed Lil Red's suitcase and told her to go stay with her grandmother and take care of her until she gets better. Lil Red agreed and bid goodbye to her family before making her way into the woods.

Unbeknownst to her, within the dense woods, there lived a huge man-sized wolf. He had been watching Lil Red for quite some time now since she was little, and today was no different. He almost could not believe his eyes at how much Lil Red has grown since he last saw her, and how beautiful she was. He finally decided to come out of hiding and approached her.

"Hello, Lil Red," the wolf greeted.

"Hello," Lil Red, after getting over her surprise of the wolf's sudden presence, replied. "I'm sorry, how do you know my name? Have we met?"

"No, but I have known you all your life, since you first set foot into these woods. Going to visit your grandmother, I presume?"

"Yes, I am," Lil Red smiled. "She's sick with the flu, so I will be staying with her for a while until she feels better."

"That's very sweet of you," the wolf smiled back. "I hope I'm not being too forward, but I would really like to get acquainted with you. Would you mind terribly if we visit each other sometimes while you're with your grandmother?"

Lil Red was quite taken away by the wolf's boldness, but she could see that the wolf was sincere, so she agreed.

From that day onwards, Lil Red and the wolf met whenever they could. Lil Red was as good as gold, meeting her grandmother's every needs, but once she has completed her chores, she would wait until her grandmother was in bed before going out to a nearby flower field to meet up with the wolf. Sometimes she would have to do the laundry, so the wolf will go to meet her instead at the lake and they spend time together as well.

As the days went by, Lil Red felt more and more drawn towards the wolf, and before she knew it, she had fallen deeply in love with him. She dare not tell her grandmother about it for fear of being reprimanded and separated, so their love affair was kept secret.

Lil Red's grandmother was slowly getting better and Lil Red knew that sooner or later she was going to go back home to her family. She raised her concerns to the wolf, in which the wolf suggested that they run away together. While they secretly discussed their options, they did not realize that Lil Red's grandmother, who decided to take a walk and get some fresh air, had seen and heard everything.

Later that night, Lil Red secretly packed her belongings and, thinking her grandmother was asleep, snuck out of the cottage, making her way to the flower field where she and the wolf promised to meet and to make a run for it. But to her horror, she was met with the local woodsman standing over the mutilated body of her beloved wolf and a bloody axe in his hand. The woodsman told her that he was hired by her grandmother to kill the wolf and to take her back home immediately.

"It's for your own good." That was the only thing he said when she demanded why.

Lil Red was inconsolable. She grieved for her beloved wolf for weeks and her parents, appalled by her love for the wolf, did nothing to help her alleviate her pain. Everyone started to shun her and called her a freak, and her shameful parents took to locking her up in the cellar and soon forgot she existed.

A year later, Lil Red's grandmother was struck with bad news as word went around that a terrible fire consumed Lil Red's home and everyone in it. As the old lady grieved over the loss of the only family she had, a knock was heard at her door.

"Who is it?" the old lady called out.

"It is I, Lil Red," a gentle, wispy voice came from beyond the door.

The grandmother, thrilled to hear her sweet granddaughter's voice and relieved that she must've survived the fire, quickly answered the door, but taken aback at what she saw.

"Oh, Lil Red, what bright eyes you have."

"All the better to see you with, Granny."

"Oh, Lil Red, what a huge grin you have."

"All the better to smile at you with, Granny."

"Oh, Lil Red, what long nails you have..."

"All the better to TEAR YOU UP WITH, GRANNY!!"

Shiny, jagged teeth was the last thing the old lady saw before she was bathed in crimson red, and the woods was never the same again.

In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done. When every member of his domestic and political systems moved smoothly in its appointed course, his nature was bland and genial; but, whenever there was a little hitch, and some of his orbs got out of their orbits, he was blander and more genial still, for nothing pleased him so much as to make the crooked straight and crush down uneven places.

Among the borrowed notions by which his barbarism had become semified was that of the public arena, in which, by exhibitions of manly and beastly valor, the minds of his subjects were refined and cultured.

But even here the exuberant and barbaric fancy asserted itself. The arena of the king was built, not to give the people an opportunity of hearing the rhapsodies of dying gladiators, nor to enable them to view the inevitable conclusion of a conflict between religious opinions and hungry jaws, but for purposes far better adapted to widen and develop the mental energies of the people. This vast amphitheater, with its encircling galleries, its mysterious vaults, and its unseen passages, was an agent of poetic justice, in which crime was punished, or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance.

When a subject was accused of a crime of sufficient importance to interest the king, public notice was given that on an appointed day the fate of the accused person would be decided in the king's arena, a structure which well deserved its name, for, although its form and plan were borrowed from afar, its purpose emanated solely from the brain of this man, who, every barleycorn a king, knew no tradition to which he owed more allegiance than pleased his fancy, and who ingrafted on every adopted form of human thought and action the rich growth of his barbaric idealism.

When all the people had assembled in the galleries, and the king, surrounded by his court, sat high up on his throne of royal state on one side of the arena, he gave a signal, a door beneath him opened, and the accused subject stepped out into the amphitheater. Directly opposite him, on the other side of the enclosed space, were two doors, exactly alike and side by side. It was the duty and the privilege of the person on trial to walk directly to these doors and open one of them. He could open either door he pleased; he was subject to no guidance or influence but that of the aforementioned impartial and incorruptible chance. If he opened the one, there came out of it a hungry tiger, the fiercest and most cruel that could be procured, which immediately sprang upon him and tore him to pieces as a punishment for his guilt. The moment that the case of the criminal was thus decided, doleful iron bells were clanged, great wails went up from the hired mourners posted on the outer rim of the arena, and the vast audience, with bowed heads and downcast hearts, wended slowly their homeward way, mourning greatly that one so young and fair, or so old and respected, should have merited so dire a fate.

But, if the accused person opened the other door, there came forth from it a lady, the most suitable to his years and station that his majesty could select among his fair subjects, and to this lady he was immediately married, as a reward of his innocence. It mattered not that he might already possess a wife and family, or that his affections might be engaged upon an object of his own selection; the king allowed no such subordinate arrangements to interfere with his great scheme of retribution and reward. The exercises, as in the other instance, took place immediately, and in the arena. Another door opened beneath the king, and a priest, followed by a band of choristers, and dancing maidens blowing joyous airs on golden horns and treading an epithalamic measure, advanced to where the pair stood, side by side, and the wedding was promptly and cheerily solemnized. Then the gay brass bells rang forth their merry peals, the people shouted glad hurrahs, and the innocent man, preceded by children strewing flowers on his path, led his bride to his home.

This was the king's semi-barbaric method of administering justice. Its perfect fairness is obvious. The criminal could not know out of which door would come the lady; he opened either he pleased, without having the slightest idea whether, in the next instant, he was to be devoured or married. On some occasions the tiger came out of one door, and on some out of the other. The decisions of this tribunal were not only fair, they were positively determinate: the accused person was instantly punished if he found himself guilty, and, if innocent, he was rewarded on the spot, whether he liked it or not. There was no escape from the judgments of the king's arena.

The institution was a very popular one. When the people gathered together on one of the great trial days, they never knew whether they were to witness a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding. This element of uncertainty lent an interest to the occasion which it could not otherwise have attained. Thus, the masses were entertained and pleased, and the thinking part of the community could bring no charge of unfairness against this plan, for did not the accused person have the whole matter in his own hands?

This semi-barbaric king had a daughter as blooming as his most florid fancies, and with a soul as fervent and imperious as his own. As is usual in such cases, she was the apple of his eye, and was loved by him above all humanity. Among his courtiers was a young man of that fineness of blood and lowness of station common to the conventional heroes of romance who love royal maidens. This royal maiden was well satisfied with her lover, for he was handsome and brave to a degree unsurpassed in all this kingdom, and she loved him with an ardor that had enough of barbarism in it to make it exceedingly warm and strong. This love affair moved on happily for many months, until one day the king happened to discover its existence. He did not hesitate nor waver in regard to his duty in the premises. The youth was immediately cast into prison, and a day was appointed for his trial in the king's arena. This, of course, was an especially important occasion, and his majesty, as well as all the people, was greatly interested in the workings and development of this trial. Never before had such a case occurred; never before had a subject dared to love the daughter of the king. In after years such things became commonplace enough, but then they were in no slight degree novel and startling.

The tiger-cages of the kingdom were searched for the most savage and relentless beasts, from which the fiercest monster might be selected for the arena; and the ranks of maiden youth and beauty throughout the land were carefully surveyed by competent judges in order that the young man might have a fitting bride in case fate did not determine for him a different destiny. Of course, everybody knew that the deed with which the accused was charged had been done. He had loved the princess, and neither he, she, nor any one else, thought of denying the fact; but the king would not think of allowing any fact of this kind to interfere with the workings of the tribunal, in which he took such great delight and satisfaction. No matter how the affair turned out, the youth would be disposed of, and the king would take an aesthetic pleasure in watching the course of events, which would determine whether or not the young man had done wrong in allowing himself to love the princess.

The appointed day arrived. From far and near the people gathered, and thronged the great galleries of the arena, and crowds, unable to gain admittance, massed themselves against its outside walls. The king and his court were in their places, opposite the twin doors, those fateful portals, so terrible in their similarity.

All was ready. The signal was given. A door beneath the royal party opened, and the lover of the princess walked into the arena. Tall, beautiful, fair, his appearance was greeted with a low hum of admiration and anxiety. Half the audience had not known so grand a youth had lived among them. No wonder the princess loved him! What a terrible thing for him to be there!

As the youth advanced into the arena he turned, as the custom was, to bow to the king, but he did not think at all of that royal personage. His eyes were fixed upon the princess, who sat to the right of her father. Had it not been for the moiety of barbarism in her nature it is probable that lady would not have been there, but her intense and fervid soul would not allow her to be absent on an occasion in which she was so terribly interested. From the moment that the decree had gone forth that her lover should decide his fate in the king's arena, she had thought of nothing, night or day, but this great event and the various subjects connected with it. Possessed of more power, influence, and force of character than any one who had ever before been interested in such a case, she had done what no other person had done - she had possessed herself of the secret of the doors. She knew in which of the two rooms, that lay behind those doors, stood the cage of the tiger, with its open front, and in which waited the lady. Through these thick doors, heavily curtained with skins on the inside, it was impossible that any noise or suggestion should come from within to the person who should approach to raise the latch of one of them. But gold, and the power of a woman's will, had brought the secret to the princess.

And not only did she know in which room stood the lady ready to emerge, all blushing and radiant, should her door be opened, but she knew who the lady was. It was one of the fairest and loveliest of the damsels of the court who had been selected as the reward of the accused youth, should he be proved innocent of the crime of aspiring to one so far above him; and the princess hated her. Often had she seen, or imagined that she had seen, this fair creature throwing glances of admiration upon the person of her lover, and sometimes she thought these glances were perceived, and even returned. Now and then she had seen them talking together; it was but for a moment or two, but much can be said in a brief space; it may have been on most unimportant topics, but how could she know that? The girl was lovely, but she had dared to raise her eyes to the loved one of the princess; and, with all the intensity of the savage blood transmitted to her through long lines of wholly barbaric ancestors, she hated the woman who blushed and trembled behind that silent door.

When her lover turned and looked at her, and his eye met hers as she sat there, paler and whiter than any one in the vast ocean of anxious faces about her, he saw, by that power of quick perception which is given to those whose souls are one, that she knew behind which door crouched the tiger, and behind which stood the lady. He had expected her to know it. He understood her nature, and his soul was assured that she would never rest until she had made plain to herself this thing, hidden to all other lookers-on, even to the king. The only hope for the youth in which there was any element of certainty was based upon the success of the princess in discovering this mystery; and the moment he looked upon her, he saw she had succeeded, as in his soul he knew she would succeed.

Then it was that his quick and anxious glance asked the question: "Which?" It was as plain to her as if he shouted it from where he stood. There was not an instant to be lost. The question was asked in a flash; it must be answered in another.

Her right arm lay on the cushioned parapet before her. She raised her hand, and made a slight, quick movement toward the right. No one but her lover saw her. Every eye but his was fixed on the man in the arena.

He turned, and with a firm and rapid step he walked across the empty space. Every heart stopped beating, every breath was held, every eye was fixed immovably upon that man. Without the slightest hesitation, he went to the door on the right, and opened it.

Now, the point of the story is this: Did the tiger come out of that door, or did the lady ?

The more we reflect upon this question, the harder it is to answer. It involves a study of the human heart which leads us through devious mazes of passion, out of which it is difficult to find our way. Think of it, fair reader, not as if the decision of the question depended upon yourself, but upon that hot-blooded, semi-barbaric princess, her soul at a white heat beneath the combined fires of despair and jealousy. She had lost him, but who should have him?

How often, in her waking hours and in her dreams, had she started in wild horror, and covered her face with her hands as she thought of her lover opening the door on the other side of which waited the cruel fangs of the tiger!

But how much oftener had she seen him at the other door! How in her grievous reveries had she gnashed her teeth, and torn her hair, when she saw his start of rapturous delight as he opened the door of the lady! How her soul had burned in agony when she had seen him rush to meet that woman, with her flushing cheek and sparkling eye of triumph; when she had seen him lead her forth, his whole frame kindled with the joy of recovered life; when she had heard the glad shouts from the multitude, and the wild ringing of the happy bells; when she had seen the priest, with his joyous followers, advance to the couple, and make them man and wife before her very eyes; and when she had seen them walk away together upon their path of flowers, followed by the tremendous shouts of the hilarious multitude, in which her one despairing shriek was lost and drowned!

Would it not be better for him to die at once, and go to wait for her in the blessed regions of semi-barbaric futurity?

And yet, that awful tiger, those shrieks, that blood!

Her decision had been indicated in an instant, but it had been made after days and nights of anguished deliberation. She had known she would be asked, she had decided what she would answer, and, without the slightest hesitation, she had moved her hand to the right.

The question of her decision is one not to be lightly considered, and it is not for me to presume to set myself up as the one person able to answer it. And so I leave it with all of you: Which came out of the opened door - the lady, or the tiger?

By: Frank Stockton

Can you relate?
You sit in your towel after a shower because you’re too lazy to get dressed.
You and your best friend can say one word, and crack up.
You hate when one string of your hoodie is longer than the other.
You hate it when people think you like someone when you clearly don’t.
You hate it when your favorite song comes on, as you pull into the driveway.
You feel like if you turn on the lights, you will be safe from anything.
You push those little buttons on the lids of fast-food drinks.
You laugh until people get hurt, then stop when you realize it’s serious.
You hate it when parents get serious about something funny you tell them.
You hate when you tell a guy to shut up and they copy you in a higher voice.
You pretend to sleep when your parents come in.
You text the person next to you things that you can’t say out loud.
You hate when people in front of you walk really slow and you can’t get past them.
You’re always tired no matter how much sleep you get.
You stop the microwave before it hits 00:00 to avoid hearing the beeps.
You use the “sup” head nod.
You hate when you are mad at someone and they make you laugh.
You check the fridge every ten seconds to see if food magically appeared.
Can you relate?

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.

I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.

While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.

The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health.

He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.

I was surprised, and asked him, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?’

He smiled as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.’

I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, ‘That is the kind of love I want in my life.’

True love is neither physical, nor romantic.

True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

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