He was very old. He had seen it all at one time or another in his life. Even so, never in a million years could he have
imagined that the princess would grace his table.
“I am certainly delighted and honored to extend my hospitality to you, your highness,” he said graciously, bowing from
It had been ten years since he had even seen her. She had grown into a comely young woman.
Her hair was the color of fine spun gold, lacy and delicate to the touch, an ethereal banquet for his long, sensitive,
somewhat gnarled fingers, slowly and gently brushing the hair from her lovely, milky face. It gave him a chill to touch
her young skin, which was as soft as butter and warm as the summer sun to his quivering, wrinkled hands.
With some degree of surprise he felt a welcome and familiar nuisance, swelling up and hard. Just a tad prideful, he
reached to his brow, just below the hairline and squeezed the massive boil on his forehead. Her perfect face was now
speckled with fluids from his infection. Of course she said nothing, nor moved a muscle. She was, after all, a Princess...
and tied up.
When he spoke again, his voice was lower in tone and his words, excruciatingly slow.
“Oh my...my...my...I’m terribly sorry,” he whispered, never taking his blood-shot eyes off her as he sat down, torpidly,
on a chair next to the table.
He rested his elbows upon the table surface and with his face nestled between his hands, smiled at the princess, his every
movement taking an eternity.
Wetting his swollen lips, he bent over close to her and inhaled deeply. He could smell her essence, sweet and innocent.
He leaned in and licked her face with his thorny tongue, swallowed hard and sighed.
“Mush...I mean,” he swallowed hard, “much better.”
A tittle of laughter escaped his dripping mouth. He slurped in the goo that hung from his lower lip and rose from his
chair, clanging his spoon on his crystal chalice.
“I have an announcement,” he said over dramatically, “a toast. I welcome this wonderful princess, this...this exquisite
creature, to our happy home.” He looked down at her lying on his table, and winked. “Welcome, my dear.”
He raised the glass of wine to his lips and downed it, bursting out in horrendous laughter as he smashed the chalice to the
floor. In one swift motion he lifted the meat cleaver from its place on the table and brought it crashing down with
tremendous strength upon the girls soft, butter-like throat.
“I hope you enjoy your stay as much as we will!”
His laughter was so robust that he coughed up a mass of gray mucus, which he spit onto the floor beside the girl’s head.
“Wife!” He yelled, as he reached down to pick up the girl’s head by its hair—he was suddenly very serious. “Prepare the
cooking pots, while I carve her into portions. We will feast for days on this plump princess—this pudgy, pudding girl.”
He began to work furiously on the body with his cleaver, cutting it up into meal size portions. He was fast and accurate,
not missing a beat. The sound of meat chopping echoed from their humble cabin and throughout the forest, as the poor
unfortunate girl went to royal pieces.
Old Uncle Jackson closed the old worn book and set it down on the wooden nightstand, next to a burning oil lamp. He
paused for a moment, looking at the old, leather cover. A smile came to his wrinkled face—a warm familiar smile. Many
were the times he enjoyed listening to his grandfather read aloud from the same book of scary stories.
Uncle Jackson had a look about him of old, comfortable love. Kind and generous was his countenance, yet a hint of
precocious humor seasoned his personality and was evidenced by the twinkle in his eyes. He was one who truly enjoyed
life and laughter, but especially the wonderful aura of children.
He looked down at his niece through the dim light, with as serious a face as he could muster.
“So, my dear, do you like that little story so far?”
The little nine year old girl was shivering equally from fright as chill. She had her blanket pulled up nearly covering her
face, her little green eyes darting to and fro, surveying the room carefully from underneath her tussled, light brown hair.
When she spoke, it was in a whisper. It was as if she were afraid that the characters in the book might hear her.
“I think it was awful, Uncle Jackson, just awful—was it for reals?”
The petite, green-eyed beauty was curious through her horror. Jackson smiled and bent down so close that Janice could
feel his whiskers as he spoke.
“What do you think? Go to sleep now, pumpkin. I’ll stay awake for awhile to ward off the evil spirits and bad dreams.”
He gave her a kiss, puffed out the light and went lightly from the girl’s room.
“I love you, pumpkin,” he whispered quietly over his shoulder as he closed the door behind him.
“I love you too, Unc,” she whispered, snapping the covers back up over her face so she would be safe from the night.
He shuffled down the dark hallway, lingered for a moment, then went back to little Janice’s room.
“Yes, Uncle Jackson?”
“I’m sorry you go to bed this night with only porridge in your stomach. I wish I had more to offer you.”
“Oh, it’s all right, I love porridge. And anyway, you can’t beat porridge topped with a great scary story.”
“Thank you, princess, I know you didn’t bargain for this when you came to visit, but we’ll do the best we can with what
we’ve been given. Maybe tomorrow there will be something in one of my traps; then we will eat like kings. I love you,
“I know, Unc, and I love you too.”
Jackson smiled. It filled his heart with warmth to hear his niece call him Unc, just as if it were a magic spell. The
combination of her innocent faith and her love, freely given, all rolled up into one endearment, once spoken, had the
power to refresh and comfort his very soul. She was such a delightful girl and he loved her so. He was, of course, not
happy in his half-sister’s death, but he prayed every night that this wonderful girl would be allowed to stay with him
always. He knew he could not replace her parents, but he would love her like his own.
Jackson retreated to his rocking chair by the fireplace. The cabin felt a little cold and he considered whether the chill
warranted another log on the fire. He decided not and rocked off to sleep.
Two weeks later, the storms came. Jackson hoped he would trap some food before the winter set in; it seemed that would
not be the case. The first storm of the season was turning out to be the worst storm he ever witnessed.
The winds were fifty to sixty miles an hour and it was snowing heavily. Luckily, Jackson cut and stacked a great deal of
firewood before the first sign of weather.
“It should last,” thought Jackson, “the whole winter, if the season’s not too long.”
“Uncle Jackson?” He heard Janice’s voice from her room.
“Yes, Pumpkin?” he called.
“It’s time for my story now. I’m clean and dry.”
“Did you wash behind your ears?”
Jackson smiled and rose from his chair.
“I’ll be right there, Princess. Put on your warm nighty and crawl into bed.”
“Yes, Uncle, but hurry, I’m already sleepy and I don’t want to miss it.”
Old Uncle Jackson reached up to the top of the woodpile retrieving two logs. Throwing them both on the hot fire, he
shuffled down the hall toward Janice’s room.
“What story do we want to hear tonight?” he asked as he entered her room.
“How about the story of “The Ogre and the Orphanage”.”
“You have a fascination with such horrible things.”
“I love to be scared, besides it’s not as frightening as the one about the princess.”
“Oh, well, maybe I should just read you an even better story—better than either of those two!”
“Better than “The Ogre and the Princess”?”
“Much!” He sat down on the chair next to Janice’s bed, obviously in love with the story himself. He picked up the book
and opened it to the very last story, blew dust from its pages and began reading.
Once upon a time, there was a…by the way did I tell you that this story is true?...Anyway, once upon a time there was a
small village nestled in the smokey hills of Cancaroon,
Janice snuggled deeply into her pillow and smiled. Jackson continued…
And in that village lived a family of forest workers. The townspeople called them tree-ers, as they cut down hundreds of
trees each week for lumber and firewood. Seven men lived in one house with one woman, the youngest of the six
children, named Cerise.
Jackson looked down at his niece with a smile on his face as he continued the story from memory.
The men of the family were all very handsome—handsome and single. Even the father had been single for six years since
his wife died from a fever. The women of the town had always been interested in the young men, courting them with
letters and baskets of food. The men were the pride of the town, the only single men for miles around.
One day the youngest boy and his sister went into the town of Woo, which was three miles from their cabin, to get some
Suddenly a tremendous crashing sound from the yard interrupted the story telling.
“What the?” Jackson hurried as fast as his old legs could carry him, out and down the hall. He called behind him, “You
“Unc?” She was frightened and began to shake.
She heard her Uncle go out into the front room and then open the front door of the cabin.
“Unc? Hello? Uncle Jackson.” Then she heard him scream. Then, nothing but silence. “Uncle Jackson please answer me!”
She was really scared and didn’t know what to do. She heard him scream again. This time, however, it was different.
“Yahoo!” Janice heard him jumping up and down and carrying on.
“What is it?”
“Quick! Come out here and help me. Yahoo!”
Janice jumped up out of bed, threw her slippers and robe on. She ran as fast as she could down the hall and out the front
door. There she found her uncle, bent over one of his traps. Could it be? Did he catch something to eat?”
“There you are, princess, go get my club, it’s not quite dead. Yahoo! Hurry now. I’ll watch it to make sure it doesn’t get
Janice jumped for glee. She hurried to the shed, so excited she did not even notice the cold.
“Here you go, Unc,” she yelled as she ran back and handed him the big wooden club.
It was then that she could see the beautiful catch. They would be able to eat for days on it. Jackson tossed a rope around
its neck for extra safety. He threw the other end of it to Janice.
“Hold on tight, princess, in case it comes to. My, what a big fat one!” There at the other end of the rope was the biggest
and fattest, human girl-child Janice had ever seen. One leg was caught in the trap, bloodied and broken.
“Hurry, Uncle, I hadn’t remembered how scary these humans really look in person.”
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a human girl-child?”
He laughed. Janice shook her head in negation, but slowly and not too sure of herself. Uncle Jackson took the club and
cracked it over the head, a little too hard.
“Well, that did it!” Janice shouted, “we won’t get much of a meal out of that head now, but at least it’s not going to get
“Guess I did not remember how strong I was. Ha! Not much left of the head, is there?”
“It’s all right, we usually make stew out of that part anyway, and I don’t like stew.”
Jackson smiled at his niece; she always looked at things in such a positive light.
The body stopped jerking around and gone completely limp. Jackson released the steel trap from its leg.
“Let me help, Unc,” she said as she jumped right in and tossed the body over her shoulder. “I can carry things pretty
good, you know!”
“Yes, pumpkin, I guess you can.”
He smiled, prideful. His little niece was only a scant eight feet tall, yet she was as strong as many ogre children twice her
size and age. As Janice thundered playfully into the house, she turned back to her Uncle.
“It’s pretty heavy, Unc, how much will we get out of it?”
He reached up and pulled something gross and wormy looking out of his thorny nose, thought for a moment and said,
“Several great meals, honey, and a even few light snacks.”
He laughed as he reached up and popped a huge puss wart on his chin and then hurried inside, slamming the door behind
By: Rob Krabbe