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A Dream Exchanged for an Adventure

London, England

Once upon a time there was a poor farmer who tried his best to earn a living from his land. Everyday he worked morning to night, ploughing his fields, saving his seeds and watering his crops. Everyday the farmer’s wife did her best to cook a supper from the scraps of food they had. But everyday, she moaned and moaned. “Why didn’t I marry someone rich? I could have lived in a beautiful house, had delicious food to eat, beautiful clothes to wear…” On and on she went day after day.

The farmer would sit in the evening by the riverside and dream of finding his fortune. When he was small, his mother had told him, tales of far away places and colourful characters. When he was small he had loved her stories, of Bo peep minding her sheep, of Minnie Mouse in her pretty dresses and naughty burglar Bill. He heard tales of Mr. Men, Mr. String, Mr. Greedy and Mr Forgetful. As he grew the stories changed to tales of pirates who sailed the seven seas in search of treasures, Florence Nightingale, who nursed soldiers injured in wars and the brave knight, Inigo Montoyo, who journeyed far across strange lands, skilled in using his sword.

How the farmer longed to travel the world, and see the sights he had heard about for himself.

One day, news reached him that there was a cleaver man who had come to live in the near-by town. The man was said to have the answer of any questions that was asked to him. And so it was the farmer set out the next day to visit this clever man, whose name was Samuel Pepys. Please sir, said the farmer, tell me how I can travel the world and seek my fortune. I am poor and have no money, but I so want to see the sights of the world I have heard and dreamed about.

Go home, said Mr Pepys, and fetch your pet rat. The pesky little fellow will be your answer, with his help you will travel the world and surely you will find your fortune. The farmer did as he was told and the next day set off with only his pet rat for company.

He left early in the morning as quiet as a mouse so as not to awaken his wife who was still sleeping probably dreaming of riches, mansions and dresses! He crept past her and took a piece of folded paper upon which he wrote in rhyme:


Pleased with his little work of art, the farmer, whose name was Eric Dale, packed his lunch and went off with his rat in his pocket. The rat nibbled on an old piece of cheese that the farmer had eaten ages ago but had left the crumbs in. The rat was so heavy that Eric found it hard to walk.

Eric walked and he walked and he walked until his legs were dead and he could walk no more. He looked up and he saw . . .

An inn! So Eric gathered all his strength and walked in through the door- his rat jiggling about. There was an elderly lady sitting in an old rocking chair knitting.So when he laid down she saw him and called in a rather croaky voice, “Welcome! It is pleasant to have a visitor, you see, living here so far away from the city no one calls on me.” She continued,”Excuse the voice, deary! I haven’t used it in the longest time it needs exercise! Now are you going to be staying for dinner? By the way my name is Belle.”

“Yes I would like to stay please but I don’t have any money to pay you so I should be on my way.” The farmer replied, feeling sorry for himself, for not earning enough money. He began to try and move his feet which were still in great pain.

“I did not say I needed money. This inn runs on kindness and nature.I grow all the food myself so I do not need any money.Besides I would rather have a companion then a resident or no one. I do have one rule- you are not permitted to go into what was the servants quarter and you cannot go to the kitchen either. OK? Now make yourself at home and I’ll get you a drink.” she said and she struggled to her feet.She looked at Eric with a warm smile and Eric felt himself beaming in return.

Belle helped Eric onto the armchair that was on the other side of the room and left him feeling cosy and snug before going to get him a cup of cocoa. He let his legs rest on the table and he felt happier then he usually felt when he was at his home. He thought about how his wife must have felt when she got his note and it was then he remembered he was hungry for he hadn’t eaten his lunch.

Luckily for him at that moment Belle came back with a cup of cocoa and a plate of cookies.He abandoned all thoughts of lunch and immediately began munching on a cookie. After he had finished eating a cookie, Belle decided to question him.

“What is a young lad like you barely in his 20s doing in these parts?” She asked taking a cookie herself and sitting down in a rocking chair.

“Well, you might have heard that the wise man Samuel Pepys has come to live in the small village of Foxgrove. I went to talk to him because I wanted to go to faraway lands. He said that my pet rat was the key. He saw the great fire of London in 1666 so I think he is rather clever and I believed him!!!I walked all morning and my legs can’t move any more so I need to rest and this was the only house for miles.” He paused and looked at Belle – she was sleeping soundly so he gently laid her on the arm chair he was sitting on.

Then Eric had an idea, as Belle had been so kind to him he would put his farming skills to good use and make her lunch using food from her garden. It wouldn’t count as stealing because it was for her anyways. Eric started getting the vegetables out of the patch and soon he had a big pile. He carried it into a dirty basket he had found.

Eric completely forgot about the rule about not going into the kitchen and walked right in to make dinner. He washed the vegetables and used his wife’s broth recipe which he knew by heart. He chopped all the vegetables up until they lay in little pieces in the pot then he started making the gravy.

It was at that moment he heard a little whisper. He stopped bewildered thinking Belle had woken up already. When he listened again though, he heard nothing. So thinking he was imagining it, he carried on adding the spices to the water. Soon he was humming away and had forgotten but then another whisper came. He thought he was still imagining it so he ignored it this time.

He found some meat which had been left over from lunch and added it to the broth. It was nearly done! It just needed to boil for a little while longer so he left it and went to relax his legs which were aching all the while. As he was sitting down a voice said,
“Do you need us to set the table?”

Out of the shadows came a little teapot and a candle.Eric recognised them from the fairytale book he owned.They were from Beauty and the Beast so they must belong to . . .
Belle was Beauty! Sudden realisation dawned upon Eric. He ran to the living room (although the pain was still there) and he looked at Belle who by now was awake.

“I told you not to make an appearance!” She said looking angrily from Eric to the teapot.

“You said unless he makes an appearance and he did so I thought he knew.” The teapot answered indignantly.

“Sorry Mrs Potts and Lumiere. I don’t know what came over me.” Beauty sighed. ”Now I think we should tell him all of it!”

* * *

Eric was pleased that his host was Beauty so Beauty told him all about the Prince who had gone to visit Beauty’s sisters. She flushed when he asked her how they fell in love but in the end she told him in return for making the delicious broth. She told him about how she was used to living in a house so they had sold the palace they lived in to buy a cottage house.

“Now I have answered your questions, answer mine! What made you come here and why?” she questioned.

“Well I met a very clever man and he told me that the key is my rat, which has been nibbling on some of your cheese, so I set off and the rat was quite heavy therefore I trudged on until I was really tired and I happened to find your inn! The man said that the rat would help me but I don’t see how.” he told her then he stopped, waiting for a reply.

“I know! You see, because the rat is heavy it made you tired more quickly, if you had no rat it would make you faster and you would walk past this inn, not bothering to give my humble resort a second glance. Now, you might ask why you needed to come here, I will tell you, Eric. The wise man told you to come here to hear what I am going to tell you now –

Through the forest you must go,
No matter whether hail or snow,
For somewhere there you will find,
What is upon your mind.

I was told to tell the man who asked. You have, so there is your message Eric.” She told him, smiling at Eric.

“I am leaving!” Eric said putting on his cloak. The smile vanished from Beauty’s face and she looked disappointed.

“Not now! I thought you’d like to stay for another week or so. At least stay until tomorrow after all your leg need to heal!” She begged Eric.

“I will stay until tomorrow since I need to make plans for my journey.” He said smiling at the happiness in Beauty’s face.

Before anything else was spoken about, Beauty stood up and walked out of the room returning with a bottle in her hand. She said nothing but opened it letting out a pong. Digging her hand in to get some of the oil in it, Beauty silently applied it on Eric’s legs, bandaging it up in the end.

“This is home-made ointment. It works wonders – your legs should heal by tomorrow.” she explained.

“Thank you. I wonder do you mind if I take a little of the oil with me? I intend to walk considerably on my travels.” He asked.

“Yes you may take it but you won’t need it since I will give you one of my prince’s horses. He has been meaning to sell it for ages so he won’t mind! You can choose before you leave tomorrow!” she replied.

“Thank you so much!” he said extremely grateful.

“Now it is best to go to bed, you leave tomorrow! I will show you to your room, come.” She trailed off.

* * *

It wasn’t the fact that he had finished sleeping that woke Eric up early in the morning it was the sun that streaked through the curtains. The birds were tweeting away and that helped him awaken too but when he heard a sweet voice singing that made him jump. It was not his wife and this was not his room! It was then he remembered Belle and the forest he was leaving for this morning.

He jumped out of bed and saw that Belle had carefully folded and had left on the side some of Prince’s clothes for him. Quickly changing, he limped downstairs - his legs aching a little but relief that he could at least walk now. He saw Belle - she was packing food into a large container that said Eric on it.

“Rise and Shine! So . . . go into the stables and choose a horse.” She said.

The morning air against his face felt cold but refreshing and he was happy to feel the wind on his face. He walked towards the stables and opened the padlock with a key that Belle had given him. Through the aisle he walked looking out for a horse that caught his eye. He passed many fine horses but it was then he found one that made him catch his breath.

The snow white horse had skinny legs but it was beautiful and Eric knew that the horse would be perfect for him. Even if it wasn’t speedy or strong it was Eric’s horse. When Eric glanced at the name he saw its name was Pegasus after the ‘horse’ in Greek myths! He rushed back to the inn after closing the padlock.

“Pegasus, I have chosen Pegasus, Belle!” he practically yelled in excitement, knowing it would soon be his.

“Very well have Pegasus even if he isn’t speedy or strong.” Belle said reading his mind.

After gulping down his breakfast, Eric left with some ointment and food, riding on Pegasus.
He waved goodbye to Belle and promised to come to meet her whenever he had the chance. He had the rat in his pocket and hoped his adventure would be great.

* * *

Eric rode and he rode and he rode until Pegasus’s legs were dead and he could ride no more.

Pegasus trotted slowly and he wasn’t strong so he struggled under Eric’s weight. Soon they had to stop to eat. Unfortunately there was no water so seeing a little cottage he decided to knock on the door to ask if the resident could spare some water. Otherwise Pegasus would collapse and they would not be able to carry on their journey.

The door clambered opened and an unattractive looking woman stood there with a stick in her hand.

“What have we here? A horse, a man and a rat.” She cackled looking them up and down. She began to usher them in. “What should I do to you?”

“Don’t you mean do for you?” Eric asked not in the least terrified.

“I know what I mean. You don’t need to. So rat, frog or worse?”

She waved her stick about. Hickory, Biggledy, Long! Just then she heard voices coming from outside.

“Don’t worry Gretl. Look! There is a house and it is made of food - we can eat some there. Look! next to that big tree!” A boy was saying trying to comfort his sister Gretl. The children skipped past the gate.

“I’ll deal with you later! For now you can be a rat. The horse is mine!” The woman said who by now you have probably guessed is a witch.

Before Eric knew what was happening, the witch was getting bigger. In fact everything was getting bigger including his pet rat. No . . . ! It was him getting smaller – he was a rat! Next to him was his pet!

“Now you are my master and I am Tinkerbelle cursed by the same witch! I am really a fairy!” The rat squeaked. ”Took your time figuring out why I wanted to come here. She might reverse the spell ! You wanted fairies here is your pet fairy and from now on no more pongy cheese. You nearly made me go sick last time. I do not recognise fungus – you should!”
The-fairy-turned-rat continued moaning.

“That was what that squeaking was about last time!”Eric interrupted, astonished.

“Well, you didn’t expect me to squeak for no reason!” The-fairy-turned-rat retorted.

“I actually . . Um . . . sort of did!” Eric blushed. ”Now please be quiet Tinkerbelle the children are here!”

“Be quiet – you be quiet!” the The-fairy-turned-rat yelled angrily. Then she calmed down still red in the face.

* * *

What Eric and Tinkerbelle had just witnessed was astonishing!
Gretl had asked how to make the oven work and when the witch showed her, Gretl pushed the witch in to save her brothers life, as he was going to be eaten by Witch Government.
Anyways, Gretl had seen her burn away and had actually smiled!
“What in the world are children coming to?“ Eric was saying trying to act dignified and wise.
The next thing that happened was so heart warming! The sister and brother hugged each other through the bars, she opened the cage and they hugged each other again.
What love!
What was happening to Tinkerbelle, who had been crawling about for 3 days living like a rat with Eric? They saw the whole scene. A moment later, the world was getting smaller again. Eric was back into his normal height but where was Tinkerbelle? She was no where to be seen.
From behind him a little voice came. At first Eric thought it was Gretl but then he realised it was too little and sweet to be her voice. Eric turned around. Zilch! Nothing! No one was there at least Eric thought so. A little giggle came from behind.
“You humans aren’t as smart as you make out!” A little fairy was standing on his shoulder – jumping up and down - her feet tapping. “You don’t even understand Tambo - you’d probably call it ‘fairy language’!” She continued, rolling about with laughter. “And to make matters worse you probably have a 3 second memory span. You are looking at me as if I haven’t told you I existed. I am your pet rat, Tinkerbelle!!!” she said.

It was then Eric grasped the fact who she was but he wasn’t about to let her get away with her insults. After all, he was, at the moment, a representative of humankind.

“Actually I think you’ll find that I have a 3 day memory span, as we have not talked to each other since the children arrived. Anyways, we better get a move on before the children see us!” He said swiftly changing the subject to the fact they should leave.

“Not really. The children are too wrapped up in themselves. Besides even if they see us I recently learned a spell for ‘brainwashing’ as humans call it!” she replied having a great time teasing humans.

That fact was true enough, as when Eric looked over to where the children were, they were both eating hungrily and laughing. He was pretty sure even if he clashed cymbals together they would not have noticed him. Yet still he hurriedly put on his cloak and went for the door. Tinkerbelle flew out after him, grabbing some food and gold.

As soon as they were outside, Eric got onto his horse and led Pegasus out of the stables. He puzzled on how, without the witch casting a spell he had turned back into a human.
Tinkerbelle would know but would he have the courage to admit he wasn’t that clever?

“Hey, I already know you aren’t clever. There is no point in lying to yourself. Well, the answer to the question is that when a witch dies the entire number of spells she has done reverse! So that is what happened.” Tinkerbelle said, for the first time being kind, in her own way.

“Ok, are you ready?” Eric asked smiling.

“Wait. Where are we going?” Tinkerbelle replied.

“Well I thought I’d follow the message that Belle told me.” he said embarrassed that he didn’t have a better plan.

“Don’t you see? Whoever told Belle that plan knew what would happen so that is why they sent you through the forest. They knew what would happen. Anyways you have met fairies, isn’t that enough?” she questioned further.

“Well I was hoping to see more than one.” He said, feeling dim-witted.

“I wonder . . . I wonder . . .”Tinkerbelle murmured.

“What do you wonder?” he asked.

“This!” She exclaimed.

Slowly she raised her little hand up and laid it on his shoulder then another little whisper. Before he knew what was happening, a light was advancing – its brightness blinding. He closed his eyes hoping to protect them. Wind and yells were around him - some distant, some near! Silence! It was quiet now – quiet enough for someone to hear a pin drop.

Eric opened his eyes, not daring to imagine what had happened. There was a pile of bricks and rubble directly in front of him. Eric looked around - something was missing! He was there and Pegasus and . . . Tinkerbelle, where was she? A little cough came from underneath the rubble and then zilch again.

Rushing towards the rubble and removing the top layer, Eric saw Tinkerbelle lying there looking lifeless. He thought back to the stories about Peter Pan which he had been told about. When Peter had ignored Tinkerbelle, she had died but to bring her back to life he had to say I do believe in fairies. It was worth a shot!

He started off in a whisper, getting louder and louder until he was yelling! Then slowly Tinkerbelle’s legs moved, then her arms and her wings, before long she was standing on her feet again!

“Now come with me to see the other fairies.” she said as if nothing had happened.

“Oh, that’s what this place is!” exclaimed Eric.

Tinkerbelle said nothing but showed him a poster that was on the big golden gate. Queen’s birthday tea. Around him he saw the gentleness of the area. Soft music drifted out of the cake shop to his right and there was a queue. Who would have thought this was what fairy kingdom was like.
“Today’s the queen’s birthday! I will give you a ring to give to her and she will be happy with you.OK?Now lets get you some nice clothes.” she said and she led him to a big shop that had Cherish written on it.

“What’s wrong with my clothes?” he asked looking himself up and down.

“Everything!!!” came the reply.

* * *

He looked ridiculous! Eric had a pink ballerina dress on with fake wings attached. It was the fairy code to wear dresses!
‘Great!’ Eric could not help thinking sarcastically. It was then he remembered that Tinkerbelle could read minds, so he quickly pushed it out.
Tinkerbelle gave him a box with a ring in it as a present for the Queen Esmeralda. The ring had an emerald stone in it and was silver. Tinkerbelle led him into a golden ballroom and there seated on a red throne with silk draped around her was the Queen Esmeralda.
Then a fairy came in, carrying delicious food – cake, sweets and other delicacies!
The party had begun!

* * *

The party was a great success. Queen Esmeralda had loved the ring especially as it went with her name. The cakes tasted sugary but Eric didn’t say anything as he had realised the fairies had an apparent sweet tooth! Sometime later, the dance started, the fairies had an unique style of dancing that amused Eric and he enjoyed watching them.

When the party was over, Tinkerbelle flew over to where Eric had been sitting.

“I owe you something. Code 103 – If a fairy’s life is saved she has to give the person who saved it one wish. You saved my life. What do you desire?” she asked Eric with a smile.

“Home – I want to go home where I lived.” he said after a moment of pause.

“Very well!” she said. She gave him some riches as a gift and she twirled around him . . . the bright light was back.

* * *

Eric marched through the front door and saw his wife, Delilah, standing in the kitchen cooking.
She turned and gasped when she saw him.
“I thought you wouldn’t come back!” she whispered, tears rolled down her cheeks. ”I have been thinking maybe that it isn’t so easy doing your job. . I missed you.”
And the farmer’s wife broke down.
“I did your work and . . . it is not easy.”
Taking the apology, Eric embraced her.

And forever more they lived on the riches that Tinkerbelle had given. The horse was loved by them and they used to ride to Beauty’s house upon it. Beauty was their firm friend. Delilah and Eric spent many summers together and they lived happily ever after.

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