Miss Gassel

Young Miss Gassel was cordially invited to the castle to sip beverages and nibble cakes with a man who was widely regarded as a prince among princes.

She accepted.

With her delicate chin riding high and her shapely figure bearing garb costing many pretty pennies, she entered the castle. Only to exit, quickly, and with arms thrown over her head, after merely half an hour behind the stone and mortar walls. She did not leave behind a glass slipper. She was not seen again.



Many years later, our old Miss (for she never married) Gassel resided in what was called a “rest home.” She rarely spoke and took her meals alone. She strongly disliked being bothered and she told the young woman so when she (the young woman) came for an interview.

“I’m sorry,” said the interviewer, and flicked on her tape recorder. “Why, Miss Gassel? Why did you flee? Why did you run from the most handsome man—a prince of a man—in the land?”

Miss Gassel breathed in, and then she breathed out, and then she wondered how much longer she would want to do things like breathe in and breathe out.

“Won’t you go away?” she asked the young woman.


“Very well.” Miss Gassel did the breathing thing again and then followed it with a polite little cough. She said: “He violated me.”

The interviewer’s eyes went wide and they protruded the tiniest bit.

Violated you? How? In what way?”

“In what way? In this way.” A wrinkled finger tapped her wrinkled head. She coughed again (not quite as polite this time as it was aimed directly at the microphone). “The man in the castle, that prince of princes, he violated my brain. And you know, it’s the only one I’ve got.”

The young woman’s eyes returned to normal, if a bit narrow, and her mouth seemed to shrink. “But how, Miss Gassel? What did he do?”

Miss Gassel set her hands firmly on either side of her gray head and lifted it from her shoulders. She offered it to the interviewer.

The young woman gasped, recoiled, and that allowed the head to fall to the floor.

“Oh, dear me,” said Miss Gassel. “Why didn’t you tell me my shoes were untied?”


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