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Rumpelstiltskin Revisited
by Lori B.

The two men sat at opposite ends of a long, gleaming mahogany table. They'd been negotiating for hours.

George King, president of King Cakes, had finally reached his breaking point. Jumping up angrily, he pounded his fist on the table and shouted, "Accept my buyout, Miller, or I'll report you for false advertising!"

Andrew Miller, owner of Miller Foods, wasn't shaken by his adversary's threat. He'd already changed the many Miller labels that had erroneously claimed zero trans fats. Besides, he had a secret weapon: his daughter, Betty. Leaning back in his chair, Miller clasped his hands behind his head and quietly began to speak. "No buyout, King. Instead, here's my counteroffer: Marry my daughter, Betty. And if you refuse, I'll report you for price fixing."

"But why would you want me to marry your daughter?" King asked.

"Because," Miller argued, "that way I'd be family. Surely, you wouldn't begrudge your wife's father a handsome portion of your profits."

When King still hesitated, Miller decided to sweeten the deal.

"Listen," he said. "Betty has a secret recipe for a magic cake. Even don't know the recipe. And here's the thing: its addictive. Customers can't stop buying it." (This wasn't true. Betty had never baked a cake in her life.)

King considered his options. Price fixing was a serious felony, and he didn't want to go to jail. And a magic cake recipe was as good as gold -- better than a buyout, in fact. Marrying Betty was starting to sound pretty good.

"But what if she doesn't agree?" King asked Miller.

"She won't have a choice," Miller said. "You're going to kidnap her and force her to marry you, and I'm going to help you. I've always wanted to be as rich as a King. Who knows, maybe I'll outlive you both!"

King let that sink in before responding. It was clearly a threat, but he let it go. He had a better idea. He'd get that recipe without marrying Betty. "OK, Miller," King said. "When does this little caper take place?"

"Tonight," Miller answered. "I'm supposed to be driving Betty to a party around 8:00. Instead, I'll drive her to your cake factory. You can take over from there."

"Done," answered King. They shook hands on the deal.

Later that evening, a surprised Betty was carried kicking and screaming from her father's car into George King's corporate kitchen.

"Write down your magic cake recipe before midnight, or you'll never leave this kitchen alive!" King ordered her.

"Magic cake recipe?" Betty cried. "I don't know what you're talking about! I can't even boil an egg!"

"I'll see you at midnight, liar!" King said. With that, he stormed out, locking the door behind him. 

Betty tried turning the doorknob and kicking the door, but it was no use -- it didn't budge. She looked frantically around the room, which had no windows and just a slim crack under the door. There was no way out. As time ticked by, she felt more and more desperate. She had to escape, but how? She groaned in frustration.

At that very moment, she heard footsteps approaching, and then a soft knock on the door. 

"Excuse me, ma'am," a voice on the other side of the door said. "I am Mr. King's cook, Rumpelstiltskin. Can I be of assistance?"

Betty knew she had to think fast, without causing Mr. King to get suspicious. "Um -- yes, you can," she answered with a shaky voice. "Can you fetch some ingredients at the market for a magic cake?" she said.

"Why yes, I believe that can be arranged," Rumpelstiltskin replied.

Betty hastily scribbled out a shopping list and slid it under the door.

"Here it is," Betty whispered.

"8 eggs, 5 carrots, 12 raisins, and 16 walnuts?" Rumpelstiltskin said aloud. "I've never seen such a recipe but I will do as you ask. Do not fear, I shall return promptly!"

"Yes, please hurry!" pleaded Betty. "And if you see Mr. King on your way out, please tell him I need to test the recipe. Ask him to stay away until I'm done." She had to keep King out of the kitchen as long as possible in order for her plan to work.

"I'm on my way, ma'am," said Rumpelstiltskin, stuffing the shopping list into his pocket and disappearing from the kitchen door. A moment later, he was standing in front of the grocery store. He pulled the crumpled paper from his pocket and studied it. Suddenly, the numbers made sense.

"8, 5, 12, 16 -- it's a code!" he exclaimed. "The numbers stand for the letters H, E, L, and P! My lady must be in trouble. How clever she is!" He quickly located the nearest police station, reported a hostage situation, and reappeared with the police at Mr. King's kitchen door just as the clock was striking twelve. The police had already arrested George King and had confiscated his kitchen key. 

"Thank you!" a relieved Betty said when the police opened the door, but she was looking straight into Rumpelstiltskin's eyes when she said it. So what if he looked like a gnome, she thought. He'd saved her life, and he could cook!

Rumpelstiltskin took Betty's hand and led her outside, where they looked on as a handcuffed King was placed in a patrol car. 

"What now?" Betty asked Rumpelstiltskin as they watched the car drive away.

"Let's go to my place," Rumpelstiltskin said. The two hailed a cab that carried them off to a distant land, where they fell in love and opened a restaurant called The Fairy's Tail. The restaurant is a huge success. The special on Tuesdays is magic cake. For some reason, people keep asking for seconds.

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