This short story was written for my sister, after she nominated Brave as her fairy tale/Disney film of choice. If you didn’t catch last week’s post, in Christmas 2018 I asked my family to pick a fairy tale/Disney film for me to use as stimulus for a short story. The ones my parents nominated (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Rumpelstiltskin respectively) have formed the basis of my After Ever After series, exploring what happens to fairy tale characters after “Happily Ever After” has been uttered.
This one was different, though. With Brave as my jumping off point, I actually looked further back into Merida’s childhood. And I couldn’t resist playing with her three mischievous brothers, who so beautifully wreaked havoc throughout the film.
Goldilocks and the Three Bairns is a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears (unsurprisingly). Given the connection Brave already has with bears, it was too good an opportunity to pass up. As you will see, the story doesn’t unfold quite as we remember it. Of course, Merida is here to set the record straight.
Disclaimer: I fully acknowledge that I do not own the intellectual copyright to the characters in the following story. No profit is being made from the same and no copyright infringement is intended.
I promise to have all characters back in their original packaging, safe and unharmed, by teatime.
Goldilocks and the Three Bairns – As told by Merida
If you think my brothers are wee rascals now, you should have seen them when they were three! That’s when they set the record for driving away their nanny in the shortest time in the history of DunBroch. I mean, I wore through my fair share of nannies in my day. They’re not too keen on being used as target practice by a toddler with a new bow and sticks for arrows. But I never got rid of them in less than a single day.
This particular nanny was my mum’s cousin’s daughter. Well, she still is. The feral wee mites didnae do her in entirely! She’s a few years older than me. Lovely girl. Very quiet. The sort of person my mum describes as ‘respectable.’ I think mum wanted her to be a good influence on me as well as the boys. This was all before… you know… the bear incident.
Anyway, the lassie moved to DunBroch to be nanny for Hamish, Harris, and Hubert and I really don’t think she knew what she was walking into.
I dinnae even remember her name, now I think of it. Dad always called her Goldilocks, because of her unbelievably blonde hair, and that just stuck somehow. And she wasnae around long enough for most to ask, so…
It was a real dreich day when she arrived. Not bad for a day in October, but seeing as it was June at the time, the castle was fair miserable afore she got here. Mum had summoned us all to the hall to announce her arrival. Naturally, she had kept the whole arrangement a secret. She’s not daft, my mum. Telling the boys in advance that they were getting a nanny would only have given them time to plan their mischief. As it happens, they needed nae time at all for planning. They’re canny enough as it is at improvising.
So, there we were; me, the boys, mum and dad in the hall, and in walks Goldilocks. She were a braw lass, despite being soaked through from the rain. She came in, curtseyed (yes, I got a nudge from mum for rolling my eyes at that), and straight away I could see the wee boys whispering and scheming on.
“I give her a week,” my dad said when mum’s back was turned.
“A week?” I said. “She’s no gonnae last two days, poor lass!”
Two days was my record. And I have to admit, I was a wee bit impressed that the boys managed to break it how they did.
Up until supper, the boys were a delight. Even I forgot what terrors they usually are for a while.
Goldilocks was in her element. She played with them, laughed along at their wee jokes. She even got Hamish to try nettle soup at lunch, and he ate it without pretending he was poisoned.
Mum thought she’d really cracked it this time. That Goldilocks was the answer to her prayers. That the boys would finally start behaving like human beings and not the wild wee beasties we had come to know.
The first sign of trouble came after supper. I had been watching them through the meal. They had been too quiet all day. Far too quiet. And then they asked to be excused from the table.
They asked to be excused from the table!
How was I the only person who was worried by that? HOW?!
Well, Dad wasnae listening. He was talking about battle axes with MacGuffin, who had dropped by for a visit.
Mum was too caught up in how beautifully behaved they had been all day to even think about worrying and Goldilocks… well, she was yet to meet the real Hamish, Harris, and Hubert.
I watched them scamper away from the table and disappear up to the bedrooms, moving fast enough to look a little too eager for my liking, but not fast enough to make mum shout at them for running. It’s a speed they have perfected for making a hasty exit that doesnae draw attention to them.
We didnae see them for the rest of the evening. We didnae hear them either. This should have been another warning sign, but at this point, mum had insisted that I take Goldilocks on a tour of the castle to ‘get to know her,’ which is code for ‘see how you’re supposed to behave.’
By the time I showed the lass to her room for the night, I had all but forgotten that the boys were up to something. I said goodnight to her and headed off to bed myself.
Now, we DunBrochs are known for being deep sleepers. When you live in a castle that echoes like ours does, and have a dad whose snoring could topple a dry-stone wall, your sleeping habits adapt to compensate. So it wasn’t until breakfast the next day that any of us knew that something was amiss.
Goldilocks came down to the main hall looking like she hadnae slept a wink. Her hair made mine look tame and sleek by comparison, and there seemed to be something grey and a little bit lumpy just behind her ear.
As I squinted at her to see what it was, Maudie put a bowl of porridge in front of her. Goldilocks looked at it for a moment. Her eye twitched and a sort of half laugh, half sob hiccupped out of her.
Then she burst into tear and ran out of the castle, shrieking her head off. That was the last we saw of her. Mum got word a few days later that she had made it back home safely and that she would not be coming back.
This is what had happened:
After the boys had scampered on upstairs after supper, they went straight to poor Goldilocks’ room and caused chaos!
First, they took away all of the chairs, except for one rocking chair. Then they managed to remove every nail and screw from the rocking chair and prop it together so that it still looked like a perfectly sturdy seat. When Goldilocks arrived back from our wee tour of the castle, she had picked up her book, sat in the chair and –
CRASH! The whole thing had collapsed from under her.
Like I said, we DunBrochs are heavy sleepers, so mum and dad in the next room heard nothing, and Goldilocks being the quiet, polite type, didnae raise a fuss. She spent the next two hours trying to piece it back together, thinking it was her fault it had broken in the first place. When she found the pile of nails and screws stuffed under the corner of one of the tapestries, she figured the boys had played her a prank.
She was right, but there was more to come. By now, it was pretty late, so she went to turn in for the night.
Just like the rocking chair, the bed looked perfectly normal on first glance. Even when she pulled the covers back, nothing seemed out of place. She got herself settled and thought for a little while that she had been given the softest, most comfortable bed in the entire castle. I think she even got a little bit of sleep to begin with.
But then, things took a turn for the worse.
Goldilocks realised after a little while that the bed wasn’t all that comfortable after all. It was lumpy and squishy, and she seemed to be sinking into it. Every time she moved, it trapped her in a little more. And something sticky was leaking out of the mattress.
Only it wasn’t a mattress at all. To this day I have no idea – NO IDEA AT ALL – how they managed it. I would go so far as to say it was a work of genius, if it wasnae for the fact that it had been cooked up by the nightmares that are my three brothers.
They had taken the mattress away at the same time as the chairs and then stuffed the sheets so densely with porridge that it passed quite convincingly as a mattress. Until someone tried to sleep in it, that is. Then everything shifted and oozed out.
When mum went into her room the next morning (after the poor thing had run away screaming), the whole floor was covered in the stuff. As was the bed frame, the tapestries, what was left of the rocking chair, and half of the window.
Honestly, it was a masterpiece.
I ended up mucking out the horses for two months for voicing that opinion, but it was the truth. Never in my wildest days would have I have come up with something like that! I didnae even mind losing my record to the wee’uns when they had put so much effort into the whole thing.
Anyway, news travelled fast about what the boys had done. It only took a day or so for the story to become a legend around DunBroch. And then with the whole bear incident not long afterwards, the truth seems to have got twisted a little and I have heard some versions where poor wee Goldilocks was the bad guy in the whole affair, and that she deliberately broke a chair, and ate a wee bear’s porridge before taking a kip in his bed.
But that wasnae what happened! It wasnae her fault. It was Hamish, Harris, and Hubert through and through.
The wee devils.
Copyright © Rachael Farrimond and Disney 2020