Fiction: Bluebeard’s Clever Wife

Gary Cooper & Claudette Colbert in Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938)

Gary Cooper & Claudette Colbert in Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)

A few week’s ago, I wrote a post called Death and the Maiden in which I mentioned Angela Carter’s story “The Bloody Chamber”. That story is an adaptation of the Bluebeard fairy tale, my favorite fairy tale in the entire world…which probably says a lot about me. 

Given that it’s been a bit serious around here lately, I decided to lighten things up with my own adaptation of the Bluebeard story. I wrote “Bluebeard’s Clever Wife” a couple of years ago and it’s been languishing in a file ever since. It’s not erotic, sexy or even remotely hot, but I do think it’s kind of romantic…in an Addam’s Family kind of way. At the very least, writing it made me smile. Hopefully, reading it will do the same.  

Bluebeard’s Clever Wife

Once upon a time, a girl married a man. He had a shady reputation, but he gave her flowers and she thought that was nice. Plus, he was rich – not that she noticed, of course. So they married, and went to live at his castle, which was large and very isolated because he liked his alone time.

One day, shortly after they married, he told her that he was going on a business trip. He gave her the keys to every lock in the house and said that she could open them all, except for one.

“Don’t, under any circumstances, open that door,” he said, pointing to a large, black door with a big iron lock and a No Trespassing sign. “If you do, I’ll have to kill you. Fair warning.”

Then he left.

The bride was an obedient and dutiful soul, so she waited until he’d left to go to the forbidden room. What she found shocked her. Bits and pieces of his former wives were scattered about like puzzle pieces. Hands, torsos, heads… the place was a wreck. Unable to stand the mess, she went to work reassembling the ladies until they were all lined up, neat as pins.

She was just congratulating herself on a job well done when her husband came back home. Apparently, the whole thing had been a test! When he discovered her in his secret room, he was understandably upset, but she impressed upon him importance of keeping things tidy. Then she showed him her improvements, which included a clever little bucket for miscellanious parts.

Bluebeard was so struck by her logic, and by the convenience of having everything close to hand, that he quickly forgave her with a hearty laugh. From that day forward, he left the door unlocked, while she, inspired by her husband’s hobby, took up the study of anatomy. They lived happily ever after.

8 Comments

  1. This did make me laugh.

    I too love Bluebeard over all other fairytales, and in several of its incarnations–Bloody Chamber, Edmund Dulac illustrations, Bartok Opera–and now this little story too.

    Beautiful, funny, and a lovely economy of words.

  2. i do not remember this fairy tale, but i am savoring your retelling!!!

  3. *cracks up* Oh, that’s so clever!

    xx Dee

  4. Isn’t it terrible that most engrossing stories come from the darkest characters of human history? 😉

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