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The Legend of the Dancing Queene

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It happened all on a Good Friday
As the daytime sank into the night
In the village that sat in the valley,
Each household was dimming the lights.

The church bells rang as the service let out
Tolling its dirge 'cross the dells.
But amid the slow tromp of the faithful
One girl's feet danced in time to the bells.

Isabella, they said, was born dancing
And it made her poor mother despair
For the girl never walked but to twirl and leap
As if she had no worries or cares.

She would dance to the song of the birds in the morn,
And the crickets when evening came nigh.
She would dance to the sound of the wind in the trees,
To the sound of the stars in the sky.

As the bells stilled their tongues that Good Friday,
A song drifted down from the hill.
The villagers all strained to listen,
And what they heard gave them all chills.

Oh, the melody was sweet as honey
And the voice clear as morning's sweet dew
But the words of the song were so twisted and wrong
In a language that nobody knew.

A violin sobbed out a warning
As a pipe warbled out a strange tune
Drums, low and deep, shook the hillside
And sent up their sound to the moon.

The fay-lights did drift in a circle
And they flashed red and blue, green and gold,
They shone and they twinkled to rival the stars
A truly strange sight to behold.

All the villagers looked towards the valley
To shield their eyes from the sight.
But Isabella, a maid of seventeen,
Couldn't help but gaze at the lights.

"Oh, don't stare at the fay!" cried her mother.
She seized her dear daughter's slim hand.
"For the fairies are cruel and they're godless,
A wicked and magical band.

"They'll steal your pure soul, and they'll take you
They'll put you right into a trance
Oh Iz, my dear girl, don't you join them,
Don't you dare take a step in their dance."

So Iz hurried home with her mother
And they ate bread and soup until bed.
But the girl stayed awake with the music
When the church bells struck midnight, she fled.

For the music was wild and unnerving
It took root in her soul before long
Her heart beat to the sound of the drumming,
And her breath took the shape of the song.

She felt that the music completed her,
That she would have no other chance
To know all the ecstasy inside of her heart
If she couldn't have one little dance.

Isabella leapt out of the window
And she picked her slow way up the hill.
She went barefoot, and dressed in a nightgown,
But she scarce felt the dew or the chill.

When she reached the top of the hillock,
Her eyes beheld wondrous sights!
A huge ring of fairies, all stepping in time
And each waved a bright colored light.

The fairies were tall as the treetops
Or hobs short and fat as a stone.
There were harpies with cat-faces and bird-wings,
There were spooks with heads made of bone,

There were brownies with claws and with antlers,
Peacock-tails and scales like a snake.
Dryads covered with leaves and with flowers,
Selkies dripping as though from a lake.

Her eyes widened at the strange dancers,
But the beauty that drew fast her stare
Was the Goblin Queen on her throne made of stars,
Dressed in mist, with the moon in her hair.

The orchestra stopped their wild playing,
And the fairies each froze in their steps.
But the Queen stretched her arms out to Izzy,
And cried, "Let us welcome this lass!"

They gave her a cup of black wine in an acorn,
And gave her blueberries to eat.
A bird laid a cape of green feathers around her,
And brought beetle-shell shoes for her feet.

The Goblin Queen led the dancing
Snapped her fingers at the fairy-band
Isabella did join in the prancing
Taking two fairies each by the hand.

They danced all around in a circle
Faster and faster they flew
Isabella just laughed and tripped gaily
And kicked off her red beetle shoes

She leapt into the heart of the fairy ring
She jigged, clicked her heels, and whirled
The fairies all stopped in their dancing
To marvel at the human girl

The music became wild and frantic
And Iz sped her steps up to match
Her hips shook like wildgrass, her feet became blurs
A girl no man ever could catch.

The motley crew danced all around her
Trying to keep up with the sound
But the hands of the band cramped up and grew gnarled
And the fay-dancers dropped to the ground.

Isabella stood square on the hilltop
And laughed long and hard in pure glee
"I've outdanced the fay!" cried the lassie,
"Oh, no-one can keep up with me!"

The Goblin Queen rose from her star-throne
And gave a nod to the girl,
"I see you've been having great fun, dear,
But your dance card isn't quite filled.

"I don't know quite how human balls are
If to any you've ever been
But it's terribly rude to come all this way
And not have a dance with the Queen."

Isabella bowed low to the lady,
And she held out her pretty white hand.
The Queen snapped her fingers; birds started to sing,
Their whistles carrying o'er the land.

The Queen twined her bare arms 'round Iz's slim neck
Iz's trembling hands found the queen's waist
Her feet, suddenly unsure, seemed to root to the ground
And a blush spread across Iz's face

"Don't be so shy," the Queen chided her,
"You've already outdanced my friends.
Do you fear a waltz with the Goblin Queen so?
Must our evening come thus to an end?"

Challenged, our Isabel swallowed her fear
Her head swam, but then she came 'round.
"By the time the sun's up," she said to the Queen,
"I'll have danced you into the ground."

"Then let's make this a contest!" the Queen cried.
"Should you dance me into the floor,
You'll never grow old, your steps never to slow,
You'll be seventeen ever the more."

"And if you win?" asked Iz, innocently
The Queen's lips curved into a smile.
"Why, you'll be my mortal slave--just for a night
Losing is far worth your while."

The whistling birds struck up a slow stately waltz
As the Queen stepped in time to the tune.
Isabella swayed to and fro in the Queen's arms,
Back and forth to the birds' measured croon.

She moved like a willow tree, supple and slow,
As though she bent in a breeze, or a dream.
Her mind filled with fog--she had to escape--
Or she'd fast be a slave to the Queen.

A pond full of frogs joined the song of the birds,
Their croaking a fast steady beat.
Isabella flew out of the Queen's gentle grasp,
And stretched out her dainty white feet.

"Now I'll show you what I can do!" Izzy cried.
Her skirt flew 'round her legs as she twirled.
She jigged and she hopped, she kicked up her heels,
Laughing like mad as she whirled.

The Queen tried her best to keep up with the dance,
Her feet flashing like stars in the sky.
But her toes tangled up, and she tripped o'er her fingers,
Sat down hard, and she started to cry.

When Isabel saw the Queen splayed in the dirt,
She landed on both feet and bowed down.
"I see I've outdanced you, Your Majesty,
And look! Now you've knocked off your crown.

"My mother would tell me I'd come to no good,
When I'd lift up my skirts in a prance,
O, if my mother could but see me now,
She'd know I was Queen of the Dance!"

The Goblin Queen's face grew as red as a berry,
And her fists curled into sharp claws.
The clear sky above grew heavy with clouds,
And the fairy folk quailed in awe.

"Had you lost, I'd have treated you like a dear pet,
Had you won with grace, you'd have gone free,
But you've made far too much of yourself now,
For there's but one Queen here, and that's ME!

"O impudent girl, I did promise you gifts,
And you'll live forever, 'tis true.
But you'll never stop dancing until you find
A partner who'll keep up with you!"

Thus said the Queen, and as the sun rose,
She snapped her slim fingers thrice.
The fae disappeared. Isabella was left
With no shoes, and no cape, and her toes cold as ice.

Isabella blinked twice, and thought it a dream,
A sleepwalker's strange fantasy.
With a sigh, she prepared to trudge down the hill,
But her toes tapped, her heels clicked, her feet sprang with glee!

The hill was steep, its wild grass long and tangled,
But not once did Isabella stumble or falter.
Her feet knew the path even if her eyes didn't,
But try as she might, she couldn't quite halt.

In her grass-stained shift, Izzy danced into the village,
Her feet stirring up clouds of dust and dirt.
The church bells rang out for the red rising sun,
And the good village folk all started to stir.

Before long, the whole village stood 'round and watched,
As Isabella danced helplessly in the town square.
Her mother knelt down, her eyes red from weeping,
She cried to the heavens and pulled at her hair.

"My daughter's bewitched!" she moaned to the village,
"My poor only child, I've lost her today!
She's under a spell or she's finally gone mad--
And I told her not to go dance with the fae."

"I'm not out of my mind, merely dancing,"
Sang Isabella to her ma.
But she smiled through teeth that were gritted,
As she feared that her feet would rub raw.

The priest came and prayed over Izzy,
With bell, book, and soft candle flame
He called on the angels of heaven,
He banished the demons by name.

Isabella looked down at her bare feet,
And she realized they ached not at all.
She'd been dancing on rocks now for hours,
But no blood to the ground did fall.

"No devil has entered inside me,
Oh mother, do not be afraid!"
Isabella held her slim hand out to the people.
"Who'll be my partner today?"

The villagers murmured, confused and afraid,
But one young lad stepped out from the crowd.
"I'll dance with you, lass," he said with a grin,
He tipped his hat, winked, and then bowed.

Isabella clasped hands with the young lad,
And she led him about the dirt square.
He twirled her, and dipped her, and spun her around,
Their steps light as though walking on air.

The dance went on and on, the lad started to sweat,
And the grin faded fast from his face.
"Let's stop," he begged Izzy, "I'm tired and I'm sore,
Don't go so fast--this is no race!"

"Then stop if you want, but I will go on,"
Said Iz, and she twirled away.
The lad flung himself on a rough wooden bench,
But then he sprung up right away.

"I can't stop the dance!" cried the lad. For his feet
Flew out from under his legs.
He leapt right back into the village square,
His body contorting in waves.

The poor lad's friends tried to hold him down--he shook them off,
Moaning in pain and in fear.
The villagers watched as his feet turned bright red,
As his chest heaved with struggle, his face streaked with tears.

At last the lad breathed his last, dropped to the ground.
His boots were now crusted with blood.
He foamed at the mouth, and his eyes stared to heaven,
As he lay with his head in the mud.

Isabella watched helplessly, feet moving slow.
But moving in rhythm all the same.
She watched the boy die, and knew it was the curse,
The dance that had started as a game.

The priest turned on Izzy, and brandished the cross.
"You enchanted the dead boy!" he thundered.
"Are you cursed by the devil, or are you a witch?
It should be you soon six feet under!"

Iz burst into tears, but she never stopped dancing.
"I didn't mean it!" she cried.
"All that I wanted in my life was to dance,
And now my dear friend here has died."

Her eyes filled with sorrow, she fled to the hill,
Where she'd danced with the Goblin Queen.
"O, take the curse back!" cried Isabella,
"Or let it all just be a dream!

But the hilltop was bare, not even a footprint
Of the mad dance of the fae.
Isabella wept bitterly 'till the night came,
When she hoped the Queen would come her way.

No fairies appeared, no magical band,
No wild and unearthly tunes.
No Goblin Queen sat on her throne made of stars,
It was just Isabella and the moon.

She couldn't go back to the village,
After killing her poor dancing mate.
She couldn't leave home for the city,
Or she'd bring many more the same fate.

So Isabella danced 'round the hillside for years,
And as promised, she never grew old,
She never got tired or hungry,
She never grew hot or too cold.

But whenever a human approached her,
She fled to the bushed to hide.
For she dared not to dance with another,
Her heart still wept for that boy who'd died.

Years went by in the small sleepy village,
And one day on that baretopped grass hill,
A discotheque sprang up like a dandelion,
The youth of the village to thrill.

"The Green Fairy Ring" was the name of the club,
In honor of the tales of yore.
The youth of the village danced until the dawn,
As the fae once had long before.

Now, at the Green Fairy Ring there danced a girl,
Whose name was Dolly Malone.
Most of the village girls danced with their boys,
But Dolly was always alone.

She'd dropped out of school when the disco had opened,
For maths to her was a sheer bore.
To be a housewife was an even worse life,
And the job of a shopgirl a chore.

Miss Dolly Malone lived for dancing,
And she knew all the steps to each craze.
So before long, she was hired as a go-go girl
To teach clubgoers her footloose ways.

She taught girls and boys how to Pony and Frug,
She taught moms and dads how to Hustle and Cha-Cha.
And on Wednesday afternoons, grandmas and grandpas
Would line up to learn how to do the Lambada.

Now it happened again on a Friday night,
When the lamps in the village were low.
But the green, blue, and red lights that shone off the disco ball
Lit up the houses below.

The synthesized strings in the background,
The flute that warbled a tune,
The beat of the drum machine in four/four time
Sent the disco's song up to the moon.

Dancing alone to the song of the night,
Isabella heard music adrift on the breeze.
She crept as close as she dared to the sound,
And gazed at the lights that flashed bright through the trees.

"The fairies are back!" she cried out to herself,
"And with them must be the Goblin Queen.
At last I'll be able to beg her forgiveness,
My curse will harm no one ever again."

She danced through the doors of the disco,
In her bare feet and muddy white dress.
Her skin was as pale as a ghost's might have been,
Her hair was quite frankly a mess.

The clubgoers stopped dancing to stare at the girl,
The DJ scratched his record in shock.
They'd never seen anything like Isabella,
In her medieval, muddy old frock.

Dolly stopped go-go-ing up on the stage,
And she came towards the strange frightened thing.
Isabella peered at Dolly's sequined minidress.
"Be you the Goblin Queen?"

"I'm just a dancer," said Dolly,
"But you are in trouble, I think.
Come to the bar, just come as you are,
Tell me what's wrong. I'll buy you a drink."

Isabella shook her tangled wild head,
"Oh pray, stay far off from me!
For I've killed one man with my dancing,
And I don't wish to kill thee!"

The teens in the club all pressed closed to the girls,
To hear the ghostly one speak.
She spoke in a strange accent, old as the hills,
Practically an antique.

"A long time ago, I offended a Queen,
And I'm cursed now to dance for all time.
It's not quite as fun as I thought it would be,
For I'm left all alone for my crime.

"My dance partners will all die now,
Unless they can keep up with me.
So I beg of you, don't take me up on a dance,
I know that I'll never be free."

"Sounds like a challenge," said Dolly,
"Never mind all of that strife.
I could dance, and I'd be happy to die,
Having the time of my life.

"Hey DJ!" she yelled. "Play us a tune,
In fact, better play us a set.
I'll dance my hardest, and I'll bet you my life
That I can break your curse yet!"

She hopped back on the stage and she started to Frug,
Shaking her hips and swinging her arms.
Isabella had never seen such a dance,
In a moment or two she was utterly charmed.

As Izzy began to get into the swing of it,
Dolly started to Pony; her feet flashed side to side.
Isabella watched closely, but then she stumbled,
Her ankles got tangled, and she broke her stride.

"I don't know how to do that!" she called out to Dolly,
And she shuffled her feet a few times on the floor.
"It's time for the Moonwalk!" said Dolly, and glided
Effortlessly backwards, turned and did it once more.

Isabella stood there, lights flashing and glowing
Under her bare, muddy feet.
Her mouth was open in absolute awe,
Her hips didn't sway with the beat.

She looked down at her feet and she saw them still,
For once, she had no urge to move.
She watched Dolly the dancer do the Watusi,
Alive and well, getting into the groove.

Isabella knelt down and wept with delight,
She'd never felt so glad to be still.
Dolly leapt down from the stage and embraced her.
"The curse is gone, right? Or is it there still?"

"My curse has been broken!" cried Izzy with glee.
"I never thought I'd meet someone who danced more than me.
But I couldn't keep up with your strange new movements,
And you're still alive, and so I am free!"

Isabella and Dolly both work at the disco,
Isabella is quite happy there
Teaching the village to do the old dances
That she used to dance in the square.

She has all the dance partners she's ever wanted,
And perhaps she still looks seventeen.
When she goes home at night she goes home to Dolly,
But dreams of the Goblin Queen.