Read by Rebecca Herbst

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"Bluebeard" by Charles Perrault

Once upon a time, there lived a very rich man in a very large and beautiful house. He had a bright blue beard that all the townspeople would make fun of.

However, even though he had this bright blue beard, the man had been married several times.

But each time, his wife had mysteriously disappeared and no one knew what had happened to her.

Now, near Bluebeard's house lived a widow with two very lovely daughters, and Bluebeard wished to marry one of them.

But, he did not care which one.

Unfortunately for Bluebeard, neither of the girls wanted to marry him at all, especially since he had had so many wives who had disappeared mysteriously.

They were worried that if they married him, they too would disappear.

They didn't want to give a simple "no" to Bluebeard's marriage proposals. Instead, they simply avoided saying yes.

For instance, the younger sister would say, "I would not want to take away my sister Anne's chance of marrying such a wealthy man as yourself."

And, Anne would say the same thing about her younger sister.

This went on for quite awhile.

Finally, Bluebeard decided to take action.

He invited the sisters and their widowed mother, as well as their neighbors, to spend a week with him.

The week at Bluebeard's house was very fun; the guests spent their time having picnics, flying kites, fishing, and
Bluebeard threw a lavish ball every night.

The younger sister was having a lot of fun, and by the end of the week, she was beginning to think that perhaps, it would be very nice to live in this magnificent mansion and be the wife of such a rich man.

And so, Bluebeard married the widow's youngest daughter and she became Mrs. Bluebeard.

About a month after their wedding, Bluebeard told his wife that he was going away on business without her for a few weeks.

"While I am gone, my dear," he said, "invite your family and friends and enjoy yourself anyway you want. Here are my keys to all the rooms and all the chests where I keep my money, gold, and jewels. You may unlock the rooms and chests and use anything you want."

"But, this small key," he added, pointing to a very little one, "is the key to the door at the end of the east wing and you will not need to use this key at all. In fact, if you open that door, or even put this key into the lock, I will be very angry and will punish you in a terrible way."

Then Bluebeard said good-bye to his wife and left on his business trip.

Mrs. Bluebeard's friends and family came to visit her and during their visit, they admired the magnificent rooms of the mansion, all the while, telling Mrs. Bluebeard how marvelous it all was.

But, the young wife could hardly pay attention to any of it.

All she could think about was the little key and she began to wonder more and more about what was behind the door that the key opened.

Finally, after two weeks, she could not take it anymore.

Bluebeard's wife snuck away from her guests and made her way to the forbidden door and used the little key to open it.

She gasped at what she saw.

There spread out on the floor were the other wives of
Bluebeard. They had all been turned into statues.

She stood there horrified for a moment or two, then grabbed the key from the lock and slammed the door shut and ran down the hall to her room to calm down before returning to her guests.

She sat in her room shaking with terror.

And then she noticed something that caused a sudden jolt in her stomach: on the key there was a stain of blood.

The stain had not been there before she went into the room.

She thought with horror, "This is how Bluebeard will know that I used the little key."

She tried to wipe it away with her handkerchief but it did not work.

She tried scrubbing the key, washing it, polishing it but nothing worked.

The key had a magic spell on it.

The next morning Bluebeard returned from his business trip.

And, soon after arriving at home, he asked his wife for his keys.

She gave him all the keys except the little one. But
Bluebeard immediately noticed that the little key was missing.

He asked his wife to bring him the little one too.

She went to get it.

With a trembling hand and a fearful face, she gave Bluebeard the little key.

"Ha! What is this?" he cried, "what is this stain I see!"

His poor wife trembled even more and could not speak because she was so afraid.

"You wicked woman!" shouted Bluebeard, "You have used this key! You have unlocked the forbidden door. Now, you too shall be turned into a statue!!!"

His wife began crying and begged him not to lock her up, but he simply screamed again, "You shall become a statue!"

"Please let me have a few moments alone to prepare before I leave," asked the wife.

"You may have a quarter of an hour, but not a moment longer," he replied and left her.

The poor, young wife ran to the foot of the stairs that led up to the room where her sister Anne was staying.

She called out to her sister, "Anne, Anne, look from your window. Can you see anyone coming?"

Anne, looking out, answered, "No! I see nothing but the green grass, and the sun shining down on it."

Bluebeard shouted out so loudly for his wife to come downstairs that the whole house shook."Anne, Anne, look once more, can you see anyone coming?" whispered the young wife, wringing her hands.

Her brothers, who were army officers, were supposed to visit her that day and she hoped that they would arrive in time to help save her from Bluebeard.

"I see our brothers coming on horseback," cried Anne. "I will signal to them to ride faster."

Finally, the young wife went downstairs, shaking with fear, to see Bluebeard and to plead with him to spare her. However, he would not listen to her pleas, and began casting the spell that would turn her into stone.

Just then, Mrs. Bluebeard's two brothers came bursting in through the doors.

The men tied up Bluebeard, placed him on their horses and sent him riding away into the forest.

After Bluebeard was sent away, his wealth belonged to the young wife, and she gratefully rewarded her brothers by purchasing them each a large mansion.

She also gave her mother and sister a large amount of money.

And, after a while, she married a good man and together they lived happily ever after.