"I hope you’re not about to tell me that you are not able to spin straw into gold," said the King.
"I certainly hope that isn’t your little announcement because I don’t take kindly to being lied to. I have no patience for liars."
"Uh, but Your Majesty….my father…"
"Are you telling me that all your father has told me are lies? I shall have his head!"
Ingrid stepped back in terror. As much as she would like to strangle her father for getting her into this predicament, her stomach churned at the thought of seeing his head chopped and dropped into a waiting basket before the whole village. "Oh no, Your Majesty!"
"Then, I don’t want to hear anymore excuses from you. I have prepared a room full of straw for you to spin. I will give you until tomorrow to turn all of it into gold. If you fail, you will be brought out into the courtyard and stoned to death. Your father too, will be brought here and beheaded," said the King for he was a heartless man who pleasured in nothing more than other people’s deaths.
Ingrid nodded, trying not to cry.
"But if you succeed in your task, you will be spared from death. I think returning home with your life intact is more than any reward you can ever hope to achieve."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
The King summoned his guards to take her away and bring her to the very end of the castle where a musky old room in the corner had been transformed from a hideous empty room into a hideous spinning room.
Ingrid stepped in and heard the door slam shut behind her. She took a cautious glance around - the room was clothed with cobwebs and crawling with tiny mice. The rough surface of the floor looked as though they’d never been swept and the window appeared to be sealed shut. In one corner sat a rickety-looking spinning wheel while the other corners were filled to the brim with straw.
Ingrid took one look at the amount of straw and promptly burst into tears. There was no way she could possibly turn all that into gold. Her life flashed before her eyes, in the same manner when a person is destined to die, and she saw her parents during their happier days back when they were rich. She saw herself picking up the pieces of her father’s broken heart the day her mother left, coping with his alcoholism, turning a blind eye to his refusal to work and listening to him rant about how unfair life was. She was just about to unleash a vault of memories involving her first pet (it was a gerbil which died after they’d run out of money to buy him food) when she heard a slight rustle in the massive stack of hay.
Ingrid held her breath and cocked her ear to one side. Was she imagining it? No, there it was again!
Before she had the chance to scream, a tiny little man popped out of the stack of hay as if by magic. He had a mischevious grin on his round ruddy face and a bushy moustache resting underneath a bulbous nose ...