Once upon a time there was a kingdom where water was in short supply and the weather was hostile. Years of neglect had taken its toll on the environment. But it wasn’t too late. The people finally heeded the warnings and agreed to change their behaviour. The coal mines were closed, the people stopped clearing the forests and coloured wind turbines were put up across the land.

Even so, power and water remained rationed and the land, which would take a long time to heal, remained brown and parched. All, that is, except one corner of the kingdom belonging to an evil enchantress. She was ruthless, powerful and utterly selfish. Her garden was lush and green. Sprinklers and hose pipes pumped out water all day long, watering the garden and servicing her many fountains. Huge generators powered the floodlights that lit up her gardens at night. Yet no one dared challenge her for fear of reprisal.

For her neighbours, a lonely childless couple, the sight of all the ripe fruit and succulent vegetables was torturous. Finding his wife’s distress unbearable, the devoted husband crept into the garden at night to steal some of vegetables. But he was caught red handed. Fearing for his life, the husband was forced to strike a cruel bargain with the witch. He could go free in return for his first born child.
Sometime after, the couple gave birth to a baby girl. But their tears of happiness were short-lived as the Enchantress came and whisked her away. The girl, whom the witch named Rapunzel, lived with the enchantress but she was never happy. Fearing that she might run away, the wicked crone locked her up in a tall tower in the woods without any stairs or doorways. She then cast a spell which made Rapunzel’s gold locks grow into long tresses which reached down to the ground.

Every night the witch would return to the tower with food and water and cry, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair”. Rapunzel would do as she was told and the witch would climb the braided ladder up to the top of the turret.

It was a lonely existence for Rapunzel. From her high prison she could see the brown barren land surrounding her guardian’s lush green gardens. She could see how the people struggled to scratch a living from the earth and she felt ashamed by the witch’s selfish greed.

One day a handsome prince heard Rapunzel singing in the forest. He followed the voice and reached the tower just in time to witness the arrival of the witch.

The following morning he returned and, disguising his voice, tried out the witch’s command “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair”.
When the Prince clambered through her window Rapunzel was afraid. But she soon realised that he meant her no harm and the young pair became firm friends. He promised to return every day and friendship soon blossomed into love.

All was well until an absent-minded Rapunzel mentioned how much easier it was to pull the prince up into the tower. The witch flew into a fury, hacked off Rapunzel’s beautiful hair and cast her into the wilderness to fend for herself. She then laid a trap.

That evening the Prince arrived as usual and the witch threw down the severed braid. When he reached the turret window, the witch’s eyes flashed with fury as she pushed him down into a thorny briar bush below where spikey thorns scratched and blinded eyes.

For months the heartbroken and helpless Prince stumbled through the wastelands alone and confused until one day he heard a beautiful voice singing in the wilderness. It was Rapunzel. The young lovers were reunited. Falling into each other’s arms, Rapunzel’s tears and true love’s kiss restored the Prince’s sight. At first Rapunzel was ashamed of her cropped hair and ragged clothes, but the Prince would have none of it. To her she remained the most beautiful girl in the whole world.
As the pair made their way home through the wastelands they noticed the first green shoots of recovery peaking up through the brown earth and they felt hope and optimism for the future.
Reaching the Prince’s family castle they were relieved to learn that the witch had let go of the hair ladder when she pushed him from the tower. She was trapped inside and could never harm them again.

Rapunzel was reunited with her parents; the young lovers were married and soon became King and Queen. They ruled wisely over their kingdom, and took great care of the natural world. Time proved a great healer and thanks to the support and commitment of their people, health and harmony were restored to the land. The kingdom became lush and green, rivers flowed, the seasons came and went and the royal couple and their many subjects all lived happily ever after.

The End.

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