068

“Winter will arrive sooner than you know,” said the old queen with a sniff. “I have no desire to be cold. I hear you are the tailor of the warmest cloaks in all the land.”

The bespectacled little man nodded, too afraid to speak.

“I want your warmest cloak, and I want it tomorrow.”

“I’m afraid that isn’t possible, you grace. You see, my cloaks, they aren’t the usual kind. They’re bewitched by the elves who help me to make them. They will only be as warm as the wearer’s need, and you, my grace, have no need. ‘Tis best reserved for the poorest of peasants, for I am afraid you will freeze.” He cringed and waited to be hauled off to some dingy dungeon.

“Nonsense! You will make me a cloak at once. I command it.”

The little man nodded with sorrow and returned to his shop. With the help of his elves he collected the wool of fireweed seeds and washed it in dewdrops. They carded it on the back of an obliging porcupine, and had it spun by spiders in exchange for a cozy corner in the workshop over winter. As the little man slept the elves wove it into a lengthy cloak of shimmering snow.

“Fit for a queen, but made for a pauper.” With a heavy heart he delivered the cloak to the queen.

The lady commended its workmanship, admired the richness and the softness of the cloth, and paid him well for his efforts. Still he returned to his home with his head hanging low. It did the queen little good to admire her fancy cloak, come winter the conditions of the cloak’s enchantment would hold sway.

Sure enough, as winter snows began to blow, she shivered in her beautiful cloak, but her vanity would not allow her to wear another. There were fires to be warmed by, and spiced wine for drinking, after all. Until, of course, her carriage lost a wheel one dark, cold night, and she waited for rescue alone with her pride as the coachmen went ahead for help.

The bespectacled little man hung his head and cried as he heard that the queen had frozen to death in the night, and her sons now fought for her crown.

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