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Once upon a time... in the fair land of France, there lived a very powerful
lord, the owner of estates, farms and a great splendid castle, and his name was
Bluebeard. This wasn't his real name, it was a nickname, due to the fact he had
a long shaggy black beard with glints of blue in it. He was very handsome and
charming, but, if the truth be told, there was something about him that made
you feel respect, and a little uneasy...
Bluebeard often went away to war, and when he did, he left his wife in
charge of the castle... He had had lots of wives, all young, pretty and noble.
As bad luck would have it, one after the other, they had all died, and so the
noble lord was forever getting married again.
"Sire," someone would ask now and again, "what did your wives die of?"
"Hah, my friend," Bluebeard would reply, "one died of smallpox, one of a
hidden sickness, another of a high fever, another of a terrible infection...
Ah, I'm very unlucky, and they're unlucky too! They're all buried in the castle
chapel," he added. Nobody found anything strange about that. Nor did the sweet
and beautiful young girl that Bluebeard took as a wife think it strange either.
She went to the castle accompanied by her sister Anna, who said:
"Oh, aren't you lucky marrying a lord like Bluebeard?"
"He really is very nice... and when you're close, his beard doesn't look as
blue as folk say!" said the bride, and the two sisters giggled delightedly.
Poor souls! They had no idea what lay in store for them!...
A month or so later, Bluebeard had the carriage brought round and said to
his wife, "Darling, I must leave you for a few weeks. But keep cheerful during
that time, invite whoever you like and look after the castle. Here," he added,
handing his bride a bunch of keys, "you'll need these, the keys of the safe,
the armoury and the library keys, and this one, which opens all the room doors.
Now, this little key here," and he pointed to a key that was much smalle than
the others, "opens the little room at the end of the great ground floor
corridor. Take your friends were you want, open any door you like, but not this
one! Is that quite clear?" repeated Bluebeard. "Not this one! Nobody at all is
allowed to enter that little room. And if you ever did go into it, I would go
into such a terrible rage that it's better that you don't!"
"Don't worry, husband," said Bluebeard's wife as she took the keys, "I'll do
as you say." After giving her a hug, Bluebeard got into his carriage, whipped
up the horses and off he went.
The days went by. The young girl invited her friends to the castle and
showed them round all the rooms except the one at the end of the corridor.
"Why shouldn't I see inside the little room? Why? Why is it forbidden?"
Well, she thought about it so much that she ended up bursting with curiosity,
until one day she opened the door and walked into the little room... Of all
ghastly horrors! Inside, hanging on the walls were the bodies of Bluebeard's
wivws: he had strangled them all with his own hands!
Terror stricken, the girl ran out of the room, but the bunch of keys slipped
from her grasp. She picked them up without a glance and hurried to her own
room, her heart thumping wildly in her chest. Horrors! She was living ina
castle of the dead! So that is what had ahppened to Bluebeard's other wives!
The girl summoned up her courage and she noticed that one of the keys - the
very key to the little room - was stained with blood.
"I must wipe it clean, before my husband comes back!" she said to herself.
But try as she would, the blood stain wouldn't wash away. She washed, she
scrubbed and she rinsed it; all in vain, for the key was still red. That very
evening, Bluebeard came home. Just imagine the state his poor wife was in!
Bluebeard did not ask his wife for the keys that same evening, but he
"You look a little upset, darling. Has anything nasty happened?"
"Oh, no! No!"
"Are you sorry I came back so soon?"
"Oh, no! I'm delighted!" But that night, the bride didn't sleep a wink. Next
day, Bluebeard said:
"Darling, give me back the keys," and his wife hurriedly did so. Bluebeard
remarked: "There's one missing, the key to the little room!"
"Is there?" said the young girl shaking,
"I must have left it in my room!"
"All right, go and get it." But when Bluebeard's wife put the key into his
hand, Bluebeard turned white and in a deep hoarse voice demanded:
"Why is this key stained with blood?"
"I don't know..." stammered his wife.
"You know very well!" he retorted. "You went into the little room, didn't
you? Well, you'll go back again, this time for good, along with the other
ladies in there. You must die!"
"Oh no! I pray you!"
"You must die!" he repeated. Just then, there was a knock at the door and
Anna, Bluebeard's wife's sister, entered the castle.
"Good morning," she said, "you seem rather pale."
"Not at all, we're quite well," replied Bluebeard. His wife whispered in his
"Please, please give me ten minutes to live!" Bluebeard replied:
"Not more than ten!" The girl ran to her sister Anna whohad gone up to one
of the towers and asked her,
"Anna, do you see ou brothers coming? They promised they would come and see
me today!" But Anna replied"
"No, I don't see anyone. What's wrong? You look agitated."
"Anna, please," said the shaken girl, "look again! Are you sure you can't
see someone?"
"No," said her sister, "only one or two peasants." Just then the voice of
Bluebeard boomed up to them:
"Wife, your time is up! Come here!"
"I'm coming!" she called, but then said to her sister: "Oh Anna, aren't our
brothers coming?..."
"No," replied Anna. Again Bluebeard shouted up.
"Come down at once! Or I'll come up!" Trembling like a leaf, his wife went
downstairs. Bluebeard was clutching a big knife and he grabbed his bride by the
"Sister, I can see two horsemen coming!" called out Anna from the tower that
very moment. Bluebeard made a horrible face:
"They too will die!" His wife knelt to implore:
"Please, please don't kill me. I'll never tell anyone what I saw! I'll never
say a word!"
"Yes, you'll never say a word for eternity!" snarled Bluebeard, raising his
knife. The poor girl screamed:
"Have pity on me!" But he fiercely replied:
"No! You must die!" He was about to bring the knife down on the girl's
delicate neck, when two young men burst into the room: a dragoon and a
musketeer. They were his wife's brothers.
Drawing their swords, they leapt towards Bluebeard, who tried to flee up
some stairs, but was caught and killed. And that was the end of the sad story.
Bluebeard's poor wives were given a Christian burial, the castle was completely
renovated and the young widow, some time later, married a good and honest young
man, who helped her to forget the terrible adventure. And that young lady
completely lost all her sense of curiosity...

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