Before Rapunzel was born, her mum had a craving for lettuce. Day after day she gazed longingly at those crunchy leaves in the neighbour's garden. Her husband, in a bid to save his wife from fading away, climbed over the wall into the garden. Taking out his pen knife, he cut through the stem of a lettuce. But as he did so, a witch stood there beside him.
“You're stealing my plants!”
The man dropped the lettuce. His legs wouldn't work and he couldn't run away. He opened his mouth to answer but no sound came out.
“You have stolen from me!” cried the witch, “In return you must give me your first born daughter.”
The man nodded dumbly.
Unfortunately, their first-born child was a girl. And the witch claimed poor Rapunzel in an instant.
But what they don't tell you is what happened to Rapunzel's parents after the witch took their daughter. The thing is that the lettuce eaten by Rapunzel's mother was no ordinary lettuce; it came from an enchanted garden. After her daughter had been taken, Rapunzel's mother continued to eat those lettuces. Perhaps the witch thought it a fair exchange for a child.
It wasn't like the witch planned it, but a curious side-effect of eating this lettuce was that it made the mother fat almost to bursting.
The witch took away the excess fat using a human-sized biscuit cutter. It was enchanted fat and it fell away quite easily. Rapunzel's mum was soon back to her normal size. But the witch wanted paying back for the help she'd given. Even though it was her enchanted lettuce that had caused the problem in the first place: some witches are just like that. She wanted part of the mother's soul. She didn't say what for, and the parents were too afraid to ask.
The witch extracted the soul using keyhole surgery. It left a keyhole-shaped scar. Then, with the operation complete, the witch made off with her spoils.
She had in mind something so fiendish and strange that her insides hubbled and bubbled with glee. In fact she chanted:
“Hubble bubble toil and trouble
Fire burn and Cauldron bubble”
She tipped the fat into the cauldron and mixed it with essence of soul from Rapunzel's mother. Then into the mixture she dipped some clay dolls she'd been stockpiling over the years. Each was dipped very carefully so that every part was covered. Then she set the dolls down to dry. Soon afterwards you could hear murmuring. The dolls were coming alive.
Meanwhile, Rapunzel was taken to live in a tower with no door. A prince chanced by and heard her singing. Being kind-hearted, the prince was determined to rescue her. As the months went by and they tried to think of ways of escape, he grew to love her and she him. She grew her hair and plaited it for extra strength. Soon it was long enough to reach the prince if he stood on a ladder he'd had made by his footman.
But the witch visited every day. One early morning she saw the prince riding away. She guessed the whole story and cut off Rapunzel's hair, attached it to a hook in the tower. When the prince cried, “Rapunzel Rapunzel let down your hair!”, the witch threw the plait out of the window. It tumbled down the wall of the tower and the prince clambered up. When the witch showed her face he fell backwards into some thorn bushes below, which broke his fall but blinded him. He wandered of into the wilderness searching for Rapunzel.
The witch took Rapunzel to a foreign land, where she abandoned her. Rapunzel eventually made her way back to the tower, where the prince was stumbling around reliving his days of happiness near the tower. Rapunzel cried when she saw the prince, her tears falling rolling onto his face. And, miracle of miracles, he regained his sight.
They went to his father's Kingdom, so that the Prince could claim his birthright. In the original story they lived happily ever after, but here's what really happened. The witch came along with her army of clones, which had killed everyone in the kingdom and took over their land. The king was the sole survivor.
The King was very pleased to see his son but was too ashamed to tell him what had happened.
He collected up the remains of his wealth and lavished it on the prince and his bride in the biggest wedding that there has ever been. All the people of the town turned out to see the spectacle. However, Rapunzel thought they all looked vaguely familiar. The witch re-appeared and revealed what she had done: the town dwellers were under her power. Worse still, they were all Rapunzel's mother.
Postscript: Rapunzel was so worried about the clones breeding that she passed a law: no one should have children in the kingdom. She also wrote a book called How a Witch Destroyed My Family after going on the Jeremy Kyle show, which she then denounced as public humiliation.