In my grade eight short story writing unit, we had to write a conclusion for the story by Frank R. Stockton called The Lady or the Tiger? At the end of this story, a man must choose between two doors, one of which has a lady behind it, the other a tiger. The lady he will marry, the tiger he will be devoured by. There is also a princess, who knows the secret of the doors, and she indicates the one on the right. The man opens that door, and then the story ends. This is my continuation.

If you want to read the whole story, which I recommend you do before reading this, you can find it at www(dot)eastoftheweb(dot)com/short-stories/UBooks/LadyTige(dot)shtml

Or read the plot summary on Wikipedia: www(dot)en(dot)wikipedia(dot)org/wiki/The_Lady,_or_the_Tiger%3F


He turned, and with a firm and rapid step he walked across the empty space. Every heart stopped beating, every breath was held, every eye was fixed immovably upon that man. Without the slightest hesitation, he went to the door on the right, and opened it.

Out of the door came the most beautiful lady the courtier had ever seen. But his heart never faltered in his love for the princess. In truth it grew stronger, for he knew she loved him enough to let him live with another. He had never doubted that she would know the secret of the doors, nor that she would tell him which door to open should he ask; yet he had pondered many times what would lie behind that door. In the final moment before entering the arena, he had decided to trust his lover without hesitation; he had placed his life and entire future in her hands.

He looked at the lady who would soon be his wife. He knew her, and he had spurned her advances many times. She never seemed to understand that he loved, and would always love, the princess. He sighed; it would almost have been better to be killed swiftly, in an instant or two, than to have to spend the rest of his life married to this dull, insipid creature. She was pretty, it was impossible to deny, but her conversation was enough to drive a saint to murder. His thoughts turned to the princess; she had a mind, and used it too. He knew that she would burn with jealousy at the thought of him with this woman, yet he also knew how she would have cringed and cried should he have died. In truth, he was surprised to be alive. In that first moment after opening the door, before he saw his bride-to-be, he had prepared himself for death, for he had convinced himself that the princess, accustomed to getting her way in all matters, would rather see him dead than with some other maiden.

He heard a cough and looked up; he realized that the priest was here to formalize their nightmare marriage.

From high above, the princess watched the proceedings with a thinly veiled despair. In her heart burnt a smouldering fire of rage and hate, tempered only by the fact that she had a plan and would be quick to execute it. If she had her way, the marriage would be barely consummated before it was ended.

OOO

The princess left her handmaidens in drugged sleep and crept out of her rooms. She snuck stealthily through the palace, carefully avoiding the royal guards. Her destination was an out of the way wing of the palace. She paused outside a door; yes, this was the room. Reaching into a pocket, she withdrew an object. Quickly, she opened the door and snuck inside. She tiptoed to the edge of the bed and carefully checked that the occupant was sleeping. Then, smiling grimly to herself, she slit the pale throat. She watched until she was sure that no life remained and then she moved to the other side of the bed and woke the other sleeper.

The courtier woke slowly; he sensed someone above him; it was the princess! He was ecstatic, perhaps the whole thing, being discovered by the king, the trial, the wedding, perhaps it was all just a terrible dream. He glanced at the opposite side of the bed, expecting it to be empty. Instead, he saw the lifeless body of the lady he had married less than a day earlier. He turned back to the princess, a question on his lips, but the words died away when he saw the bloody knife she was carrying.

"How could you?" the courtier whispered. He was repulsed that his one and only love could find it in her to commit such a vile act as murder. He had known that she was semi-barbaric, but this, this was beyond comprehension.

"It was an easy decision. She desired you and married you after I lost you. That is unacceptable. None may have what I cannot," stated the princess in a firm tone.

"But to kill her, it is unconscionable; you could have sent her away-"

"Only to have her return and denounce me. I am not so foolish as that. This way, she is dead, and no one is the wiser as to who did it."

"I am." He spoke with resolve; nevertheless the princess was sure he wouldn't do anything that might hurt her.

"However you won't be disloyal, will you?" she asked, sure of the answer.

"I might, because what you did was wicked." His words sounded like a death knell to the princess. She was shocked; her lover was threatening betrayal.

"I did with the best intentions, now we can be together, if only in secret."

"My conscience will not allow me to be with you, slayer of my wife."

"You mean to say that you loved her," cried the princess, her heart breaking.

"Of course not, I despised her. Yet killing, for whatever reason, is wrong." The courtier stood, "I am leaving now, however if you are still here when I return, I will summon the guards." He walked to the door and opened it quietly, then slipped out and closed it gently behind him.

The princess stood. The courtier had made his decision. She would not attempt to dissuade him. But he would be punished severely for his betrayal. She looked at the knife in her hands, still wet with the blood of the one she had killed. She raised it, and, without hesitation, plunged it into her chest.

OOO

When the courtier returned and discovered what his conscience had cost him, he did the same.