There is a story that Uncle told the young ones, a story all his children grow up hearing. It is a story about an enchanted castle, and a cursed prince. Once upon a time there lived a prince who was very beautiful and one day while he was in his rose garden a fairy saw him and fell in love with him. She appeared to him as a beautiful young woman, but the prince was proud and had no room for love in his heart, and so he turned her away. Furious at his rejection, the fairy placed a curse on him, turning him into a terrible beast and casting his castle into shadows. If ever he learned to love, she told him, and could gain love in return, then perhaps the spell would be broken, and he would become human again. If he could find true love, then his story would have a happy ending.
Rose never really believed Uncle's story; it seemed to her to have too many plot holes. Why would the fairy place such a curse on him anyway? If he did fall in love with another woman, what did she stand to gain? Why would she turn him into a terrible beast when it was so obvious that it was his looks she had fallen for in the first place – why would she want to ruin a face she loved? How come the world didn't know more about this prince? It's not often that princes go missing and there's not one word of it in the news.
Besides all of which, Rose had always been a little sceptical of love. She wasn't sure she believed it existed; she had never seen it for herself. She'd seen many emotions parading as love – lust, or jealousy, or even greed – but never had she seen what the stories spoke of – true love. As far as she was concerned, it was just a hoax invented by storytellers, an opiate of the masses. Rubbish.
Uncle insisted his story was true, and that the prince and his castle did exist, somewhere. Always, once he had finished telling the story of the cursed prince Uncle would go on to tell a much more elaborate story; the story of the riches inside the castle. This was what really interested Uncle; riches, always riches. If one day he could find that castle, he promised his children they would all be rich. They could eat sausages and cheese every day, and sleep on their own beds, filled with down. If he ever found the castle, Uncle promised he would take care of all his children, and they would never have to steal again.
Rose never believed in fairy tales, and no matter what he promised, she never believed in Uncle either. She wasn't sad when he died.