"When I was a kid, television was called books!" said Grandpa. "And I promise you'll love this one." Grandpa raised the old book to show his grandson, who was spending the afternoon sick in bed. "My father read this book to me," he said, "and I read it to your father. And now, I'm going to read it to you."
"Does it have any sports in it?" asked the grandson with a cough.
"Are you kidding?" said Grandpa. "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!"
"Okay, Grandpa," said the grandson. "I'll try to stay awake."
"Very good, thank you," said Grandpa, opening the book to read. "The Princess Bride, by S. Morgenstern. Chapter one..."
Buttercup was raised on a small farm in the country of Florin. Her favorite pastimes were riding her horse and tormenting the farmboy who worked there. His name was Westley, but she always called him "Farmboy".
Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Westley around. Whether she asked him to fetch water or shine her horse's saddle, all he said in response was "As you wish." One day, as their eyes met, Buttercup realized that when he said "As you wish", what he really meant was "I love you". And even more amazing was the day when she realized she truly loved him back.
Westley had no money for marriage, so he packed his few belongings and left to seek his fortune across the sea. It was a very emotional time for Buttercup.
"I will always come for you," said Westley. "This is true love."
Westley didn't reach his destination. His shipped was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never left captives alive.
When Buttercup got the news that Westley had been murdered, she went into her room and shut the door. For days, she neither slept nor ate. She swore that she would never love again.
Five years later, the main square of Florin city was filled as never before to hear the announcement of the great Prince Humperdinck's bride-to-be. "My people," announced the prince, "My new bride was once a commoner like yourselves. Perhaps you will not find her common now! I give you...Princess Buttercup!" The princess appeared in a royal dress, but with a deep sadness in her beautiful eyes.
Buttercup's emptiness consumed her. Although the law of the land gave Humperdinck the right to choose his bride, she did not love him. Despite Humperdinck's reassurance that she would grow to love him, the only joy she found was in her daily horseback ride.
One day, she drew her horse to a stop before three odd looking men: one short and colorfully dressed, one tall and agile, and the third, a giant. "We are but lost circus performers," said the shortest of the men. "Is there a village nearby?"
"There is nothing nearby - not for miles," said Buttercup.
"Then there will be no one to hear you scream," the man said, as the giant stepped forward and pulled the princess from her horse.
Buttercup soon learned that the Giant was named Fezzik, and the short man, who was the leader of the group, was named Vizzini. As the princess was led onto a small ship, she heard the sound of ripped cloth from the shore.
"This is fabric from the army uniform of an army officer of Gilder, the land across the sea," Vizzini explained to his comrades. "When the prince sees this fabric on the princess' horse, he'll think she's been kidnapped by the Gilderians. And when he finds her body dead on the Gilder frontier, their suspicions will be confirmed."
"I don't think it's right to kill an innocent girl," said the giant.
"Am I going mad - or did the word THINK escape your lips?!?" shouted Vizzini. "I didn't hire you for your brains!"
"I agree with Fezzik," said the third man, a Spaniard.
"She is not your concern!" replied Vizzini. "And remember this - when I found you, you were so slobbering drunk, you couldn't buy brandy!"
The argument seemed to have ended, and the ship set sail. As darkness fell, however, the Spaniard made an astonishing announcement: the ship was being followed.
"Followed? Inconceivable!" said Vizzini. But the Spaniard's claimed was true: a mysterious ship sailed behind them. As the men scrambled to see their pursuer, they heard a splash. Buttercup had thrown herself into the water and begun to paddle toward the distant ship. But when the shrieking eels gathered to attack the princess, it was Fezzik's mighty hand that pulled her again from the water.
The two ships sailed speedily through the night, the distance between them unchanged. As dawn broke, the princess gasped to see a sheer mountain face rise from the water to a terrifying height above. The ship had reached The Cliffs of Insanity.
A thick rope stretched down the seemingly endless length of the cliff, and within moments the princess, along with Vizzini and the Spaniard, were being pulled up the rope as passengers, riding comfortable on a harness worn by the giant Fezzik. As the party ascended the rock face, the princess and her captors saw the second ship reach the cliff bottom below - and immediately a man dressed entirely in black leapt from the ship to the rope to continue the chase. "Faster, faster - he's gaining!" shouted Vizzini at the giant, their faces only inches apart.
Finally the giant pulled his passengers to the top of the cliff, where Vizzini leapt out of his harness to cut through the rope before the man in black could reach their safe perch. When the rope had tumbled down the cliff and the kidnappers looked down, however, they were astonished to see the mysterious figure clinging to the rocks some distance below.
"He's still alive? Inconceivable!" shouted Vizzini. Then to the Spaniard he gave an order. "You watch him while we go ahead. If he falls, fine; if not - the sword!"
"I'll fight him with my left hand," said the Spaniard. "If I use my right...over too quickly."
"Have it your way," shouted Vizzini as he and the giant led the princess away.
The Spaniard gazed over the cliff, where the Man in Black was slowly working his way up the rock face. "I don't suppose you could hurry up?" shouted the Spaniard.
"This is not as easy as it looks," replied the Man In Black. "If you're in such a hurry, you could throw me a rope."
"But you know I'm only waiting to kill you," said the Spaniard.
"That does put a damper on our relationship," said the Man in Black.
"I could promise I won't kill you until you reach the top," offered the Spaniard.
"I've known too many Spaniards. You'll just have to wait," said the Man in Black.
"I swear on the soul of my father, Domingo Montoya," the Spaniard said quietly. "You will reach the top alive."
"Throw down the rope," said the Man in Black.
The Spaniard unwrapped a length of rope from the tree where it was anchored and threw down one end to the Man in Black. Soon the mysterious pursuer had reached the top of the cliff - but though he was ready to fight, the Spaniard suggested he rest for a moment.
"I do not suppose you have six fingers on your right hand?" asked the Spaniard. The Man in Black, surprised by the question, only held up his five-fingered right hand in reply.
When I was a boy, my father was slain by a six-fingered man. I witnessed my father's murder, and challenged this man to a duel. He left me alive - but he gave me a terrible scar on each of my cheeks. I was eleven years old. From that moment on I dedicated my life to the study of fencing.
"Well, you've been more than fair," said The Man in Black. "Shall we fight?"
And with that, the two swordsmen lifted their weapons and launched into a deadly battle of steel against steel. At first their left-handed attacks and sweeping parries were tentative, even polite. But the moment was gripped by peril as each man's lunges grew more daring, precise, and furious.
"I admit it - you are better than I am!" grunted Inigo.
"Then why are you smiling?" asked The Man in Black.
"Because I know something you don't know," said Inigo.
"And what's that?" asked The Man In Black.
"I am not left handed!" proclaimed Inigo, sweeping his sword into his right hand in a single blinding motion. The battle was now Inigo's to win.
"Indeed you are amazing!" said The Man In Black. "But I also know something you do not know. I am not left handed either." The Man In Black then spun his blade into his right hand, carving through the air like lightning. In a moment, the The Man in Black had disarmed Inigo, sending the Spaniard's sword flying through the air.
"Kill me quickly," demanded Inigo in his defeat.
"I'd sooner destroy an oil painting than kill an artist such as yourself," said The Man In Black. "But, since I can't have you following me..."
Inigo felt a powerful blow on the back of his head, and for the next hour he would remember nothing more.
Peering at his distant pursuer through a telescope, Vizzini shook with rage. "The Man in Black bested my Spaniard? Inconceivable!"
Grabbing the princess' hand, Vizzini then gave a final order to the giant. "You gather a few rocks and wait for him. The moment his head comes into view, hit it with the rock!" Vizzini then hurried away with his captive.
The Man in Black was not far behind the party. When he reached the glade where the giant waited, however, he was astonished to see a boulder smash to pieces upon the rock beside his head.
"I don't have to miss," said the giant. "It's more sportsmanlike if you can see me."
"So would you prefer a gentlemanly fight?" asked The Man In Black. "I put down my sword, you put down your rocks, and we try to kill each other like civilized people?"
And that's what they did. The Man In Black looked like an insect beside the mountainous giant. But when he slipped onto the giant's back and wrapped his arms around the giant's neck, the giant could not defend himself, and soon he collapsed, unconscious.
Vizzini witnessed this scene too through his telescope from his high perch where he waited with the princess. "Inconceivable!" he shouted. But when The Man In Black arrived to meet them moments later, Vizzini was ready.
The Man In Black found the princess seated and blindfolded, with Vizzini holding a knife to her side. "Step no closer," said Vizzini. "You would clearly defeat me in a fight. And you're no match for my brains."
"So shall we have a battle of wits?" said The Man In Black.
"Let the battle of wits begin!" said Vizzini.
"Then pour the wine!" said The Man In Black. When Vizzini had filled two glasses, The Man In Black lifted them both and turned his back. When he returned he explained that he had emptied his vial of poisonous iocaine powder into the liquid. "Now you choose a glass, and we both drink."
"That is too easy!" said Vizzini. "All I have to do is deduce from what I know about you whether you would put the poisoned wine closer to me or closer to yourself!"
Vizzini's intelligence was dazzling as he deduced the hidden intentions which guided The Man In Black's actions. He seemed able to read minds, so deep was his insight. Finally, he lifted one of the glasses, The Man In Black took the other, and they both drank.
"You've given everything away! I tricked you! You drank the poison! HA HA HA HA!" laughed Vizzini, who then promptly dropped dead.
Without a moment to lose, The Man In Black removed Buttercup's blindfold, took her hand and hurried away.
As they rushed over the mountain summit, Buttercup spied the prince's search party below. "You will be caught!" she said. "The prince will find you and you will hang!"
"The prince - your fiance? And when did you agree to marry the prince?" asked The Man In Black. "Was it immediately after you received news that your previous love had died? Did you wait a whole week?"
"My heart died the day my love died. And you can die too for all I care!" Buttercup spat out these words as she shoved The Man In Black into a deep ravine.
As the Man In Black tumbled down the slope, he cried out words which shook Buttercup to her bones. "AS YOU WISH!"
"Oh, my dear sweet Westley!" cried Buttercup as she sent herself tumbling down the hill after her love.
When they had both reached the bottom, Westley explained that instead of killing him, the Dread Pirate Roberts had trained him to live as a pirate.
Westley explained that he himself had spent the last five years living as the pirate. Now, he was ready to marry Buttercup. But first, they would have to evade the prince.
As they spoke they realized they had wandered into the Fire Swamp, where deadly flames struck at random and terrifying Rodents of Unusual Size fiercely attacked. They had to step carefully.
It was not long, however, before Prince Humperdinck, Count Rugen and the royal search party caught up with them just outside the fire swamp. Westley was ready to fight to the death, but Buttercup could not bear to see her love perish again. She promised to marry the prince as planned - if Westley was set free. As the prince's horse carried Buttercup away, Westley noticed something odd about Count Rugen: his right hand had six fingers.
Westley awoke in a dark room, his body immobilized inside a strange mechanical device. This was the Pit of Despair. Count Rugen stood over him. "I have created this machine to suck away your life," said the Count. "Allow me to demonstrate." The Count raised a lever, which released a stream of water, which turned the gears. In a moment, Westley could feel the life being ripped away from inside him. The Count lowered the lever. "Interesting," he said, as Westley whimpered in helpless agony.
At last the wedding day arrived, and the newly married Queen Buttercup stepped out to greet her people. The royal subjects welcomed her cheerfully, until one old hag stepped out from the crowd, shouting "Boo! Boo! Your love lives, and you marry another! You're the queen of filth, the princess of refuse! Boo! Boo!"
Buttercup awoke from her nightmare and realized that she could not marry Prince Humperdinck. The scheduled wedding was three days away. She ran to the prince's chamber and announced that she could only love Westley; she would die before she married another. The prince agreed to send his four fastest ships to find Westley and offer his love back to him. "But if should turn you down, would you consider me as an alternative to suicide?"
With the princess satisfied for the moment, Prince Humperdinck stormed through the woods to the Pit of Despair, where Westley still lay helpless. "Not one couple in a century experience love like she feels for you. So not one person in a century shall suffer like you!" And with that, the prince threw the lever to its highest position. Westley let out a scream of terrible agony as few alive had ever heard before. It was the sound of ultimate suffering - a sound sadly recognized when it reached the ears of a Spaniard in the village nearby.
The prince's royal goon squad had swept into the village to clear out the drunkards and troublemakers who lived there. But one member of the goon squad - who was a friendly and familiar giant named Fezzik - recognized one of the drunkards as his old friend Inigo. The giant carried his friend away and soon the Spaniard had recovered from his drink.
Inigo knew that his nemesis, Count Rugen, was in the service of Prince Humperdinck. But he and the giant could not reach him alone. They needed The Man In Black.
Inigo stood quietly in the forest, holding his sword aloft. "Father. You will soon be at peace. I ask you to guide my sword." Slowly, Inigo's sword pulled him in a circle - but it led him only to a nearby tree. Hopeless, Inigo fell upon the tree trunk - to find his hand activating a secret knot which revealed a hidden door. Together, Inigo and the giant crept down the stairs.
There they found The Man In Black, their friend Westley, strapped into the machine. His body was lifeless.
"We must take him to Miracle Max!" declared Inigo. Soon Westley lay on a table in the ancient wizard's home.
"Your friend is only mostly dead!" said Max. "Give him this pill. He'll be good in no time!"
The wizard had indeed brought Westley back to life, yet he could not move; the torture had robbed him, temporarily, of his strength. His brain still nimble, however, Westley concocted a plan for the party to rescue Buttercup, defeat the prince and kill Count Rugen.
Within hours, a terrifying apparition appeared in front of Prince Humperdinck's castle. Wearing an ominous cloak, the creature bellowed "I am the Dread Pirate Roberts!" before bursting into flame. As the guards ran for their lives, the apparition - otherwise known as the giant, Fezzik - rushed into the castle, followed by the Spaniard Inigo, dragging the limp body of the Man In Black.
His castle under siege, Prince Humperdinck rushed the priest through his marriage ceremony. "Say 'man and wife'!" commanded the prince, and with that, Buttercup lost all hope. Her fate sealed as the guests left the room, she retreated to her chamber to end her life.
Count Rugen and his guards stepped from the wedding hall to find three familiar foes in the corridor - Fezzik, Inigo, and the helpless Westley. "Kill the Spaniard and the giant, but leave the third for questioning!" commanded the Count. Yet within seconds every man who stepped forward fell mortally wounded to the floor, defeated by the lightning blade of the vengeful Spaniard. At last, Inigo stood facing his foe, only their raised weapons between them. "Hello," he said quietly. "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
The count eyed his foe, assumed a combat stance, and then turned and ran for his life.
Leaving his companions behind, Inigo chased his nemesis through the castle. As he rushed into the banquet room, however, his body stumbled backwards. Count Rugen had thrown a knife directly into Inigo's chest. "I'm sorry, father!" said Inigo as he fell against the wall.
"Have you been planning revenge all these years?" said Count Rugen. As he stepped in to deliver a final blow, however, Inigo offered a weak parry. Thrusting his sword again, Count Rugen again found his blade brushed aside by Inigo's shaky weapon. Slowly, the Spaniard lifted himself upright. "Hello," he said quietly. "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
"Stop saying that!" demanded Count Rugen. But now it was Inigo whose blade slashed furiously through the air.
"HELLO!" shouted Inigo. "MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA! YOU KILLED MY FATHER! PREPARE TO DIE!"
Now Count Rugen was against the wall, begging to survive. He offered money and power. But as he had vowed years before, Inigo took only the Count's life.
Back in her chamber, Buttercup lifted a knife to her chest - only to hear the voice of her love behind her. Westley lay motionless on the bed - he had returned! Yet the two were not alone: Prince Humperdinck stepped in and announced a duel to the death.
"No!" said Westley. "Not to the death. To the pain!"
"Perhaps I have the strength to stand after all," said Westley, lifting himself and directing his weapon at the prince. "Drop your sword!" Westley commanded. The prince did as he was commanded as Inigo rushed into the room.
Fezzik greeted the group from outside the window, where he stood with four white horses. Soon the party rode together to safety.
"Now that I've killed the Count, I don't know what to do with my life," said Inigo.
"Have you ever considered piracy? You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts," said Westley.
The friends parted ways as Westley and Buttercup returned to their farm. There, in the sunset, Westley took Buttercup in his arms..."
"Oh, sorry," said Grandpa. "You said you didn't like kissing books."
"Um...I guess it's okay this time," said the grandson.
Okay...there, in the sunset, Westley and Buttercup kissed a kiss that was more passionate, loving and tender than any kiss in history.
All songs and recordings for this show will be copyright 2011 by their respective performers.
All rights are reserved.