*Spoiler alert: this column contains a spoiler for the plot line of the children's story Gingerbread Fred.
On Saturday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted a picture of the last page of children's story Gingerbread Fred on her Instagram account.
"Fly, fly, fly, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the ..." it read. Then: "Crunch! Scrunch! Munch! The fox had him for lunch."
Ardern's observation was: "Just when you think every bedtime story you read your toddler has a cheerful ending."
Some of us are fond of analogies, and wondered if Ardern was fantasising that Gingerbread Fred was her deputy, Winston Peters, and she was the fox.
Or she may have feared SHE was Gingerbread Fred, and Peters was the fox.
Whichever it was, a cheerful ending is now in peril.
She has repeatedly been described as "weak" for refusing to take action against her deputy PM Winston Peters for any or all of a string of events.
Those events include an Electoral Commission finding that NZ First had not met its donations disclosure requirements, and the Serious Fraud Office investigation into that.
There was the curious incident in which photos of journalists meeting former NZ First President Lester Grey were taken by someone associated with NZ First, and passed on to a right-wing blog.
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Peters added to the list on Tuesday night when he put up a Facebook video railing against RNZ for its coverage of those donations, accusing it of bias, of a "smear campaign" and of inappropriate behaviour for a state broadcaster.
Not once in that video did he prove any of RNZ's stories were actually wrong.
There was also the disturbing implication that because RNZ was a state broadcaster, it should not be running such stories. This is not China, and Peters ran perilously close to the provision in RNZ's legislation that prohibits any minister seeking to "direct" RNZ about its editorial content.
Peters has argued the donations involved the NZ First Foundation rather than him or his party. But he had also assured the public – and Ardern – that he had made inquiries and was convinced the Electoral Commission would find nothing wrong.
The fact that it did – and that the Serious Fraud Office then also saw enough to warrant it starting an investigation – rather belied that assurance.
In such a situation, Ardern had a rather dire choice.
She could either look weak, or the Government could look unstable just six months before it went to the polls to ask for another term.
She wisely chose the weak option – the one with the shorter-term impact.
The risk that disciplining Peters would collapse the Government is the most obvious reason, although it is a low risk given Peters would not want that either.
But Ardern has absolutely no interest in being dragged into the whole debacle for good reason.
The moment she says something, she gets dragged into the story.
The headlines are no longer about SFO cases over National Party donations and NZ First donations.
So she said she was giving Peters the courtesy of natural justice. In the end, it is for the voters to decide whether to "sack" Peters or not.
Ardern loses nothing by simply waiting for those voters to make that decision.
So she has simply said it was a matter for NZ First – not for her. She has turned a deaf ear to National's claims Peters' behaviour does not meet the "ethical" standards required by the Cabinet Manual.
It is understood Ardern did get Cabinet Office advice on the situation, especially around the SFO investigation.
But ultimately, it is up to the PM alone to decide when they have lost confidence in a minister and how to deal with it.
Ardern may well be accused of hypocrisy for it, but she has every right to take that line.
As John Key once said, the Cabinet Manual is not a set of commandments on a stone tablet.
Key reached for that in 2014 when Labour was demanding Judith Collins' head on a plate over her visit to Oravida, the dairy company her husband was a director of, and which had donated to National.
By way of defence, Key described the Cabinet Manual as "a set of rules which are always just a guideline anyway".
Labour kicked up quite the hullabaloo about the apparently cavalier disregard of the Cabinet Manual.
Much has been made of history repeating itself over this period. The "history" in question was 2008, when Peters was also under a cloud over donations (he later had to disclose some but was cleared of fraud).
By her silence, Ardern may also be trying to stop history repeating itself in even more respects.
In 2008, Peters did step down – with some help from Helen Clark – after the SFO announced it would investigate donations.
Soon after that, NZ First found itself out of Parliament and Labour found itself in Opposition.
The second part of that is not the cheerful ending Ardern wants. However, she may well now consider the first part of it would do just fine.