The Witch and the Crow

The Witch and the Crow

A Story by Spectral Dust
"

A witchy tale

"

A fairy tale for children and adults alike

 

A long time ago, in a far away land, there was a lovely village with cottages made of straw and mud. Roundabout the homes were pens for animals and gardens with vegetables for eating. There were horses, too, for the people to ride and to pull their wooden carts. Every day, except the Lord's Day, the villagers would load their carts with food and handicrafts and sell to those passing by on their way to the city further on down the road. At night, lights shone through the windows of the houses from the candles burning within, while the cobblestone streets glimmered under the light of the moon, if it was in the sky. Everyone lived very happy because they had all they needed and helped each other whenever they could.

 

Then one day an old lady shabbily dressed waddled into the village. Her clothes were black and dirty, and on her head was a black hat that was pointed at the top. The crooked nose on her gray and shriveled face bore a big wart that accentuated her ugliness. Over her right shoulder was slung a broomstick with a knapsack, while on her left shoulder was perched a big, black crow. All morning she wandered among the cottages as if she were lost. Finally an old man asked, "What are you looking for?  you silly woman."

 

"Who, me?" she replied. "Why, I'm looking for a house to buy, so I may have a place to live."

 

He figured the woman was crazy, so he said, "There's a house for sale on the other side of the village, but I doubt he'd sell to the likes of you! I think it best you be on your way." Then he shooed her away, as if she were only a dog.

 

"I shan't be leaving," she said defiantly. "I will buy a house and will stay as long as I please."

 

At that, the man huffed and said, "Well, good luck to you, then!" Then he stomped into his house and slammed the door. The banging door startled the crow, and so it cawed in the old woman's ear.

 

"Oh, shut up, you filthy bird," said the old woman. "I'll deal with that fool later. He'll be sorry he treated me so poorly." Down the worn cobblestones she hobbled to the other side of town. The villagers stared at her. Some made unkind remarks loud enough for her to hear:

 

"We don't want beggars in our village! " said the cobbler, with his head poking out the window.

 

A beautiful maiden raised her nose at the old woman, and grumbled loudly, "What a horrible sight, SHE is!"

 

Another woman hollered to her husband, "Come quick, and see the crazy woman with a crow on her shoulder!"

 

Then two boys picked up some stones and threw them, but they missed her. The old woman just kept on walking and didn't say a word, but the crow cawed in anger.

 

At the other side of the village she found the house for sale. The man who owned the house came out and was mighty surprised to see by his front door an old woman with a crow on her shoulder.

 

"Well, what do YOU want with that bird on your shoulder?" the man asked impatiently.

 

"I've come to buy your house," she answered promptly.

 

The man laughed and said, "YOU? buy my house?" Now it was the case that the man only wanted five gold pieces for his house, but he thought, I shall ask for ten, and then this crazy hag will go away. The man crossed his arms on his chest and boasted, "You may have my house, for...TEN gold pieces." The crow cawed again, so she pushed it off her shoulder, whereby it flew up to the rooftop and eyed them both from above. The witch untied the knapsack from the broom and dropped it at the man's feet, and out tumbled one hundred gold coins. All that gold gleaming in the morning sun caused him to gasp in amazement.

 

"I shall pay your ten gold pieces," she said haughtily, "and I shall move in today." The man was too shocked to speak. He stuffed the ten gold pieces in his pocket, wrapped some clothes and food in a bag, and then strolled out of town, never to be seen again. The villagers were angry when they heard the old woman had bought the house. Many were afraid because they thought she might be a witch and her crow a demon, while others simply thought her crazy. But they could do nothing, for she had paid full price, and so it was rightly hers. So she moved in and became comfortable in her new home.

 

A week later, at night, when the moon was high and bright, a villager headed out to the latrine. He heard a strange noise nearby. He looked, and saw standing in her cottage by the window the old woman, while on the sill was perched the crow. Quickly the man hid behind a wood pile and watched. She was talking to the bird, but he couldn't hear what she was saying. Then the woman pointed into the night sky with a short stick (or was it a wand?) and commanded in a soft voice,

 

"Fly, black bird, fly, high into the sky,
~and don't return without my happy by-and-by."

 

Then off the bird flew, quickly disappearing in the starry darkness while the old woman stepped back into the dark of the room. The tired man wanted to return to bed, but his curiosity wouldn't let him, so he stay hidden to see if the bird might return. And sure enough, after the moon and stars had moved a short distance, he peered above the woodpile just in time to see the bird returning from its puzzling journey. The woman greeted the bird and carried it back into the house. After a short while the man decided to go back to bed. He looked at the house one last time, and--what? the woman's head was poking out of the chimney! Atop her head was that same black hat, and in her hand was the broom that she'd carried into town. Nearby stood the crow, ready to fly. What is that crazy woman doing? He watched as she climbed out of the chimney wearing the same black clothes she always wore. Gazing at the moon, she lustily crooned,

 

"Into the night I fly,
~to greet my sweet by-and-by

Over hill and dale, I'll soar,
~among the moon and stars, galore

No greater force there be,
~than my broom, my bird, and me.

And once my by-and-by is done,
~I'll rest easy, under the day's sun

With my belly fair and full,
~from the brains and blood--

 

~OF THE BABY'S SKULL!"

 

Then ZOOM! over the rooftops she flew, leaving a trail of sparkling magic dust as she did. The crow followed and disappeared just as quick. The man ran and shook his wife awake and told her all he'd seen. But she said, "You were only dreaming. Go back to sleep, you old fool!"  The man doubted himself, so he went to bed, still trembling.

 

The next morning the man confided to his neighbor everything. At first the neighbor scoffed; but the man was so insistent that he decided maybe there was some truth in the matter. So they agreed to hide behind the woodpile to see if they could catch the old woman in action. After dark the two men snuck out and hid behind the woodpile. They waited 'till morning, just before sunrise, but the woman and bird never appeared. Again on the second night they hid, but they both fell asleep and saw nothing. On the third night, however, they saw the old woman at her window with the bird. She spoke softly:

 

"Fly, black bird, fly, high into the sky,
~and don't return without my happy by-and-by."

 

The bird returned not long after and was pulled back into the house from the window sill. Shortly thereafter, the woman's pointed hat came poking out from atop the chimney! The crow flew to the rooftop to greet her. She sat on her broomstick, chanted her spell, and then--woosh! into the night sky she flew, and was swallowed by the darkness with her bird at her side. All they could see was the trail of magic dust she left behind.

 

There could be no doubt: The old woman was a witch!

 

So the two men conspired to demand from her some money, for they'd heard the rumor about the gold in the knapsack. She would surely pay, or they would tell the constable, who would promptly hang her, because witches were greatly feared for the evil they could do.

 

At sunrise the two men knocked on the witch's door. Out she came, dressed in the same black clothes and hat, smoking a pipe of tobacco. "We know you are a witch," they said, "and we want some money or we will tell the constable, and then you will hang." The witch was enraged, but she was crafty and pretended not to care. She invited them in with a smile; and so in they went, thinking, "We are so clever. Soon we will be rich." The witch took off her hat and said,

 

"So, you clever men would like some gold, would you? How much? Five gold pieces? ten? fifty?" The men were so pleased with their good fortune they could not help but smile. But as quick as lightning the old woman changed her expression. "You will get nothing from me, you swine!" she said cursedly. Then from her hat she pulled her magic wand and said in a shrill voice,

 

"Water and stones and dirt says me,
~do my bidding, and cause to be,
~these scoundrels I do see,
~two swine crying, 'Wee, wee, wee!'"

 

From the wand came a cloud of magic dust that circled the two men, and instantly they became two squealing pigs. "That'll teach you! Nobody robs me of my precious gold!" She shooed the two hogs out and into the street. A short while later the wives of the two men came looking for them. They too knocked on the door, but when they demanded to know the whereabouts of their husbands the witch changed them into two hens pecking at her feet! And this is how it went the entire day, with more and more villagers knocking on the witch's door looking for relatives and friends who'd gone missing. By day's end, all the villagers had been magically changed into some kind of animal.

 

"What a wonderful day!" the witch proclaimed. She stirred the fireplace to remove the evening chill, put on her hat, and sat in a rocking chair in front of her cottage to watch the sunset. The crow watched from its perch nearby. As she smoked her pipe the villagers were milling about at her feet, pecking, snorting, scratching and mooing like a barnyard menagerie. "Oh, how delightful!" she exclaimed. It was especially gratifying to see that haughty maiden dragging her sow-belly on the ground, eating garbage the witch threw at her. And look! the two boys that had thrown stones at her were scurrying about frantically, afraid the other animals would step on them, for they were now rats! None of the cursed villagers dare leave the witch, for they hoped she would transform them back into the people they used to be. After sunset the witch carried her crow into the house, and she ate a nice stew with insects, toads and a dash of adder. Then she went to bed and slept as soundly as ever.

 

The next morning the parson from the city showed up to find out why nobody had attended mass at the cathedral, for it was Easter Sunday. He wandered about town knocking on doors, but could find no-one. Finally he came to the witch's house. And there she was, rocking in her chair, smoking her pipe, surrounded by all the animals. The parson had no idea she was a witch, so he asked her kindly, "Have you seen any of other people of the village, my good woman?"

 

"Why do you call me good?" snapped the witch. "If gold is good, then I am as good as gold, for I have gold a plenty."

 

The parson did not understand the old woman. By now all the animals had surrounded him, for they didn't want him to leave. He became suspicious, and said, "There's been much talk about a witch that has been traveling from village to village, and with devil magic turns all the inhabitants into animals, and then steals their gold. Have you seen any witches, by the slightest chance?"

 

"Witches?" said she, with a contemptuous laugh. "There are no witches around here! Now be on your way, you stupid a*s. That cross around your neck is making me sick." Then she spat upon the ground and stuck her pipe back between her teeth and puffed away. The parson was so taken aback by her rudeness that all he could think to do was walk away. But he hadn't a chance, for only two steps later a cloud of magic dust had turned him into a jackass! but the crucifix was still around his neck, because her evil powers were not strong enough to overcome such a holy symbol. "Hahaha! A jackass for your god to ride upon! I am invincible!" she exclaimed.  Never had the witch been so gratified by her evil ways. Unbeknownst to the witch, however, was that from behind the woodpile someone was watching her...

 

That someone was Billy the Beggar.

 

Now, Billy the Beggar was a young man of faith and a follower of Christ, and whose father had died not long ago. After that, Billy was so poor he had to live in the woods because the villagers wouldn't give him work, for his father had been a mean and selfish man, hated by all. So in the woods he lived, and with a slingshot he killed animals for food, while his water he got from a nearby stream. It dawned on Billy, this was the witch he'd seen in the woods cooking stinking meals in a large, black cauldron.  Billy did not know that those meals were made from the brains of babies that the demon witch had stolen!

 

 "That woman is a witch," he thought, "and I'm going to kill her demon crow!" With his slingshot he fired a stone and it hit the crow in the belly, and it fell down dead!

 

"Oh, my Cindy Loo! " the witch screamed. Funny name for a crow, Billy thought, as he ducked out of sight. He peeked and--what happened? that crow has turned into a beautiful maiden! That witch must have changed that girl into a crow with her magic, Billy realized. Look! the witch is pulling the wand out of her hat! Billy knew what he had to do. He ran and grabbed the wand from her bony hand and broke it to pieces. The maiden ripped the hat from the witch's hand and pulled out the spell book, ran into the house and threw it into the fireplace. The witch chased after her screaming, "No! No! No! I must have my book of spells!" She tried to grab the book but the flame was too hot. Meanwhile, all the villagers had become people again, because the evil spell had been broken. So desperate was the witch to keep her magic that she plunged her hand into the fire and seized the burning book. Her sleeve caught fire and very quickly all her clothes were aflame! She ran out the door screaming curses, past all the people and down the street. After running a short distance, she fell down--dead. A dark cloud formed over her smoldering body. Then the earth rumbled open and swallowed... her... up ...whole.

 

"Hurrah!" the villagers rejoiced.

 

Cindy Loo then told everyone what had happened. Once she had a happy life with loving parents. But the mother died and her father remarried. Unfortunately, every baby her stepmother gave birth to died, and this made her crazy. After the father died, the stepmother, who by then was an old woman, decided she wanted to become a witch. So she paid a wizard ten gold pieces so he might teach her magic. She learned her magic well,  made a pact with the devil, and then with her magic morphed the pretty Cindy Loo into a crow.  Cindy was then commanded to fly out at night and find babies for the witch to eat. The witch would then sail on her broom to where the innocent lay, snatch it, and then in her cauldron stew the baby's brains!  Cindy did not want to help her evil stepmother, but the witch's powers were too strong to resist.  Fortunately Billy broke the witch's spell when he killed the crow, and all the cursed villagers were transformed back into people after the wand was broken!

 

The villagers were so grateful they let Billy keep all the witch's gold! Soon after, Cindy Loo and Billy fell in love and had three beautiful babies. The king of the land was so happy to be rid of the witch that he gifted Billy and Cindy Loo a castle in which to live and raise their children. He also bestowed upon them new names for all to honor: Cindy was to be called, "Cindy, the Beautiful One," and Billy was to be called, "Billy, the Great One." After that they lived happily with their children in the majestic castle, with riches and honor for the rest...of... their... lives.

© 2012 Spectral Dust


Author's Note

Spectral Dust
I like this one, even though it never seems to get a good response

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I like this. Even though it's kind of long, it kept me interested. It reminds me of a fairy tale in a way. I suppose it is. Great job on this. :]

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on November 29, 2011
Last Updated on July 25, 2012
Tags: Witch, supernatural, fantasy, fairy tale, children's