In the midst of a deep forest, a witch built a house made of bread and cake and sugar.
She knew that children loved sweet things and couldn’t wait for a young girl or boy (or both) to happen upon her sweet home. She lined the windows with candy, covered the steps with gingerbread and even grew flowers that were made of chocolate.
When the house was built, she readied her fire and boiled her water and the next morning, as expected, she woke to see a young girl traipsing through the woods.
‘There’s a fine girl for me to eat,’ thought the witch, and then said to her cat, ‘let’s be very quiet and hide so we don’t scare her off.’
Just as the witch hoped, the little girl saw the house and smiled. ‘Oh my, look at that house made of bread and cake and sugar and candy!’ she said. ‘I shall help myself!’
The little girl skipped up to the house and began to eat it. She took bites out of the porch steps and peeled off the candy that made up the eaves. She licked the windows made of sugar and plucked a flower to suck on.
‘Oh, it tastes just like chocolate,’ the little girl cried, ‘how wonderful!’
The witch clapped her hands together in delight. She put on her best disguise, wrapping a scarf around her head and picking up a crutch. She threw open the door and said, in her softest voice, ‘Nibble, nibble, like a mouse, who is nibbling at my house?’
At the sight of the old woman, the little girl began to tremble.
‘Why, hello there, little girl!’ the witch said. ‘So very nice of you to come by my house.’
The little girl, who was always wary of strangers, said, ‘I’m sorry … I didn’t mean to … I’m so very sorry. I was just very hungry is all.’
‘Oh, don’t be sorry,’ the witch said. ‘This house was made to be eaten. Would you like to come inside? There’s so much more to eat in here.’
‘Really?’ the little girl said.
‘Come indoors and stay with me, you’ll be no trouble.’
‘It’s just – we’re very poor, you see,’ the girl said as the witch held out her hand and welcomed her inside. ‘And my stepmother is horrid and we don’t have enough food for the family.’
Inside, the little girl realised that the witch was right – there entire house could be eaten! The couch was made of sweet bread, the rug was made of solid syrup and even the pots and pans tasted like slices of apples.
‘You shall stay for supper,’ she said to the little girl. ‘I can cook up a special sweet broth and then you can take the rest home to your mother and father to eat.’
Meanwhile, the little girl went about tasting everything she could see. She chewed on the walls, nibbled on the mantle piece and even gobbled down the cushions.
‘Indeed, she must be hungry,’ whispered the witch to the cat. ‘Too bad for her! All this eating will fatten her up.’She threw back her head and let out a loud cackle and thought, ‘A great feast for me!’
When the girl was done eating, the witch said, ‘Here, come and have a taste of my sweet broth.’
Quickly, she placed two small bowls of broth on the table. The girl sat down across from her, cupped the bowl in her hands and drank the broth down.
‘Well?’ the witched asked.
‘It’s very tasty,’ the girl said as she slurped it down. She placed the bowl on the table and smiled. ‘May I have some more?’
As she said this, the witch began to notice something very strange about the little girl.
In some ways, now that she looked a little closer, she didn’t seem like a little girl at all. Her cloak was too small and her cap was not quite right and even her hands seems oddly big.
‘Oh, little girl, what large ears you have!’ the witch said suddenly, noticing the long ears poking out from beneath her red cap.
‘The better to hear you with, of course,’ the girl replied sweetly.
‘And what big eyes!’
‘The more I can see, the more I’ll be able to eat!’
‘What about your mouth? It seems a little big for such a little girl?’
‘All the better to eat you with!’ the girl shouted, leaping up.
Suddenly the witch realised her mistake. For as the girl threw off her cloak and her cap, she saw that the little girl was not a girl at all – she was actually a great, big, nasty wolf!
A big bad wolf, right in her house, under her nose!
The witch stood up, gathering up all her courage. She put her hands on her hips and said sternly, ‘You’ll not eat me, you silly wolf. I’m not some poor lass for your pleasure.’
‘Oh? And how do you expect to escape?’ the wolf asked. He leaped over the table and snarled, showing all of his sharp teeth. ‘I shall eat you, and the things in your house, and then I shall wait here for all those little children to come by, and I’ll eat them up too!’
The wolf lunged at her, his mouth wide open, but the witch, having encountered many wolves before in the fairy tale world, darted sideways just in time. The wolf, of course, went crashing into the wall.
‘You just try that once more and I’ll weave a spell that will fill your belly with stones,’ the witch said, ‘and then it’ll be the river for you!’
‘Ha! I would like to see that, you old crone,’ the wolf replied. ‘Maybe I’ll push you into this pot of water or bake you in your own oven!’
‘I know a good woodcutter,’ the witch said. ‘He could be here in an instant!’
‘Well, I know a man that can forge red-hot iron shoes, and you’ll put them on and dance until you die. How about that?’
‘I’m not afraid of you, you lousy wolf!’
‘I’m not scared of you either, you wretched hag!’
And before either of them could say another word, there came a knock at the door.
(Image courtesy of liftart [witch] and wordlabel [wolf] at openclipart.org)