Once upon a time there were three witches who were going out into the world to seek their fortune. “Watch out for the terrible humans,” their mother said. “Especially the children. Remember what I’ve taught you and you will be safe and happy witches.”
“We will, mother,” they said.
“Well, go on then,” their mother said. “If you stay any longer I’ll cry, and then I’d start to melt. We don’t want that.”
So the witches left. On the first day, they passed a dark, scary forest. “Perfect,” the youngest witch said. “I’ll build a house here out of candy and gingerbread. That will keep the children away.”
“While I agree that sounds rather awful, I thought that children liked sweet things,” the oldest witch said.
“But mother said that they’re taught to never take candy from strangers. It’s a fool proof plan,” the youngest witch said.
“Wow, that’s pretty smart,” the middle witch said.
“I know. Good luck with your houses. Send me a message by candle to tell me where you end up,” the youngest witch said. They said their goodbyes and the older two departed.
The next day, they passed an empty plain, filled with tall grasses that rippled as the wind blew through. “This is perfect,” the middle sister said. “I’ll build a tall tower so that I can see the humans coming and a high wall to keep them out. Then I’ll plant all my favorite vegetables in the garden. Children are frightened of vegetables. Mother said so.”
“That sounds like a great idea,” the oldest sister said. “Let’s light a candle and tell our sister.” They let the youngest sister know where the middle sister settled, and then they said their goodbyes.
The oldest sister traveled for another day into the mountains. She built a tall castle out of the mountain stone and surrounded it with giant briar bushes. She lit a candle and told her sisters about her new home.
Life for the oldest sister was mostly peaceful. A little rabbit moved into the briar bushes and used them often as an escape from a persistent fox and bear. But no children came. Her sisters weren’t as lucky.
One day, the youngest sister showed up at the middle sister’s tower. She flew right into the tower window on her broom. “They’re going to kill me,” she said.
“Who?” asked the middle sister, looking around.
“The awful children,” the youngest witch said. “They started eating my house. When I asked them to stop, they said they were thirsty and asked for a drink of water. I went into the kitchen, and I heard them whispering about shoving me into the oven and then claiming it was in self-defense.”
“Who would believe that?” the middle sister asked.
“They said that everyone knows that witches eat children.”
The middle sister made a face. “Ew, gross.”
“Exactly. They obviously didn’t believe it though. They just wanted to steal my house. Well, they can have it. Smelling all that sugar all the time was making me sick,” the youngest sister said.
“Well, I’m happy to have you stay here with me. In fact, your timing is excellent. The vegetables will be ready to harvest soon,” the middle sister said.
So the youngest sister moved in with the middle sister, and they had a great time caring for the vegetables. A week or so later, they looked out the tower window, and saw some adult humans stealing vegetables from the garden.
“How rude,” the middle sister said. “I’m going to go tell them to stop. They should grow their own vegetables.”
She grabbed her broom and flew down. She came back a few minutes later, looking upset. “What happened?” the youngest sister asked.
“We have to leave,” the middle sister said. “Right now.”
“Why?” the youngest sister asked.
“They want to give me their baby to make up for stealing my vegetables,” the middle sister said.
“Are they crazy?” the youngest sister asked.
“They must be,” the middle sister said. “They were saying all this nonsense about how I could grow the baby’s hair long so that I can climb her hair to get into my tower. What do they think my broom is for? Sweeping?”
“Let’s go. Our oldest sister has plenty of room in her castle,” the youngest sister said. “Should we take the vegetables with us?”
“Leave them. I don’t want to risk running into those crazy humans again. We can grow more,” the middle sister said. They left to visit their oldest sister that evening.
The oldest sister welcomed them in and was horrified by their stories. She was glad they’d escaped and were safe. The younger sisters picked out their rooms and unpacked and were soon happily eating cabbage soup with their oldest sister.
Just then, there was a knock on the door. The younger sisters looked confused. “I thought the only way to your castle was by broom,” the middle sister said. “Isn’t that what the briars are for?”
“It’s probably the rabbit,” the oldest sister said. “He’s always coming by, trying to interest me in his terrible schemes.”
She opened the door. There stood the rabbit. “How do you do?” he asked.
“Fine, now go away,” the oldest sister said. She started to close the door.
“Wait,” the rabbit said. “I bring you important news from a kingdom not far from here.” The oldest sister stopped trying to close the door. The rabbit grinned. “The king and queen have a new baby daughter, and it came to my attention that you weren’t invited to the baby blessing. Now I have a great idea for how you could get back at them…”
The oldest sister closed the door in his face and never answered again when he knocked. The three little witches lived happily ever after.