old witch grass

The Old Witch

The Old Witch is an English fairy tale collected by Joseph Jacobs in More English Fairy Tales.

Ruth Manning-Sanders included it in A Book of Witches.

It is Aarne-Thompson tale 480, the kind and the unkind girls. Others of this type include Shita-kiri Suzume, Diamonds and Toads, Mother Hulda, Father Frost, The Three Little Men in the Wood, The Enchanted Wreath, The Three Heads in the Well, and The Two Caskets. Literary variants include The Three Fairies and Aurore and Aimée.


A couple had two daughters, and their father had no work. They wanted to seek their fortune, and one said she would go into service. Her mother said she could, if she could find a place. She searched, unable to find anything, and came to an oven, where the bread begged her to take it out. She did so. She came to a cow that begged her to milk it, and an apple tree that begged her to shake down its apples, and she did those as well. She came to a witch's house, and the witch set her to clean the house, but forbade her to ever look up the chimney. One day, she did, and bags of money fell down. She took them and fled. The witch chased her, but each time she came close, the apple tree and the cow hid her, and when she came to the oven, the baker hid her behind it, and tricked the witch into the oven, trapping her for a long time. With her money, she married a rich man.

Her sister decided to try the same thing, but refused the oven, the cow, and the apple tree. When she stole the gold, the apple tree refused to hide her, and the witch caught her, beat her, and took back the money.

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