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 Short Story

A Good Witch

By Bernard Shaw

Next to the forest there lived a lonely elderly woman. She was poor and made a living of sorts by collecting herbs and roots in the forest. The herbs and roots she used to make tinctures and syrups for coughs and colds also for sinking fevers when it was deemed necessary. The villagers came from miles around asking her for help. She never refused to help even when the villagers had no money to pay for her medicines, tinctures and ointments.

One day late in September a mother brought her young child that was suffering from a high fever for the woman’s help. The mother of the child had tried everything to get the fever down. The elderly lady that most people called the witch told the mother that she had no remedy for sinking the child’s fever all that she had in her poor home was for grown ups and she would have go and look for a special root that would sink the child’s fever without harming her.

Making the mother a special tea for the baby the elderly woman went off into the forest to look for the root that would help with the fever. The poor woman walked for miles before she came across such a root. Carefully digging it out from the ground she cleaned it and placed it in her basket.

Turning she went to walk back to her home on the edge of the woods. It was getting dark and she realised that she was in a part of the forest that she had never seen before. What was she to do? the mother was waiting at her home with the child that was ill. Sitting down in the forest she thought of a way to get back home as quickly as possible. Nothing came into her head it seemed as if the baby was going to die.

At the edge of the clearing where she sat thinking a Fairy had been watching the elderly lady. As we all know Fairies can read a human brain like a book. The fairy decided that she would help the elderly lady. Turning she lifted her head and gave a gentle whistle. A most beautiful white unicorn came trotting into the clearing. The Fairy spoke to the elderly lady and told her to sit on the unicorns back and it would take her back to her home. In a matter of minutes the Unicorn stopped near the elderly woman’s cottage and left as quietly as it had come.

Greeting the mother of the child the elderly lady took down a large pot and placed a few herbs with some water onto the fire. Carefully cleaning the root that she had found she cut it up and put it in the pot with the other herbs. Leaving it to boil for an hour she then carefully strained the juice into a cup and as soon as it was cool enough to drink gave the baby a few drops at a time. When the cup was empty the elderly lady felt the babies forehead and told the mother that the fever had gone. Then she poured some more of the juice into an old green bottle and told the Mother to give the baby a few drops if the temperature should come back. The Mother thanked the elderly woman and placed a halfpenny onto the table. It was really more than she could afford and the elderly woman smiled and thanked her.

When the Mother returned home to her husband with the baby she told him how the elderly woman had spent the whole day looking for the special root for the child’s medicine. The husband asked how much the elderly lady had charged for curing the baby. He would not believe that she had treated his child for nothing. His wife was afraid to tell him about the halfpenny. The man only earned one penny a week for chopping wood.

A week later the man was in the woods chopping down trees when he found a silver shilling lying on the ground. He did not see the elderly lady that had been watching him or the fairy that had dropped the silver shilling so that he could find it. From that day on the wood chopper and his family always had work and food and once a week they would go to the elderly woman’s house to see her and bring a few little cakes or a half a loaf of bread. They never forgot the kind old woman that many still call a witch.
Bernard Shaw
Copyright 2005
Listed 04/18/2005

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