The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Devil Rebuffed

I waited three years for the fruit to ripen. Now I’ve come to pluck my little apple. The girl stands in the barn, in the center of a chalk circle. I can’t get at her. She’s too clean.

“Don’t let her wash,” I tell her father. “I have no power over her if she’s washed. I’ll come back tomorrow.”

Tomorrow comes and I still can’t get at her. She’s wept on her hands, and her hands are washed. “Cut off her hands,” I tell her father. He refuses. I repeat. “Cut off her hands or I’ll take you myself.” I know he’ll do it now. He’s terrified, the coward.

When I come the next day, I still can’t get at her. She’s been crying on her stumps. Damn water! She’s clean, all the way up to her elbows.

The Devil Rebuffed in The Girl Without Hands, Grimms. Illustration (with permission) by Alexis Gurst.

Devil Rebuffed