The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Witch in a Golden Cloak

I’m a famous witch. I live on an island in the center of a large lake. A golden lantern hangs outside my door, but no one comes here. I hear only the sweet tinkling bells on the golden horns of my goat who is feeding nearby. I am sitting by the fire, wrapped in a golden cloak that lights up the whole house.

On the surface, you will find me all sweet tinkling music and golden light. Underneath, I am not so pretty. I have had to become cunning to acquire my wealth, and even more cunning to keep it.

There’s a knock on my door. Three young men are standing there. They’re brothers, I can tell that. They ask me if I can give them shelter. They say they are tired and hungry. I don’t like the smirking faces of the two older boys. They haven’t done a day’s work in their lives, and they think they can easily get handouts from an ugly old woman. The youngest boy has potential, though. I could use him for some purpose.

“You can’t get any food or shelter here,” I say to the older ones. “Take your boat to the other side of the lake. There’s a palace there. You, boy, you can stay with me, though I suspect you’re quick and cunning, and you’ll do me ill.”

“What harm can a poor boy like me do to a great Troll like you?” he says. “Let me go, I pray you. I promise never to hurt you.”

“Fine. Go, then.” Off he runs to join his brothers. He’ll be back, that little thief. It takes one to know one.

Witch in a Golden Cloak in Pinkel the Thief, Orange Fairy Book. Illustration by W. Heath Robinson.

Witch in a Golden Cloak