The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Witch’s Son Bensiabel

My mother, who is a witch, kidnapped a girl named Prunella, and she grew up into a very beautiful young woman. I know, because I am the witch’s son. Prunella has never seen me, though.

One day my mother told Prunella to take a basket to the well and bring it back. She said, “If you don’t bring it back full of water I will kill you.” I had seen my mother’s hatred for the girl grow with every passing day. She wanted to get rid of her.

Prunella took the basket, and I secretly followed her. When she got to the well, she let the basket down, and when she drew it up, water streamed out it. After many attempts, she gave up. She leaned against the well and began to cry bitterly.

I said, “Prunella, why are you crying?’

She whirled around and saw me standing there. “Who are you?” she asked. “How do you know my name?”

“I am the son of the witch. My name is Bensiabel. I know that my mother wants you to die, but I promise you that I won’t let her do that. Now, will you give me a kiss, if I fill your basket?”

“No,” said Prunella. She stepped away from me. “I will not give you a kiss.”

“Why not?”

“Because you are the son of a witch,” she said.

Fair enough. “Give me your basket and I will fill it for you.” I dipped it into the well, and the water stayed in it. I gave it back to Prunella and she went to the house while I stood at the well, amazed. It actually felt good to do something for nothing. I’d never had that feeling before.

The Witch’s Son Bensiabel in Prunella, Grey Fairy Book. Painting by Ubaldo Gandolfi.