Everyone knows that witches like to eat children. Hazel and Thistle were no different. They were sisters who lived together in a house that stood on chicken feet. It wasn’t that they couldn’t eat other things. Sometimes they would eat bunnies, or chipmunks, or stroganoff, but children were their preference.
Their home was in the forest, adjacent to the road that led to the local village. Sometimes, when they were especially hungry, they would peek out the window to see if any children were passing by. Their long, warty, green noses were visible sticking through the curtains as they watched the road.
It happened one day, that they saw a little girl skipping past, singing a tune:
“Down the lane I tread!
To borrow a needle and thread!
The witches felt their hearts pounding with delight as she came into their yard. They started whispering to each other about which recipe to use and what herbs.
The little girl paused just inside the gate, observing the bones that lay scattered everywhere. There were also cauldrons, brooms, and rotten pumpkin shells. Bats circled the eves and rats scurried on the ground.
The little girl shook her head.
“Nope!” She declared before turning tail and running back the way she came.
The witches yelled and swore and jumped up and down before deciding they should clean their yard. They removed all the filth and the bones, planted flowers and shrubs, and repainted the fence.
When they were finished, the house looked quite charming—like it wasn’t inhabited by witches. (Though the chicken feet were still visible behind one of the rhododendrons.)
One rainy evening, they saw a little boy running along the road holding his coat over his head. They opened their door.
“Hurry, deary!” Thistle called. “Come and warm yourself in the oven—”
Hazel elbowed her.
“I mean, by the oven!” Thistle corrected.
But the boy had been warned about child-eating witches and when he observed their green skin, and hooked, warty, noses, he quickened his pace and passed by without stopping.
The witches uttered all manner of foul words and when they had vented their frustration, they sat down together to discuss the issue.
“Children just aren’t as gullible as they used to be,” Hazel complained.
“Then we must set a trap no child can resist!” Thistle interjected, before telling Hazel of her evil plan. Hazel snickered with delight as she listened. It was perfect.
The next morning, the witch’s house left the wood and walked on its little chicken feet to a flowery field at the base of the mountains. It was exactly the kind of spot that would attract children.
Then the witches withdrew their magic wands and turned their chicken footed house into a house of gingerbread. It was covered in gumdrops and sugary frosting and surrounded by a fence of candy canes. They hid inside the house, chuckling and whispering to each other about how clever they were.
Before long, a little boy and a little girl wandered into the field. They regarded the house curiously. The witches could hardly contain their excitement as the children approached. They snickered and whispered to each other, trading ideas about sides to make and whether to fatten the children first, or just eat them as they were. Then suddenly, they noticed that the boy and girl had stopped.
“Gross!” The girl grimaced. “It’s covered in ants!”
What the witches failed to realize was that, while sugar attracts children, it also attracts insects. The outside of the house was not only crawling with ants, but also encircled in a swarm of bees. The children turned around and ran home leaving it untouched.
In a fury, the witches started yelling and swearing and smashing their brooms against the walls. In their frustration, they forgot that witches are only at the center of the fairy tale food chain. They didn’t hear the booming of massive footsteps approaching nor did they notice when the footsteps stopped right outside the house.
Giants are considerably less hygienic than humans and completely unfazed by ants on their food. At once, the new arrival picked up the house and ate it—ants and witches and all. Incidentally, both the ants and the witches were an excellent source of protein.