The Hungry Prince and the Plentiful Witch

witch.jpgI told my daughter this story the other day at dinnertime. She had her dinner. She only eats yogurt, peanut butter, and cream cheese for the most part. She was eating yogurt and said she needed entertainment while she ate. So I told her a story.

There was a fat prince in a kingdom that had fallen into a famine.

What’s a famine?

A famine, I said, is when there isn’t enough food. Usually, it is because there is a drought, which means there isn’t enough water. The crops die. The grass that the cows eat died. And pretty soon everyone in is hungry. In the prince’s kingdom, they had a drought. Everything was dusty. The fields turned into flat, dry places full of cracked mud. Only the mud dried out in the sun and wasn’t muddy, but as hard as plastic.

The fat prince was hungry and left the palace looking for food. He took his sword and a can of water. In his castle, he didn’t realize just how hungry the people in his kingdom had become during the famine. They had eaten everything they could. They were so hungry they ate all of the old stuff in their cupboards: the old cans of tomatoes, the packets of macaroni and cheese, the dusty tins of chicken soup. And then, they ate their houseplants, the crows that lived in their neighborhood, their pets–

Their doggies?

Yes. They ate everything that could move except each other because as hungry as the villagers got they wouldn’t eat another person. The thought had crossed their minds, but they said to each other they would die of hunger together before they began to eat each other.

The hungry prince knocked on the first door he came to and asked if they had any food, and then they saw the prince standing there with his stomach and full face they howled with anger. He was the first person they eat if they were going to eat anyone.

The prince for his part was scared. The person who opened the door was so skinny they looked as though a skeleton covered with wrapping paper. My lord, the bone skin person said to the hungry prince.

The hungry prince wisely decided no to ask about food. What has happened? he asked the villager.

There is a famine. The land has failed. There is no rain. Their cows have died. We’ve everything we can find.

I will find some food; the hungry prince said. He had to find some food because his stomach ached and gurgled he was so hungry.

He walked for many days, growing hungrier. In a dusty stand of trees, one morning he woke to hear cries from a nearby village. Food! Food, she has food.

When he arrived at the village in the center of the square was a wagon with bars like a jail on wheels full of children. A wizened old woman with a black pointy hat was handing out boxes of food.

A couple passed the hungry prince. They carried one of these boxes and inside he saw the most wonderful thing: chicken, a packet of beef, bright red and yellow apples, a loaf of fragrant bread, a jug of milk, and a foil package of chocolate. Where did you get that.

They wouldn’t tell him and ran away from the prince.

He went to the investigate the old woman as he approached, a woman handed over her pretty young daughter. The old woman handed the woman a box, and then placed the pretty girl into the cage with the other children. The children were happily sucking on lollipops.

I want one.

They’re in the story.

Do you have a lollipop?

I don’t. I’m telling you a story.

Can we get a lollipop?

Do you want to know what happened?

Is that old woman a witch?

She was a witch. She was trading boxes of food for children. The villagers were hungry, and they didn’t know how anyone could survive for as long as they did without food and worried they figured it was better to give their children to the witch for a box of food then to wait until they finally died of starvation. They weren’t happy about trading their children for food, but as soon as word spread everyone started to bring out their children and trade them for food. Pretty soon the witch has most of the children in her wagon.

The hungry prince didn’t know what to do. He didn’t have any children to trade for food. H would use his sword, but with a witch, he could cast a spell on him. So he decided he would leave. As he left, he saw two twin girls in the playground on the swing. They were singing. One had golden hair and the other had copper hair. The prince grabbed the little girls. They struggled and screamed and squirmed, and he took them to the witch. When he got to the witch, the little girls’ mother cried out.

Those are my daughters! If you are going to trade them for food, then that is my food.

The prince realized when she said that how horrible it was. He was so hungry. He handed the girls over to the witch. The witch, her hands occupied with holding both of the squirmy girls, didn’t see the prince pull his sword from his side.

Oh no, this sounds violent.

It probably will be.

The prince should cover the wagon his cloak so the children don’t have to see the violence.

He won’t do that. It would give away his plan, and the witch would cast her spell.

Okay, they should close their eyes.

Okay they closed their eyes, except for one boy named Peter at the back of the wagon he kept looking even though he wasn’t supposed to look.

The Hungry Prince slashed off her head.

It flew into the middle of the dusty field. Her body though still held the girls and was about to put them into the cage. The prince cut off both of the arms, and they fell onto the dusty ground.

The witch’s head started to laugh. She said, “Hickity Hickity,” her magic words. But because her head wasn’t attached to her body, the spell fizzled. So she called her body over to. But she needed her arms to put on her head. So she called her arms. The severed arms pulled themselves across the dusty ground with their fingers. The prince cut off the fingers. The fingers continued to crawl on the round, so the prince stamped on them as though they were slugs. Each finger popped like a grape.

The prince let the children go and handed out the food and made sure keep a box of food for himself. In the empty box, he placed the witches head and carried it to the nearly dry river and threw the head into the middle of the water. The head floated out to sea never to be seen again. With the death of the witch, rain began to fall and soon the land was green and fertile again and everyone had enough to eat.


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