The Old Witch
The Old Witch is an English fairy tale collected by Joseph Jacobs in his 1894 book, More English Fairy Tales. It is also included within A Book of Witches by Ruth Manning-Sanders and A Book of British Fairy Tales by Alan Garner.
It is Aarne-Thompson tale 480, the kind and the unkind girls. Others of this type include Shita-kiri Suzume, Diamonds and Toads, Mother Hulda, Father Frost, The Three Little Men in the Wood, The Enchanted Wreath, The Three Heads in the Well, and The Two Caskets. Literary variants include The Three Fairies and Aurore and Aimée.
Once there was a couple who had two daughters, but their father had no work. The daughters wanted to seek their fortune, and one said she would go into service. Her mother said she could, if she could find a place.
The daughter searched but, unable to find anything, eventually came upon an oven full of bread. The bread begged the girl to take it out, and she obeyed. The girl continued and eventually came to a cow that begged her to milk it, which she did, and an apple tree that begged her to shake down its apples, which she did.
Continuing her search, the girl came upon a witch's house, and the witch set her to clean the house, but forbade her to ever look up the chimney. One day, she did just that, and bags of money fell down. The girl immediately gathered them up and fled.
Realizing what the girl had done, the witch chased her but each time she came close to grabbing her, the apple tree and the cow hid her. When the girl came to the oven, the baker hid her behind it, and tricked the witch into the oven, trapping her for a long time. The girl used her money to marry a wealthy man.
Her sister decided to try the same thing, but instead she refused the oven, the cow, and the apple tree. When she stole the gold, the apple tree refused to hide her, and the witch caught her, beat her, and took back the money.
- Joseph Jacobs (illustrated by John Dickson Batten), "The Old Witch", More English Fairy Tales, D. Nutt, 1894, 243pp at sacred-texts.com (also at Google Books)
- Heidi Anne Heiner, "Tales Similar to Diamonds and Toads"
- Jack Zipes, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, p 543, ISBN 0-393-97636-X