Because Of Hansel And Gretel

Because Of Hansel And Gretel
Photo Credit: Viktor Mogilat @viktor_m

By: Peyton Gelinger/Junior Writer

How many stories have you read where when they were told, they never told what had actually happened? Well, my name is Edith Doughty, and most people have never heard that name before. Maybe you’ve heard of the names that I’m still commonly referred to as, like the gingerbread hag? Or how about raisin-sweet tooth? That’s probably still a no. However, I guarantee that you have heard all about these children’s names – Hansel and Gretel. Why is it that I am always made out to be the Evil Witch that eats children, when I did no such thing? In fact, I saved them from someone who was trying to kill them!

I guess my story starts before the children were even born. I was a daughter of a Witch in a small village. I was an outcast before I could even walk. People never wanted to talk to me, and all anyone ever saw me as was “a bastard witch’s child.” People warned their kids to never speak to me. I was tormented every day until my mother moved us into a small house in the woods. Finally, we were left alone from the harsh judgment of others.

I can promise you that I was never an evil witch, and that I never practiced any magic that would harm any creature – even one as small as a fly. When my mother sadly passed away when I was only a young girl almost to adulthood, I took up one of her hobbies that I enjoyed very much. I began baking and candy making.

I loved it so much, and it also gets so lonely and boring up in the woods, so I never stopped baking or making candy. I had made so much that at this point, I am an old lady living in an enormous house made out of all the sweets and candies I have made over the years.     

Over time, I have heard the voices of young folks who would come up and around my house telling stories about how an evil witch lives here and how she lures children here with all of the sweets they could imagine just to capture, bake and eat them. How awful of a thought to think of someone. Do you know how much it broke my heart to hear people talking such awful rumors that are not even remotely true?

However, my whole life drastically changed on one September night. It started out as a beautiful night. Cool, Autumn weather was starting, with a beautiful sailors’ sky above, and I had just got done making some pudding with dried fruit. Then, something I had never experienced in all my life had happened – I heard a knock on my door. 

Not quite sure what to do, I found myself naturally walking to the door and opening it. Before I could even say hello, like I remember my mother doing when she would open the door to find people at our house, a very scary tall man threw me to the ground. 

As he held a dagger very tightly to the top of my neck, he said, “Now you are going to do what I say, you old hag!” 

The next thing I knew, he had informed me of this terrible plan he had. He said that by tomorrow at approximately noon, his step children would be at my house, and I would let them into my house and eat them! Before I could tell this man of his wrong doings to his poor step children, he was gone. And he took my gingerbread door with him. 

I didn’t know what to do. I wanted so badly to run to the village below and warn them of what I was just threatened to do. But would they even believe me or listen to me? Probably not in the slightest. I also pondered the idea of trying to follow this wretched man to his home to warn his family. But I did not know my way around anywhere in the woods around my house. After a long time of wondering and thinking, eventually I thought of the best possible solution. I could wait until the children came here, warn them myself, and try and save them from this man who wanted them gone. 

I had a tremendously hard time sleeping that night. I was nervous and anxious all morning. I couldn’t even bring myself to make any fresh baked muffins like I do every single morning. I paced around the whole house. I was hoping and wishing that these children would not end up in danger because of that awful man. Then, as you could infer what happened next, I saw them walking in the direction of my house.

In a panic I could not bring myself to warn them to leave, or to go and find help. But I didn’t. I hid in the closet like a couard. I never, ever talk to anyone. I was petrified to say anything, however I wanted to save them so badly. 

As they entered my home, I heard the sheer panic in their voices. At first, Gretel was yelling at Hansel for using bread for their trail through the woods. You couldn’t really blame them though, they were only little kids who wouldn’t think of critters eating their only source of direction through the woods. They were so tiny and looked so hungry, so I figured that the famine that had hit the land had gotten to them. I have never eaten anything I had baked or made. However, I let the children eat anything that their little hearts desired. When they had eaten for a good couple of minutes, I decided to come out and ask them if they wanted me to make them any breads, sweets or such.

When I came out of the closet, they jumped with fear. “Hurry, the witch, the witch, shes gonna eat us!” Hansel screamed, “Hurry lets go now!”

Gretel screamed at the same time. All that I could wonder was why they were so scared when I was only trying to help them. Then, I remembered that nasty rumor being spread throughout the village. I did have to admit that I probably scared the bejeebies out of them. But I was saving them, so it didn’t matter to me at that point in time if I scared them or not. 

“Stop, please I’m trying to help you,” I begged. 

They were so scared that I had to beg them for what felt like an eternity before I could sit them down and inform them about what was happening. I had told them about how their stepfather had threatened me, how I most certainly did not eat children, and how I really wanted to help them get away from that awful man. I wanted them to know that I would help them escape so that they did not have to be at risk anymore. 

However, they did not listen to my pleas. The children booked it out of the door. I chose not to follow, after all; they were lost because of the misguidance of their stepfather, and I didn’t know where to go to bring them back or someplace safe to hideout. I had never felt like that before. I have only had one chance to help someone in my whole life, but I basically held their little lives in my hands, and I let them slip. I could not save them. It was an awful grief that had dawned over me. 

It had been many days, and at that point I had no idea what day it actually was. Depression and misery had completely taken over me. I went days not being productive by not baking sweets. I just moped around endlessly. I was extremely shocked at what had happened next. I heard a very loud knock at my door. 

From just glancing out my window, I saw that there were many men in uniforms. “How unusual,” I thought to myself. I have never had any one in groups, or for that matter, people wearing nice uniforms, show up at my door before. However, I probably should have known better, coming from my previous encounter, to not open the door, but I did.

Again, before I could even speak to say hello, the instant I opened the door, the group lunged at me. The tall, blonde one yelled, “You witch! You are under arrest for the murder of Hansel and Gretel. You’re lucky we don’t just hang you this instant, you ugly and horrible hag!” I couldn’t believe the words coming out of his mouth. “He killed them, he killed them,” I thought in horror. I couldn’t even describe the grief and guilt I felt. If I were to just follow them I could have saved them, and maybe they would still be alive today.

I tried to tell the men what had happened but no one listened to me. I was screaming, “Please, it wasn’t me, but I know who did do it ! Please!” And that was all I could get out before they gagged me and through me in the back of a carriage. 

I was left alone for days. After they brought me to the unknown place, they tied me up and through me into some kind of a small, dark cell. I sat there by myself, tied up and gagged, with no food or water. Not one person came in so I could tell them what had happened until what felt like an eternity later,  and then a person entered, though it was too dark to tell what they looked like. I was very weak, but I tried screaming to them, “Please, it wasn’t me, let me help!” Out of no where, there was a loud WACK. I was hit upside the head and and almost knocked out.

When I awoke, I was standing up with a very irritating pain around my neck. I started to hear screams. Looking down, I saw people, hundreds of them, below me. A noose was tied around my neck and I was on a barrel, still tied up and gagged. “Do you have any last words, you witch?” The blonde man, about to knock over the barrel, said. I tried to scream, but I was too weak and thought no one would even hear me anyway. All of a sudden, in the best timing I had ever heard, guards started running to me screaming “Wait, it’s not her! It’s not her!” 

The man had stopped what he was about to do to me and ran to the men. The men talked for a bit until one of them ran onto the platform I was on and cut the rope. I instantly fell to the ground. With everyone’s reactions of shock, he faced the confused crowd and announced “This hag did not kill Hansel and Gretel. We just found the children’s stepfather burying their mother’s body in the woods, just like the way we had found the children. He has admitted to his doings and will have a trial soon to come. This witch did not do it, and even though she may be evil, she has committed no known witchcraft or anything illegal. So, she will be sent back to the woods.”

I was in total shock. I was relieved that I could live, and happy that they had gotten that awful man who murdered those poor children and their sickly mother. But since I am still a witch, I was thrown back into the carriage and thrown in front of my house. As they were dropping me off, the guards informed me that if I’m ever to be seen with or interacting with anyone ever again, I would be hanged no question, but I agreed. I went into my house and watched them go on their way back to the village.

And for the rest of my days since, along with baking, I had used my mothers old spell book that I found in the attic. I had learned how to cast a protection spell from a distance. Every day I would cast that spell onto the children of the village, to make sure that what had happened to poor Hansel and Gretel would never happen again.

Peyton Gelinger
Peyton Gelinger is a junior in high school. She spends most of her time keeping herself busy with volleyball, competitive dance and cheerleading. Spending times with friends and family is an important factor in her life. After high school she hopes to attend IUP with an undecided major.

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