Written and Illustrated by Adrienne Foster Potter


Once there was a little witch who lived with her mother in a cave in the woods. Her name was Aubrey. Her mother, Magrunta, taught her to be mean and nasty every day and to cast bad spells on the wild creatures of the woods.

Aubrey broke the spider's webs, poked holes in the caterpillar cocoons, and even kidnapped baby birds. She told her mother, who was thrilled, but deep inside Aubrey felt very bad about the things she did.

One day she sat in a tree in the woods looking for something naughty to do, just to please her mother. Along came a boy hiking in the woods. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to do something that once and for all would impress her mother above all else. Aubrey was about to cast a spell that would place a root at the boy's feet and make him trip, when suddenly the branch on which she was sitting broke and she crashed to the ground with a thud. Startled, the boy turned and saw Aubrey, then rushed to help her to her feet. "Are you hurt?" he asked with concern in his voice.

"Oh no, just embarrassed," she replied, not wanting to look at him. Here was the boy she was about to do something mean to and he was helping HER! He offered her some water and some of his lunch and she didn't have the heart to say no so she stayed and ate, drank, and chatted with the boy, whose name was Aaron. When they parted she had such a good feeling in her chest that her whole day went well and she returned home skipping and singing. Her mother was angry to see her acting so disgracefully, for witches are never happy, and she sent her to her corner of the cave where they lived, telling her that if she didn't do something mean the next day there would be a terrible punishment.

The following morning she went out to play in the woods and spied three ponies playing in a flowery meadow. With her witch's wand she whisked up a net and made it fall on the ponies and trap them. They all started to cry, and something in their faces reminded Aubrey of Aaron, and so she felt very bad about what she had done. On an impulse she cut the net and set the ponies free. It felt very good to see their relieved faces and Aubrey told them she was sorry.

"Why did you do it?" they asked. "Because my mother gets very angry at me if I don't do bad things," she replied, "and because I don't know how to do nice things."

"We'll teach you how to be nice if you play with us," said the little ponies.

So the ponies taught Aubrey how to play games and to laugh and dance and sing in the meadow. When she went home that night she had a smile on her face and was very happy. Her mother said, "Wipe that hideous smile off your face, and stop looking so happy. You'll ruin my reputation!" So Aubrey put on a frown and grunted.

"That's better!" said Magrunta. The next day Aubrey went off to play with the little ponies again. They played tag and hide-and-seek, and I-spy on the birds and the wild flowers.

That night Aubrey skipped home, happy and smiling, until just before she got to the cave. She remembered how angry her mother had been the night before so she put a grimace on her face and slouched into the cave. Magrunta hissed a hello, fed her some batwing soup, and sent her to study her spells.

At the next witches meeting Magrunta heard some very disturbing news. One of the other witches, Geralda, had seen Aubrey playing in the meadow with some carefree ponies. Magrunta thought of the skipping, singing, and smiling. She asked the other witches to help her keep on eye on Aubrey and they quickly agreed. They weren't about to let one of their young witches go astray.

The next morning after her breakfast of toadstools and fly wings Aubrey went to find her ponies. Geralda followed her and hid as she watched Aubrey playing, laughing, and singing in the meadow with the ponies. Quickly she flew off on her broom to tell Magrunta, who immediately became so angry her green face turned purple. She rushed to the meadow on her broom. She shrieked at Aubrey, "You are an insult to the family name! I'll teach you to disobey me!" and she promptly turned the ponies into stone. Aubrey burst into tears, and cried out, "I hate you mother! I'll never stop hating you!"

Magrunta said, "Good. It's nice to see you acting more normal." Aubrey cried in the meadow all night long, sitting next to the stone ponies. In the morning she flew away from home on her broomstick, vowing to herself that she would never return.

Magrunta went to the meadow the next morning to find her but instead she found tiny golden flowers growing next to the ponies where Aubrey's tears had fallen. Flowers from tears have a magic all their own and something in Magrunta's stone heart moved.  Though she had never in her life let her heart soften, this time a small corner of it melted, and there was nothing she could do about it.  "This must be a sign from Mother Earth, the mother of all living things," she told herself.  As she stood there her heart kept melting until fully half of it was warm and tender.  Suddenly she didn't care what the other witches thought of her family. With a flick of her wand she turned the ponies back to their proper form and flew off to find Aubrey.

Aubrey, who was tired and cold and hungry, was almost glad to see Magrunta, who hugged her and quickly said, "I've decided to let you play with the ponies if you'll come back home." Aubrey jumped for joy, but then stopped herself. "But there is one condition," said her mother. "You must do one mean thing every week."

Aubrey thought for a moment and said, "Is it all right if I do the mean thing to you?"

"Of course, said Magrunta. "I'd be delighted. I mean, (she caught herself because witches aren't supposed to be delighted) I'd be very impressed if you did it to me.  This came from the part of her heart that was still stone.

So Aubrey played happily with the ponies every day, but once a week she did something mean to her mother just to keep her promise, and both of them were quite contented. This was the beginning of goodness in witches, and today all witches everywhere consider themselves servants of Mother Earth who work to rescue the creatures of the woods and to help the earth retain it's beauty.

The End

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