Once upon a time there was a witch and even the strongest man would not dare step near the witch. She was ugly, as most witches are, and scary, as most witches are, but she was meaner than most witches. This is because the witch had six toes on one foot and seven toes on the other, so none of her shoes ever fit her well. This made the witch very angry, because she loved shoes and thought they were the prettiest things in all the world, but they all made her feet hurt like they were being poked with sharp thorns, because all the shoes were made for normal five toe feet. So she was the meanest witch there ever was, meaner than a hundred normal witches, and anyone who went near her would be turned into a worm or a squishy bug or a frog, all of which the witch liked to cook up in her soup for dinner. One day a strong warrior called Prince Geoffrey came to the little town near the woods where the witch made her horrible home. Everybody in the town was scared silly of the witch, but Prince Geoffrey was not. "I will fight your witch," he said to the people in the town, "and then you will not have to be scared." The people all cheered Prince Geoffrey and said how brave he was, but when he wasn't looking, they also said he was crazy and would soon be soup for the witch. But Prince Geoffrey didn't hear them and wouldn't care if he did, because he was so brave that once he fought three giants with only a stick, the first giant having eaten his sword in one gulp. So Prince Geoffrey went into the woods with his sword shining and his shield strong to find the witch and fight her. It was not long before be found her little hut in a clearing in the forest. Smoke was coming out of the crooked chimney, and the witch was nowhere to be seen. Fearlessly, Prince Geoffrey banged on the door and shouted, "Come out, you old hag! Come out and fight me!" The witch came out, and when she saw the prince with his shining sword and strong shield, she knew she could not fight him. So quick as a cat she said a magic spell and turned him into a tiny slug, all slimey and wet. "Ha ha!" she cackled as she scooped up the sluggy prince, "you will be delicious in my dinner soup!" She hobbled back into her horrid hut with him in her wrinkly hand, and because it wasn't dinner time yet, she put him into a glass box to keep him from running away, with a heavy rock on the top to keep it closed. Now the Prince was surprised to find himself a slug, but the shock soon wore off and he began watching the witch as she limped around her house, mixing potions and polishing her best flying broom. He saw that she always walked gingerly and often said bad words, words no child should ever hear or say, when she walked. "Oh witch," he called out from his box, "why do you limp? Do you have rocks in your shoes?" "Rocks!" she replied, "Rocks! What kind of a fool would have rocks in their shoes?" "Well then, perhaps you were hurt in a fight?" he said. "A fight?", she answered, "A fight? No, my putrid prince, no, I never fight, because my magic is so strong. I always turn my enemies into snacks for my supper, oh yes! And then I eat them up, just like I will eat you in a bit!" The prince didn't like the sound of that eating thing, not even a little, but since he was a slug he was very weak, and he could not break out of the glass box, even though he had been secretly trying. The best he could do was to wiggle his eye-stalks around a bit. So there was nothing better for him to do than to keep talking. "Maybe another witch cast a spell on you, then?" he offered. "Hah!" she spat, "as if any other witch could do that! Do you really want to know why I limp so, you stupid slug, do you?" "Why yes, witch, I do," Prince Geoffrey replied. She sat down heavily on a stool (which was once a brave knight from Barstow) and pulled off her lovely purple shoe. "There," she cried, shoving her six-toed foot up against the glass of the box, "now do you see?" Not only did she have six toes, but they were long and twisty, and she never washed between them nor cut her toenails. Her feet were the ugliest, dirtiest, most painful feet that the prince had ever seen, and he was quite shocked to have one of them shoved suddenly in his face. "Oh!" was the best he could manage to say. "Yes," she whined in her witchy voice, "they hurt all the time. It's terrible, and none of my lovely shoes fit me." She used her magic to open her huge shoe closet, which was bigger than a child's bedroom, and made pairs of shoes float out for the prince to see. "Look," she said, "these silky slippers? Too tight. These lovely loafers? Too tight. These perfect pink pumps? Too tight. Even the snow boots are too tight for my extra-toed feet!" And she began to cry. Now when most women cry, a person feels sorry for them. But the witch's crying was as ugly as her toes, all scrunched up face and a sob that sounded like a howling hyena, and Prince Geoffrey didn't feel even a tiny bit sorry for her. But it did give him an idea. "There, there, old witch," he said in the nicest voice he could (though being a slug, it was a rather hissy and unpleasant voice anyway), "perhaps I can help you." "Help me?" she wailed through her weeping, "What? Are you the prince of shoemakers, then, come to make me lovely shoes?" "Well, no, I am not," he said, which caused her to wail even louder, "but I think that maybe I can fix your feet instead." "Fix my feet? So you're the prince of podiatrists!" "No, again no," he said, "but there is another way. Perhaps you saw my fine sword when we were outside?" The witch quieted down to a slight snuffle and said, "That silly little butter knife you were waving? I suppose I might have noticed it." "Well," said the prince, "that sword is so sharp that I could cut off your extra toes and you'd never even notice. It would cut right through you like water, and you wouldn't even bleed a drop. Then you could fit into those perfect pink pumps as easy as a frog in a log." The witch was a very vain witch, and she would have done anything to wear those perfect pink pumps without pain, but she wasn't a stupid witch. "How do I know your sword is so sharp, then, hmmm? How do I know this isn't some sort of heroey trick, hmmm?" "This very morning," he said, "I slipped when I was putting my sword in its scabbard and it cut my pinkie finger clear off. If you turned me back into a person, you could see for yourself that there's not even a scab left." "Turn you back into a person?" she cackled. "Do you take me for a fool? Why, then you'd jump on me and do some kind of warriorly whacking to try to kill me, now wouldn't you?" "Oh, no, witch, that would be cheating. You spelled me fair and square, you did, and no prince would ever cheat like that!" said Prince Geoffrey (even though what she said was entirely true). "But if you don't believe me, just make my hands human again so you can see, and leave the rest of me sluggy. I'll be doing no jumping that way!" The witch hemmed and she hawed, but in the end she could see no harm in it, and she wanted to wear those perfect pink pumps so badly that she said a quick spell and POOF! The prince's hands popped out of his slimey sides right next to his eyestalks, and sure enough, the pinkie on his left hand was gone, neat as you like, without even a scab. (Of course, the prince had really lost that pinkie years ago when an ogre cut it off, but the witch didn't know that). "It's true!" she cried, "all true! Oh, goodbye, my terrible toes!" And she positively dashed out of her hut to find Prince Geoffrey's sword. In a trice she was back, and she put her foot up on the breadboard, ready to slice off her very own toe. To get to the breadboard, though, she had to turn her back to the slug prince. Even though he had only hands, he knew this was his best chance to escape, and so he made a mighty fist and smashed right through the glass box, though he had no idea how he might slither away from the witch afterwards. The crashing of the glass startled the witch, who was almost ready to chop at her toes, and she jumped. The sword, which was every bit as sharp as Prince Geoffrey had said, slipped and it sliced her foot clear off. "No!" she shrieked, looking at the stump of her leg, "No! Now I can never, ever wear my perfect pink pumps! Even my ugly Oxfords are no use! Nooooo!" She was so overcome with rage and anger that she spun about in a circle of fury, faster and faster, until her hatred turned her into a whirlwind and she popped like a balloon, sending little black wrinkly bits of skin all over the room like torn umbrella cloth. And that was the end of her. With the witch dead, all her spells ended too, and Prince Geoffrey turned into himself again (though if he wanted to, he could still poke his eyes out on stalks like a slug, which came in useful sometimes at parties or on Halloween). He went back to the town, and at first nobody would believe he had defeated the witch. But eventually the bravest men in the town went sneaking into the woods, and when they found the witch's hut empty and her leathery skin all over, they came singing and rejoicing back. Then the townsfolk believed, and they threw the biggest party ever for Prince Geoffrey, and brought him three chocolate cakes and all their best treasures. And then, of course, they all lived happily ever after.
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