Czech: Three Supernatural Stories

This story is part of the Czech Folktales unit. Story source: The Key of Gold by Josef Baudis (1922).

Three Supernatural Stories

Witches at the Cross

THOUGH the witches used to be pretty lively in other places, they were fond of climbing up and down the cross that stands by the road to Malá Čermá (near Slaný). Joe Hilma heard tell of this, so he took his horse and off he rode to see. He took with him a piece of chalk which had been blessed and made a circle with it. Then he went into the circle and waited till midnight. Then, sure enough, he saw the witches, a great swarm of them, climbing up and down the cross. They didn't see him while this was going on, but when he rode out of the circle, off went the witches after him. He galloped home at full speed. When he rode into the yard, they were close on his heels. They couldn't go any farther, for they had no power to do it. I don't know how it happened, but one of them flung a burning broom after him. The broom hit the door, and the door was burned. Joe had quite enough of seeing the witches.

The Witch and the Horseshoes

ONCE there was a farmer's wife — I can't tell you which one — who was a witch. Now these folks used to have a feast every Eve of St. Philip and St. James. As soon as they began to burn the brooms, she couldn't rest: go she must. So she stripped her clothes off and, standing under the chimney, she anointed herself with some ointment. When she had finished, she said: "Fly, but don't touch anything." And away she flew in the twinkling of an eye. Yes, that was just how it was.

But the farmhand was watching all this from the stables, and he watched carefully where she put the ointment. So he went in, too, stripped his clothes off, and anointed himself. He said: "Fly, but don't touch anything." And off he flew till he came to the place where the witches were having their feast.

Now, when he came there, the farmer's wife knew him and, to hide herself from him, she turned herself into a white horse. But he did not lose sight of the horse. He mounted it, and went to the smith with it, and told him to shoe it. Next day the woman had four horseshoes on, two on her hands and two on her feet. And she had to stay like that always!

The Haunted Mill

THERE was a haunted mill and, dear me, what was it like! So, a rope-dancer came there with some monkeys.

In the evening the Waternick came with a basketful of fishes. He made a fire and fried the fishes. Meanwhile the monkeys had been sitting behind the stove, but when the Nick put the fishes in the pan and was tasting whether they were done, the monkeys came from behind the stove, and one of them put its paw into the pan. The man smacked him over the paw and said: "Get away, pussy! You didn't catch them, so don't eat them." And the monkey ran away.

After a while comes another monkey and puts his paw in the pan. He smacked him too and said the same.

But the rope-dancer had a bear, too, which was lying under the table all the time and, when he heard the Waternick speak, he came from under the table, ran straight to the pan, and put his paw into it. The Waternick did the same to him as he had done to the monkeys.

But the bear couldn't stand that. He sprang upon the poor Waternick and gave him a good beating. The Waternick had to run off, leaving the fishes behind. He didn't haunt the mill any more, and that's how they got rid of him.

(600 words)

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