Day 17: She Wouldn’t Be a Witch


“She Wouldn’t Be a Witch” an Ozark folk tale from “Who Blowed Up the Church House?” by Vance Randolph

“Once upon a time a crowd of country women were having a quilting bee, and they all got to talking about witches. One lady says she had heard a lot of peculiar stories about things like that. ‘I’d like to see one of those initiations,’ she said, ‘and maybe I’d even ride a broomstick myself.’ She was just a-talking for fun. But the joke seemed to fall kind of flat, so she didn’t say any more about it.

“When the party broke up the lady started for home, and one of the neighbor women walked along beside her. ‘Did you mean what you said, about becoming a witch?’ she asked. The lady was a little sore because her joke wasn’t appreciated, but she decided to carry it through. ‘Yes, I did,’ she answered, ‘I usually mean what I say.’ Just then they come to the place where the roads branched off, and the other woman said there would be a meeting at the schoolhouse early Friday night.

“The lady thought for awhile she wouldn’t go, but when the time came she was right there with the rest of the crowd. She knew most of them, and they were nice refined folks. They all walked over to a vacant house in a grove of trees, just at the foot of a hill. A lot of people were in the house already, and some had long gowns on, and masks over their faces. A fiddler was playing a strange tune, and eight couples were a-dancing. There was a big fellow setting at a table over in the corner. His mask showed a huge bulge at the front, and one of his feet looked like a cloven hoof. The lady had a pretty good idea who he was, and she begun to get kind of uneasy.

“Pretty soon the music stopped, and the dancers all stood still. It was time to begin the initiation, and the led the lady over to the table. She had to kneel down and put one hand under her feet and the other on top of her head. Then they told her to say, ‘All that’s between my hands belongs to Satan.’ But right there is where the lady balked, because she would never say anything like that. She just drew a big breath and said, ‘All that’s between my hands belongs to the Lord who rules on high!’ That very minute the lights went out, and a big cold wind blew through the house. The Devil and all his witches was gone helter-skelter. The old house was quiet as an empty grave.

“The lady picked up a long pine splinter and lighted it from the coals on the hearth. Then she held the torch over her head, and down the road she went. She never stopped a-running till she was safe at home. And that is the end of the story, so far as anybody ever knew.”

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