Woodpecker Woman

Once there was an old woman living up on the mountain, who kept to herself mostly. The folks down in town all called her “Red Cap” because of the little crimson hat she wore. Some people visited her when they were sick because everyone around knew she could work the plants and heal any disease.

Well one day some of the leaders in town turned against Red Cap saying she was a witch and cursed their cows to give blood instead of milk. One night, under the shadow of darkness they crept up the mountain and grabbed  the old woman right out of her bed. They took her down into the center of town where they’d built up a big pile of logs and branches. They tied her to a post and set the bonfire ablaze.

As folks screamed out the worst curses they could think of, much to the displeasure of the local preacher, the flames grew higher and higher around poor Red Cap. “Save yourself!” They cackled and laughed. But he old woman just smiled and in a flash of smoke she flew up high into the trees, escaping certain death.

After that no one in town talked about what they’d done, for fear or some secret shame, but from then on the friends of Red Cap took comfort when they saw a red-headed woodpecker light in a tree above them, and her enemies saw the presence of the bird as a sign that harm would surely befall them soon.

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