Her mother had read them to her when she was little, and then she’d read them to herself. And all of the stories had, somewhere, the witch. The wicked old witch
And Tiffany had thought: Where’s the evidence
The stories never said why
she was wicked. It was enough to be an old woman, enough to be all alone, enough to look strange because you had no teeth. It was enough to be called
If it came to that, the book never gave you the evidence
of anything. It talked about ‘a handsome prince’… was he really, or was it because he was a prince that people called him handsome? As for ‘a girl who was as beautiful as the day was long’…well, which day? In midwinter it hardly ever got light! The stories didn’t want you to think, they just wanted you to believe what you were told…
And you were told that the old witch lived all by herself in a strange cottage made of gingerbread or which ran around on giant hen’s feet, and talked to animals, and could do magic.
Tiffany only ever knew one old woman who lived all alone in a strange cottage…
Well, no. That wasn’t quite true. But she had only ever known one old woman who lived in a strange house that moved about
, and that was Granny Aching. And she could do magic, sheep magic, and she talked to animals and there was nothing wicked about her. That proved
you couldn’t believe the stories.