The two orphans looked inside the hut and saw the witch resting there, her head near the threshold, one foot in one corner, the other foot in another corner, and her knees quite close to the ridge pole.
The witch's plan was a very simple one, and had never yet failed. When she wanted a child she just flung her ball in the direction of the child's home, and however far off it might be, the ball was sure to reach it. Then the ball would begin rolling slowly back to the witch, so that the kid always thought that he could catch it the next minute.
The Princess ascended a narrow, winding staircase and reached a little door. A rusty key was sticking in the lock, and when she turned it the door flew open. In a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, spinning her flax busily.
The old woman, although her behavior was so kind, was a wicked witch, who lay in wait for children, and had built the little house on purpose to entice them.
The witch said, ‘You may have as much rampion as you like, on one condition—the child that will come into the world must be given to me.’
‘I know what you want,’ said the sea witch. ‘It is stupid of you, for it will get you in trouble, my little princess. You want to get rid of your fishtail.’
The Tsar came and immediately the witch began to urge him: ‘Give your command, yes, give your command to kill the little Kid. He is a nuisance to me, he is entirely detestable to me!’
And a rumor went abroad in all that country of the beautiful sleeping Rosamond, for so was the Princess called; and from time to time many Kings' sons came and tried to force their way through the hedge.
The boy, forgetting himself in a moment of alarm, was heard to exclaim: ‘Run, granny, run; run for your life!’
The red-hot fire is built, the bubbling pot is hung, the steely knives are sharpened.