Today we have another excerpt from First Words, a collection of early writings by famous authors, edited by Paul Mandelbaum. Last week we shared one of Margaret Atwood’s first short stories. This week, we have a grisly fairytale that Stephen King penned at the tender age of nine.
Jhonathan and the Witches
Once upon a time there was a boy named Jhonathan. He was smart, handsome, and very brave. But Jhonathan was a cobblers son.
One day his father said, “Jhonathan, you must go seek your fortune. You are old enough.”
Jhonathan, being a smart boy knew he better ask the King for work.
So, he set out.
On the way, he met a rabbit who was a fairy in disguise. The scared thing was being pursued by hunters and jumped into Jhonathans arms. When the hunters came up Jhonathan pointed excitedly and shouted, “That way, that way!”
After the hunter had gone the rabbit turned into a fairy and said, “You have helped me. I will give you three wishes. What are they?”
But Jhonathan could not think of anything, so the fairy agreed to give them to him when he needed them.
So, Jhonathan kept walking until he made the kingdom without incedent.
So he went to the king and asked for work.
But, as luck would have it, the king was in a very bad mood that day. So he vented his mood on Jhonathan.
“Yes, there is something you can do. On yonder Mountain there are three witches. If you can kill them, I will give you 5,000 crowns. If you cannot do it I will have your head! You have 20 days.” With this he dismissed Jhonathan.
Now what am I to do? thought Jhonathan. Well I shall try.
Then he remembered the three wishes granted him and set out for the mountain.
Now Jhonathan was at the mountain and was just going to wish for a knife to kill the witch, when he heard a voice in his ear, “The first witch cannot be pierced.
The second witch cannot be pierced or smothered.
The third cannot be pierced, smothered, and is invisible.”
With this knolege Jhonathen looked about and saw noone. Then he remembered the fairy, and smiled.
He then went in search of the first witch.
At last he found her. She was in a cave near the foot of the mountain, and was a mean looking hag.
He remembered the fairy words, and before the witch could do anything but give him an ugly look, he wished she should be smothered. And lo! It was done.
Now he went higher in search of the second witch. There was a second cave higher up. There he found the second witch. He was about to wish her smothered when he remembered she could not be smothered. And then before the witch could do anything but give him an ugly look, he had wished her crushed. And lo! It was done.
Now he had onley to kill the third witch and he would have the 5,000 crowns. But on the way up, he was plagued by thoughts of how?
Then he hit upon a wonderful plan.
Then, he saw the last cave. He waited outsid the entrance until he heard the witches footsteps. He then picked up a couple of big rocks and wished.
He then wished the witch a normal woman and lo! She became visable and then Jhonathen struck her dead with the rocks he had.
Jhonathen collected his 5,000 crowns and he and his father lived happily ever after.