A Local Witch

This comes from Joseph Ashby of Tysoe 1859-1919, a real goldmine of  first person details. This is unusual as it shows the boys misbehaving, but also the old woman treating them with what seems to be benign indifference. Was this sort of behaviour so commonplace at the time? Or did she know they meant no real harm; they were just being kids and would soon grow out of their bad behaviour. 

One day when he and some other boys were picking up odd-shaped pieces of wood in the carpenter’s shop under the church tower, they saw an old woman issue from a door in a high wall and go tottering up the lane on her stick. ‘Let’s go and try old Mother Alcock for a witch’, cried out one of the big fellows, and he and the other big ones – bigger, that is, than Joseph – snatched up straws and small sticks and ran after her. Getting in front, they laid the sticks and straws crosswise in her path. Patiently the old woman pushed the crosses aside with the point of her stick and the boys went off yelling, ‘Old Mother Alcock’s a witch. Stick a pin in the witch!’ Meanwhile another boy dashed through the old woman’s garden door and presently came out declaring that he had put her scissors under her cushion, and ‘when she sits on the cross it’ll give her an awful pain’.

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