THE THREE UGLY SONS

There was once an old witch with three ugly sons who displeased her very much, for they possessed no magic of their own. So one dark night she dispatched them into the Smoldering Forest (named, of course, for the endless curls of smoke that dance between the trees) to be forgotten about forever.

The three ugly sons set off on three ugly horses as the eldest said, "Brothers, we shall find our fortune in this forest," and each went his separate direction.

The first son traveled North for days until he found an abandoned factory, still filled to the rafters with the finest bottled pork ever known. "I shall seek no greater fortune," said the first son to himself, stuffing his pockets and socks with jingling glasses until he was quite satisfied. News of his good luck traveled quickly through the forest and when the witch heard of it, she grew enraged.

"No son of mine
Should live so fine!
Upon the dirt
He soon shall dine!"

The second ugly son traveled East for days until he reached a brook which was a most unusual one indeed, for instead of water and fish, the brook spilled over with shrimp in a heavy cocktail sauce. "I shall seek no greater fortune," said the second son to himself, smearing his beard and cap with the sticky stuff until he was quite satisfied. This good news traveled quickly too, but when the witch heard of it, she grew even more enraged.

"No son of mine
Should live so fine!
Upon the dirt
He too shall dine!"

Then the witch flew upon her magic broom, determined to drive her third ugly son away from whatever good thing might lie in store for him.

The third ugly son traveled South for days until he found a cottage with a puffing chimney. He did not know this cottage was built on his mother's magic, so he rapped at the door. A beautiful young maiden greeted him, but this was actually the witch in disguise. "Come in, sire, and warm yourself by my hearth." He humbly obliged. "Have you traveled quite far to be here?" asked the maiden. "Indeed I have," her ugly son replied.

"Then we shall marry and be happy until we die. However, you must know that a wicked witch is in these woods too, and she is looking for you. Your brothers have found great fortune here and this fact has enraged her."

"I do not fear my mother."

"Very well. Then I shall go to town and procure victuals for our wedding. But first I shall use magic in order to turn you into a dandelion so that your mother will not find you. I shall turn you back into yourself when I return."

"This pleases me," said the ugly son who always admired the beauty of flowers. And no sooner had the words escaped his mouth, was he transformed into a dandelion planted in the cottage garden. Then the witch left, feeling certain she had sealed his fate.

Hours passed, then days and weeks, and the ugly dandelion began to understand what had occurred, and his heart became broken.

"Dear God, send a woodsman to crush me under his boot."

But no woodsman ever came, and when the weather turned cold, the dandelion's petals withered into soft white wings which a swift breeze did pick up and carry for miles, past his brother's factory and his other brother's brook, (both of whom were turned into dandelions by the same dirty magic) and finally they landed in the yard of his mother, the witch.

It rained for eighty days and eighty nights, and on the eighty-first day there was so much sunshine that a hundred million dandelions grew around the witch's home and swallowed it whole, until steam rose from it and all was lost in the Smoldering Forest, which smolders still.

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