As we all know it costs nothing to be kind or nice to a stranger who perhaps isn’t doing so well. Our tale this week is all about meanness, money and a heartless attitude which led to the hoot of a solitary owl. Here is the tale of the baker’s daughter.
The Baker and his Daughter
A long, long time ago in one of Herefordshire’s market towns, we think it was Leominster, there lived a baker and his daughter Sarah. He was a great baker but he was also despised by his community. Why you might ask? Well he was mean. He cheated his customers and hoarded every penny he made. Each night his greatest pleasure was to sit and count his money. He loved sorting the silver, gold and copper coins into separate bags. He dreamt of turning all the copper coins into silver ones and all the silver coins into gold ones. The baker lived alone except for his daughter Sarah. His wife had died some time ago. He had raised Sarah in his own image, for she too was mean and a little spiteful with it.
A Strange Visitor
One day Sarah was in the bakery on her own. She watched as a dishevelled stranger entered the shop. Under a pile of ragged clothes was an old woman. She walked very slowly supported by her stick up to the counter. Sarah politely asked the woman what she wanted. Despite the woman’s appearance, Sarah had been taught by her father not to judge. “They may look poor daughter”, he said “but underneath the clothes they might be rich and ripe to be overcharged”. To her surprise the woman begged her for a piece of dough. “I’m starving”, said the woman “and I have no money to eat”. Sarah refused and tried to remove the woman from her shop. The woman resisted and noisily protested. Frightened by the commotion that the woman was making, Sarah grabbed some dough and slapped it into the hands of the woman.
Thinking that the woman would now leave, Sarah turned to go back to the counter. Then a voice said, “I have no stove or hearth at home, let me bake my bread in your oven”. Sarah refused at first but realising that the woman would not leave, she snatched the dough back and put it in the oven.
The old woman sat waiting for her bread to bake. After a short while Sarah opened the oven expecting to find a measly loaf inside. But to her utter shock a beautiful large loaf sat before her. Not wanting to give this to the woman Sarah said,”your loaf is not here, your bit of dough must have fallen to the bottom of the oven”. Sarah then took the loaf and put it on her shelf to sell. The old woman undeterred requested another piece of dough, and the same happened again two or three more times. Even though the pieces of dough that Sarah gave the woman were getting smaller and smaller, bigger and bigger loaves appeared in the oven.
With the last smallest slither of dough, a massive loaf appeared. The old woman rushed across to the oven to claim it before Sarah could put it out on the shelf. “That’s mine!” shouted the old woman. Sarah snarled at her and said, “there’s no way that loaf came from the tiny flake of dough I gave you”. “Get out of my shop you old hag and do not return”. “You shall never have this loaf”.
The old woman looked on as Sarah continued shouting at her. In a flash she raised her stick and lightly touched Sarah’s arm. Instantly Sarah was transformed into an owl. The owl proceeded to flap around the bakery and then disappeared out of the open door and was not seen again.
The baker never knew what had become of his daughter Sarah. He continued his ritual of counting his money every night, listening to the distant hoot of a solitary owl.
There’s a moral to this story, it could be don’t mess with old women, or it could be that we just need to be a little kinder to each other. We hope you have enjoyed ‘The Tale of the Baker’s Daughter’.
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