An old witch decides to build a cabin in the woods. She takes with her an axe, a blanket, and a basket filled with cheese and meats. The trees plead with her. Let us age a little longer, the fruit on our branches have not yet ripened. They will go well with your meal. Afterwards, you may cut each of us as you please. She agrees and lays down her load: axe, blanket, basket. The forest asks, Will you cover the axe with a sheet? It makes us anxious, our fruit sour. She agrees to the favor and covers the cold axe like a baby. She sleeps under the lullaby of leaves and is startled awake by the axe weeping.
A hunter decides to build a cabin in the woods. He takes with him an axe and bow, a quiver full of arrows. The trees plead with him. Let us age a little longer, the fruit on our branches have not yet ripened. They notice no basket. The forest says, We will scare out the animals. Of them you may choose your meal. Eat. Afterwards, you may cut each of us as you please. He agrees, pregnant as he is with hunger. He lays down his axe. The trees tremble, and a darting squirrel scribbles the landscape. Two rabbits like bad children hide in a hollow log. Look, one tree says, a beast in the distance. The hunter shoots an arrow like a single note, sharp enough to wake a sleeping axe.
The hunter hears the soft thump of an arrow landing. He follows it to the crumpled witch who looks like any other old woman. He notices the sobbing axe. He recognizes magic, but not the infant Prince turned weapon, teething, one glistening tooth jagging against the woods. He brings the body to the castle. He brings the sobbing axe. Before he leaves he eats all the cheese and meats in the witch’s basket. When he arrives in the village, when he enters the castle, the hunter is accused of murder, of kidnapping the Prince. They threaten the man, demand he turn the Prince back. No one knows how to undo the curse. No one knows how to soothe the blade. So the court makes use of him. The hunter is beheaded by the sobbing axe. The Prince weeps and weeps.