A Christmas Tale

For the last few Christmases the Cog Blog has published, as our last effort of the year, a post based on a fairy story. Hope you enjoy it.

Once upon a time there were two children, a brother and sister called Pronsel and Gratel. They lived with their parents in a little village on the edge of a forest.

The brother and sister were devoted to one another and rarely ventured out unless together.

They lived an idyllic childhood, playing freely in the meadows around their house. They were well-known in the village too and were frequently to be found in the local shops and in their neighbours’ houses.

Their parents only imposed one rule. The children were not to venture into the forest. This was the Forest So-Chal, it was deep, dark, and although there were paths and even some signposts it was all too easy to get lost.

There were rumours of wolves, and even talk of a witch.

This witch, so the story went, used to live in the village where she ran a sweet shop. But things had turned ugly when the sweet shop diversified and started creating and selling spells.

The villagers, wary of the effects such things may have on them and their children, objected, and eventually drove her out.

Now she lived in the forest in a house made, it was said of sweets.

One day, Pronsel and Gratel’s parents had to go to the nearby town on business. This was nothing unusual – they often left their children alone to play. They had each other, they knew their neighbours and everyone in the village knew them.

But on this day the children decided it was time for an adventure. They were going to venture into Forest So-Chal and find the house of sweets.

They were though sensible children. So, they took with them various coloured ribbons. They would tie these to trees and signposts on their way in, and thus be able to find their way out again.

They set off; and all went to plan. They found the sweet house easily – it was even signposted – and the witch turned out to be a perfectly pleasant old lady who was delighted to have visitors.

They gorged themselves on sweets, homemade cake and fizzy drinks. These things were carefully rationed at home, so this was a real treat!

Eventually it came time to set off home, and that’s when things started to go rather wrong.

First, the children seemed to have lost their sense of direction. Once they left the sweet house nothing looked familiar, nothing was where it should have been.

Second, they had no memory of their careful preparation. They couldn’t find any ribbons, the paths just seemed to go around in circles, and the signposts, which they thought were clear enough on the way in were incomprehensible.

Was it possible that the legends of spells and potions were true?

Pronsel and Gratel started to worry. It was getting dark, they had no idea where they were and Google Maps hadn’t yet been invented.

There has to be a happy ending, surely? Well, there is. The villagers had noticed the children’s absence, guessed where they had gone and set up a search party.

This search party relied on tried and tested techniques; the villagers were roped together with the backstop roped to the village tree.

They took a megaphone and shouted for the children, who eventually heard them and thus were saved.

The children weren’t even scolded by their parents, who were simply pleased to have them home.

P&G (it’s getting tedious typing their names in full every time) had learned their lesson.

They grew up, became worthy councillors and introduced improvements to the Forest So-Chal, making it safe for all and protecting its wildlife.

And what happened to the witch, and the sweet house?

Visit your local high street and pick up a newspaper. Look around you. You’ll find out.

The Cog Blog will be back (for its 10th year) early in 2023. In the meantime thanks for reading and indulging my many rants, and may I wish you a Happy Christmas and a wonderful Festive Season.

  1. Happy Christmas to you too

  2. Thanks Louise, and to you too!

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