Two midnights gone; the third was almost upon them. The Baker's Wife, Joanna, was growing weary of the nonstop search for the remainder of the four objects needed in order for the curse to be lifted. It had to be done though. Joanna and Chip already had the slipper as pure as gold, the cape as red as blood, and the hair as yellow as corn… the only thing left was that damn cow.
Joanna took a small hiatus in her search for The Witch to stop and rest. With a sigh, she sat and collected her objects in her arms to think about all she had gone through in these few short days. Getting the slipper had been the hardest thing to find for sure! But she managed, lying to royalty along the way. The hair was the easiest of all, having snipped a lock from an unsuspecting villager. Joanna knew not how difficult the cloak had been to come by, for it was Chip who had retrieved. That didn't matter though, for they had three of the four. A slight rustle from behind her made Joanna turn and ask the empty air, "Who goes there?"
"It's me. I have the cow!" Chip revealed himself from behind the trees. Joanna smiled and ran to her husband, resting the other three objects by the stump she had rested upon.
"But how?" she asked. Chip ran a finger over the cow's hide.
"'Tis only powder."
"But what if The Witch should find out?" Joanna bit her lip in worry. She knew this was a risky bet.
"Do you want a child or not?" Chip queried his wife, repeating what she had asked him. "If we wish to have a child, we need a cow as white as milk and here we have one. I'm sure The Witch won't notice," Chip assured Joanna.
"I wouldn't be so sure," contradicted the somewhat shrill voice that belonged to Gwendolyn, more commonly referred to as "The Witch." She hobbled over to the pair, greatly disappointed. "Liars, aren't you? Thought you'd take the easy way out, didn't you?" She jabbed Chip's abdomen with her staff.
"I wish you would stop doing that." Chip bent over in pain and pulled Joanna behind him.
The Witch smirked. "I caught you in your lies and now you will have to pay."
"What do you mean?" Joanna cautiously asked, worried about what Gwendolyn was going to say.
"I mean: now not only will you have to get me the cow, but before this last midnight, I require something else."
Chip and Joanna looked at each other, somewhat concerned about what it was The Witch required now. "And- and what would that be?" Joanna wasn't entirely sure if she wanted to know, but in a way, she had to. The Witch grinned.
"Two children you shall have," she portended. "And I entail one." One to take Rapunzel's stead; no one of course could ever replace Rapunzel, who had foolishly run off with the prince. Everything came with a price though. The Baker and his wife had a wish and they should know that wishes came true, not free.
Chip felt Joanna dig her nails into his arm as she clung to him tightly. The wedded pair looked to each other once more, now fully-fledged with worry. Give up one of their children? "We'll do it," Chip confirmed, saying what he and his wife were both thinking. Whether or not they sacrificed one child, they'd still have one of their own as well.
The Witch seemed slightly disappointed that The Baker and his wife had not been greatly affected, however now not only she would have her beauty back, but a child. "Good," The Witch said softly. "I'm glad we have an understanding."
The Baker and his wife stood staring at The Witch, waiting for her to continue. "Well," she said, "go get the cow!" A beam of light came from her staff and the couple jumped in fright, but continued into the woods, now determined to find the cow.
Gwendolyn sighed as she watched Chip and Joanna vanish through the trees. This would work out nicely. Besides, in eyes, the two did not deserve the complete happiness they wanted. They were liars and Joseph, Chip's father, was a thief, the cause of this whole conundrum. No, they would suffer with the emptiness of caring for one child when knowing their other child was out there in the world, somewhere where they'd never find him or her.
"Oh where did we bury that cow?" Joanna looked at the sky; it was growing darker now. For three hours they had searched and found nothing. Chip tried to smile reassuringly.
"We still have time. It can't be far now." But they weren't getting close and as the hours dragged on, they started to fight bitterly.
"Oh, only a cow's grave we're arguing!" Joanna shouted at Chip when she became so fed up with their tenuous argument. Her eyes widened as she stared not at Chip, but past him. There was a mound of dirt that looked rather familiar. "The cow as white as," she needn't finish as Chip looked over his shoulder to see the mound of dirt.
"Milk," he finished for his wife, and the two rushed over to it to start digging with their hands. Soon enough, Milky White was uncovered.
"We've all four!" exclaimed Chip excitedly.
"So, you've got all four?" Suddenly, The Witch appeared again. She strutted over to the pair, observing each object, but being careful not to touch anything.
"Yes, that looks to be about right. Now, I need you to feed each object to the cow. But first, I must wake the beast." With a spell and a horrid cackle, the Milky White was revived. Joanna and Chip wasted no time in feeding the cow all that they had collected. "Now we must milk her." The Witch paused a moment. "Now which one of you is gonna do it?"
Chip and Joanna looked at each other. Neither one of them had ever milked a cow before. Joanna made a gesture to the cow, signaling to Chip that it was he that should be the one to milk the cow. Gwendolyn produced a goblet out of thing air and handed it to The Baker. Chip did nothing at first, as if trying to figure out the mechanics of milking a cow. Sure enough though, he began to milk Milky White.
Soon the goblet was filled and Chip handed it to The Witch. Gwen paused a moment until the clock began to ring out and then took a large swig.
Chip and Joanna embraced; their dreams would soon come true!
At first, nothing happened and everyone waited with baited breath. Then suddenly, The Witch began to smoke and a shot rang out. Chip and Joanna were blinded for a moment as The Witch took her change; a moment later, standing there in place of the ugly old witch was a strong and graceful looking woman wearing a gown of white.
Gwendolyn looked herself over, quite pleased with the result. The curse, both hers and the one placed upon Chip's family, had been lifted.