There once lived a man and his wife, who had long wished for a child, but in vain. Now there was at the back of their house a little window which overlooked a beautiful garden full of the finest vegetables and flowers; but there was a high wall all round it, and no one ventured into it, for it belonged to a witch of great might, and of whom all the world was afraid.
One day that the wife was standing at the window, and looking into the garden, she saw a bed filled with the finest rampion; and it looked so fresh and green that she began to wish for some; and at length she longed for it greatly. This went on for days, and as she knew she could not get the rampion, she pined away, and grew pale and miserable. Then the man was uneasy, and asked, “What is the matter, dear wife?”
“Oh,” answered she, “I shall die unless I can have some of that rampion to eat that grows in the garden at the back of our house.” The man, who loved her very much, thought to himself, “Rather than lose my wife I will get some rampion, cost what it will.” So in the twilight he climbed over the wall into the witch’s garden, plucked hastily a handful of rampion and brought it to his wife. She made a salad of it at once, and ate of it to her heart’s content. But she liked it so much, and it tasted so good, that the next day she longed for it thrice as much as she had done before; if she was to have any rest the man must climb over the wall once more. So he went in the twilight again; and as he was climbing back, he saw, all at once, the witch standing before him, and was terribly frightened, as she cried, with angry eyes, “How dare you climb over into my garden like a thief, and steal my rampion! it shall be the worse for you!”
“Oh,” answered he, “be merciful rather than just, I have only done it through necessity; for my wife saw your rampion out of the window, and became possessed with so great a longing that she would have died if she could not have had some to eat.” Then the witch said,
“If it is all as you say you may have as much rampion as you like, on one condition – the child that will come into the world must be given to me. It shall go well with the child, and I will care for it like a mother.”