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When the witches inside heard the call, a great and terrible cry broke
from their lips, and they rushed forth with wild lamentations and
shrieks, and fled away to Slievenamon, where was their chief abode. But
the Spirit of the Well bade the mistress of the house to enter and
prepare her home against the enchantments of the witches if they
And first, to break their spells, she sprinkled the water in which she
had washed her child's feet, the feet-water, outside the door on the
threshold; secondly, she took the cake which in her absence the witches
had made of meal mixed with the blood drawn from the sleeping family,
and she broke the cake in bits, and placed a bit in the mouth of each
sleeper, and they were restored;
and she took the cloth they had woven,
and placed it half in and half out of the chest with the padlock; and
lastly, she secured the door with a great crossbeam fastened in the
jambs, so that the witches could not enter, and having done these
things she waited.
Not long were the witches in coming back, and they raged and called for
"Open! open!" they screamed; "open, feet-water!"
"I cannot," said the feet-water; "I am scattered on the ground, and my
path is down to the Lough."
"Open, open, wood and trees and beam!" they cried to the door.
"I cannot," said the door, "for the beam is fixed in the jambs and I
have no power to move."
"Open, open, cake that we have made and mingled with blood!" they cried
"I cannot," said the cake, "for I am broken and bruised, and my blood
is on the lips of the sleeping children."
Then the witches rushed through the air with great cries, and fled back
to Slievenamon, uttering strange curses on the Spirit of the Well, who
had wished their ruin; but the woman and the house were left in peace,
and a mantle dropped by one of the witches in her flight was kept hung
up by the mistress in memory of that night; and this mantle was kept by
the same family from generation to generation for five hundred years