The Prioress's Second Tale (published in the anthology Mythic Resonance as Annabel and the Witch- see 2nd excerpt on the linked page) is the story of a destitute Cumbrian girl kidnapped by a wicked witch. The narrative is written in the vein of the fairytale Hansel and Grettel, though with a single, female protagonist. As with my Wife of Bath's Second Tale (where a young woman betters herself in hopes of improving her lot in life), I felt that a medieval story detailing female empowerment was long overdue.
This tale also mirrors current trends in human trafficking and the commonly held belief in developing countries that towns and cities are 'greener pastures' compared to rural areas.
Since Chaucer's original Prioress's Tale is a study in anti-semitism (though in Chaucer's defence his story's the product of an age of zero religious tolerance), I chose to give the Prioress a kinder story the second time around, part of which is below:
But whilst her porkers snuffled round the roots Of fruit-denuded oaks, the haunting hoots Of early-risen owls infused the air, Instilling fear and causing downy hair Upon the damsel’s grime-encrusted nape To prickle. Thinking this a childish jape, Quod Annabel, “Who makes these spooky sounds? Expose yourselves, you yellow-bellied hounds!” The owlish cries continued though, until With suddenness the atmosphere was still. And while her pigs explored the fallen leaves Upon the ground, a voice called down, “Who thieves The acorns from my chilly woodland floor?” “Forgive me!” pleaded Annabel, “I’m poor! And merely seek to fatten up my sows!” Then swooping down between the naked boughs,
A witch appeared astride a broom that flew. Her face was of a sickly, greenish hue, Whilst nestled on her bulbous, twisted nose There stood a skin-pink wart from which arose A score of bristling hairs as black as night. Beneath her crooked hat her hair was white And draped across her wrinkled, ancient shape She wore a flowing, scarifying cape. But oddest still, upon her shoulder sat A glossy-pelted, evil-grinning cat. Quod Zelga, “Come with me as there is room For two aboard my aerobatic broom.” With these grim words she grabbed the luckless girl Around the waist and thus contrived to hurl The struggling lass across her airborne pole.