A very long time ago there was a village of cruel, nasty people. So cruel and nasty were they that the rest of the earldom let them be, seldom interfering from disgust for their ways. Although anyone who wasn’t cruel and nasty could leave and go to a kinder village, the children were stuck right where they were until they either grew up cruel and nasty or grew up and left. One such child, a girl named Shush, found herself in quite a predicament when she listened to her cruel and nasty Mama and did what she was told to like a good little girl.
Mama had done an awful thing and poisoned Papa when she discovered him diddling another lady. Unfortunately or not, Papa survived and informed the law of his wife’s misdeed. In this village of cruel and nasty people there were equally cruel and nasty laws which called for beheading over many things, one of which was poisoning your husband. So, Mama was chained and dragged to the Hatchet Hill Nevergreens where her husband arranged a party for the execution. There was much to drink and all the villagers were present in special dancing shoes which they merrily abused whilst the beheading preparations were made. When the moment came Shush’s mama asked to hold her little girl one final time before the Axeman swung. It was permitted and Shush crawled up to stand on the chopping block so she could kiss her mama’s cheek. The two warmly, but sadly embraced and before she let go, Mama whispered these last, secret sentences into her daughter’s ear:
“I gave your papa poison because parts of him were bad but he lived to tell the Jailer, now my head is in his hands. Shush, my daughter, cry not for mama
do what I should have, chop up your papa.”
The child was then taken off the block and replaced with Mama’s neck. The villagers erupted into dancing after the Axeman did his work. They continued into the night leaving the Hatchet Hill Nevergreens just as it was, block, body and all … although something very important went missing. It was Mama’s head. While the villagers were blind with merry making, Shush had stolen off with it into a stable where she tied it with a bridle and fixed it to her waist in the most secret place she knew of, under her dress. When she saw Mama again in Heaven, Shush thought, she would return her head to her. Then, being the dutiful and obedient girl that she was, Shush went home and cut her drunken papa to pieces with a hatchet. She remembered Mama mentioning bad parts of him and wondered what those might be. His hands were nice, they pet her head when she was sleepy, but his nose was very disgusting so she threw it into the hearth imagining that was the part Mama disliked.
Soon she grew hungry; she was a child after all and needed to be cared for. Pondering this, she held her papa’s hand when the answer came. Papa had a ring on his finger with a sailboat on it. She would find a sailor to watch over her and feed her and tuck her into bed. Lifting the hatchet again, she lopped off Papa’s finger, put it into her pocket and walked to the docks. In no time at all she found a sailor, a fat jolly one who had a funny walk she liked. She went up to him and presented Papa’s finger with the ring on it.“Will you watch over me, feed me and tuck me into bed?” she asked.The Sailor was aghast and carried the crying child to the Jailer. The Jailer went to her home and discovered what she’d done to Papa, but didn’t know what to do with her, so he delivered her to the Priest. The Priest, a little surer of himself, said that demons dwelled in the little girl and that she should join her Mama in Hell until Hell ceased to be. He then took her to the Judge to whom the Priest told exactly that all over again and the Judge agreed, adding that her head was worth her soul and she should die that day to begin her terrifying decent. Shush was chained and taken to the Hatchet Hill Nevergreens. The cruel and nasty villagers made their way once more with flagons of ale and dancing shoes and the cruel and nasty Axeman lifted Shush up to stand once again on the block for a final word to the rabble. Thus she said:“Peace be to the Axeman, for his single strike
Peace be to the Sailor, who made me cry
Peace be to the Jailer, who tied me tight
Peace be to the Priest, who said I am the Devil’s child
Peace be to Papa, whose ugly nose I burned
Peace be to Mama, whose head I will return”And the Axeman swung his axe, severing the tiny bulb from its fragile stalk with a single blow. When Shush’s body fell to the ground her skirts came up and everyone saw Mama’s head there in its makeshift harness. Not one cruel and nasty villager felt like dancing after that, as cruel and nasty as they all were.