Witches’ Loaves (Henry)

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Witches' Loaves
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A sympathetic bakery owner secretly added butter to a struggling artist's stale bread, unknowingly ruining his architectural drafts that he cleaned with bread crumbs.

Miss Martha Meacham owned a small bakery on the corner of a street. She was forty years old, had two thousand dollars in the bank, two false teeth, and a sympathetic heart. Many people have married with much less to offer than Miss Martha.

Miss Martha Meacham — bakery owner; middle-aged, sympathetic, and imaginative; wore blue-dotted silk waist.

A middle-aged man with a strong German accent and a carefully trimmed brown beard would visit her bakery two or three times a week. He always bought two loaves of stale bread, never anything else. Miss Martha noticed a red and brown stain on his fingers one day and concluded that he must be a poor artist living in a garret, painting pictures and eating stale bread.

The Artist — architectural draftsman; middle-aged, gentle-mannered, and poor; wore spectacles and had a brown beard.

To confirm her suspicions, she displayed a painting she had bought at a sale in her bakery. The man noticed it and commented on its poor balance and perspective. This convinced Miss Martha that he was indeed an artist.

Der balance is not in good drawing. Der bairspective of it is not true. Goot morning, madame.

They began to chat more frequently, and she started to wear her best clothes and even tried a homemade beauty treatment.

One day, while the man was in the bakery, a fire engine passed by, and he rushed to the door to watch. Seizing the opportunity, Miss Martha quickly sliced open the stale loaves he had ordered and inserted a generous amount of fresh butter before wrapping them up.

Later, the man returned to the bakery, furious and red-faced. He accused Miss Martha of ruining his work and called her a meddling old cat.

You haf shpoilt me. I vill tell you. You vas von meddingsome old cat!

A young man who worked with him in an architectural office explained that the man, Blumberger, had been working on a competition entry for a new city hall. Draftsmen like Blumberger used stale bread crumbs to erase pencil lines from their drawings, and the butter in the bread had ruined his plan.

Miss Martha, realizing her mistake, changed back into her old clothes and discarded her beauty treatment.