"From the nether world, whence I came,"
intoned the old hag, stirring the bubbling
cauldron with an enormous wooden
spoon. "That's the answer." She sighed.
"But, what was the question?" asked her
acolyte, peering into the murky green
depths of the pot. He winced, withdrew.
"The question, Sivet," scolded the old
woman, "is, from where did I arise."
He nodded his understanding though in
truth he understood little of the Old Witch
or her ways. He stuffed another mint into
his mouth. Suddenly he spoke: "What is
it you're cooking, Milady?" His inquisitive-
ness served to intrigue her.
"Good, Sivet, you're learning to think," she
observed. "This is pixie porridge," she replied
to his question. "But, what's in it?" he
persisted. "It's contents are eponymous with
its name," she said shortly.
"Eew," mewled Sivet, cringing. "You put those
adorable little pixies in there?" and he pointed
at the churning, bubbling cauldron with an
accusing forefinger. This was not at all what
he'd signed up for, he thought.
"Here, take a little taste," the crone invited.
She lifted a spoonful to his lips but like a cat
he angrily batted it away, spilling the contents.
The thick fluid hissed angrily where it landed
upon the wooden planks.
"Now you've done it, now you've done it," cried
the Old Witch like an avenging angel. "Here, I'll
clean it up," offered Sivet hastily, grabbing a rag
and wiping at the stain. "Too late for that," she
said harshly. "The magic has gone out of the
"Wh...what can I do?" asked her assistant
fearfully. She was a formidable witch and would
make for an unwelcome adversary; he must stay
on her good side at all costs. "Take a sip of
it--now," she snarled, glaring at him with bulging,
fish-like eyes. Reluctantly he took up the wooden
spoon and sipped; it tasted like vomit, he thought,
but smiled his approval at her. When she wasn't
looking he pushed another mint between his lips.
"Take another taste," she told him and while he was
so doing, she crept round behind Sivet and coshed
him thunderously across the back of his head with a
length or iron pipe. The impact made a sickening,
moist sound, like the crushing of an overly ripe apple.
Sivet fell forward and the witch directed his head and
shoulders into the burbling concoction. As he
slipped beneath the surface, the witch grasped his legs
and pushed them into the pot after him. She reached
down and added wood to the fire.
"Now," she thought, "Sivet would take at least twenty
hours to render into new magic elixir; but she was
missing something. What was it? Oh, yes.
"Pratalia stood by the steaming cauldron this time,
awaiting Milady's pleasure. She hadn't long to wait.
"Are you ready for me to taste, Milady?" she asked.
The Old Witch nodded her approval. "Yes, Dear,"
she rasped. "Tell me what you taste."
Sticking the wooden spoon into the frothy liquid,
Pratalia spooned out a taste, applied it to her tongue.
The Old Witch looked at the lass over her spectacles.
"Yes," said Pratalia excitedly, "it's mint--wintergreen,
I think." The old hag nodded in satisfaction.
"Pratalia," said the Old Witch, "you are now my new
potion taster. That's a very important position; do you
think you can handle it?" "Yes, Milady," said the girl.
"But, what will become of Sivet? He was your taster-in-
training." "Oh, I've promoted Sivet," said the hag. "He's
now in charge of selecting the elements for my potions."
"One final question, Dear," said the Old Witch. Pratalia
looked up inquiringly. "Do you fancy pixies?" she
asked. Pratalia made an ugly face. "Frankly, Milady,
I do not!" The crone smiled. "I believe you will fit in
very nicely as my new assistant," she murmured
About the author:
Bill Tope is a retired Public Assistance caseworker who lives in Illinois (almost in the very shadow of the majestic Gateway Arch) with his mean little cat Baby. He has been a construction worker, a cook, a nude model, you name it.
Discussing disabled characters in fairy tales and folklore!