Child’s Play

Zhata heard the low, furtive knock at her door and opened it, letting the man in and shutting it behind him.

“You are the old woman they talk about? The witch?” he asked. He sounded desperate.

“I am she,” Zhata replied.

“You must help me! I love Mitha, the brewer’s daughter, but she wants nothing to do with me. I’ve heard you can make a potion?&rdquo

“It is child’s play,” Zhata replied, for it was. She had years of experience. “I don’t even have to make it, I have some here. But I have must have gold!&rdquo

The man handed her a sovereign and she hid it away quickly. “Guide me to the work table, young master. I’m not as fit as I used to be.&rdquo

Quickly she went through the rows of bottles, and then seized on one. “Here. It has never failed. She will fall madly in love with you.&rdquo

The man expressed his deep gratitude and departed.

Less than an hour passed before another knock came on the door. “Are you the witch?” said a young woman. She sounded desperate.

“I am she,” Zhata replied.

“You must help me. I love Gurn, but was forced to marry Yigu. Yigu is cruel and beats me daily. He is also the ugliest man in the village and has a repulsive odor. I heard you can make a potion?&rdquo

“I don’t even have to make it. Very popular, that one is. But I must have gold!&rdquo

The young woman slipped Zhata two earrings and the old crone weighed them carefully in her hand. “Done! Guide me to the worktable, mistress. I shall give you a potion that shall slay Yigu before the cup passes from his lips.&rdquo

Zhata gave the woman the potion and she departed with tearful thanks.

Another hour passed.

A knock came. “Are you there, mother?” and the door opened on its own.

Zhata heard her daughter suck in her breath. “Oh, mother! You are not making potions again! Why, you’re as blind as a cavefish. What would happen if you mixed them up?&rdquo

Zhata said nothing about the night’s visitors and kept the gold safely hidden away.


Editor’s Corner