I do all sorts of things. Mostly badly. Mostly better than others. I tell stories. Occasionally, I lie.
"You are at the centre of all this, Meg. I know a love spell…" Pog said indignantly.
"Aye, ya do that, young Pog. How long was it since you came tripping to my door, full of admiration for a plough boy, and wanting him warmed?" The old woman chuckled as she pronounced 'warmed' with a long 'wahr'.
Both Pog and Tom blushed. The witch laughed again. "Not you, ya stupid ninny. HIM!" her pointed finger singled out Will, stood just inside the door.
The farmer gently turned his wife around. "What is all this?"
"The cake. The Apple cake I...
Mistress Pog looked round, surprised by the old woman's prescience. Mortals were so impressed by what could be achieved with good hearing, and actually listening.
"Will! Did you follow me?" she stabbed an accusation at him like hog's fat hitting a skillet.
"No Pog, I have… unfinished business of my own with Old Meg" he said quietly, fingering a small bottle shaped lump in his purse.
The farmer stepped lively into the now rather cramped hovel. There didn't seem room to fit any air in the room. That or the witch wouldn't need a fire to roast a rabbit, from...
"Mary?" a middle aged, crows footed woman queried as she stepped over the threshold.
"Mistress…" the young maid gestured her in, both blushing. Somewhat flustered the farmer's wife surveyed the room.
"Tom!" she blushed on blushes. Something the old woman had not thought possible. Interest upon Interest. Clearly no Pythagorean shape would ever do this web justice.
"I haven't said naught, Po… I mean, Mistress." the plough boy blurted. He was good at blurting, the witch noticed. It was good he had found what he was good at, at such a young age.
"Meg, I need your help again…" the...
The young man, a plough boy judging from the callouses on his hands and the traces of leather straps on his wrist from leading the horse, was startled by the question, but before he could confirm the wise woman's wager she turned away.
Her right big toe - the one she had given to the King of the Fey as payment for 'services rendered' decades ago - had begun to ache. Something (someone?) not quite evil, not quite wicked, and not quite powerful was coming. Not yet. But soon. Her throbbing toe a warning that an 'undecided' power was abroad....
The trick was picking the tired, lost ones. That was the trick. Many passengers coming into Warsaw Airport had been warned about 'unlicensed' taxis, but if you chose well they would be too confused to argue. The trick was getting their bag. Once you had that, with a "Let me carry your bag, Sir/Madam," they would have to follow you.
The trick was to walk fast enough to scare them into following you, for fear of losing their baggage in the busy arrivals lounge, but not so fast the airport police would think you were stealing something.
That was the...
Before the crone could lift the latch, the outsider entered unbidden; not something wisely done at a witch's door. The boy seemed to need folding to miss the oak lintel. Felt cap respectfully in hand, he spilled over the urgent threshold.
"Some rich master has stolen my Bess away from me!" he blurted out.
The old woman assessed him bending his way through the old wooden doorway. Green doublet. Old but smart. Yellow hose. Bachelor. Sixteen Summers. Mayhap a little more, but large - she smiled - in every respect.
He hadn't noticed the maid, half shoved behind the door,...
The farmer had just left, when the old woman paused scooping up the silver to ponder on his telling. "Blue eyes? Could have sworn they were brown."
She shrugged and lifted a loose board to join the fee with treasured cousins beneath the stair. A knock at the door left her breathless in the hurry to conceal her hoard.
"Who… who is it?" she wheezed. Rather than answer, the caller entered quickly and fell behind the door.
"It's about the eye drops." whispered the same maid as had visited before. "I'd put them in when the Mistress startled me. I...
"So, old woman, how do you cure Love at First Sight?"
The crone laughed like a deadman's rattle. "Ah, there's a thing. Well, if you were some maid, I'd say a kiss. Or to be truly rid of it, a marriage." She pronounced marriage 'marry-ahj' the old way of yore.
"Neither is possible. I'm already wed, and happily too, were it not for this accursed lust that's come over me."
"Tell me her name and her story." the wise one requested. Of course, she already knew the girl. The lovesick sow who'd pleaded for a love spell. Yet she listened...
Holmes pulled up his chair, muttered to himself for a second then cleared his throat.
'We have your bizarre first appearance as a Scottish small holder, otherwise known as a Crofter, if I am not mistaken. At first I thought this was a silly pun on your name, dear brother. "M' small holding' being rendered as "My croft".'
"Yet, you knew I would see through your disguise even if Watson was fooled." He turned to me and smiled apologetically. I dissembled, but had to admit he was correct. " And we must not forget the excellent Western lilt...
She'd been a good wife. Comely and passionate, even through bearing 6 children (4 of whom survived) and I'd only strayed but once.
Of course she had known straight away, but had nodded; she wasn't perfect either. But while I loved her, and she me, we'd understood. No one can bear everything alone. And some loads were the cause of each other.
I'd known she had gazed upon others with a lusty eye. To be honest, I wasn't as philosophical as she; fierce jealous rage had filled me with hypocrisy. I learned a valuable lesson in self-delusion, but maybe not...