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Chapter 5 The Witch Makes Another Attempt

  • “Well, in spite of the failure we had to face, your performances were praiseworthy.” the witch said admiringly. Then she turned to the other ghosts and said, “Rufus, Paul, I’m fed up with my failures. I’ve tried a lot to get the snake-child and suck her blood in order to increase my power as well as life.” She stopped for a while and then again started “Her parents are dead. But she’s still far away from my clutches. I want her at any cost. Do all of you understand?” All the ghosts hung their heads with shame and fear.
  • There was no answer. Each of them was silent. The witch was grunting at them with anger. She clenched her fists and looked at everybody one by one. “Who will bring her here?” she asked angrily, almost shouting. Many of the ghosts came in front to accept the challenge. “Please give me a chance, Lady Marconda.” said Anthony, a member of the bats’ family. “I’m ready, too.” Granda said haughtily, from the owls’ side. Marina moved to the front and flapped her wings.
  • She was from bats’ family. She said in a gentle voice, “O Lady, I and my sister Juliana are so eager to get a chance from you and perform our duties. We want to show you our faithfulness.” “Gamora!” cried the witch with a harsh voice and said, “Keep quiet all of you and let me first ask the magic mirror where the baby-snake is.” She was getting excited. There was a large mirror fitted in the wall, just on the right side of the devil’s stature, covered with a red silken cloth that was glimmering in the light of firelights. Lady Marconda stepped towards the mirror in a hurry. Her hand reached the beautiful silken cover and pulled it up.
  • A large and beautifully designed mirror was shining there on the wall that revealed the art and the artistic manner of those days. The mirror was oval in shape that was framed in a silver frame which consisted fine pictures of skeletons and skulls with some odd type of flowers or deigns carved on it. At the bottom, a big owl of silver was created with two large wings stretched, surrounding the mirror from both the sides. The witch smiled for a few seconds and took a deep breath.
  • Then, she started saying the charm words. No sooner had the witch finished the charm words, there was a flash of light in the mirror for a few seconds and then the baby appeared in the mirror with golden hair. She was in the lap of Catherine, the farmer’s wife. Catherine was trying to make her sleep. She was patting her on the back with affection and was walking in the small room to and fro. She was singing a lullaby in a sweet and wonderful tone. “Gamora!” the ogress shouted almost going mad in rage. “Alas!” she said after a while in a sad mood, “She escaped from my clutches.” She again addressed the mirror and asked, “O mirror, tell me who this woman is!” “O queen of darkness, she is Catherine.” A male voice came from the mirror.
  • “Her husband is a poor peasant whose name is Albert. They live in a village in Angelova, 500 miles away.” The witch raised her right hand and soon the image of Catherine and the baby-snake disappeared. The mirror was blank now, reflecting only the witch’s image. She covered the mirror with a poisonous smile and returned to her seat. Her desire to take revenge increased her cunningness. “Thomas!” called the witch and a heavy and powerful ghost from the owls’ family who was standing in the second last row, first from the right side; flapped his owl like wings and made his way through the ghosts standing there and went to the witch, bowed and said, “Your majesty, let me hear what you order is! Your servant is eager to obey.” “Thomas, I think… you will be appropriate for the job, isn’t it? asked Lady Marconda, looking into his eyes.
  • “As you please, O queen!” he answered politely and obediently. “But listen, you mustn’t show your face until you get succeeded, understood?” she ordered wickedly. “Yes Ma’am. I’ll surely bring her to you.” Thomas said, trying to convince her and then the witch ended the assembly. Smoke spread all over the place and all the ghosts disappeared. The darkness again filled the entire room. It was twenty-fifth December. There was happiness everywhere. People were rejoicing and celebrating Christmas. Houses were beautifully decorated. Different kinds of delicious dishes were being prepared. Albert’s family was also enjoying the celebration.
  • Catherine was busy in decorating the house. She was dressed in a yellowish green gown with orange and white spots. A deep orange woollen shawl with maroon borders was wrapped across her shoulders. She was looking very pretty. Her joy could be seen on her smiling face and in her dreamy eyes. She was standing on a stool, struggling with the curtain-string and nail. Albert, her husband, had cleaned the verandah with water. He also joined her. Melissa was playing with cloth made dolls that Catherine had made for her out of her intense love. “Tip top… tip top…” a sound came from far away and Albert turned his neck to see where the sound was coming from.
  • A horse-cart, leaving a cloud of dust behind it, was coming. Santa Claus was sitting on the cart gently with bridle-ropes in his hands, commanding and controlling the horses with his lash. He was dressed in red with a conical cap. His long and white beard was waving in the air/puff. He was singing Christmas carols in a jolly mood. He was raising his hands up and down and moving his body left and right in action, sometime standing and sometime sitting. The cart was well decorated, full of Christmas gifts. He stopped the cart near Albert’s house and shouted, “Hello everybody, Merry Christmas to all of you!” Albert and his wife were already prepared.
  • They welcomed him and wished him Merry Christmas in return. His voice attracted Melissa’s attention. Santa Claus stepped down the cart and took Christmas gifts, wrapped with decorated papers and ribbons, in his hands and presented them to Albert and Catherine. Both of them thanked him for the gifts. Melissa, taking support of the wall, stood up with trembling legs and moved forward. She took hold of Santa’s clothes with her little hands. Santa Claus took her in his lap and kissed on her forehead. He embraced her and said, “O! Cutie, Happy Christmas!” He acted like a child. “My sweet baby, when did you come? I didn’t see you earlier.” he said. Melissa laughed at his question, understanding nothing, and caught him by his fur-like beard.