I am entering another kind of writing. Since it is Christ-mas month and everyone is in a wishing mood, I will give a warning about wishing. It is light and make-believe.
Mr. Alferd Dinglehoffer lived with his wife, Gertie, near a large swamp. The everglades were nearby and he loved to go duck hunting.
Every day you would hear this in the Dinglehoffer house:
“Are you going hunting again?”
“Yes, I’ll be back about lunchtime.”
“That’s all you ever do is hunt, hunt, hunt! If you don’t stay home and fix the roof and paint this house, it’s going to fall down!”
“Nag, Nag, Nag, that’s all you do, woman! I wish you would turn into a rat and go crawl into a hole!”
“And I wish you would turn into a duck and fly north for the summer. At least I’d have a little peace around here!”
Mr. Dinglehoffer stomped angrily off the porch with his gun in his hand and mumbled, “Fly north? Fly north? I wish I could fly! I’d fly so far away that I’d never come back!”
Now, there lived an old witch, called Sadie, deep in the swamp. She was well-known for her magic potions, but Gertie had never visited her because she was afraid. However, today, she was so mad that she fumed, “A rat, huh? Crawl into a hole, huh? I’ll show him a thing or two! I’ll see that he gets his wish!”
Gertie crammed some coins into her pocket, picked up a sturdy stick to strike snakes with, and set out through the swamp.
Now, everyone knows how dangerous swamps can be. Gertie stepped carefully around bogs and watched the over-hanging limbs for snakes.
Finally, she saw a thatched hut nestled under moss-dripping trees. Her knees started knocking and her heart was thump-thump-thumping! She almost lost her nerve, but she remembered, “I wish I could fly! I’d fly so far away, I’d never come back!”
She straightened her shoulders and muttered, “I’ll show him!”
She tiptoed up to the door and suddenly the door swung open! There was no one in sight! Who opened the door? Then a cackling old voice croaked, “Come in, Dearie. I’ve been expecting you!”
“Expecting me?” she thought. “How could she know I was coming? I didn’t know myself until a short time ago.”
“Well, well, well, Dearie. So you are tired of being a duck hunter’s widow, huh?”
“Yes, I am! I want a potion to turn Alferd into a duck. I’ll show him! He can go and live with his duck friends!”
“All right, I’ll try. Just remember, I’ve never made a potion for this before. Something could go wrong.”
Sadie took a rat’s tail from an old jar, a duck’s feather from the neck of a mallard, a crocodile’s egg, a leg from a black widow spider and mixed these with dried herbs, which were strung on strings hanging from the ceiling. She stirred all of these into a green, slimy liquid that she squeezed from a leather pouch.
The old crone put this concoction into a black pot and built a fire under it. As she stirred, she muttered, “TOIL AND TROUBLE, POTION DOUBLE, DIBBLE, DABBLE, SQUIB AND SQUABBLE, DUCKS FLY NORTH AND DUCKS FLY SOUTH — SO DO MEN WHO HAVE BIG MOUTHS!”
The steam rose high and then simmered down. Sadie scooped up some of the liquid and put into a jar and handed the jar to Gertie. “That will be 75 cents, Dearie. Remember, no money-back guarantee!”
Gertie hurriedly picked her way back through the swamp. She clutched the jar to her bosom with one hand leaving the other free to carry the stick. She had to whollop only one snake which was hanging down from a limb and tried to wrap around her neck.
When the good wife arrived home, she made a pot of duck stew. Now, her husband loved duck stew and she hardly ever made it because she hated everything about ducks. When the stew had simmered down, she took out the jar and added the contents to the pot of stew.
Just as she poured herself a glass of lemonade to sip, Alferd came tromping into the house hollering, “What smells so good? I’m starved!” He walked over to the stove, sniffed the air and lifted the cover from the pot. “Duck stew! Boy, oh boy! Old Nag’s done got religion and decided to be good to me!”
He reached into the cabinet, removed a large soup bowl, and dipped a good-sized portion of stew. He sat down and gulped his food like a starved dog.
Gertie was hidden behind the kitchen door, watching. Her eyes got bigger and bigger as Alferd began to shrink in his chair! Feathers began forming on his body, his feet webbed, his wings flapped, but HORRORS! His head did not change!
Poor Mr. Dinglehoffer! If you go to Florida and you visit a little house near the Everglades, you’ll see a tall, skinny woman with a rat’s head, walking around the yard with a duck waddling by her side. You see, Alferd had already visited Sadie, and Gertie’s lemonade had already been prepared by a loving husband for a loving wife!
The moral of this story is: Be careful what you wish for because wishes DO sometimes come true!
“I WISH I MAY, I WISH I MIGHT, HAVE THE WISH I WISH TONIGHT!”