Marie Henrietta De Montfort was a witch. Had been for sixty five of her eighty years. In the nonchalance of youth she had kissed the devil's bum, made the pact and enjoyed certain favours which still danced in her memory when she was disposed to recall them. Her powers which had supported her in the royal courts of Europe remained but the pursed lipped puritans had now burned and hammered their joyless doctrines onto the door of destiny. Thus she fled the faggots of disclosure and disgrace lit by the whores of righteousness, le mob amok.
A nifty little sloop sailed by a spellbound captain deposited her on Erin's plump green shores after a night of being tossed like a turnip on the Irish Sea. The Dutch captain had duly demanded his tithe and with his hand between the thighs of an eighteen year old beauty found his lips were sucking those of an eighty year old wobbegong whose tongue was slurping down his throat. In fact was reaching to his entrails and melting his medallions. It is said that his scream was heard in Scotland.
Marie Henrietta De Montfort was in great spirits after that and skipped off down a country lane bordered by a rocky wall one side and a hedge on the other. She was a sprightly old thing and glad to be alive in an Irish morning and was whistling away to herself. But she wasn't much of a whistler and disturbed a cow in the field who droned a long brown complaint to her fellow beasts, “will you get a load of the tuneless old trollop, she could earn a living as a scarecrow wha?” Although true it was imprudent. Marie was able to interpret the Gaelic, and cracked the little finger on her left hand. The cow who was Philomena O'Donahue shot over to Sligo like a methane rocket. Folks who spotted it crossed themselves , exclaimed ''Holy Cow'', and said it was a sign to be sure, an important portent.
Marie Henrietta De Montfort jumped up, clicked her heels with a flash of blue, started another tune and skipped onward. Along the way she exploded a pig who had dared to give her a wolf whistle. Öw dare you” she said, “you cheeky Irish pig. Je suis une grand dame. Paysan.”
A cart pulled by a donkey came hurtling down the lane heaving dust behind. Marie jumped aside, cracked her finger and a cartwheel fell off, toppled the donkey and expelled the occupant. Jumbo McManus had been loaded onto the tray due to a chronic indisposition which afflicted him mercilessly at O'Halloran's pub each night. He had been sleeping his way to his darlin wife, Thin Annie. Jumbo was uninjured but understandably peeved.
Hey you, Baggins, did you see what happened?
Je suis Marie Henrietta De Montfort of French aristocracy. You Monsieur are a drunken paysan, not fit for pig swill. I dropped the wheel from your cart.
Yeah an I'm Oliver fuckin Cromwell, Your Great Pomposity. If you don't be civil I'll kick your arse.
Now, a strange thing happened as Marie's hands came together, for the craik.... There was a rustle in the hedgerow and out popped a wee woman wearing rustic garments.
Ah you must excuse Jumbo my ladyship. His heart's in the right place but the tongues inclined to wander. Welcome to our shores. 'Tis rare we have a grand lady such as yourself come a visiting. The wee woman waved Jumbo away.
Will you be stayin long at all?
At all? At all? Will I be staying long? I will stay as long as it pleases me to stay. So far I 'ave suffered only displeasure. The natives coarse, the animals rude. A lack of breeding afflicts this country.
Well now we'll see if we can improve matters. We have a wee game we play with new arrivals, sort of getting to know you, it's a guessing game.
Marie Henrietta De Montfort does not play guessing games in the countryside with ugly old peasants.
But we're two old women together you and me eh, no-one around, middle of nowhere, let's amuse ourselves. It's easy. You see that pond over there, off the stream. How many trout is in it?
An exasperated Marie cracked her finger and a bolt of blue flashed and fifteen stunned trout floated to the surface.
Fifteen I believe.
By jingoes you're a dab hand at this game missus, sorry..... your excellency. Dem trout look splendid so they do. I've a hunger on me t'would fill a horse trough.
Mmmm, je suis faim aussie. And Marie cracked her finger again and a skillet landed on the bank of the pond, followed by slabs of butter, two heads of garlic, all peeled, sprigs of dill, parsley, six lemons and a salt and pepper shaker. In a moment a fire was crackling and the trout were sizzling, and the two old dears, seemingly ravenous, devoured the lot in two hours. A nearby apricot tree, replete with plump ripe fruit provided excellent desert.
There they lay, sated on the soft grass by the side of the stream, stripped of their garments. The sun played its warm golden fingers on their full white bellies. And a fine tune it was with the stream picking up the rhythm and the breeze singing through the trees. Perfectment!
The wee Irish woman remarked to herself, Rosheen, that was best meal I had in me life bar none.
Marie agreed. Tres magnifique! Eh bien.......Rosheen, you know what they grant a condemned prisoner?
I do, sure I do. What's that?
The best final meal.......
I'm with you, sure I am.
Mon ami, a witch requires much sustenance and I confess I am peckish again. One of my favourite dishes is slow roasted mature peasant woman.... stuffed with trout...and apricot.
And with that she cracked her finger.
But.... nothing happened.
Rosheen gazed at her with still eyes.
And you remember our pact, Jacqueline Bidet, when you were fifteen.
Story Copyright Barry McGloin 2009