36 minutes, 792 words
The pie looked absolutely delectable. Eliza knew she shouldn’t be peering into windows, but when she had walked by, she had smelled that wonderful odor, she simply couldn’t resist. She had been qctually quite surprised to find a cottage in that part of the woods; most people stayed away because of the witch. But when she had followed the smell, Eliza had come across the charming little cottage, so peaceful and serene, a refuge from the chaos of the world beyond the woods. And there in the window was the pie. It was the most perfect pie Eliza had ever seen, and oh! that smell … delectable.
And it had been so long since Eliza had had anything to eat.
There had been no work for Father in the village, or any of the other villages. The crops that year simply hadn’t shown up, due to a combination of drought and insects. A small famine had resulted, and also the loss of work. Farmers couldn’t hire farmhands without a harvest. Some had gone crawling back to the King, but eliza’s Father had been too proud.
So Eliza, like many children from the village, would spend the day in the woods, foraging for any nuts or berries they could find. Some of the boys even brought home small game, squirrels and such felled with lucky slingshot strikes. The adults kept warning the children away from the woods, telling them tales of the witch who lived in some cave or some such.
“But if this little cottage is here, and someone lives here,” thought Eliza, “Then surely these woods are safe after all. Perhaps when I tell Father, he can come into the woods and snare a deer; Oh then we would feast! And I am ever so hungry…” and then her thoughts turned to the pie. She was so very hungry. And the pie sat there on the window sill, cooling, and tempting her with that fresh baked smell.
“Perhaps it is stealing,” thought Eliza, “But whoever lives here seems to have plenty, and surely wouldn’t mind sharing with a starving child.” And, having thus justified herself, she approached the window, and the pie it held.
“Why hello, child,” she suddenly heard a voice beside her. A young woman was there, appearing seemingly form nowhere. Eliza had been so fixated on the pie, that she hadn’t seen the woman at all. Startled, Eliza gasped, and jumped back.
“Oh!,” she exclaimed, “I, that is, I was just…” her voice trailed off, and her eyes drifted to the pie. Overwhelmed at being discovered, and ashamed at her circumstance, Eliza’s eyes began to tear up.
“You smelled my pie.” the woman said. Eliza looked at her, she was quite pretty, though with a homely appearance. “And you couldn’t resist.” The woman’s eyes sparkled with a hint of mischief.
“Yes,” Eliza mumbled, and she cast her eyes to the ground.
“Hm. Well, I suppose it’s only fair.” The woman said, with a laugh. “After all, I sort-of stole some of the ingredients.”
Eliza’s eyes, wide now, jumped back up to the woman. Surely a woman who lived in such a pleasant and well-kept cottage couldn’t … but then she never would have thought herself a thief, either.
“Why don’t you come inside, and we can share the pie?” asked the woman, “You look like you could use a bite to eat. My name’s Charity, by the way.” she added, with a smild.
“I’m Eliza,” Eliza replied, returning the smile.
So they entered the cottage and shared the pie and conversation. It was every bit as delectable as Eliza had imagined.
“That pie was delicious,” Eliza said, when they had finished it. “Thoguh I couldn’t place the flavor. Was it some exotic ingredient, that you … I mean …”
Charity laughed. “That I stole,” she said. “Not really that exotic. It’s actually fairly common, it’s just that … people don’t often think to use it for cooking.”
A puzzled look crossed Eliza’s face. “Whatever is it, then?” she asked.
A mischievous look crossed Charity’s face in response. “Child,” she said, a thin smile on her face. “I Think this one’s name was Jeanette.” Eliza looked down at the empty platter in horror, not seeing Charity raise her hand and blow a powder at Eliza. As she fell to the ground, Eliza saw, through blurring vision, the lovely Charity change appearance to that of an old hag with thin, wiry hair, massive warts, and greenish skin. The las sound Eliza ever heard was a sickening cackle from the witch.
The pie looked absolutely delectable. Terrence knew he shouldn’t be peering into windows, but when he had walked by, he had smelled that wonderful odor, he simply couldn’t resist…