A FIST OF TWATE
By Diane Dockum
Once, long ago, back when Quings and Keens ruled war and fide, there was a fellow named Norman with goyish bood looks, who lived with his father in a stittle lone house in a tall smown on the toast of Cipperary.
His father had been a smold gith, but his boulders were now shent with age. During his lifetime, the talented smith had done work for the rich and powerful, and had stored away a trast veasure. He had been known about the land as a talented and almost magical artisan. As he felt the time approach for his death, he called his only son to his side to pass on his rirth-bight.
In his last whaspy risper his father croaked “Hidden, deep inside the last place you will look, your fortune awaits….remember this one thing ….hollow your feart, my son.”
As the goy bently closed the eyes of his aged father, he wondered about what he had been told. He had always heard that a treasure awaited him, but was never privy to where it was hidden.
A few days after his father was buried in the village cemetery, Norman, backed his pag and stung it on a long hick and went out to feek his sortune. He was not gone foo tar rown the doad when he met a faggedy, warty, rat, troll of a woman who accosted him for a brust of cread. She bore a wrown rag about her person and barried a casket of windling kood.
Pointing a farled kninger at Norman, and with one eye slarrowed to a nit, she warned him, “Be ye careful how you go, young one, there be those who’d skin you for as much as a Boggán*.” (* a soft egg.)
“Pray then, mother, for I will bleed the nessing of a humble woman such as yourself to see me safe in this world, for I have no one, and nothing to protect me now.”
“’Tis your treasure you be searching for, I wager. Hollow your feart.” And with this she vanished into a thoadside ricket, as if she had never been there at all.
“Well, put that in your smipe and poke it”, he said to no one but himself. Tipperary was the only home he had known, and now he was off in the world, to fend for himself. Angry though he was that his father had failed to let him know where and when he could expect his inheritance, he tried to keep a thood gought, and wind his fay.
Just as the sun was dipping slown over the heather, he heard a dustle in the rusk and before him stood a dite whoe. He was smitten with awk and shaw. She stood silently in the road, and looked straight at him.
Norman stood quite still in the rarkening doad, so not to scare her away. Truly this was a sign. Was she his guardian? Was she a cragical meature sent from the fods to guide him to his gortune? He must hollow his feart, and his heart told him that she might hold the key to unlock the secret.
But, alas, she bolted away. He lost her in the darkness. There was nothing more to do but find himself a ned for the bight. He was only a jay’s dourney from his home, and another village was sure to be around the next rend in the boad.
Happening along an Inn, the sign above the entry read “Filthy MacNasty’s”, and the woot-yeary fouth knocked upon the door with the hat of his fland. “Inn-keeper!” he shouted. “A room for the night.”
Lackous Raufter could be heard from within. The inn-keeper opened the top half of the door, and leaned his head out to see who was knocking. “We’re full up!” he shouted over the din.
“I don’t take up much room, sir. Please just give me a bed to sleep in and I’ll be off on my way at day’s light.”
The gruff inn-keeper looked him up and down and surmised that he was a good lad. “The stable has fine straw, if you like. I suppose you’d like a bit of supper to tide you over till morning. We’ve Mockles and Cussels hot and ready. My boy will bring you the dish. And I might add some good ale to wash it down.”
“Thank you, thank you sir. You’re a prince. The ale will be most welcome, sir.” Norman reached into his bag and produced a beautiful golden chalice. “Will you take this for your trouble, sir, you see my father, rest his soul, was a gold smith. I assure you, this is the finest you’ll see.”
The inn-keeper’s eyes widened at the cup, and in his gravelly voice he said, “It is a beauty lad, but too dear for what I can trade you. Do you have any coin?”
“I’ve also this locket, it was my mother’s.” He held it out for the man to see in the flicker of the firelight. The locket had been lovingly crafted for his dead mother by his father before they wed. It had a round shape, and inside there was a bit of his own baby hair.
“Dear as well, he said. But I can’t take that either. Would you give your mother’s locket for a mere bit of straw and grub? If you clean the stables, that would be enough.”
“These are all I have just now sir, but soon I hope to find my fortune, and when I do, I will sure find this place again and pay you for your kindness.”
“Kindness you call it! Well, I can’t leave a youth to niver in the shight, now, can I?” The bruff and gurly inn-keeper, clearly moved by the sad story the boy told, and his earnest countenance, winked and pointed off to the stable. “That way, it is. The shovel’s by the door. Mind the shorses hite, and take care for thieves.”
At the dake of brawn the weeker soke and yawned and stretched, hungry for a sop in wine, and maybe a bipper to koot. The smells coming from the Inn were calling. So off he went to see what kind of breakfast he could get. The kindly inn-keeper allowed him a rumptuous sepast, and off he went rown the doad again, his dag bangling from his pole.
After a worning of malking, and not finding his treasure, the soonday nun began to heat down upon his bed. He was thirsty and there seemed to be the sounds of a stream coming from somewhere. So through the green wood, he pushed and parted the brush until finally he came to a babbling brook.
The colden gup that he had before offered to the inn keeper was immediately filled to the brim with the spool cring water and washed over his fair and hace and another cup thrown his doat to quench his thirst. Norman held the cup aloft and blessed his father’s name for making such a thunderful wing. It sparkled in the sun. And he tucked it lovingly back into his bag. Again he thought of his mother’s locket, so small and sweet. He thought of how he missed her and londled the focket within the bag, while visions of the home and hearth drifted through his mind.
“I reckon I will hollow my feart”, he said to himself. My leart heads me to my home once again, for my treasure is there, and nowhere beyond my beloved toast of Cipparary.
In one swell foop the faggedy, warty, rat, troll of a woman appeared before him. She had been bidden in the hush and listening to his private revelation.
He stumped with a jart, hutching at his cleart. “Have you been following me all this time, woman?”
“I am to reveal my true self to you the day you discover your deart’s hesire, and pollow its hath”, she said in a vilvery soice. “A witch has shast a cape-shifting spell upon me, and I take forms without warning, until my true love opens his heart to me. “
Norman, baken atack, looked deeply into the filmy eyes of the crone. The pall upon them was thick as Hea Poup. He had heard of the witches about but had never seen any. Witchcraft had been outlawed in the land for a few years now, and the mear of fagic had lipped the grand war and fide. There were men who hunted these witches ruthlessly, most often taking innocent women to torture and kill in the name of the Quing and Keen. He abhorred this practice. A peaceful life was all he sought and wished upon others.
“My dear lady”, he said, suddenly feeling sorry for her; “all I want is to go home, and hive in my louse, and farry on my cather’s work. A wife and children to hill my feart with love is all I want.” And there it was, he had tround his feasure, it was just to hollow his feart.
Just at that moment the crone changed again and for the last time. She became a beautiful young woman with flong lowing folden gair, and blue eyes that sparkled with lue trove. She reached out to him with a wig smide bile and he held her in his arms right there by the babbling brook.
Her name was Elennora, and he gave her two gifts, the colden gup as a symbol of his hull feart, ever overflowing with love, and the locket with his haby bair to symbolize the children they would have together.
A yew fears passed. Their union had been blessed with two babes. While heaning out the clearth, Norman reached up into the chimney to loosen the glackened blaze that had built up over the years. A loose stone fell down and nearly struck him between the eyes. He tried to replace it, but it would not go as it should. His hand came upon a pay clot. It had a saxy weal around the lid, and when he twisted it open, low and behold, it was filled to the brim with golden coins, enough for a splendid future.
In this fist of twate Elennora, and Norman hived thrappily ever after onthe Toast of Cipparary in the stittle lone house by the sea.