The Wizard’s Present
by Cathy Witbeck
2010 copyright. Author retains all rights to the story; please do not use story without author's permission.
Popidella is the daughter of the great wizard Gulducat. On her birthday he showers her at breakfast with tiny griddle cake butterflies that land in little fountains of flavored syrup. He gives her ribbons that can braid her hair, picture books with pictures that talk back, and her favorite, a needle that never misses a stitch or messes up her thread when she works on her embroidery. In two days it is Gulducats birthday. Popidella loves her father. What can she possibly give him?
Perhaps if I watch him I’ll find out what he needs, Popidella ponders.
“Gulducat” the king hollers.
“Coming, sire.” he answers, pulling his crooked hat on his head. Popidella sneaks behind him.
“Gulducat, I seem to have twisted my ankle. Hurts like the devil. Now how am I going to survey the kingdom from the balcony if I can’t move around?”
“Your Majesty, I have just the thing for you.” POOF! And just like that, a snazzy looking chair appears. It is be-ribboned, be-jeweled and be-decked as fits royalty, with cup holders aplenty.
“Splendid,” cries the king, as he slides onto the satiny seat.
“Now don’t be alarmed,” Gulducat warns, as he tips the chair from behind and easily scoots the king down the hall to the balcony.
“By George, man, how is it done?” the king cries.
“Tis a Scoot-a-Thrown 2000, sire.” Guldecat explains.
Popidella, had never seen the king so happy.
A hen flies out the kitchen door; feathers exploding everywhere like dandelion seeds in a wind storm. An awful squawking fills the air, and that is just the cook.
“Merciful heavens, the well is dry! How will I simmer, steam and stew?” she cries.
“There, there, my dear,” the wizard says, as he leads her to a chair and pats her shoulder. “The well is dry, but your eyes keep leaking. You might solve our problem for us.”
Popidella can’t believe it when her father leads the cook to the well and says, “This is the one who prepares our meals, with love and tears this well she heals.”
As the cook’s tears drip down her chin and fall into the well, a sudden whooshing noise rises up. The wizard and the cook have to step back as water sloshes over the edge.
“Oh, thank ye,” says the cook, wiping her tears with her apron. “There’ll be extra raisins in your rice pudding tonight, sir wizard.”
Sir Jeremy sits outside the stables, drawing patterns in the dirt with a stick.
“And how is the Captain of the Guard, this fine day?” Guldecat asks.
Popidella jumps in her hiding place behind the barn, when Sir Jeremy jumps up and howls,”I am sick with grief, sir.”
Guldecat frowns and asks, “What has brought you such pain?”
Sir Jeremy plops back down in the dirt, his head in his hands and moans, “I love one who loves me not.”
“When you brought her flowers did she throw them down?” the wizard asks.
“I never brought her flowers,” says Jeremy, looking annoyed.
“When you asked her to dance, did she kick you in the knee?”
“I have never even been to a dance,” Sir Jeremy scoffs.
“When you told her of her beauty, did she slap you in the face?”
Looking sheepish, Sir Jeremy admits,” We have never even spoken.”
“Great Scott, Jeremy, how is it that you know this woman detests you when you have never uttered a word?”
“But Gulducat, she never even looks at me,” Sir Jeremy says, hanging his head.
“Did you ever stop to think that perhaps you should take off that huge metal helmet?” the Wizard wiggles his eyebrows knowingly. “The eyes are the windows to the soul you know. Perhaps she really hasn’t seen you.”
Sir Jeremy’s stands up, his shoulder’s no longer slumped. “Perhaps there is hope,” he says.
“Of course,” agrees the wizard. “But you’ll have to change that outfit.”
Poof! Sir Jeremy stands there dressed in a fine outfit as befits a knight about to meet his lady love.
“Oh thank you, Gulducat,” Sir Jeremy says.
Poof! And Sir Jeremy holds a long stemmed rose. “I go to meet my sweet heart,” he says, his eyes shine with determination. And off he strides through the barnyard.
In her hiding place, Popidella giggles. My father the matchmaker. He has spent his day making life easier for others. How can I make life easier for him? Then it comes to her.
The next morning, when Gulducat gets up, the smell of freshly made griddle cakes meets his nose. Popidella flits into the room wearing a butterfly gown and carrying a plate. “Griddle cakes delivered by a
butterfly,” Popidella announces as she places the tray on her father’s lap and kisses his cheek.
“Wonderful,” Gulducat says, and eats every bite.
Then Popidella pulls her father’s hat from her back. “Happy Birthday, father,” she says, kissing his cheek.
“Why Popella, you’ve fixed my crooked hat.”
“You probably could have fixed it with magic, but you are so busy doing things for other people, I decided to fix it for you.”
Wiping a tear from his eye, Gulducat pulls Popidella into his arms. “The hat is a wonderful present sweet girl, but you are the best present of all.”