The Contract

Griselda was crossing a swollen river when a sudden and violent gust of wind blew her off her feet and into the water as it rushes along its course.

“Help” she cried out as the water swept along and threaten to engulf her. “Help me someone.”

A passing wizard heard her cries and shouted from the bank “I will indeed help you young lady if you will pay my price.”

Poor desperate Griselda shouted “Yes, yes anything be quick.”

The wizard got her out of the river and as she was recovering, she was told the price of her rescue; her 10-year-old daughter was, at the age of 13, to be given to the wizard

At 13, Matilda was torn from her mother and imprisoned in the wizard’s house. He put a magic force field around the garden to ensure she could not escape and made her work from dawn until task when she was locked in her room.

The years passed but to Matilda, each day was the same, always working and taking care not to upset the wizard who had a vicious temper. One night, Matilda lady in her high bedroom, crying herself to sleep, without any supper – once again victim of the wizard’s anger, when there was a gentle tapping on the window. Matilda got up and carefully opened it to see a beautiful figure of light. Convinced she was dreaming she let the figure into the room. As she entered, Matilda felt at peace and calm enter with her. In a half dream half wakefulness, Matilda was given that three gifts: the sword of truth, a crystal clarity of thought and some skills justice.

Matilda slept deeply that night and in the morning she rose, made breakfast for the wizard as usual, open the door and walked with a new determination away from the house. Using the sword, she hacked at the force field. But the wizard was storming and raging behind her. He caught up with her, grabbed by the arms and gripped tightly. She held the crystal in front of her and said with courage from deep deep within:

“Let go. You have no right to keep me here!”

The wizard stopped and stared at her suddenly he crumpled and started to cry big huge tears. ” Matilda pity me,” he gulped. “ I love you! Stay with me and I will take care of you. You can have anything you want, if you stay.”

Now Matilda was a kind young woman and she felt distressed to see the wizard cry, but she held onto the crystal and said: “I have seen no evidence of the love you profess. You have only abused and imprisoned me.”

Again, the wizard changed his expression and this time he became angry and shouted at her: “You can’t leave. Your mother made a deal with me. It is a binding contract.”

Matilda held out the scales of justice. On one side was the wizard helping her mother out of the river, on the other was the terrible price that the wizard had demanded. The scales tipped. Again Matilda was able to summon up an inner courage and brandished a sword of truth as it the wizard turned into a ball of fury … before imploding into 1000 pieces!

She was free.

Hilary Farmer

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