In Bekka of Thorns’ second chronicle, The Carven Flute, she writes about the immortal lavender witch, Babba Ja Harick, and how she traveled to Earth seeking her long lost sister. In The Well of Shells, the story of the sisters as witchlets is dictated by the blind Harpo to his new scribe, Lace. Lace can’t resist adding comments of her own to the tale. Bekka is well acquainted with this story, excerpted below.
“You what? You what what? AGAIN!?” snarled the slightly larger of the two figures standing knee-deep in snow and surrounded by the stillness of a ghostly forest buried under ghostly fog. The trees were ice clad. They diamond sparkled in the mist. Shimmer.
“I didn’t bean to,” said the smaller figure in a little voice.
“You didn’t BEAN to? Not BEAN to. MEAN to! Mean! Muh, muh, muh! I don’t know. I don’t know. You lose your specs every time I turn around and you can never find the right word. A rhyme does not count! No rhyming! Am I made out of specs? Do I look like a walking pile of specs to you? Yoss or no?” ranted the larger figure.
“No, you don’t cook like a tile of flecks,” muttered the littler one.
“Cook like a tile of flecks,” repeated the larger in disgust.
Who were the two? Fair and true, sisters. The slightly larger one was five bar years old by substantial count. The smaller had just turned three. They were migratory witchlets trekking through the fog. The older sister had pasty gray green skin. The younger one’s skin was lavender lilac, a pale purple. They both wore cloaks of the blackest purple. Battered and bent pointy black hats covered their scraggly deeply black hair. They had no way of knowing whether night was night or day was day. It bothered them not a nince. They wandered the fog. Searching. Searching for what? Truth to tell, for something unknown. They knew not what. Nevertheless, they searched. The witchlets had names. The older was Simmering Jam Hatrack. The younger was Babbling Jam Hatrack. Sim, as she was called by her little sister, set her spectacles more firmly on her long narrow nose.
“Hang on to the hem of my cloak, then, wretch,” said Sim, “and pick up your pack. You’ll do without specs for the time.”
Bab, as she was called by her sister when she wasn’t being called ‘wretch’ or ‘lackwit’, shed no tear, though her lower lip trembled. She plucked her pack from the snow and got a good grip on Sim’s cloak. Sim plowed off without another word, dragging Bab in her wake. They passed beneath the ice diamond sparkle of overhead branches. They passed by the glimmer glass trunks of slender trees. They passed over mounds of white. They passed through glades thick with fog. On and on. Endless sameness. Diamond sparkle ice on frozen trees. Smooth blankets of white snow. Walls of fog, standing still.
“Do you think we will get pear spoon?” asked Bab. Her legs were short. They were getting tired.
“Pear spoon? Hm, let me see. If I knew by chance what a pear spoon was, I might be able to tell you if we were going to get one soon,” mocked Sim, and she began to walk faster, striding out.
Bab, unable to keep up, stumbled and fell, losing her grip on Sim’s cloak. She rolled quietly down the snowy hill and came to rest, hugging her pack. Sim stamped angrily after her. She raised her foot to give Bab an encouraging kick, but stopped bang bo, her buckle shoed foot poised in shock. Why shock? Fair and true, Sim saw something. What did she see? She saw the fog burning away swiftly, fleeing in wisps. The snow melted and flowed to disappear under the greening grass. The trees crackled icy chimes and burst instantly into leaf. Birds sang, chirp and trill.
I am Lace. I am Harpo’s apprentice, the scribe who guides the quill. Chapter One has ended. Harpo is out by the well resting. I can’t help it. I must tell you something about the names. Babbling Jam Hatrack and Simmering Jam Hatrack. Such are the names Harpo uses. The true names, lore given, are Babba Ja Harick and Semma Ja Harick. Harpo has a merry nature. I have said enough for now.