The Witching Hour
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No. 9605. Collects "The Reluctant Witch" [from Galaxy, May 1953], "The Beautiful Brew" [from Beyond Fantasy Magazine, Sept. 1954], and "The Magicians" [from Beyond, May 1954; originally as "Sine of the Magus"].
rear of the car and released the jack. “Why not?” “I run away.” Her voice was quietly tragic. Matt turned to look at her. Her blue eyes were large and moist. As he watched, a single tear gathered and traced a muddy path down her cheek. Matt hardened his heart. He picked up the flat and stuffed it into the trunk and slammed the lid. The sun was getting lower, and on this forgotten lane to nowhere it might take him the better part of an hour to drive the twenty-five miles. He slid into the
around Ab, ever since she started fillin’ out, five, six year ago.” “But she’s only sixteen.” “Sixteen!” Jenkins glanced warily around the room and out the door toward the car. He lowered his voice to a harsh whisper. “Don’t let on I tol’ you, but Ab allus was a fibber. Why, she’s past eighteen!” From a shelf a single unbroken dish crashed to the floor at Jenkins’s feet. He jumped and began to shake. “See!” he whispered plaintively. “It fell,” Matt said. “She’s ‘witched,” Jenkins said,
It was a very nice shoulder. I liked patting it. “I wouldn’t get within ten feet of her anyway,” I said, shuddering. “Once is too much. Besides, she isn’t my type.” She moved away from my hand. “Don’t touch me,” she said savagely. And then, more softly, “What is your type?” I thought about it, and it came as a revelation to me. “A girl with dark hair,” I said, “and blue eyes, about your size — ” She sat up, brushing her tears away with the back of her hand. If I could have kept my eyes off the
switched to the broom in the corner. “Paw loaned me the mule. I let her go. She’ll git home all right.” “But you can’t stay here. It’s impossible!” “Now, Mr. Wright,” Abigail said. “My maw used to say a man should never make a decision on an empty stomach. You just set there and relax. Supper’s all ready. You must be nigh starved.” “There’s no decision to be made!” Matt said, but he watched while she put things on the table — thick slices of fried ham with cream gravy, corn on the cob, fluffy
chance to find out the truth for himself. More important, he had stumbled on something that might set the whole world on its ear, or perhaps stand it on its feet again. Matt turned. Abbie was sitting at the table, her mending finished, staring placidly out the open doorway into the summer sky. Matt stood up and walked toward her. She turned her head to look at him, smiling slowly. Matt turned his head, searching the room. “Kin I get you something?” Abbie asked. Matt looked down at her. “Here!”