Once upon a time in the warm sunny weather near the bank of a rippling stream there lived two spotted toads. Now a toad is much different from some frogs that live in the water most of the time like the bullfrog. The toad’s skin is leathery and tough. They can be many different colors and often have big wart like glands on their backs. This pretty much describes Margaret and her husband Turbo the Toad. Now Turbo was the king of all the toads near the stream in Bottoms Grove. All the other toads treated him with great admiration. He measured 5 to 6 inches long and weighed nearly 5 ounces. This doesn’t seem much to most but it was a great size if you wanted to be admired as did Turbo.
Folks near Bottoms Grove especially the children who came to wade in the cool waters knew about the little Pollywogs and loved to play with the harmless little critters. Margaret and Turbo were Pollywogs when they were babies but they grew up and turned into frogs. You see Pollywogs do not have any legs or arms. They grow from the eggs that were laid by other frogs. The eggs turn into Pollywogs and as Pollywogs grow, they develop arms and legs. Normally they have their legs first and then a short time later the arms. The Pollywogs were fun for the children to play with and they were careful not to keep them out of the water for very long. The baby Pollywogs ate continuously all the debris from the bottom of the stream unless some loving toad caught a fly and gave it to them. Margaret was expecting babies soon and she found time as did Turbo to catch as many gnats and bugs to feed the pollywogs as possible. Everyone did this because they wanted others to do the same for their children. So life continued and pollywogs multiplied in the stream at Bottoms Grove.
There were few things for frogs to fear near Bottoms Grove. The greatest and most feared thing was to be caught by Asphfat’s long splintery fingers. You see Asphfat was an evil witch whose cottage was just a short distance from the stream. She often visited there daily for water and to bathe occasionally. All the frogs knew about Asphfat and how she would set traps for the toads. Turbo had watched from a distance many times as she gathered up a net full of toads to take home with her. He could still hear the sounds of the crying toads as she dragged the nets across the ground toward her cottage. Turbo had heard she cut them up and used their eyes and skin in her magic potions. So the story goes!
It happened one hot summer day when all the toads were resting from the previous nights hunt. With their bellies full they were relaxing in the edge of the stream just enjoying the moment. All of a sudden, they heard a humming sound coming from Asphfat’s cottage. She was on the move again. “Lord! Help us toads to escape the bony fingers of the witch!” Turbo squealed loudly hoping all the other toads heard his warning.
Asphfat was singing a tune as she swung her bucket to and fro.
“I’m an evil witch but no one can tell.
I’ll search through my potions for a powerful ale.
I fashion my potions for healing, love or death.
Many think I am a friend but they better not hold their breath!”
Her dark hair glistened in the sunlight. Her long fingers wrapped tightly around the pale kept rhythm to her tune.
“Soups, lotions, brews or paste
I’ll make using plants and toads from around my place.
I’ll pickle, crush or dry them in the sun.
My cauldron will be full when the day is done.”
Turbo put his long hands over his ears. It’s true, he thought. She is coming to get our eyes and skins to put in her stew. “Oh Lord!”Please deliver us from the hands of this wicked witch!” Turbo yelled, his stomach drawn up in knots.
“I’ll gather old bottles that people discard
I keep piles of bones to decorate my yard.
My herbs bloom brightly with the touch of my hand.
Then my mortar and pestle will grind into sand.”
“What shall we do? He screamed to the others. “How shall we escape from the witches brew?”
All the frogs on that side of the stream heard the warning and had taken cover. Some went up trees, some went under logs, and some plopped into the water hoping to find safety in holes along the edge of the water.
“I cut and clip ribbons of red and blue.
I’ll wrap my gifts of magic just for you.
A little drop here and a little paste there.
My magic potions with you I’ll gladly share.”
Asphat continued to sing the song she had made up. Over and over she released the words to her musical tune. It was a beautiful day and she felt very hopeful she would have customers before nightfall. “Um hum! I’ll have money in my pocket to buy me a gold tooth. Money in my pocket is the witch’s truth.” She mumbled. Bending over she collected some daisies and purple clover blossoms. “Ah! Look here at the wild honeysuckle!” She mused. “It’s a lovely day to be alive in the hollow of Bottoms Grove.”
“Listen and take just what I say.
Then I’ll jump on my broom and fly away.
Some say I’m a witch but no one can tell.
I live on earth but my home is in hell!”
She threw her head back and cackled in laughter. “I live on earth but my home is in hell!” she squealed in excitement. “Just a little drop of this and a little rub there, my potions with you I will gladly share!” she continued.
By this time Turbo had gained his senses and had hidden with Margaret under an old rotten log. He squeezed himself as far underneath as possible. He would much rather be stepped on and squashed like a bug than to have his eyes plucked out by Asphat the singing witch.
Asphat sat down near the water extending her feet into the cool ripples. From the bucket she took a bar of homemade soap, a towel, and a bottle of one of her favorite fragrances. Removing her clothes she slipped into the water and began to lather up herself. She did not know a thousand eyes were watching her from a distance. She lathered up her long brown hair and began rinsing it in the clear moving water. The soap bubbles spread white like snow upon the surface. She wrapped the long towel around herself and stepped onto the grassy bank. From the bucket she opened the bottle of fragrance and what a fragrance it was.
“Goodness gracious, what a mesmerizing aroma!” Margaret gasped. “Whatever she is putting on herself smells simply wonderful. I wish I had a bottle of that for myself. It smells like Patchouli and Lavender or perhaps some sandalwood mixed in. Turbo, why don’t you sneak into her cottage and get a bottle for me?” She asked.
“Are you out of your mind Margaret?” “She would see me and cut out my eyes. I don’t want to be a husband or a toad with no eyes and no skin!” His big eyes rolled this way and that at just the very thought of this happening.
“Oh Please Turbo!” “You are much faster than she is. You could have that bottle and home before she knows what has happened. She probably has so many she would never miss just one of them.” Margaret continued.
“Well fine!” While she is sitting in the sun tanning herself, I’ll run up to her cottage and see if I can find one. If she starts to come back just give me a loud whistle. Having said all of this, Turbo leaped out from under the log and headed straight for Asphat’s house. He would get that bottle or die trying!
Upon reaching the house Turbo had very little trouble entering. He had a powerful leap and he used it to his advantage. His eyes searched the small rooms until he saw a row of bottles in the kitchen. Making his way he jumped onto the cabinet and began reading the labels. “No! No! No! All medicine it appears”. His eyes looked this way and that. Perhaps she kept it in her bedroom, he thought. So off the cabinet and onto the floor he hopped. Entering the bedroom he saw it on the dresser. Taking his time, he opened each one and took a deep breath. “Yes!” “I’ve done it. I have found her bottle and now I’m out of here before she returns. Tucking the bottle under his arm he leaped out of the house in just a matter of leaps. His beloved Margaret would be so happy. Breathless he arrived at the log where Margaret had hidden. Quietly he crept underneath dragging the large bottle with him.
“My wonderful Turbo, I love you!” Margaret smiled throwing her arms around Turbo’s neck. “You are the greatest toad in the world. From this day forth my body will carry the aroma of the queens of foreign lands. No other toad will smell as wonderful as I will.” She leaned over and whispered into Turbo’s ear. His face turned all shades of red and they discreetly disappeared under the log.
Now if you happen to be walking along the stream near Bottoms Grove and your nose happen to smell a sweet seductive aroma. It will most likely be Margaret, Turbo’s beloved wife and her bottle of magic from Asphat the witch. I would not however suggest anyone go into Asphat’s house though. You see she did miss the bottle that Turbo took and she is still looking for the one who stole it from her. Everyone pays a price for stealing even from a wicked witch. It is much better to ask someone for something you might like than just taking it. You might end up in Asphat’s house in one of her brews, potions, or concoctions. You just never know when Asphat might be watching YOU!
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved.
Question for children: Who was Asphfat?