“Witch? Is that the word you’re looking for?” Ettine said.

“Well, I-“

She slapped her hand down, rattling the rough-hewn table and echoing it about the cabin. “That’s a word thrown around a lot by those who don’t know its meaning. Tell me, child, is a woman a witch if she desires to keep her independence and declines to take a spouse?”

“No, of course not,” Jer said.

“Is she a witch, then, if she chooses to live apart from others, valuing her privacy and being pained by the constant interruptions of the vapid?”

“N-no,” replied Jer.

“And what if she ages out of whatever youth and beauty she once had, as all must, through years of toil in this miserable world? Is she a witch then?”

Apprehensive that the questions were leading and increasingly hostile, Jer nevertheless replied: “I don’t think so.”

Ettina leaned in close. “Well, hat if she dedicates her life to knowledge, then, a scholar and recluse and harmit all rolled into one? A witch is she, or not?”

“Some men do that too, and no one seems to care.”

“Well-put, my young friend, well-put,” Ettina said. “Well, then, let’s say that the knowledge she dedicates herself is the world of the arcane arts, knowledge that the superstitious and the fearful call forbidden. Is she a witch yet?”

“Y…yes?” Jer croaked.

Ettina straightened her shoulders and visibly relaxed. “All right, then,” she said. “Glad we got that straightened out. You call me a witch, child, you’d best be doing it for the right reasons.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!