} Which reminds me of the time my mother (yes, even Omnipotent Oracles
} have mothers) was nearly burned as a witch. It was like this:
} A long time ago, back in the Old Country (this was before countries
} had names, so now I just call it "the Old Country"), Mother used
} to practice the fine arts of soothsaying. She had a prospering
} business of people who needed the kind of timely advice that only a
} top soothsayer can give ("Oh wise Soothsayer, when should I harvest
} my corn for maximum yield?" "When it's ripe, idiot. *ZOT*")
} Anyway, one summer our village was overrun with crows, ravens,
} buzzards, rocs, and other birds of evil omen. These birds were nasty,
} hanging around town in black leather, accosting young girls, chewing
} gum in class, and generally behaving badly. The other birds all flew
} away to avoid them. (Well, all except the sitting ducks, but that's
} another story, never mind.)
} Then one morning, when I was sweeping guano from our veranda, a
} huge mob of angry village people (no, not the band) came running
} down the street from the village square and surrounded our house,
} waving flaming torches and chanting "Burn the witch! Burn the witch!"
} I dropped my broom and turned to run inside, but Mother came out of
} the door just then. One of the villagers saw her and yelled, "There
} she is! The witch who called all the evil birds!"
} Mother looked surprised. "What do you mean," she asked. "I've never
} had anything to do with those birds."
} A villager pushed to the front of the crowd. "Ah, but the only birds
} we've ever seen in your yard have been the evil ones this summer.
} You must be a witch!" He and three other large men grabbed Mother
} and carried her to the village square, where a huge pile of wood
} was heaped. They tied Mother to a post above the woodpile.
} I knew I had to do something, so I sprang up to the top of the pile.
} "Wait a minute! Isn't there any way I can prove my mother's innocence?"
} Just then, I suddenly smelled the odor of the sea, and a white bird
} came flying down to land on Mother's head.
} The villagers all stopped, shocked. Then they untied Mother's hands
} and apologized to her.
} "Hey!" I said to the pushy one, "What made you change your mind?"
} I'll never forget the look on his face as he turned to me and said,
} "One good tern preserves your mother."