Bonus scene time! Yep, Confession to the Baron is that extra slice between the final scene in Of Hair and No hair and the party at the baron’s estate. Gretchen may be as stubborn as a mule, but she did agree to take the rap on this one!
Confession to the Baron
Gretchen stared at the stag’s head mounted behind the baron’s desk, imagining her own head there as she waited for the squat man to arrive. “You sure we should be in here? I could wait by the door. Maybe he needs to sleep off the hangover like the rest—”
“He’ll be here any minute. Insisted on me bringing you right away.” There was a certain smugness wafting from Nora, and Gretchen squirmed.
She supposed she deserved it. If not for what she was about to confess to. Even forgiven, she felt wretched for putting Nora in such a precarious position, and wondered how passing that pumpkin off as a legitimate entry seemed like a good idea at the time. Her Aunt Esme always said she was as stubborn as a mule.
The doors burst open behind them, and Gretchen turned with a jump. The baron stood in his dressing gown, his eyes bloodshot, but burning with outrage.
“You,” he spat. “The most incorrigible of witches in the land. If not for Nora, I would have your head for this!”
Gretchen swallowed and reached up to her neck despite herself. It wasn’t her first incident with the baron. “I wish to make an unreserved confession—”
“Hold it,” the baron held up his hand and as he strode to his desk. A fellow with bags hanging under his eyes followed behind him. “We shall have this properly recorded as evidence.”
The clerk sat at a small table in the corner and drew a clean sheet of parchment from a drawer. The baron landed in his chair with a thump and steepled his fingers on the desk. Gretchen sucked in her cheeks and awaited the barrage of questions.
“You stand accused, Gretchen Murkwood, of fraud by means of vegetable and vandalizing property belonging to the agent of our king.” he pressed his lips in a thin line. “That’s me. I’m the agent of the king.”
“I, um.” Gretchen cleared her throat. “Guilty on all counts. Turned in a magical hairy pumpkin at the fair and let off a swamp in your fancy fountain. Which I helped clean up, by the way.”
“These grounds will not be rid of that stench for months,” the baron seethed. “Not to mention the guests. Every lord and lady in the kingdom was exposed to that filth. My good name has been ruined.”
Gretchen frowned. “That big guy from up north thought it was funny.”
The baron stood and puffed himself up, though Gretchen was fairly certain he was no taller than her. “Lord Walters would have enjoyed my humiliation very much.”
“Look, my bad.” Gretchen held her hands up. “On all counts. But I want to make myself clear. Nora knew nothing about any of this and I was especially crafty with the enchantment on the pumpkin. If she’d had even an inkling—”
“The vegetable competition?” he sneered. “You think I care about that?”
“Only insofar as clearing Nora of any wrongdoing.” Gretchen nodded. “You’ll have Mildred Sampson banging on your door next demanding that Nora be cast aside. It would be a grave injustice.”
“Ugh,” the baron dropped to his chair with his head in his hands. “Not the Sampsons. Intolerable bunch the lot of them.”
“I’ll suffer any consequence, sir. Just so long as Nora keeps her title as judge at the county fair.” Gretchen held her chin high, wondering what kind of punishment the baron would dream up. Perhaps a public confession, or a week cleaning toilets.
“You will be banned from seeking entry to any vegetable competition on my lands henceforth.” A malevolent grin spread over his face. “And I sentence you to a week in the dungeon.”
Gretchen’s eyes boggled, and she held a hand to her chest. “A week? For a stink bomb? That’s a little excessive, don’t you think? I’m an old lady for pete’s sake!”
“And you must make amends with Mildred Sampson,” he rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Should that old battleaxe turn up at my door I will keep you in the dungeon for an extra week.”
Gretchen bit back a reply lest she incur any extra jail time. She just hoped Nora would organize day release to her workroom while the guards weren’t watching. The bog in a box sounded like a good idea at the time, but to make it worth hanging out with rats in the dungeon, she would have to come up with a better prank… and she had a week to think about it.
She did have that coming though, and for the folks who have read Of Hair and No Hair, you’ll know that she did put thinks right with Mildred in the end.
For more bonus content, head over to the episode page where I collate each set of posts relevant to the books.