"You're not a very pleasant visitor," laughed Red Reera. "People accuse me of being cross and crabbed and unsociable, and they are quite right. If you had come here pleading and begging for favors, and half afraid of my Yookoohoo magic, I'd have abused you until you ran away; but you're quite different from that. You're the unsociable and crabbed and disagreeable one, and so I like you, and bear with your grumpiness. It's time for my midday meal; are you hungry?"
"No," said Ervic, although he really desired food.
"Well, I am," Reera declared and clapped her hands together. Instantly a table appeared, spread with linen and bearing dishes of various foods, some smoking hot. There were two plates laid, one at each end of the table, and as soon as Reera seated herself all her creatures gathered around her, as if they were accustomed to be fed when she ate. The wolf squatted at her right hand and the kittens and chipmunks gathered at her left.
"Come, Stranger, sit down and eat," she called cheerfully, "and while we're eating let us decide into what forms we shall change your fishes."
"They're all right as they are," asserted Ervic, drawing up his bench to the table. "The fishes are beauties -- one gold, one silver and one bronze. Nothing that has life is more lovely than a beautiful fish."
"What! Am I not more lovely?" Reera asked, smiling at his serious face.
"I don't object to you -- for a Yookoohoo, you know," he said, helping himself to the food and eating with good appetite.
"And don't you consider a beautiful girl more lovely than a fish, however pretty the fish may be?"
"Well," replied Ervic, after a period of thought, "that might be. If you transformed my three fish into three girls -- girls who would be Adepts at Magic, you know they might please me as well as the fish do. You won't do that of course, because you can't, with all your skill. And, should you be able to do so, I fear my troubles would be more than I could bear. They would not consent to be my slaves -- especially if they were Adepts at Magic -- and so they would command me to obey them. No, Mistress Reeraq let us not transform the fishes at all."
The Skeezer had put his case with remarkable cleverness. He realized that if he appeared anxious for such a transformation the Yookoohoo would not perform it, yet he had skillfully suggested that they be made Adepts at Magic.
Red Reera, the Yookoohoo
After the meal was over and Reera had fed her pets, including the four monster spiders which had come down from their webs to secure their share, she made the table disappear from the floor of the cottage.
"I wish you'd consent to my transforming your fishes," she said, as she took up her knitting again.
The Skeezer made no reply. He thought it unwise to hurry matters. All during the afternoon they sat silent. Once Reera went to her cupboard and after thrusting her hand into the same drawer as before, touched the wolf and transformed it into a bird with gorgeous colored feathers. This bird was larger than a parrot and of a somewhat different form, but Ervic had never seen one like it before.
"Sing!" said Reera to the bird, which had perched itself on a big wooden peg -- as if it had been in the cottage before and knew just what to do.
And the bird sang jolly, rollicking songs with words to them -- just as a person who had been carefully trained might do. The songs were entertaining and Ervic enjoyed listening to them. In an hour or so the bird stopped singing, tucked its head under its wing and went to sleep. Reera continued knitting but seemed thoughtful.
Now Ervic had marked this cupboard drawer well and had concluded that Reera took something from it which enabled her to perform her transformations. He thought that if he managed to remain in the cottage, and Reera fell asleep, he could slyly open the cupboard, take a portion of whatever was in the drawer, and by dropping it into the copper kettle transform the three fishes into their natural shapes.