Meet the Characters of "The Wolf's Name": Miss Kovacs
Hey readers! Yesterday's post was a gloomy one, so let's switch gears and meet another figure from Olive's life: Miss Kovacs.
May 9, 1890
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I no longer remember the nightmares that once were as constant and miserable a companion as you are a trustworthy comfort, dear journal, but I’m certain Miss Kovacs performed in several. She’d probably be more amused than offended by the thought if I dared tell her. I’m far more daring now than I was then, but I’m not that daring.
I was only nine or ten when I first visited Miss Kovacs’s rickety little hut of a home. I didn’t believe Matilda’s assurances that the rumours of the cantankerous old woman’s ensorcelled potions weren’t true. How else could one explain the horrible rashes Matilda had once gotten after plucking a leaf from the weeds peeking between the planks of Miss Kovacs’s fence? A curse! An ill-fated hex alive in every blade of grass that grew in the shadow of the old woman’s home or in each breath of wind that passed by its walls. And what other reason would such a woman have to preserve those wicked weeds in tinctures above her fireplace if not to turn little boys and girls into toads?
You can imagine, then, I had no desire to find myself sneaking into Miss Kovacs’s home, but an older girl at school who took pleasure in belittling my shyness had promised to give me her locket—the most beautiful, golden, and romantic-looking locket I’d ever seen—if I would bring her one of the witch’s beauty tonics.
By that time Nathaniel had been Miss Kovacs’s apprentice for some time and had told me of the woman’s ears, keener than a mortal’s had any right to be. Still, my heart jumped halfway to heaven when Miss Kovacs caught me on my tiptoes in front of her fireplace, reaching for one of the concoctions on the mantle. It was the only time in my life anyone accused me of being too loud.
All I remember of what followed was I was so terrified I could barely speak, but she must have obtained the truth from me somehow. Instead of hexing me, Miss Kovacs barked a laugh, chose a particularly strong-smelling vial from her mantle, and told me to assure my classmate her cheeks would turn a becoming shade so long as she drank the entirety of her “medicine.”
Miss Kovacs spoke true. The girl’s whole face flared scarlet from the draught’s spice and heat.
I wore that hard-won locket around my neck for precisely two-and-a-quarter hours before the girl’s parents heard of our exchange and demanded I return it, but for those two hours, I glittered like a princess in the richest finery and was the envy of every girl my age.
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