Many years ago (35?) I got a short story collection from the library. One had or revealed a witch. It referenced party crackers (like the British Christmas favors) and had something, maybe prophetic, stitched in the hem of a dress or an apron. The story sent chills through me and I was overcome with real fear. It’s near the Asimov books something supernatural or science fiction.

1 Answer 1


I wonder if this could be Malice in Wonderland by Rufus King. Although not by Asimov, it was collected in Isaac Asimov's Witches, published in 1984.

The story concerns an old woman, Mrs Fleury, who the neighborhood children suppose to be a witch. Mrs Fleury holds a birthday party for the central character, Alice, at which the children are served "cracker bonbons":

a cracker bonbon, or snapper, that went bang when its ends were sharply pulled and which contained a favor and a strip of paper on which was printed a motto, that was presumed to shed a prophetic light on the puller's future.

Mrs Fleury orders the children not to pull the crackers until they are in a moment of dire need, but of course the kids all pull them as soon as they get home, with the single exception of Alice.

Alice's best friend is kidnapped a few days later, while she was sewing a dress for her doll. Although the ransom was paid, she was not returned, and it was assumed that she had been murdered. Years later it turns out that the stitching reveals, in Morse code, the name of the person who kidnapped her. It was not Mrs Fleury, as everyone suspected, but the kindly doctor living nearby. As this becomes apparent, various machinations of plot occur resulting in the doctor attempting to murder Alice. Alice finally pulls her cracker, and the motto revealed is "A stitch in time saves nine".

The book is available for free loan at the Internet Archive.

  • That dates it (I believe the story was first published in the 1950s). For as long as I can remember, Christmas crackers have contained a joke (usually a Christmas-themed pun), not a 'prophetic' motto. Feb 12 at 15:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.