"Well, this looks like it's going to be a constant uphill battle for Gargamel, trying to do good which he is not accustomed to doing while trying to keep himself from shrinking into oblivion," Empath said.
"This one would have to agree with your interesting assessment of the evil wizard's predicament, Empath," Polaris said.
"I knew that it wasn't going to be easy for Gargamel, my friends," Tapper said. "I tried to use this as an opportunity to smurf out to him and show him that smurfing evil wasn't what the Almighty created him to do with his life. I'm just not sure if it ever smurfed into his very being, but I'm only called to plant seeds of change into people's lives. It's the Almighty that will smurf growth."
"Given what Tapper's holy book says, he might as well have smurfed his seed on the wayside where the birds come and smurf it up from the ground," Duncan said.
"Well, let's see how Gargamel manages to cope with his situation," Empath suggested.
And as Tapper continued his story, Empath and Polaris saw at that point in it that Duncan McSmurf was with Tapper, talking to him inside his tavern. "So what do you think about Gargamel being a part of us for the time smurfing, laddie?" Duncan asked.
"I do have my concerns on whether it is a good thing with this magic spell that he's under that causes him to shrink or grow, my fellow Duncan," Tapper answered. "But I do think that there may be an opportunity for the evil wizard to change his ways and smurf beyond himself."
"You think he's ever going to be able to change his heart?" Duncan said in disbelief. "That will only happen when pigs can fly, if you ask me."
"Are you doubting that the Almighty has the power to change the heart of such a person like him?" Tapper said. "I have faith in that there is nothing impossible for Him to do."
"Well, your Almighty certainly has a challenge with changing Gargamel's heart," Duncan said. "Just don't be upset with Him if He fails to smurf that challenge."
"The Almighty fails nobody, Duncan...it is we who fail Him," Tapper said. And then he saw Gargamel appear at the door of his tavern, dressed as he was in a Smurf hat and pants, looking rather displeased. "Greetings, my fellow Gargamel. What smurfs you into my tavern at this time of day?"
"I'm just looking for a place to get away from the other wretched Smurfs for a while," Gargamel said. "Besides, why should you even care about me? I wouldn't be in this predicament in the first place if it wasn't for you!"
"Hah...how typical of you, always blaming the Smurfs for your problems as usual," Duncan snorted. "If you weren't always smurfing after us, Gargamel, you wouldn't even be here complaining."
"Let's not get into an argument about it in my tavern, Duncan," Tapper said. "In the meantime, Gargamel, you are free to smurf in this place for a bit of respite and solitude, and I would be happy to smurf to you about whatever's on your mind."
"Have fun smurfing your counseling with Gargamel, laddie...I will smurf with you later," Duncan said as he left the tavern and Gargamel approached the counter to sit down.
"So is there any kind of refreshment that I can smurf you today, Gargamel?" Tapper asked.
"Just nothing with smurfberries or sarsaparilla in it," Gargamel requested. "I can't stand the revolting taste of either."
Tapper sighed. "Then I believe a glass of seltzer will have to do." He went to pour a glass of it for Gargamel and set it down on the counter before the wizard.
Gargamel took a long drink of the seltzer before setting down the glass. "Ahhhh...I never tasted water that was ever this bubbly and fresh before."
"It's a Smurf Village secret, Gargamel, and one that I would like to share with you should we ever become friends with each other," Tapper said.
"Me...a friend of the Smurfs?" Gargamel said in disbelief. "Impossible! Most of the Smurfs don't even like me, and some of them would rather make fun of me."
"The fact that you're constantly smurfing after us isn't exactly helping you to be a friend of the Smurfs, I'm sorry to say," Tapper said. "I just don't understand why it is that you have to make other people's lives miserable."
"I just want to be the first wizard to create the legendary Philosopher's Stone, and the ingredients for creating it include six whole Smurfs," Gargamel said. "But you Smurfs denied me of using just one, and what's worse is that some of you have switched the contents of my potion jars, so instead of being a giant, the jar containing the giant potion ended up making me as small as you."
"And now I understand why you're always smurfing vengeance against us," Tapper said. "I'm sorry if that was what happened to you, but you have to understand that we couldn't let you smurf your powers to harm us in any way."
"Sorry isn't going to be enough for me to complete my Philosopher's Stone," Gargamel said. "What I need are six Smurfs, and none of you are willing to give yourselves up so that I can create the stone and be able to make gold from it."
"Let's say that I am willing to smurf with you right now to your castle and give myself up to you so that you can create your Philosopher's Stone," Tapper said. "And let's say that the stone works and it smurfs you fame and fortune among the humans. Would any of that stuff make you a happier person in the long smurf?"
"It would mean that I wouldn't be living in this forest with my mangy cat all by myself, if that's you mean," Gargamel said. "It would mean that I would be able to repay my Mummy for all the years that she spent putting me through the guild of sorcerers to become the wizard that I am today. And most of all, it would mean that I wouldn't have to keep listening to your inane happy singing all the time."
Tapper shook his head. "It doesn't smurf to me like it would truly make you a happy person, Gargamel. All the riches and glory in the world won't be enough to satisfy a heart that's crying out for something only the Almighty can fulfill."
"You believe in this so-called God that these shameless hucksters keep preaching at my doorstep?" Gargamel asked.
"I believe in the one true God, the Maker of heaven and earth, who made you while you were still in the womb and who gave His only begotten Son for you so that you could be with Him in heaven," Tapper said. "I believe that He has the power to change your mind and your heart, if you're willing to smurf Him a chance."
"Why are you even telling me this?" Gargamel asked. "I don't ever want to be a good person...I want to be the most evil wizard in all of the world. But the problem is I can't be evil anymore because that will make me shrink."
"It's up to you to decide whether it is truly worth being evil and cold-hearted if you want to be restored to normal, Gargamel," Tapper said. "But I can tell you...that Hades is not a place that you want to end up being in, because it is a place of everlasting torment that no soul can ever escape from."
"But I don't ever want to be stuck being your size, either," Gargamel said, sounding like he was going to weep. "That is worse than being in Hades for the rest of my life."
"We will help you smurf beyond yourself so that you can smurf back to your regular size, Gargamel," Tapper said, putting his hand on Gargamel's shoulder to comfort him. "But once you resmurf your regular size, you'll still have to decide which path you want to go on...and I will pray for you that the path you choose will be the one that leads to everlasting life."
"Why are you being so nice to me?" Gargamel asked. "I don't deserve it!"
"It's true that you don't, Gargamel, but then none of us deserves the mercy and kindness that God has bestowed upon us because He has loved us so much that He desires for no one to perish," Tapper said. "Don't ever forget that you have been loved."
Just then, Narrator came in with Baby Smurf and a few Smurfs carrying Baby's playset into the tavern. "I'm sorry to bother you, Tapper, but I was wondering if you could watch over Baby Smurf while I'm busy smurfing other things," Narrator asked. "Brainy had some important things that he needed to smurf, so he passed Baby Smurf on to me for the time smurfing."
"'Tis no problem for me, Narrator," Tapper said. "Besides, it would do our fellow visitor Gargamel some good if he could smurf some time with the youngest member of our village, just so he would know for himself how good Smurfs can truly be."
"You know, Gargamel, you certainly provide me with a lot of story-smurfing material over the years, and I sure hope that you would smurf some more things that I would happy to tell all my fellow Smurfs," Narrator said, smiling just before he and the other Smurfs left, leaving Baby with his playset on the floor of the tavern.
"So you want me to play with Baby Smurf?" Gargamel asked.
"You don't have to play with him, Gargamel," Tapper answered. "You just have to talk to him and smurf him company. Let him get to know the true you that is buried underneath that exterior of yours so he will know you in truth. He's going to eventually find out one way or another."
Gargamel sighed. Being nice felt like the hardest thing he could ever do, and yet he knew from his constant bouts with anger and hatred that it would shrink him down. He headed over to where Baby was sitting on the floor with his playset and sat down next to the infant.
"I can't take much more of this," Gargamel said very frankly to Baby. "You're the only Smurf that doesn't drive me crazy or make me feel guilty about who and what I am like that bartender. I just can't seem to do anything good enough to break this shrinking spell."
Baby turned and babbled something to Gargamel that tried to sound encouraging, despite the infant's lack of ability to speak coherently at that point.
"That's easy for you to say," Gargamel said. "You'll grow up someday. But me, I'm afraid that I'm going to be Smurf size for the rest of my life."
Baby saw Gargamel break out in tears over that thought and seemed to feel sorry for him. He reached out and pulled on Gargamel's hand, pulling him close so that he could give the wizard a kiss on the cheek.
Tapper watched that little gesture being shared. "You see, Gargamel, if you're not too evil for someone like Baby Smurf to reach out and care for, how much more does the Almighty care for you when you're at your worst?" he said gently, putting his hand on Gargamel's shoulder to show empathy.
Later on, Gargamel was in Handy's workshop doing some work with the village builder. "It's good of you to help me fix my logging wagon, Gargamel," Handy said, trying to sound as sincere as possible while he was underneath the wagon doing some hammering.
"Yes, but I'm afraid that it isn't good enough to do me any good," Gargamel said.
"Patience, Gargamel," Handy said. "Papa Smurf knows what he's doing. Hand me a wrench, will you?"
"Yes, of course," Gargamel said as he went to reach for a wrench when he heard something come loose from the wagon. "Look out!" he cried out as he watched the wagon fall right on top of Handy.
"Help me, Gargamel! I'm stuck!" Handy cried out from underneath the fallen wagon.
"Bu-bu-but what should I do?" Gargamel asked, sounding uncertain.
"Try to lift it...hurry!" Handy answered in desperation.
"Oh, right," Gargamel said, grabbing the rear axle and trying to use all his strength to lift the wagon up. As he strained to lift it, Gargamel could feel himself getting bigger to the point where he could lift the entire wagon up from the ground.
"Good, Gargamel, it's working," Handy said, sounding grateful to be rescued by his adversary.
"Yes, yes, I'm doing so good, it's making me grow," Gargamel said, sounding pleased with the result.
"Uh, all right, I'm clear," Handy said as soon as he crawled out from under the wagon to safety. And then he looked at Gargamel and noticed something. "Hey, you really are growing."
Gargamel noticed that he now couldn't stop growing. "Yes, I am...I am!" He started to laugh maliciously at the thought of returning to his normal size right in the middle of the village, where he now had the Smurfs right where he wanted them. "Soon I will be normal size again!"
Papa Smurf and Smurfette were just outside Handy's workshop when they noticed the roof breaking apart, and Gargamel emerging through it, holding Handy's logging wagon in his hands.
Handy rushed out of his workshop in fear. "Run, Papa Smurf, run!" he called out.
Papa Smurf, Smurfette, and Handy ran for safety as Gargamel prepared for his attack. "Soon I'll be big enough to crush every Smurf in sight," he boasted before throwing the wagon straight at the Smurfs who were fleeing before him.
"Oh dear," Smurfette cried out as she, Papa Smurf, and Handy barely escaped the impact of the wagon as it landed hard on the ground.
Hefty, Tuffy, and Duncan noticed Gargamel appearing through the roof of Handy's workshop. "Michty me, laddies, Gargamel's smurfing back to his normal size again," Duncan said.
"Let's stop him before he smurfs anymore damage to our village," Hefty said.
"Yeah, let's smurf him good," Tuffy said as the three charged straight toward the workshop.
Gargamel laughed as he saw the Smurfs flee in terror from his new size. But then he could feel the tingling sensation of the magic spell as it was now shrinking him back down to size.
By the time Hefty, Tuffy, and Duncan reached the workshop, Gargamel was already back down to Smurf size. "Great, just great," Tuffy complained. "I was hoping Gargamel would stay big again just long enough for me to smurf some good hits on him."
"Probably for the best that he didn't in your case, Tuffy," Hefty said. "You wouldn't last that long against Gargamel anyway."
"Well, laddies, he's smurfed back down to size, so we might as well smurf him to Papa Smurf so that he would know what to smurf with him now," Duncan said.
Papa Smurf and the other Smurfs brought Gargamel to the outer edge of the village, where they had to see him depart. Gargamel looked rather ashamed for his actions, which felt unusual for him to do so.
"I'm sorry, Gargamel, but you're too dangerous to remain in the village any longer," Papa Smurf said sternly.
"So sorry, Papa Smurf," Gargamel said apologetically. And then he felt his pride rising up, and he muttered, "What am I doing? Yuck! I'm starting to act like them."
"Your magic pollution disease is just too unpredictable," Papa Smurf added. "I'm afraid if I let you stay, you would end up harming my little Smurfs."
"Oh, who needs your stupid village?" Gargamel said angrily. "I can do just as much good in the forest."
"Let me smurf with him, Papa Smurf," Tapper said, stepping forward to address Gargamel directly. "I'm sorry we have to smurf this to you, Gargamel, but not every Smurf wishes ill of you. I will continue to pray for you, that you will be resmurfed to your normal size, and that your heart will be changed when you do."
"Bah!" Gargamel scoffed. "Save your prayers for the ones who need them the most!" And with that, Gargamel headed off into the forest.
Tapper sighed as he and the other Smurfs watched Gargamel depart. "I forgive you, Gargamel," he said very quietly, a tear falling from his eye.
Duncan stood beside Smurfette when he noticed her breaking into tears. "Why couldn't Gargamel ever smurf a change of heart, even when we smurf our best to show him how he could live?" Smurfette asked as she wept.
Duncan sighed. "I really wish I knew the answer to that question, lassie. Perhaps it just isn't meant to be that Gargamel would ever change."
"Let's return to our everyday duties, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf suggested. "We can only hope that Gargamel doesn't smurf too much trouble out in the forest when he does return to his normal size."
"I hate Gargamel returning to his normal size," Grouchy said before the Smurfs headed back to their duties.
"So Gargamel spent the hours out in the forest, according to what Narrator had smurfed me when he returned, but it seemed that the forest didn't have a need for him to smurf any good unto them, probably because they feared him even more than when he was at normal size," Tapper said.
"It's rather unfortunate that Gargamel would find himself in a situation where even the Smurf Village couldn't trust him to behave himself when dealing with his unusual growth shifts, Tapper," Polaris said.
"I'd hate to find out what the Psyches would do if they were to smurf with the likes of him on their doorsmurf," Duncan said.
"It just wouldn't be pleasant for Gargamel to discover the answer for himself, should that ever be a possible scenario, Duncan," Empath said. "Anyway, Gargamel must have been pretty lonely being by himself in the forest without anybody to talk to about his situation."
"Indeed he was, Empath, though his pride would never let him admit it at that point," Tapper said.
And as Tapper continued the story, Empath and Polaris saw that it was now night, and Gargamel was sitting in front of a campfire he had started, still looking rather miserable. "Oh, what shall I do? What shall I do?" he asked himself repeatedly.
"Hoo hoo," a nearby owl hooted from its perch.
"Me, me, you stupid feather-face," Gargamel responded. He then turned his attention to his own situation once again. "Oh, how I miss crushing bugs under my feet. Stomping on flowers, screaming at little children. It just isn't fun to do those things anymore when I'm no bigger than a Smurf. Oh, it could be worse, I suppose. It could be raining."
Then suddenly the sky thundered, and Gargamel found himself soaked as rain came pouring down on him out in the open, instantly dousing his campfire.
Meanwhile, back in the village, Tapper was at the counter of his tavern keeping his fellow Smurfs company with their drinks when he noticed the sound of rain on the windows.
"Great Smurfiny Crickets, I do hope Gargamel has found himself shelter from the rain out there in the forest," Tapper said aloud.
"Well, I do hope that Gargamel gets smurfing wet with the cold out there," Hefty said.
"Yeah, all he does is smurf misery whenever he's around," Handy seconded.
"We were better off without him, Tapper," Vanity said.
"I hate having Gargamel around," Grouchy said.
"Look, my fellow Smurfs, we all knew that having Gargamel around with that spell he was under was rather risky, but how is smurfing for his demise in the forest any better than what he plans to smurf with us?" Tapper asked.
"We don't go smurfing around his castle, wishing to capture him so we can smurf ourselves rich with money, Tapper," Hefty answered.
"Yeah, we smurf pretty much to ourselves when we're out in the forest," Handy added.
"Maybe Jokey likes to smurf around his hovel to play pranks, but that's just about it," Vanity said.
"I hate Jokey's pranks," Grouchy said.
Duncan stood up and addressed the crowd. "What's done is done, laddies. Papa Smurf did the right thing in smurfing Gargamel into the forest where he will not harm anybody else. There's nothing Gargamel can do as long as he's still growing and shrinking, because the minute he gets angry and smurfs something bad, he shrinks. He's got to know that he's between a smurf and a hard place right now."
"I'm still going to pray for Gargamel, whether or not anybody else will," Tapper said. "If nobody in this village is going to smurf that evil wizard any love, despite what kind of smurf he is, then I will."