Lily Hearne – The Witch and her Story
The Witch and her Story
By Lily Hearne
In the heart of a deep, dark forest there lived a strange, old lady who owned a strange, old bird. No one knew what type of bird it was, so it was usually referred to as ‘that thing’ by the townspeople. They lived together in a small, rundown cottage. It was in such a terrible state that not even the dirtiest person in town could look at it without frowning in disgust. Most of the windows were smashed, the garden was full of weeds, thistles and nettles, and there was no door handle on the front door. Parts of the roof were missing, and the wall running around the old cottage was completely gone in some places. At the very bottom of the garden there was a tree. It was a highly unusual tree, as it grew nuts in Winter, lost leaves in Spring, grew nothing at all in Summer and grew blue leaves in Autumn. It was extremely thorny. In fact you couldn’t touch it without scratching yourself.
The inside of the house, if possible, was even worse than the outside. The bed was never made, papers littered the floor, the tablecloth had stains on it that looked thousands of years old, and the all the cupboards had at least one door hanging off its hinges. But, the strange old lady always had her peculiar books lined in perfect order no matter what. Every single book was in it’s place, from A to Z, spick and span. This puzzled a lot of people, why would she keep her books perfect and tidy when the rest of her house was in such disrepair? She must like reading they thought, but they were still a bit confused.
Now, the person who lived in the cottage was unusual, very, very unusual. For, in fact, she was a witch. Her full name was Agatha Mildred Bullstrode Victoria Hubble, but commonly known as Mrs. Hubble. Her books were always lined in perfect order because if she ever needed to find a spell quickly, she’d be able to without swearing and cursing in annoyance. She also owned a broom, but wasn’t an excellent flyer, so only took it out for emergencies.
Mrs. Hubble didn’t look at all like witches from fairytales. For a start her skin was certainly not green! Her eyes were green, but that is perfectly normal. Secondly, her nose was not pointy, but rather shaped like a small potato. Her clothes were patched, old and dirty, but Mrs. Hubble hardly cared. She had no warts, but her hair was dreadful. It stuck out at odd ends and was grey with streaks of black in it, which made her look very silly, but no one laughed at her because, anyone who did, she took out a stick muttered some strange words and immediately whoever laughed at her would pay the price and their hair would either fall off, turn blue or grow the length of the tallest tree. So no one laughed, otherwise something terrible would befall their hair. Of course, there is something very strange about the stick she would take out and the peculiar words she muttered. One little boy said she was a witch, but everyone scoffed at him and said they didn’t exist. But the thought that a witch could be visiting their peaceful village every single Saturday (witches have to eat too) to do her shopping (or more like stealing as she never paid, only gave the shopkeeper a toothless grin and hobbled out) was not pleasant. The police had tried to catch her many times, but that never really went well as they were always drunk and when they had followed Mrs. Hubble into the dark forest beside the town once, she had shouted “Get off my property, you purple-bellied, blithering idiots!’ at which they took offence and gave her the cold shoulder from then on, but Mrs. Hubble didn’t care in the least. Not that going to prison would be a problem, she could easily escape, but her bird wouldn’t be allowed in, and she would never be separated from it. Her bird was a moonbird, whose feathers and beak were extremely valuable. The feathers are used to make wands, and the beak is used in a very rare, very expensive potion, the luck potion. A moonbird is a magical bird, that non-magical people know nothing about. Their feathers are silvery grey and very pretty. Mrs. Hubble’s was a very bright silver and the legs and beak were browny gold. It’s name was It with a capital i. A moonbird’s song is dangerous, as it can lead the listener to insanity. Probably for this reason, Mrs. Hubble loved it so much. It looked quite out of place in Mrs. Hubble’s dreary house, like a shining light. But, they were great friends and Mrs. Hubble never left the house without It.
Mrs. Hubble rarely got visitors, she positively hated them. When she had first moved into the cottage, her neighbours had come and paid her a visit. These hadn’t gone well, as the unfortunate visitors had left with either blue hair or no hair at all. This had happened about three times, but then people stopped coming to her, and she was left alone, thankfully. She hadn’t gotten a visitor in 35 years. Mrs. Hubble was not a friendly person.
She was just about to sit down, to celebrate no visitors for 35 years with her favourite dinner, when she heard a knock on the door. “So much for a celebration,’’ she muttered under her breath. “They better have a good reason to disturb me.’’ She got up and opened the door. “What do you want?’ she barked rudely.
“Good evening, miss, I’m Engelbert Smaug, the owner of Smaug zoos,’’ he announced importantly. Mrs. Hubble immediately looked suspicious and her eyes narrowed. Engelbert Smaug quickly realised he shouldn’t have mentioned the word ‘zoo’. Quickly covering up his mistake, he complimented her and asked could he come in. Mrs. Hubble let him in, but none of his accomplices. “What business do you have here? It’d better be good, I was just about to sit down to dinner,” Mrs. Hubble said impatiently. Engelbert Smaug laughed, but it was forced, his eyes kept wandering over to It. “That’s a very pretty bird,” he said with a nasty grin. “Get on with it,” growled Mrs. Hubble. Engelbert obviously wasn’t used to being addressed to like this and for a minute his hand twitched towards his wand, but thought better of it. Mrs. Hubble saw it though and cast a body-binding curse at him before he could do anything. She chuckled to herself as Engelbert tried to reach for his wand and free himself, but it was impossible. She sat him up and then locked the door.
Once that was done, Mrs. Hubble freed him. “Be politer and tell me what you want, or else I’ll hex you again.’’ Engelbert glared and the rage on his face was clear to see. “How dare you!?’ he shouted angrily.
But then, suddenly, his manner changed completely. “I think we got off on the wrong foot, let’s start over,’’ he said. Suspicious now, Mrs. Hubble agreed and shook hands with him. He smiled, but his face was full of greed and envy. “Good, now I’m here to tell you that you have the last living moonbird, and that we would be interested in buying it off you for a great sum of money,’’ said Engelbert, as if this was the most normal thing in the world and this happened every day. “You obviously don’t like it, look at the state of the moonbird (the feathers on It were quite dirty) and your cottage, it’s in a terrible state. We’d be glad to take the moonbird off your hands and you can repair your cottage instead of looking after the bird.’’ Mrs. Hubble was livid. Her eyes were slits and her face had turned purple in rage. “You come here, insulting my house and I, expecting me to give up my only friend and companion for- for MONEY! How dare you? Leave!’’ she bellowed. ‘’ I merely suggested the idea, don’t be so hasty,’’ said Engelbert. ‘’LEAVE!’ she shouted again, and turned his hair blue. Engelbert fled from the cottage, spells and hexes whizzing past his ears, missing him by inches, but you couldn’t blame Mrs. Hubble, her spells missed because her hand was shaking in anger.
The next day, Engelbert returned, with more workers, his blue hair returned to its normal state. ‘’Mrs. Hubble, this is an offer you can’t refuse. We are prepared to give you 1000 gold pieces for your magnificent moonbird,’’ he said. Mrs. Hubble had drawn her wand the minute they were in sight, but they were too quick and her wand flew out of her hand and into Engelbert’s favourite worker’s hand, Dawlin Spike. He cackled as she cursed in rage. “You are not getting my moonbird, no matter what,” she huffed. Engelbert ignored her and stalked into her house with Dawlin Spike. “I see you are making tea, may I have some?’’ he said. Mrs. Hubble was shocked. How dare he walk into her house again and ask for tea when he was clearly trying to take away her precious moonbird. “You most certainly cannot, now leave,’’ she said. “Well, if you won’t give me any, I’ll just have to magic some,’’ he said, pretending to sigh. With that, he waved his wand and two cups of tea appeared out of nowhere into his and Dawlin’s hand. “We are here, again, as you know to buy your moonbird. Now, this cannot be done unless you sign a contract, as this is a very valuable bird’’ he stated. His eyes had lit up with greed at the sight of It and Mrs. Hubble moved instantly toward It and stood in front of the shimmering bird. ‘’I’m not signing any contract, and you can’t make me,’’ Mrs. Hubble said. Engelbert scowled, but quickly smiled again. If he wanted It he would have to suck up to Mrs. Hubble. This idea did not appeal to him, but he desperately wanted a moonbird, and after all, this one was the last one, people would come from miles around to see it. He’d be rich! “So, Mrs. Hubble will you accept our generous offer?’’ he asked. “No, and if you think I’m going to let you walk back in here after the way you’ve insulted me yesterday, you are mistaken. I will never give up It. I thought I made it quite clear to you when I turned your hair blue, well now I’m just going to have to magic it all off completely. That won’t be so easy to fix,’’ Mrs. Hubble growled. Engelbert smiled nervously, he knew that it would be painful and very hard to grow back his hair with magic after it had been cursed off. Dawlin snarled. ‘’Don’t you speak to the boss like that you coward,’’ he said. ‘’Coward? COWARD? How dare you call me a coward? I’m not the coward. You are the coward, Engelbert. You return here with wizards better than yourself to protect you, wizards that know how to do proper magic, you selfish pig!’’ bellowed Mrs. Hubble. Dawlin looked shocked. He hadn’t been expecting so much energy in such an old lady. ‘’Out, never come back here,’’ she said, and with a flick of her wand, (Dawlin had given it back to her once they were inside) their hair had fallen off and ugly warts were sprouting all over their faces. Engelbert was horrified, he was extremely vain and hated warts or spots of any sort. Dawlin just sat there gawping, he after all, had been expecting a friendly old granny who made brownies and biscuits, and was plump and friendly. Not a grumpy old lady, who lived in a dreary, dull cottage. Then she waved her wand and they were hoisted into the air and then with another flick of her wand, they crumpled outside. As soon as they were down on the ground again, they picked up their broomsticks and flew away. Mrs. Hubble knew they’d come back. They wanted that moonbird too much to give up. Mrs. Hubble looked over at It. She wouldn’t let them take her moonbird, never.
Mrs. Hubble was right. A week after the episode with Engelbert, they returned, but this time in secret. Engelbert had returned with Dawlin, no one else. His plan was to sneak in, steal It and then escape before Mrs. Hubble realised they were there. Now, there were many flaws in this hastily thought out plan. For one thing, Mrs. Hubble was an old woman who lived in a forest. She was obviously going to have some protection over her house. Secondly, a moonbird’s call is loud and clear, spells won’t work to make them quiet, all witches and wizards know that. Most of all, Engelbert himself had said that Mrs. Hubble had to sign a contract, it would be illegal to take the moonbird away without evidence that Mrs. Hubble had let them. But Engelbert wanted that moonbird, and greed was making him blind to the plain, simple facts.
So, that night, he and Dawlin snuck into the dark forest on brooms, flying swiftly and silently. Now, unluckily for Mrs. Hubble, (but luckily for Engelbert) she had picked this night to go hunting for the rare berries called midnight berries, which only appear at midnight and are very valuable in memory potions. She had left It at her cottage, which was very unwise, given that Engelbert wanted to steal It.
While Mrs. Hubble was picking berries, Engelbert and Dawlin had landed at their destination, Mrs. Hubble’s cottage. They stood outside for several minutes, debating who should go in and retrieve It. In the end Engelbert said Dawlin should go in because he was the boss, and Dawlin had to obey him. Reluctantly, Dawlin agreed and tip-toed inside. The cottage was quite, It was asleep, it’s head was buried in its feathers. Dawlin approached it cautiously. If he woke It up, it would let out a cry and alert Mrs. Hubble. The plan would be ruined and Engelbert would kill him if It did wake up. It, however seemed fast asleep. Dawlin silently opened the sack he was supposed to put It in and then, quick as lightning, stuffed It into the old sack. He laughed gleefully, as he walked outside, the sack over his shoulder. ‘’Did it!’ he said, still very pleased with himself. ‘’About time,’’ began Engelbert. Dawlin scowled, Engelbert hadn’t even said thank you after all his efforts! Engelbert continued, as if he hadn’t seen Dawlin’s dark scowl. ‘’Now we have to get out of he-’’ but his sentence was cut short by a piercing moonbird shriek. ‘’Quick, tie the sack to my broomstick, Mrs. Hubble mustn’t know we’ve been here. ‘’ She’ll think her precious It has run away,’’ cackled Dawlin, all annoyance at his boss forgotten.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Hubble had heard the shriek and she turned white. She ran as fast as she could (which was surprisingly fast) towards her cottage, her berries left behind. All that mattered now was It. Moonbirds only let out a cry when they are in grave danger. She arrived just in time to see two figures rising up into the sky, a sack dangling from one of them. Mrs. Hubble could barely make out Engelbert’s straight hat, but then, they had disappeared into the darkness. She grabbed her old, dodgy broomstick which was standing against the wall of her cottage, and leapt onto it, her only thoughts to save It.
After ten minutes, Mrs. Hubble could just make out two figures , speeding towards the city. She flew faster than she had ever flown, It was in danger, she had to save It, she couldn’t lose It. These thoughts were spinning around in her head, making her feel dizzy. The wind whistled in her ears and the cold, night-time air stung her cheeks. Then, Mrs. Hubble realised with a pang that she had left her wand at home. She was against two wizards, both with wands, and she didn’t even have her own! Cursing, she flew on.
Within minutes she was level with Engelbert and Dawlin. ‘’Give It back,’’ Mrs. Hubble said, her voice strangely calm. She was trembling all over, with fear and anger. She desperately hoped her fear didn’t show. Engelbert laughed, but there was a note of fear in it. ‘’Do you really expect me to give this money-maker back to you, you don’t know anything, this bird is worth millions,’’ he sneered. ‘’If you don’t give It back, I shall take it by force,’’ said Mrs. Hubble. And with that, turned her broom to face Engelbert and sped straight at him. ‘’Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrgh!’ What are you doing? Get off!’ yelled Engelbert, for Mrs. Hubble was clinging on to his head. ‘’GIVE BACK IT!’ bellowed Mrs. Hubble. ‘’Have your bloody bird so,’’ shouted Dawlin. ‘’No, what are you doing, NO! Don’t give it to her!’ roared Engelbert. He was still trying to shake Mrs. Hubble off. She suddenly let go, Dawlin had fired a hex at her that missed by inches, and in the shock of it, Mrs. Hubble had let go. ‘’YOU BLITHERING IDIOT!’ yelled Mrs. Hubble. ‘’DON’T. YOU. HEX. ME!’ each word punctuated with a punch. ‘’All right, all right, stop it, stop it!’ said Dawlin, his hands covering his head. But, Mrs. Hubble wasn’r finished with him yet, and after one last punch, he fell off his broom and fell with a huge splash into the lake below. In the distraction, Mrs. Hubble quickly flew over to the sack and untied it. Before Engelbert had realised what she was doing, she was speeding back towards her cottage, faster than ever. ‘’NO!’ shouted Engelbert, but his anger was nothing compared to Mrs. Hubble’s relief.
The next day, It and Mrs. Hubble were sitting down to breakfast. When they had gotten home that night, Mrs. Hubble had gone back to the spot where she was picking midnight berries to retrieve her wand. “Pity, I had such a lot of midnight berries, but they’re gone now,” she said sorrowfully. It squawked unhappily. Moonbirds love midnight berries, and now It had to wait another month for a good batch of them.
Meanwhile, Engelbert and Dawlin were trying to think of another way to lay their hands on It. “We could just go back and put her under an obedient spell, then go before she knows she’s under a spell,” Dawlin suggested hopefully. “No, no, we can’t do that,” Engelbert said grumpily. “Well, what’ll we do so? I’ve come up with all the ideas, what do you want to do, you’re the boss,” complained Dawlin. “Let’s just give up, we’re never going to get It,’’ Dawlin said. ‘’Oh, sure, I’m going to give up, after all our hard work, I’m just going to sit back and let Mrs. Hubble live happily ever after,’’ said Engelbert sarcastically. “Brilliant, great idea boss,’’ Dawlin said looking relieved. “No, you fool, I’m being sarcastic! Of course I’m not giving up!’’ shouted Engelbert. “Tell you what, we’ll go back, cast a spell to make her obey us, get her to sign the contract, take It and then leave before she realises she’s under a spell! Brilliant, I’m a genius!’ said Engelbert. “But, I just said that!!!’ exploded Dawlin. “Do you want this job or not!?’ asked Engelbert angrily. Suppose so,” muttered Dawlin, annoyed.
While Engelbert and Dawlin were thinking up their plan, Mrs. Hubble was trying to figure out a way to get rid of Engelbert if he came back. “We’ll cast every hex and curse we know at them,’’ muttered Mrs. Hubble. She had taken down all her spell books and was riffling through them, taking down any useful spells. It was helping her by bringing the books down to her from the shelf and putting them back up when she had thrown them aside. “We’ll need all the hair spells, and I’ll have to practise the hair growing spell, as well as the wart one,” Mrs. Hubble said. It squawked happily, the idea of Engelbert with hair the length of a tree, was incredibly funny. “Right then, we’ll also need to find a way to get rid of Engelbert if he casts a protective shield around them. Spells won’t work against a protective shield,” said Mrs. Hubble. She thought and she thought, she had always relied on magic, but if they cast a protective shield, they had better have a plan B.
At last a slow grin spread over her face and she whispered her excellent plan to It. “That will sort them out, they won’t come back after this,” she said gleefully.
Engelbert and Dawlin were busy practising their memory charms and obedient spells, while Mrs. Hubble was putting her plan in place. “I think we’re ready,” said Engelbert, all we need now is our broomsticks. “Dawlin, fetch the brooms.” Dawlin muttered darkly under his breath. He hated being bossed around. Once they were on the brooms, they set off for the fourth and last time to Mrs. Hubble’s cottage.
When they arrived at the cottage, they found it empty and the door locked. There was no light coming from it, and the gate was creaking spookily in the wind. Engelbert looked around uneasily. Dawlin stepped on a stick, and it snapped loudly. Engelbert spun around quickly. “Watch your step, fool,” he snarled nastily. Dawlin was about to retort, when out of the trees he saw a huge, dark figure. “E-Engelb-b-bert, b-behi-i-ind y-you!” stuttered Dawlin. Engelbert turned white and was trembling all over. He slowly turned around.
“CHARGE!” roared Mrs. Hubble, and out of the trees, a huge giant emerged, followed by six lumbering forest trolls. Cotton birds, Irish phoenixes and fwoopers (a type of magical bird) flew down from the trees, It was leading them. Silk snakes slithered out from the shadows of the trees. Insects that were transparent and biting fairies swarmed out from the trees. Doxies and pixies were running around on the ground, stabbing Engelbert and Dawlin on their ankles. Bringing up the rear was Mrs. Hubble, brandishing her wand and shouting insults at Engelbert and Dawlin.
The birds clung on to Engelbert’s and Dawlin’s heads, pecking and clawing at them like mad. The forest trolls swung their clubs around and Dawlin was swiped clean off his feet. The silk snakes began winding their way up Engelbert’s and Dawlin’s body, entwining them and hissing in their ears. The giant was not really helpful, he was just tearing down trees, but, after all giants are extremely dumb. Mrs. Hubble was casting every curse and hex she knew at Engelbert and Dawlin.
“AAAAAARRRRRRRRGH! Let go, let go!” shouted Engelbert. Dawlin was being lifted into the air by a forest troll, shouting angrily to be put down. Mrs. Hubble smiled. She shouted an order at them to stop, but told the silk snakes to keep themselves wrapped around Engelbert and Dawlin. Reluctantly, the magical creatures stopped attacking, but the silk snakes hissed and wrapped themselves tight around Engelbert and Dawlin.
“If you ever come back here, I have these creatures at my command. They will attack you if you come near this cottage or It again,” stated Mrs. Hubble. “You won’t get my moonbird, as long as I live will take care and mind It. It has been a friend to me ever since I got it as a birthday present when I was six years old,” she said. “Leave.” That one word seemed to have triggered something in Engelbert, and without another word, he and Dawlin turned on the spot and fled.
The animals squawked, hissed and squeaked joyfully as Engelbert and Dawlin turned and ran. Mrs. Hubble knew that now they would not come back. The look of terror and fear on Engelbert’s and Dawlin’s faces had been enough to confirm this.
Mrs. Hubble thanked the animals and let them go back into the forest again. The magical creatures hated Engelbert as much as Mrs. Hubble hated them because he had tried to take all of them at least once to his horrible zoo. They were glad to drive Engelbert from the forest once and for all.
“If Engelbert Smaug and Dawlin Spike ever return, you can bite and claw and peck them as much as you want,” Mrs. Hubble said. Mrs. Hubble had a gift with magical creatures, they would help her any time she needed it. They left with much noise and Mrs. Hubble returned home.
“Well, It, you’re safe now. They’re not going to dare come back here after the magical creatures attacked them,” said Mrs. Hubble. It squawked in agreement. Mrs. Hubble chuckled at the memory of Engelbert, flapping his hands around, trying to shake the birds off his head.
“You know It, I don’t think I will sue Engelbert. It’s too much trouble, and I’m getting very old,” mentioned Mrs. Hubble to It about a week later. It looked surprised, Mrs. Hubble didn’t ever let people get away with things like that, stealing especially. “I really feel too tired and old to go into court and worry about it, I’d prefer just to take it easy from now on,” she said.
The next day, Mrs. Hubble went to a wizarding town and bought It a lovely new perch, and some midnight berries (It really did love midnight berries). “You deserve them, you led the birds wonderfully when we were attacking Engelbert and Dawlin,” said Mrs. Hubble lovingly. It squawked happily, admiring its new perch. It was very nice, there were pretty carvings of phoenixes and owls on it.
One year later Mrs. Hubble set about repairing her cottage. She thatched the roof again, and the forest trolls were happy to help her build a new wall around the cottage. She got new glass for the windows, and replaced the rotting wooden door with a strong one made of oak. She bought new furniture (all of the furniture was made of oak) and got a stove. Once in a while she even made her bed! She painted the walls again, and got rid of the cracks running up them. The cobwebs and dust were swept away and she washed the floors, with magic.
She took to gardening and grew pumpkins, (which Mrs. Hubble loved) raspberries, carrots and midnight berries just for It. Most of her time was spent taking care of her garden and the crazy tree that grew at the bottom of the garden. It turned out that the tree was extremely valuable and the nuts that grew on it were used as poison antidotes and the leaves were used in disguise and memory potions. She sold the nuts and the leaves that grew on the tree, and made loads of money (that was where she had gotten the money she used to repair her cottage)
Mrs. Hubble was happy now, she had a nice, comfy cottage, magical creatures who were her friends and most of all she had It.
Lily Hearne, 5thClass, Ballyglass NS, Ballyglass, Ardrahan, Co. Galway