A hat full of sky, p.17
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       A Hat Full of Sky, p.17

         Part #32 of Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
 
Page 17

 

  And shed say “See me”? said Miss Level. Aye, an then “See me not”, said Big Yan. An betweentimes shed stand verra still, like a stachoo.

  Sounds like she was trying to invent some kind of invisibility spell, Miss Level mused. They dont work like that, of course.

  We reckoned she was just tryin to throw her voice, said Nearly Big Angus. So it sounds like its comin fra somewhere else, ye ken? Wee Iain can do that a treat when were huntin.

  Throw her voice? said Miss Level, her brow wrinkling. Why did you think that?

  Cuz when she said “See me not”, it sounded like it wuz no comin fra her and her lips didnae move. Miss Level stared at the Feegles. When she spoke next, her voice was a little strange. Tell me, she said, when she was just standing there, was she moving at all?

  Just breathin verra slow, mistress, said Big Yan. Were her eyes shut?

  Aye! Miss Level started to breathe very fast. She walked out of her own body! Theres not one -

  - witch in a hundred who can do that! she said. Thats Borrowing, that is! Its better than any circus trick! Its putting -

  - your mind somewhere else! You have to -

  - learn how to protect yourself before you ever try it! And she just invented it because she didnt have a mirror? The little fool, why didnt she -

  - say? She walked out of her own body and left it there for anything to take over! I wonder what -

  - she thought she was -

  - doing? After a while Rob Anybody gave a polite cough. Were better at questions about fightin, drinkin and stealin/ he mumbled. We dinna have the knowin o the hagglin.

  Chapter 7 MattGR of BuiaN Something that called itself Tiffany flew across the treetops. It thought it was Tiffany. It could remember everything -nearly everything - about being Tiffany. It looked like Tiffany. It even thought like Tiffany, more or less. It had everything it needed to be Tiffany. . . . . . except Tiffany. Except the tiny part of her that was . . . me. It peered from her own eyes, tried to hear with her own ears, think with her own brain. A hiver took over its victim not by force, exactly, but simply by moving into any space, like the hermit elephant* It just *The hermit elephant of Howondaland has a very thin hide, except on its head, and young ones will often move into a small mud hut while the owners are out. It is far too shy to harm anyone, but most people quit their huts pretty soon after an elephant moves in. For one thing, it lifts the hut off the ground and carries it away on its back across the veldt, settling it down over any patch of nice grass that it finds. This makes housework very unpredictable. Nevertheless, an entire village of hermit elephants moving across the plains is one of the finest sights on the continent. took you over because that was what it did, until it was in all the places and there was no room left. . . Except - - it was having trouble. It had flowed through her like a dark tide but there was a place, tight and sealed, that was still closed. If it had the brains of a tree, it would have been puzzled. If it had the brains of a human, it would have been frightened. . . Tiffany brought the broomstick in low over the trees, and landed it neatly in Mrs Earwigs garden. There really was nothing to it, she decided. You just had to want it to fly. Then she was sick again or, at least, tried to be, but since shed thrown up twice in the air there wasnt much left to be sick with. It was ridiculous! She wasnt frightened of flying any more, but her stupid stomach was! She wiped her mouth carefully and looked around. Shed landed on a lawn. Shed heard of them, but had never seen a real one before. There was grass all round Miss Levels cottage, but that was just, well, the grass of the clearing. Every other garden shed seen was used for growing vegetables, with perhaps just a little space for flowers if the wife had got tough about it. A lawn meant you were posh enough to afford to give up valuable potato space. This lawn had stripes. Tiffany turned to the stick and said, Stay! and then marched across the lawn to the house. It was a lot grander than Miss Levels cottage but, from what Tiffany had heard, Mrs Earwig was a more senior witch. Shed also married a wizard, although he didnt do any wizarding these days. It was a funny thing, Miss Level said, but you didnt often meet a poor wizard. She knocked at the door and waited. There was a curse-net hanging in the porch. Youd have thought that a witch wouldnt need such a thing, but Tiffany supposed

  they used them as decoration. There was also a broomstick leaning against the wall, and a five-pointed silver star on the door. Mrs Earwig advertised. Tiffany knocked on the door again, much harder. It was instantly opened by a tall, thin woman, all in black. But it was a very decorative rich, deep black, all lacy and ruffled, and set off with more silver jewellery than Tiffany imagined could exist. She didnt just have rings on her fingers. Some fingers had sort of silver finger gloves, designed to look like claws. She gleamed like the night sky. And she was wearing her pointy hat, which Miss Level never did at home. It was taller than any hat that Tiffany had ever seen. It had stars on it, and silver hatpins glittered. All of this should have added up to something pretty impressive. It didnt. Partly it was because there was just too much of everything, but mostly it was because of Mrs Earwig. She had a long sharp face and looked very much as though she was about to complain about the cat from next door widdling on her lawn. And she looked like that all the time. Before she spoke, she very pointedly looked at the door to see if the heavy knocking had made a mark. Well? she said, haughtily, or what she probably thought was haughtily. It sounded a bit strangled. Bless all in this house, said Tiffany. What? Oh, yes. Favourable runes shine on this our meeting, said Mrs Earwig hurriedly. Well?

  Ive come to see Annagramma, said Tiffany. There really was too much silver. Oh, are you one of her girls? said Miss Earwig. Not . . . exactly, said Tiffany. I work with Miss Level

  Oh, her, said Mrs Earwig, looking her up and down. Green is a very dangerous colour. What is your name, child?

  Tiffany.

  Hmm, said Mrs Earwig, not approving at all. Well, you had better come in. She glanced up and made a tch! sound. Oh, will you look at that? I bought that at the craft fair over in Slice, too. It was very expensive! The curse-net was hanging in tatters. You didnt do that, did you? Mrs Earwig demanded. Its too high, Mrs Earwig, said Tiffany. Its pronounced Ah-wij, said Mrs Earwig coldly. Sorry, Mrs Earwig.

  Come. It was a strange house. You couldnt doubt that a witch lived in it, and not just because every doorframe had a tall pointy bit cut out of the top of it to allow Mrs Earwigs hat to pass through. Miss Level had nothing on her walls except circus posters, but Mrs Earwig had proper big paintings everywhere and they were all. . . witchy. There were lots of crescent moons and young women with quite frankly not enough clothes on, and big men with horns and, ooh, not just horns. There were suns and moon on the tiles of the floor, and the ceiling of the room Tiffany was led into was high, blue and painted with stars. Mrs Earwig (pronounced Ah-wij) pointed to a chair with gryphons feet and

  crescent-shaped cushions. Sit there, she said. I will tell Annagramma you are here. Do not kick the chairlegs, please. She went out via another door. Tiffany looked around - the hiver looked around • -and thought: Ive got to be the strongest. When I am strongest, I shall be safe. That one is weak. She thinks you can buy magic. Oh, it really is you, said a sharp voice behind her. The cheese girl. Tiffany stood up. - the hiver had been many things, including a number of wizards, because wizards sought power all the time and sometimes found, in their treacherous circles, not some demon who was so stupid that it could be tricked with threats and riddles, but the hiver, which was so stupid that it could not be tricked at all. And the hiver remembered- Annagramma was drinking a glass of milk. Once youd seen Mrs Earwig, you understood something about Annagramma. There was an air about her that she was taking notes about the world in order to draw up a list of suggestions for improvements. Hello, said Tiffany. I suppose you came along to beg to be allowed to join after all, have you? I suppose you might be fun.

  No, not really. But I might let you join me, said Tiffany. Are you enjoying that milk? The glass of milk turned into a
bunch of thistles and grass. Annagramma dropped it hurriedly. When it hit the floor, it became a glass of milk again, and shattered and splashed. Tiffany pointed at the ceiling. The painted stars flared, filling the room with light. But Annagramma stared at the spilled milk. You know they say the power comes? said Tiffany, walking around her. Well, its come to me. Do you want to be my friend? Or do you want to be . . . in my way? I should clean up that milk, if I was you. She concentrated. She didnt know where this was coming from, but it seemed to know exactly what to do. Annagramma rose a few inches off the floor. She struggled and tried to run, but that only made her spin. To Tiffanys dreadful delight, the girl started to cry. You said we ought to use our power, said Tiffany, walking around her as Annagramma tried to break free. You said if we had the gift, people ought to know about it. Youre a girl with her head screwed on right. Tiffany bent down a bit to look her in the eye. Wouldnt it be awful if it got screwed on wrong? She waved a hand and her prisoner dropped to the ground. But while Annagramma was unpleasant she wasnt a coward, and she rose up with her mouth open to yell and a

  hand upraised- Careful, said Tiffany. 1 can do it again. Annagramma wasnt stupid either. She lowered her hand and shrugged. Well, you have been lucky, she said grudgingly. But I still need your help, said Tiffany. Why would you need my help? said Annagramma sulkily. - We need allies, the hiver thought with Tiffanys mind. They can help protect us. If necessary, we can sacrifice them. Other creatures will always want to be friends with the powerful, and this one loves power - To start with, said Tiffany, where can I get a dress like yours? Annagrammas eyes lit up. Oh, you want Zakzak Stronginthearm, over in Sallett Without, she said. He sells everything for the modern witch.

  Then I want everything, said Tiffany. Hell want paying, Annagramma went on. Hes a dwarf. They know real gold from illusion gold. Everyone tries it out on him, of course. He just laughs. If you try it twice, hell make a complaint to your mistress.

  Miss Tick said a witch should have just enough money, said Tiffany. Thats right, said Annagramma. Just enough to buy everything she wants! Mrs Earwig says that just because were witches we dont have to live like peasants. But Miss Level is old-fashioned, isnt she? Probably hasnt got any money in the house. And Tiffany said, Oh, I know where I can get some money. Ill meet you please help me! here this afternoon and you can show me where his place is.

  What was that? said Annagramma sharply. I just said Id stop me! meet you here this- Tiffany began. There it was again! There was a sort of . . . odd echo in your voice, said Annagramma. Like two people trying to talk at once.

  Oh, that, said the hiver. Thats nothing. Itll stop soon. It was an interesting mind and the hiver enjoyed using it - but always there was that one place, that little place that was closed; it was annoying, like an itch that wouldnt go away . . . It did not think. The mind of the hiver was just what remained of all the other minds it had once lived in. They were like echoes after the music is taken away. But even echoes, bouncing off one another, can produce new harmonies. They clanged now. They rang out things like: Fit in. Not strong enough yet to make enemies. Have friends . . . Zakzaks low-ceilinged, dark shop had plenty to spend your money on. Zakzak was indeed a dwarf, and theyre not traditionally interested in using magic, but he certainly knew how to display merchandise, which is what they are very good at. There were wands, mostly of metal, some of rare woods. Some had shiny crystals stuck on them, which of course made them more expensive. There were bottles of coloured glass in the potions section and, oddly enough, the smaller the bottle, the more expensive it was. Thats because theres often very rare ingredients, like the tears of some rare snake or something, said Annagramma. I didnt know snakes cried, said Tiffany.

 
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