The musings of the four witches had been interrupted by a sort of slow creaking sound followed by a loud thud. Bill’s cow had keeled right over. It lay now, pale, still and to all appearances, dead. However it was fortunately still alive, as Bill discovered when she rushed over to it.
“Sod it!” exclaimed that witch, exasperatedly. “I always do that spell too strong. Joey you’ll have to teach me how to do it properly. You always do that one so well.” Bill turned to look at Joey’s own familiar who stood quietly and contentedly in another corner of the kitchen. The other witches followed her gaze. Certainly Joey’s familiar did not appear in any danger of falling over. It was even moving slightly.
“If someone walked in on us right now Joey, and saw that dog of yours, they’d never believe their own eyes,” stated Karen, observing Joey’s perfectly well behaved dog, Bruno.
“I’ve been experimenting for years with dog training spells,” said Joey modestly. “It’s taken a lot of practice to get it this good.”
“What does Jack think?” queried Karen. “Doesn’t he wonder why Bruno is so well-behaved all of a sudden?”
“Oh I never use the spell at home, except when I’m sure I’ll be alone” Joey assured her. “I don’t want to be found out. Bruno is his own energetic self most of the time.”
“Has Anna noticed anything? She is in the house with you virtually all the time, surely she must have suspicions?” asked Bill.
“I usually wait until she’s out shopping before I use the spell,” replied Joey. “I don’t mind telling you I’ve had a few near misses though!”
“Really?” said Karen.
“Gosh yes!” said Joey. “Only last week Karen came home an hour early and would have immediately smelled a rat if Bruno didn’t make his usual commotion as she came into the house. You know how exuberant he is.”
Bill, Karen and Hilda all nodded together.
“Luckily I spotted her coming up the path,” continued Joey. “I shut the drawing room door pretty quick, waited until Anna entered the house, and flung myself at the drawing room door, barking madly for all I was worth!”
Bill, Karen and Hilda stared open mouthed at Joey, as she carried on with her tale.
“It was rather sticky, trying to bark convincingly and tell myself to shut up and lay down all at the same time!”
“I imagine it was,” said Hilda rather weakly.
Then the cow groaned again, and everyone turned their attention towards it.
“I hope that poor animal recovers and we don’t have a week of eating beef again,” stated Karen, looking pointedly at Bill.
Bill looked back, aggrieved.
“Really Bill,” said Hilda, “you must have got through a whole heard of familiars by now!”
Bill looked embarrassed at this remark, turning red and staring at her feet.
“It is also unusual for a witch to have a cow as a familiar, rather than a nice black cat,” said Hilda somewhat critically, looking approvingly at Karen’s cat.
Bill suddenly realised she had not seen Hilda’s own familiar that evening.
“Where is Hatty?” asked Bill, “I haven’t seen her for ages?”
Hilda, in reply, simply opened the door of a nearby kitchen cupboard. There, hanging upside down from the edge of a shelf, was a small, neat rather compact bat.
Everyone peered into the cupboard to observe it more closely. The bat hung like a curtain from a rail, not moving an inch, apparently as comatose as Bill’s prone cow.
“I’ve never quite understood the point of that bat of yours,” said Bill.
“She might not look very busy but “that bat” as you put it has been assisting us all evening!” retorted Hilda.
“What do you mean?!” exclaimed Karen.
“Bats have excellent hearing, mine more so than most,” revealed Hilda, “How else do you think I can be the eyes and ears of this School?! Hatty is able to hear the slightest noise anywhere in the building and immediately picks up on any movement, particularly that of Matey!”
“That’s jolly impressive!” said Joey, “It doesn’t look like it’s actually doing much! I suppose what we also need is something that can monitor Mary-Lou for us! Maybe we could create some kind of invisible creature that could follow her around unseen and report back to us.”
Hilda, drawing on her extensive Head Mistress experience, put a look on her face that would be enough to instantly quell a riot of Middles. “Of all the absurd, impractical, quite frankly ridiculous ideas, that has to be the icing on the cake…” Then her face broke into a smile, “Joey you’re a genius! Let’s do it!”
“Let’s chorused Bill and Karen.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Final part tomorrow, fingers crossed! :-)