Home > I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld #38)(4)

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld #38)(4)
Terry Pratchett

Becky went pink, and had a hurried conversation with her friend. She turned back to Tiffany, looking slightly more pink but nevertheless determined to see things through.

“You can’t get into trouble for asking a question, can you, miss? I mean, just asking a question?”

It’s going to be “How can I be a witch when I’m grown up?” Tiffany thought, because it generally was. The young girls saw her on her broomstick and thought that was what being a witch was. Out loud she said, “Not from me, at least. Do ask your question.”

Becky Pardon looked down at her boots. “Do you have any passionate parts, miss?”

Another talent needful in a witch is the ability not to let your face show what you’re thinking, and especially not allowing it, no matter what, to go as stiff as a board. Tiffany managed to say, without a single wobble in her voice and no trace of an embarrassed smirk, “That is a very interesting question, Becky. Can I ask you why you want to know?”

The girl looked a lot happier now that the question was, as it were, out in the public domain.

“Well, miss, I asked my granny if I could be a witch when I was older, and she said I shouldn’t want to, because witches have no passionate parts, miss.”

Tiffany thought quickly in the face of the two solemn owlish stares. These are farm girls, she thought, so they had certainly seen a cat have kittens and a dog have puppies. They’d have seen the birth of lambs, and probably a cow have a calf, which is always a noisy affair that you can hardly miss. They know what they are asking me about.

At this point Nancy chimed in with “Only, if that is so, miss, we would quite like to have the flowers back, now that we’ve shown them to you, because perhaps it might be a bit of a waste, meaning no offense.” She stepped back quickly.

Tiffany was surprised at her own laughter. It had been a long time since she had laughed. Heads turned to see what the joke was, and she managed to grab both the girls before they fled, and spun them round.

“Well done, the pair of you,” she said. “I like to see some sensible thinking every now and again. Never hesitate to ask a question. And the answer to your question is that witches are the same as everybody else when it comes to passionate parts, but often they are so busy rushing around that they never have time to think about them.”

The girls looked relieved that their work had not been entirely in vain, and Tiffany was ready for the next question, which came from Becky again. “So do you have a beau, miss?”

“Not right at the moment,” Tiffany said briskly, clamping down on her expression lest it give anything away. She held up the little bouquet. “But who knows—if you’ve made this properly, then I’ll get another one, and in that case you will be better witches than me, that is for certain.” They both beamed at this dreadful piece of outright fluff, and it stopped the questions.

“And now,” said Tiffany, “the cheese rolling will be starting at any minute. I’m sure you won’t want to miss that.”

“No, miss,” they said in unison. Just before they left, full of relief and self-importance, Becky patted Tiffany on her hand. “Beaus can be very difficult, miss,” she said with the assurance of, to Tiffany’s certain knowledge, eight years in the world.

“Thank you,” said Tiffany. “I shall definitely bear that in mind.”

When it came to the entertainments offered at the fair, such as people making faces through a horse collar or fighting with pillows on the greasy pole or even the bobbing for frogs, well, Tiffany could take them or leave them alone, and in fact much preferred to leave them alone. But she always liked to see a good cheese roll—that is to say, a good cheese roll all the way down a slope of the hill, although not across the giant because no one would want to eat the cheese afterward.

They were hard cheeses, sometimes specially made for the cheese-rolling circuit, and the winning maker of the cheese that reached the bottom unscathed won a belt with a silver buckle and the admiration of all.

Tiffany was an expert cheesemaker, but she had never entered. Witches couldn’t enter that sort of competition because if you won—and she knew she had made a cheese or two that could win—everyone would say that was unfair because you were a witch; well, that’s what they would think, but very few would say it. And if you didn’t win, people would say, “What kind of witch can’t make a cheese that could be beat by simple cheeses made by simple folk like we?”

There was a gentle movement of the crowd to the start of the cheese rolling, although the frog-bobbing stall still had a big crowd, it being a very humorous and reliable source of entertainment, especially to those people who weren’t actually bobbing. Regrettably, the man who put weasels down his trousers, and apparently had a personal best of nine weasels, hadn’t been there this year, and people were wondering if he had lost his touch. But sooner or later everyone would drift over to the start line for the cheese rolling. It was a tradition.

The slope here was very steep indeed, and there was always a certain amount of boisterous rivalry between the cheese owners, which led to pushing and shoving and kicking and bruises; occasionally you got a broken arm or leg. All was going as normal as the waiting men lined up their cheeses, until Tiffany saw, and seemed to be the only one to see, a dangerous cheese roll up all by itself. It was black under the dust, and there was a piece of grubby blue-and-white cloth tied to it.

“Oh, no,” she said. “Horace. And where you are, trouble can’t be far behind.” She spun around, carefully searching for signs of what should not be there. “Now you just listen to me,” she said under her breath. “I know at least one of you must be somewhere near. This isn’t for you; it’s just about people. Understand?”

Hot Novels
  • Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Chris
  • Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Never Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #2)
  • Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculi
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • Fallen Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #1)
  • Forever Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #3)
  • Ugly Love
  • Allegiant (Divergent #3)
  • Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
  • The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coinc
  • Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
  • Uprooted