The Witch's Daughter
Hello, my name is Matilda and I am eight summers old. My Ma is the village wise woman and white witch. Lots of people come to see Ma when they are sick and she usually makes them better. Sometimes if the person is old or very sick Ma can't help, this makes her very sad. When I grow up Ma said I will be the healer and make people better. I have to learn lots: the names of the plants; what sickness they cure and some magic spells, only white magic of course.
Every day we wake up before dawn to wash. We normally go down to the river. When the weather is hot this is my favourite part of the day. In winter it is freezing so Ma has to drag me down to the water. After breaking our fast, we make potions for sick people in the village. We exchange the potions for food or anything else we need at the time. After noon Ma teaches me about the plants and some simple magic spells. I can only practice magic when Ma is with me in case anything goes wrong. Ma says that evil is always looking for a chance.
My only friend in the village is Ruth; the other children are too scared of Ma. As soon as I finish my chores, Ma said I can go to the village to see Ruth but I must be back before dark. I brush my hair before I go; my hair is pretty and so long that I can sit on it. Ma gives me a final check, and then I am allowed to leave.
Ruth's Ma said that we can make some bread. I race across the meadow because I don't want to waste any time. Ruth races out of her hut as soon as I get there. We give each other a big hug and laugh because we are really happy to be together. When I go into the hut, Ruth's Ma has all the ingredients ready including bowls and spoons. I love cooking. Ruth wants to learn how to cook to please her husband. I know that I will never marry, nobody in my family ever has. When we finish cooking and eat everything, it is time to go home.
Ruth walks with me to the end of the village, we kiss and hug, then I go on alone. It is starting to get dark so I have to hurry. I am walking along the riverbank, when I hear an enormous splash. Although I'm quite scared I am too nosey to ignore it. I walk over quietly to where I heard the splash. I peer over the reeds and am shocked to see a tiny little girl. She is dressed in a dress that sparkles in the sunlight. She is obviously hurt as there is blood all down her arm, more importantly her wing is torn and broken. I gently lift her and place her in my apron, then walking slowly and carefully I take her to Ma.
When I get home, Ma starts shouting:
"What have you done now child, I hope you haven't torn your clothes?"
I carefully unfold my apron, to reveal the little girl:
"Tilda you shouldn't have moved her, this is a water sprite. Her folk don't like mixing with humans."
I started to cry because I didn't want the water sprite to die.
"Ma, you have to help her, she'll die, look at her!"
Ma set to work, I knew she would, she can't bear to see any creature suffering. First she gently cleans the wound, then applies a paste to help it heel, then she puts on a tiny bandage, the material ripped from the edge of my apron. The wing is more difficult, it requires magic. Ma holds her hand just over the broken wing, there is a glow, sweat starts to pour down Ma's face; suddenly she pulls her hand away and sits down, breathing heavily. Ma is exhausted as healing magic uses all your energy. We make a space by the fire outside and wrap the sprite carefully in a fleece:
"Tilda, you must leave her to sleep, as you know it is the strongest healing magic."
Ma said that I can sleep outside with the sprite so she doesn't wake up alone. Just before daybreak, Ma gently shakes me awake:
"Tilda, time for your wash, try to be quiet or you will wake her."
When we return the water sprite is gone. I look everywhere.
"She has gone back to her own folk, Tilda; at least we managed to heal her wing."
I am quite sad because I thought she could have been a new friend. Ma got tired of me moping around so she sent me to bed early. In the dead of night something woke me up. I can hear buzzing, I sit up and look around blearily, there is a bright light darting about. Suddenly the light comes towards me and sits on my hand:
"My name is Daisy Dragonfly and I would like to invite you and your mother to the Royal Dance," she said in a high sweet voice.
I stare in shock; I didn't think I would ever see the sprite again. I manage to thank her:
"Hurry up," Daisy shouted, "It starts in an hour."
I scrabble out of bed, then rush to wake Ma up:
"We've been invited to the Royal Ball Ma, hurry up"
Ma starts to shake her head:
"Tilda my love, we have nothing to wear"
Daisy flies onto my shoulder and clicks her fingers and our clothes change: Ma's dress is bright yellow, like the sun and sways when she moves. It is covered in tiny lights that twinkle like stars. My dress is all the different shades of green with silver lights shining in the moonlight. I walk like a Queen, swishing my dress from side to side, It felt really good.
We follow Daisy toward the river. When we get closer she waves her hand and reveals the ballroom, which is on the water. Suddenly hundreds of sprites start to dance swirling around each other in a haze of colour. Each sprite leaves a trail of gold and silver dust to weave amongst the dancers.
On a bank, in the middle of the river, there are two tiny thrones occupied by the King and Queen of the Sprites. Daisy ushers us towards them:
"You are the witch and her daughter who helped the princess when she hurt herself"
We both curtsy together:
"My daughter found the princess, and then we treated her injuries together," Ma said with pride"
"You have our gratitude madam, please enjoy the festivities"
The king waved his hand, and then we were dismissed. Suddenly I start to feel dizzy, and then there is a flash of light. I shake my head and look around. Daisy is walking towards me and she isn't small anymore. All the other sprites seem bigger as well. Ma is still standing beside me and she starts to laugh:
"Tilda, The King has made us smaller so we can enjoy The Ball"
I start to spin round, trying to look at everything at once. Daisy is flying towards us:
"Come on Matilda, try out your wings."
"I don't have wings what are you talking about."
I thought she had lost her mind.
"Look down at your feet," Daisy shouted.
My feet were floating in the air; I was so shocked that I came down to earth with a bump. Daisy was laughing so hard that she fell over. She grabbed my hand:
"Come on, I'll show you, start slowly."
I flew around slowly at first, then I got quicker:
"Look at me Ma, I can fly."
Ma looked up and started laughing; she had just finished dancing with a handsome sprite. A loud bell rang and a table appeared in the middle of the river. We all sat down and a dish appeared in front of us. It had all my favourite food and a strange drink which has bubbles that kept popping - one even went up my nose. After the feast, I flew around the ballroom with the other young sprites, playing silly games. Ma danced so much that she had to sit down to catch her breath, before another handsome sprite whisked her away.
The sun started to rise and there was a loud bell. Everything disappeared except our beautiful dresses. I felt my back hopefully but the wings had gone. We walked back to the hut and fell asleep.