December 18th 1683
During my lessons to become the village wise woman, ma is teaching me some white magic. There is one important rule, I must not practice spells on my own. Ma said I'm not strong enough yet to fight evil. Today I was in really, really BIG trouble. I was playing in the village with Ruth, my best friend, when I saw someone do something really mean. Eric, an older boy in the village, hit Sam, who is really small, for nothing. Eric is always in a bad temper, Ma said he was born mean. I was so cross, I hate bullying. As I lost my temper, I felt the power running down my arms and then my hands started to glow. I pointed the energy at Eric and knocked him down, every time he tried to get up I hit him again. The other children in the village were standing around him, laughing until they cried. I finally let him get to his feet and walked away quickly with Ruth, When I started to calm down, I realised that Ma would be really, really, really cross with me. Every time we practise magic she tells me again and again that I must be responsible. There is a black witch living in the forest near our village, her name is Morag. Ma and Morag don't speak to each other because they are so different. A large part of Ma's work is undoing Morag's magic. The villagers pay her to remove curses and evil charms. Morag never had children because all the men in the village were too afraid of her. She was desperate for a child, who she could train in Black Magic . When I was little, Ma warned me not to let her know that I could do magic or she might try to steal me away - I thought she was joking!
Morag would be able to sense that magic was used in the village. It wouldn't take her long to guess who cast the spell. I was too scared to tell Ma what I'd done, perhaps she wouldn't find out. When I returned home, Ma was nowhere to be seen. I sat on Ma's stool by the fire, grateful that I didn't have to lie to her yet! Ma returned home after harvesting herbs in the forest. She was surprised that I was back so early and asked whether I had an argument with Ruth. I made the excuse that I was tired. I asked her if I could collect the water as I was eager to escape Ma's attention. She always sensed when I'd done something wrong. As I walked along the path towards the river, I tried to think up excuses for what happened in the village. After breaking a hole in the ice I filled up the bucket. On my way home, I saw Ruth's mother in the forest, she shouted to me that Ruth was hurt and asking for me. I ran to her without thinking. When I caught up, she grasped my hand tightly. Ruth's Ma is gentle and kind, she wouldn't hurt me like this. I stood still and demanded that she tell me who she was and what she wanted with me. There was a flash of light and I was terrified to find myself walking with Morag. Now I was definitely sure that Ma was going to find out about this morning and I was in very serious trouble. Morag dragged me kicking and screaming towards her hut deep in the forest. The villagers, who had to visit her, didn't want to be seen or were really desperate. When we reached the hut she puts a shackle on my left ankle, the chain didn't stretch enough to let me leave the clearing. I knew Ma would come and get me, hopefully she would be so grateful that I was alive that she would forget about the spell I used.
At sundown Morag gave me a straw mattress to sleep outside in the byre. I didn't mind sleeping with the animals, it felt warm and safe. I spent most of the night trying to work out how to send Ma a message, to let her know that I was safe and where to find me.
December 19th 1683
When I woke up, I screamed loudly because Morag was standing over me glaring impatiently. She shouted that Ma had taught me to be lazy and ordered me to get up so she could start my training. I looked down at my dirty clothes thinking that I would never moan about a daily wash again. I followed Morag clinking with every other step. It was dark, crowded and spooky inside Morag's hut. There were hundreds of jars on the shelves and I swear one of them had eyes in it. On the table was a pile of dried herbs and a huge pestle and mortar. Morag barked out my orders for the morning: My first job was to grind the dried herbs into a powder then scoop it into small muslin bags. There were eight bundles of herbs and I had to complete this task before noon or I wouldn't be fed. I decided not to make a fuss as this would probably earn me a smack or worse punishment. When my work was finished, I tried to sneak outside without drawing Morag's attention. That didn't work! She shoved a bowl in front of me, it was a grey liquid with pieces of fat bobbing around. I knew that I needed to eat, to stay strong enough to escape when Ma came to get me. I held my nose and forced down every spoonful, stubbornly pushing down any food that threatened to reappear. After Morag's attempt at dinner, I was hauled to a patch of stony ground near the barn and told to remove the stones, then dig it out. To make sure I couldn't escape, Morag tethered my shackle to a tree. The work made my back hurt and I couldn't stop thinking about Ma and how worried she would be. I refused to cry, I didn't want Morag to think I'm weak. At the end of the day, when the Sun set, I was allowed to return to the barn, I fell asleep before my head touched the pillow.
December 20th 1683
When I woke up in the morning, something was different . I couldn't put my finger on it but I knew that Ma was coming! Morag gave me a crust and a mouldy apple to break my fast before she put me to work again with the pestle and mortar . While Morag was spooning out the greasy mess, she called dinner, the ground started to shake - Ma was using Earth magic so she was definitely nearby. A loud voice boomed out the words: 'Where is my little girl, hag, if you have harmed her, I will forget that my magic is white.' Ma's voice was so loud that things started to wobble on the shelves in the hut. I could see her now through the door, I have never seen her so angry, her hair was floating around her head. Morag was defiant and replied that Ma was a bad teacher because I had used my magic to harm someone. Ma was glowing with power, it made her voice loud and booming, she answered: 'You are wrong, she protected a weaker child. Ma's hands were bathed in a fierce blue light, she pointed to the ground and the earth cracked, opening a hole under Morag. Morag saved herself just at the last moment. She walked back in the hut, cursing to herself and unlocked my shackle. She complained bitterly and mumbled to herself, 'How can such a tiny person cause so much trouble!'
I ran out to Ma and hugged her so tight, she had trouble breathing. We walked away from Morag's hut quickly but we didn't run as that would have looked weak. The first thing Ma did, when we reached home was throw me in the river, with some soap. When I was clean, I was allowed to eat. Unfortunately this isn't the end of the story; witches, even white witches, understand revenge, I was so sore, I couldn't sit down for a week.