Tiffany’s basket was on the table. It had a present in it, of course. Everyone knew you took a small present along when you went visiting, but the person you were visiting was supposed to be surprised when you gave it to her, and say things like “Oooh, you shouldn’t have.”
“I brought you something,” said Tiffany, swinging the big black kettle onto the fire.
“You’ve got no call to be bringing me presents, I’m sure,” said Granny sternly.
“Yes, well,” said Tiffany, and left it at that.
She heard Granny lift the lid of the basket. There was a kitten in it.
“Her mother is Pinky, the Widow Cable’s cat,” said Tiffany, to fill the silence.
“You shouldn’t have,” growled the voice of Granny Weatherwax.
“It was no trouble.” Tiffany smiled at the fire.
“I can’t be havin’ with cats.”
“She’ll keep the mice down,” said Tiffany, still not turning around.
“Don’t have mice.”
Nothing for them to eat, thought Tiffany. Aloud, she said, “Mrs. Earwig’s got six big black cats.”
In the basket, the white kitten would be staring up at
Granny Weatherwax with the sad, shocked expression of all kittens.
You test me, I test you, Tiffany thought.
“I don’t know what I shall do with it, I’m sure. It’ll have to sleep in the goat shed,” said Granny Weatherwax. Most witches had goats.
When Tiffany left, later on, Granny Weatherwax said good-bye at the door and very carefully shut the kitten outside.
Tiffany went across the clearing to where she’d tied up Miss Treason’s broomstick. But she didn’t get on, not yet. She stepped back up against a holly bush, and
went quiet until she wasn’t there anymore, until everything about her said: I’m not here.
Everyone could see pictures in the fire and in clouds. You just turned that the other way around. You turned off that bit of yourself that said you were there. You dissolved. Anyone looking at you would find you very hard to see. Your face became a bit of leaf and shadow, your body a piece of tree and bush. The other person’s mind would fill in the gaps.
Looking like just another piece of holly bush, she watched the door. The wind had got up, warm but worrisome, shaking the yellow and red leaves off the
sycamore trees and whirring them around the clearing. The kitten tried to bat a few of them out of the air and then sat there, making sad little mewling noises.
Any minute now, Granny Weatherwax would think Tiffany had gone and would open the door and—
“Forgot something?” said Granny by her ear.
She was the bush.
“Er...it’s very sweet. I just thought you might, you know, grow to like it,” said Tiffany, but she was thinking: Well, she could have got here if she ran, but
why didn’t I see her? Can you run and hide at the same time?
“Never you mind about me, my girl,” said the witch. “You run along back to Miss Treason and give her my best wishes, right now. But”—and her voice softened a little—“that was good hiding you did just then. There’s many as would not have seen you. Why, I hardly heard your hair growin’!”
When Tiffany’s stick had left the clearing, and Granny Weatherwax had satisfied herself in other little ways that she had really gone, she went back inside, carefully ignoring the kitten again.
After a few minutes, the door creaked open a little. It may have been just a draft. The kitten trotted inside...