So, we started with me taking the train to the town where Mrs. Moth’s house is located. (I can’t tell you its name, because she doesn’t like visitors stopping by without an invitation. If you want to make an appointment, you can contact Miss Lavender’s School. Both Miss Lavender and Mrs. Moth are available for tours and admissions interviews during the semester.) The house is really on the outskirts of town, which is why Miss Emily Gray and Hyacinth picked me up in Miss Gray’s beat-up old car. But I can bike into town from here as well. There are a couple of bicycles in the shed.
Once I arrived, Hyacinth took me to my room, and that’s when I sat down to my computer to tell you the story of the last time I’d been to visit Mrs. Moth, when I got lost on the way to the kitchen and found myself in the Other Country with Cordelia the Annoying Cat. There I met Mother Night, and the Gentleman (who is Mother Night’s – boyfriend? what do you call the guy who hangs out with the creator of the universe?), and Morgan and Merlin. And afterward I told you the story Hyacinth had told me, about how Merlin lost his heart. But just to be clear, all that happened during my last visit.
I’ve visited the Other Country twice now. The first time was on a school field trip. We all go there as juniors, right around the time we decide whether we want to continue our magical studies in a serious way or go to a regular old college. You know me, I went to a regular old college. It’s exciting being a witch and all, walking through walls, transforming yourself into any form you please, advising the president. But I had always wanted to be a writer. (Matilda Tillinghast is the only one of us who went on to become a full-time witch. Emma Gaunt is a Vice-President of Gaunt Enterprises, and Mouse is Miss Gray’s assistant.)
Sorry, give me a minute. Cordelia wants to be let in.
We don’t choose our cats. Our cats choose us. Matilda has a perfectly lovely gray Persian who is never cross and is ridiculously competent. I don’t think she would be as effective a witch without that cat. But I was stuck with Cordelia. Sometimes I think her only magical trait is sarcasm. It rises to the level of the positively supernatural. It’s a good thing she can’t read this – except now she’s looking over my shoulder and says that of course she can read it perfectly well, thank you, and that I am an ungrateful – I’m not going to repeat that. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to find a mouse on my pillow, aren’t I?
Where was I? Sitting here, late at night, after an excellent dinner cooked by Mrs. Moth – some sort of beef stew with lots of root vegetables, thick slices of brown bread with fresh butter (which I like to salt), and apple pie for dessert. This evening it was just Mrs. Moth, Miss Gray, Hyacinth, and me, but tomorrow Mouse is going to be here as well. I haven’t seen her for ages. From where I’m sitting at the desk, typing into the computer, I can see out the window of the tower room into the dark night. Time to draw the curtains (although I always leave them a little open, to let the dawn come in). There’s a fire in the fireplace, and I’m going to sit and read a book. (Maybe T.H. White’s Once and Future King, at least the first part, before it gets all sad.)
It’s nice being here, even though we’re in the Shadowlands. But the Shadowlands have their own charm, you know. It’s nice to see seasons, watch time flow, people learn and age. Even death has a strange beauty, although not as strange as the beauty of the Other Country, where leaves never fall and nothing ever dies.
I wonder what adventures I’ll have this time?