For prep at Boarding School, we were given an essay to write called "The Vanishing Headmistress". This was my contribution.
The Vanishing Headmistress.
The girls of the Liverwort Young Witches Coven School were very excited. In two weeks time it would be Halloween, the most important Festival of the school year.
Bethany and her friend Michelle were really, really excited. This year they were Middles, and would be taking a practical part in the Festivities. The previous two years they had been Juniors and were only allowed to watch. This year they were both thirteen years old, so deemed “sensible”. Well, the rest of the Third Form were deemed sensible, there was distinct unrest amongst the Staff whenever Bethany’s or Michelle’s name cropped up. However, Miss Malcoma, their form Mistress, had urged the headmistress, Miss Liverwort, an evil old crone it must be said, to let them take part in the activities.
“Both Bethany and Michelle are coming along quite nicely in Potions”, Miss Malcoma had told Miss Liverwort, “especially since we had the reinforced glass put in the windows of the Potions Lab. And that nasty green stain on the floor has almost faded. Perhaps they can work together on a small spell making project. They are both somewhat uncoordinated in broomstick dancing, and anyway there are fifteen in that Form, where thirteen is ideal for a dance exhibition.”
Miss Liverwort agreed, albeit somewhat reluctantly, although she did temper her agreement with promises of dire punishment for both Miss Malcoma and the girls if anything went wrong. Miss Malcoma paled perceptibly; Bethany and Michelle however were thrilled.
“I know,” said Beth, “let’s do that spell where we change an egg into a chicken and back again. You got a B for yours in the last exam, and even I managed a C.”
Michelle nodded eagerly, and the girls went to ask Prof Robbo for the proper ingredients for their spell. They tapped politely on the door and went inside. The room was empty. The girls decided they would just help themselves to whatever ingredients they needed. This was really very naughty, and strictly against the rules. Bethany and Michelle quickly gathered everything they thought they needed, substituting a couple of things they could not find for something similar, and scuttled off to the Potions Lab. The door there was locked.
“What do we do now,” asked Michelle.
“Kitchen”, replied Bethany succinctly. “I know it’s out of bounds, but we do need to practice.”
The kitchen was deserted. The girls took a saucepan and started to mix the herbs and potions, heating it gently until the mixture bubbled, murmuring incantations as they worked. Bethany started to look worried.
“It’s supposed to be bright pink, isn’t it?” she asked.
“You didn’t put a feather in it,” replied Michelle.
“Bother and blow!” snapped Bethany.
She let herself out of the back door and scurried across to the hen coop to find a feather. In her haste, she left the coop door ajar, and didn’t notice the hens streaming out behind her.
Arriving back at the kitchen, Bethany threw the feather into the pot, and cried out
“Eggio, disperatu, henus exactamus”.
Michelle started to say that she thought that was wrong, surely is was “disperam” not “disperatu” , but then she gripped Bethany’s arm.
“Someone’s coming in,” she hissed.
Bethany glanced into the saucepan, the mixture wasn’t bright pink at all, it was brown and a bit muddy looking. She hoicked the feather out of the pan, then followed Michelle who had fled out of the back door.
Gwladys, the Welsh maid, a nice girl, but definitely on the simple side, entered the kitchen.
“Oh goodo, Cook bach has made Miss Liverwort’s cocoa already. I’ll take her up a big mug cos the old bat is getting a cold, and she’s evil enough when she’s well. Plus she’s all bunged up, and she needs to be able to smell properly on Halloween.”
Gwladys tipped most of the contents of the girls’ pan into a large mug, and carried it off to the Headmistress’s study.
“About time too, Gwladys, you lazy girl” snapped Miss Liverwort, drinking most of the mug's contents at one gulp. “Groogh, everything tastes foul today.”
She glanced out of the window while Gwladys stood by the door, pleating her white apron between nervous fingers.
“Oh Gwladys, the hens are out. Get some of the girls, we must round them up.”
As Gwladys hurried to do her bidding, Miss Liverwort stood up. She felt rather peculiar, maybe this head cold was turning to flu. She really felt as if she was shrinking, and her wings were scratchy. Her wings? Miss Liverwort peered down, she was covered in brown feathers. She fluttered and hopped onto the window seat, and just as Gwladys re-entered the room she fluttered into the garden and joined the flock of hens running hither and thither across the lawn.
Gwladys ran outside and bumped into Bethany and Michelle.
“Miss Liverwort has vanished Miss Bethany. Her clothes are on the floor, and I saw a hen jumping out of the window. And Miss Liverwort never finished the cocoa I found in the kitchen either.”
Michelle and Bethany looked at each other horror stricken. Then they turned and ran round to the Headmistress’s garden. Several girls and Mistresses were already there, shooing the hens back into their coop. Twenty-five identical brown hens looked balefully through the wire. Bethany and Michelle quietly melted out of the crowd.
Next morning, in the absence of Miss Liverwort, Miss Malcoma took Assembly.
“Girls”, she announced, “something very serious has happened. Our beloved Headmistress…..” she paused as a suppressed murmur rose from the assembled girls, many of whom were casting their eyes up to the ceiling, “our beloved Headmistress, Miss Liverwort,“ continued Miss Malcoma firmly, “has vanished. We have decided to bring forward our Halloween Feast to today, as once the Authorities are let loose in this school, it will probably be closed down. People outside the Magical World do not understand our Scene. We will be called bad names. So after the Feast, all the Junior and Middle girls will be sent home early.”
One of the doors at the far end of Hall drifted open. A smell of roast chicken wafted around the room.
“As a special treat,” continued Miss Malcoma, “we will be having barbecued chicken, all lovely and fresh from our own hen coop.”
Bethany and Michelle gazed at each aghast.
“Looks like we may get away with it, Shell,” murmured Bethany to her friend, “but do remind me to go for the vegetarian option at the Feast.”