Wilhemina woke with a start.
"Drat!" she thought. "I'm so tired I just drifted off. And that dream about Mars and Venus was pretty grim, not to mention that dragon and all those ghastly Scandinavians! It's back to work if I want to get even with Elspeth."
It was easier said than done however - she was still short of those three hairs from a vixen's tail. And then she had a brainwave - where was that smirking ginger tomcat Tibbles who swaggered around the tower looking for mice and slaughtering little birds on the battlements? Tibbles wouldn't miss a few hairs and it couldn't make much of a difference to the spell..
She found the ginger tom playing with a small rat. It looked as if he'd been at it for hours, for the hapless rodent looked distinctly the worse for wear. Tibbles wasn't particularly happy to let Wilhemina have a few hairs - indeed he scratched and spat so furiously that she had to reward him with a good kick - but that didn't matter. She had what she wanted.
Now donning her pointed hat, and flushed with pleasure at the thought of Elspeth waking up in the morning as a toad, she began to mix the spell's ingredient in a bowl, all the while intoning the words. Vixen or Tomcat, she reassured herself - the hairs can't be all that different.
It was midnight when she was done. "Now my fine little fool," she thought, "you're in for one very nasty shock indeed!"
* * *
The sun was streaming in when Elspeth woke and her first memory was of just how dreary that ride here with Prince Gorgeous had been last evening. "He might look handsome, but what an air-head", she thought. "Is he interested in nothing but male grooming products and the latest fashions in silk cloaks?" It was a pity that the dark, strong, silent stranger with the intriguing scar who had ridden with them had been just a little bit too silent. Now he did look interesting ...
Elspeth's gaze fell on the shoes she had kicked off the night before. And as she shifted her gaze the shoes rose with it, six or eight inches above the floor. She looked away and saw them drop. She looked at her hand mirror on the night table and as she looked away it too rose and followed her glance.
Something had happened in the night, she realised, something unexpected, something that had given her powers she had never expected ...
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