Howls Moving Castle Book PDF Details

Here is the details in regards to the file you were seeking to fill in. It can show you how long it will require to complete howls moving castle book, what fields you need to fill in, and so forth.

Form NameHowls Moving Castle Book
Form Length111 pages
Fillable fields0
Avg. time to fill out27 min 45 sec
Other nameshowls moving castle book pdf, howls moving castle pdf download, howl's moving castle book pdf download, howl's moving castle book

Form Preview Example

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt

Howl's Moving Castle

By Diana Wynne Jones

1: in which Sophie talks to hats

In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.

Sophie Hatter was the eldest of three sisters. She was not even the child of a poor woodcutter, which might have given her some chance of success. Her parents were well to do and kept a ladies' hat shop in the prosperous town of Market Chipping. True, her own mother died when Sophie was just two years old and her sister Lettie was one year old, and their father married his youngest shop assistant, a pretty blonde girl called Fanny. Fanny shortly gave birth to the third sister, Martha. This ought to have made Sophie and Lettie into Ugly Sisters, but in fact all three girls grew up very pretty indeed, though Lettie was the one everyone said was most beautiful. Fanny treated all three girls with the same kindness and did not favor Martha in the least.

Mr. Hatter was proud of his three daughters and sent them all to the best school in town. Sophie was the most studious. She read a great deal, and very soon realized how little chance she had of an interesting future. It was a disappointment to her, but she was still happy enough, looking after her sisters and grooming Martha to seek her fortune when the time came. Since Fanny was always busy in the shop, Sophie was the one who looked after the younger two. There was a certain amount of screaming and hair-pulling between those younger two. Lettie was by no means resigned to being the one who, next to Sophie, was bound to be the least successful.

"It's not fair!" Lettie would shout. "Why should Martha have the best of it just because she was born the youngest? I shall marry a prince, so there!"

To which Martha always retorted that she would end up disgustingly rich without having to marry anybody.

Then Sophie would have to drag them apart and mend their clothes. She was very deft with her needle. As time went on, she made clothes for her sisters too. There was one deep rose outfit she made for Lettie, the May Day before this story really starts, which Fanny said looked as if it had come from the most expensive shop in Kingsbury.

About this time everyone began talking of the Witch of the Waste again. It was said that the Witch had threatened the life of the King's daughter and that the King had commanded his personal magician, Wizard Suliman, to go into the Waste and deal with the Witch. And it seemed that Wizard Suliman had not only failed to deal with the Witch: he had got himself killed by her.

So when, a few months after that, a tall black castle suddenly appeared on the hills above Market Chipping, blowing clouds of black smoke from its four tall, thin turrets, everybody was fairly sure that the Witch had moved out of the Waste again and was about to terrorize the country the way she used to fifty years ago. People got very scared indeed. Nobody went out alone, particularly, at night. What made it all the scarier was that the castle did not stay in the same place. Sometimes it was a tall black smudge on the moors to the northwest, sometimes it reared above the rocks to the east, and sometimes it came right downhill to sit in the heather only just beyond the last farm to the north. You could see it actually moving sometimes, with smoke pouring out from the turrets in dirty gray gusts. For a while everyone was certain that the castle would come right down into the valley before long, and the Mayor talked of sending to the King for help.

Page 1

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt

But the castle stayed roving about the hills, and it was learned that it did not belong to the Witch but to Wizard Howl. Wizard Howl was bad enough. Though he did not seem to want to leave the hills, he was known to amuse himself by collecting young girls and sucking the souls from them. Or some people said he ate their hearts. He was an utterly cold-blooded and heartless wizard and no young girl was safe from him if he caught her on her own. Sophie, Lettie, and Martha, along with all the other girls in Market Chipping, were warned never to go out alone, which was a great annoyance to them. They wondered what use Wizard Howl found for all the souls he collected.

They had other things on their minds before long, however, for Mr. Hatter had died suddenly just as Sophie was old enough to leave school for good. It then appeared that Mr. Hatter had been altogether too proud of his daughters. The school fees he had been paying had left the shop with quite heavy debts. When the funeral was over, Fanny sat down in the parlor in the house next door to the shop and explained the situation.

"You'll all have to leave that school, I'm afraid," she said. "I've been doing sums back and front and sideways, and the only way I can see to keep the business going and take care of the three of you is to see you all settled in a promising apprenticeship somewhere. It isn't practical to have you all in the shop. I can't afford it. So this is what I've decided. Lettie first-"

Lettie looked up, glowing with health and beauty which even sorrow and black clothes could not hide. "I want to go on learning," she said.

"So you shall, love," said Fanny. "I've arranged for you to be apprenticed to Cesari's, the pastry cook in Market Square. They've a name for treating their learners like kings and queens, and you should be very happy there, as well as learning a useful trade. Mrs.Cesari's a good customer and a good friend, and she's agreed to squeeze you in as a favor."

Lettie laughed in a way that showed she was not at all pleased. "Well, thank you," she said. "Isn't it lucky that I like cooking?"

Fanny looked relieved. Lettie could be awkwardly strong-minded at times. "Now Martha," she said. "I know you're full young to go out and work, so I've thought around for something that would give you a long, quiet apprenticeship and go on being useful to you whatever you decide to do after that. You know my old school friend Annabel Fairfax?"

Martha, who was slender and fair, fixed her big gray eyes on Fanny almost as strong-mindedly as Lettie. "You mean the one who talks such a lot," she said. "Isn't she a witch?"

"Yes, with a lovely house and clients all over the Folding Valley," Fanny said eagerly. "She's a good woman, Martha. She'll introduce you to grand people she knows in Kingsbury. You'll be all set up in life when she's done with you."

"She's a nice lady," Martha conceded. "All right."

Sophie, listening, felt that Fanny had worked everything out just as it should be. Lettie, as the second daughter, was never likely to come to much, so Fanny had put her where she might meet a handsome young apprentice and live happily ever after. Martha, who was bound to strike out and make her fortune, would have witchcraft and rich friends to help her. As for Sophie herself, Sophie had no doubt what was coming. It did not surprise her when Fanny said, "Now, Sophie dear, it seems only right and just that you should inherit the hat shop when I retire, being the eldest as you are. So I've decided to take you on as an apprentice myself, to give you a chance to learn the trade. How do you feel about that?"

Sophie could hardly say that she simple felt resigned to the hat trade. She thanked Fanny


"So that's settled then!" Fanny said.

Page 2

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt

The next day Sophie helped Martha pack her clothes in a box, and the morning after that they all saw her off on the carrier's cart, looking small and upright and nervous. For the way to Upper Folding, where Mrs. Fairfax lived, lay over the hills past Wizard Howl's moving castle. Martha was understandably scared.

"She'll be all right," said Lettie. Lettie refused all help with the packing. When the carrier's cart was out of sight, Lettie crammed all her possessions into a pillow case and paid the neighbor's bootboy sixpence to wheel it in a wheelbarrow to Cesari's in Market Square. Lettie marched behind the wheelbarrow looking much more cheerful than Sophie expected. Indeed. She had the air of shaking the dust of the hat shop off her feet.

The bootboy brought back a scribbled note from Lettie, saying she had put her things in the girls' dormitory and Cesari's seemed great fun. A week later the carrier brought a letter from Martha to say that Martha had arrived safely and that Mrs. Fairfax was "a great dear and used honey with everything. She keeps bees." That was all Sophie heard of her sisters for quite a while because she started her own apprenticeship the day Martha and Lettie left.

Sophie of course knew the hat trade quite well already. Since she was a tiny child she had run in and out of the big workshed across the yard where the hats were damped and molded on blocks, and flowers and fruit and other trimmings were made from wax and silk. She knew the people who worked there. Most of them had been there when her father was a boy. She knew Bessie, the only remaining shop assistant. She knew the customers who bought the hats and the man who drove the cart which fetched raw straw hats in from the country to be shaped on the blocks in the shed. She knew the other suppliers and how you made felt for winter hats. There was not really much that Fanny could teach her, except perhaps the best way to get a customer to buy a hat.

"You lead up to the right hat, love," Fanny said. "Show them the ones that won't quite do first, so they know the difference as soon as they put the right one on."

In fact, Sophie did not sell hats very much. After a day or so observing in the workshed, and another day going round the clothier and the silk merchant's with Fanny, Fanny set her to trimming hats. Sophie sat in a small alcove at the back of the shop, sewing roses to bonnets and veiling to velours, lining all of them with silk and arranging wax fruit and ribbons stylishly on the outsides. She was good at it. She quite liked doing it. But she felt so isolated and a little dull. The workshop people were too old to be much fun and, besides, they treated her as someone apart who was going to inherit the business someday. Bessie treated her the same way. Bessie's only talk anyway was about the farmer she was going to marry the week after May Day. Sophie rather envied Fanny, who could bustle off to bargain with the silk merchant whenever she wanted.

The most interesting thing was the talk from the customers. Nobody can buy a hat without gossiping. Sophie sat in her alcove and stitched and heard that the Mayor never would eat green vegetables, and that Wizard Howl's castle had moved round to the cliffs again, really that man, whisper, whisper, whisper.... The voices always dropped low when they talked of Wizard Howl, but Sophie gathered that he had caught a girl down the valley last month. "Bluebeard!" said the whispers, and then became voices again to say that Jane Farrier was a perfect disgrace the way she did her hair. That was one who would never attract even Wizard Howl, let alone a respectable man. Then there would be a fleeting, fearful whisper about the Witch of the Waste. Sophie began to feel that Wizard Howl and the Witch of the Waste should get together.

"They seem to be made for one another. Someone ought to arrange a match," she remarked to the hat she was trimming at that moment.

But by the end of the month the gossip in the shop was suddenly all about Lettie. Cesari's, it

Page 3

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt

seemed, was packed with gentlemen from morning to night, each one buying quantities of cakes and demanding to be served by Lettie. She had ten proposals of marriage, ranging in quality from the Mayor's son to the lad who swept the streets, and she had refused them all, saying she was too young to make up her mind yet.

"I call that sensible of her," Sophie said to the bonnet she was pleating silk into.

Fanny was pleased with this news. "I knew she'd be all right!" she said happily. It occurred to Sophie that Fanny was glad Lettie was no longer around.

"Lettie's bad for custom," she told the bonnet, pleating away at the mushroom-colored silk. "She would make even you look glamorous, you dowdy old thing. Other ladies look at Lettie and despair."

Sophie talked to hats more and more as weeks went by. There was no one else much to talk to. Fanny was out bargaining, or trying to whip up custom, much of the day, and Bessie was busy serving and telling everyone her wedding plans. Sophie got into the habit of putting each hat on the stand as she finished it, where it sat almost looking like a head without a body, and pausing while she told the hat what the body under it ought to be like. She flattered the hats a bit, because you should flatter customers.

"You have mysterious allure," she told one that was all veiling with hidden twinkles. To a wide, creamy hat with roses under the brim, she said, "You are going to have to marry money!" and to a caterpillar-green straw with a curly green feather she said, "You are young as a spring leaf." She told pink bonnets they had dimpled charm and smart hats trimmed with velvet that they were witty. She told the mushroom-pleated bonnet, "You have a heart of gold and someone in a high position will see it and fall in love with you." This was because she was sorry for that particular bonnet. It looked so fussy and plain.

Jane Farrier came into the shop next day and bought it. Her hair did look a little strange, Sophie thought, peeping out of her alcove, as if Jane had wound it round a row of pokers. It seemed a pity she had chosen that bonnet. But everyone seemed to be buying hats and bonnets around then. Maybe it was Fanny's sales talk or maybe it was spring coming on, but the hat trade was definitely picking up. Fanny began to say, a little guiltily, "I think I shouldn't have been in such a hurry to get Martha and Lettie placed out. At this rate we might have managed."

There was so much custom as April drew on towards May Day that Sophie had to put on a demure gray dress and help in the shop too. But such was the demand that she was hard at trimming hats in between customers, and every evening she took them next door to the house, where she worked by lamplight far into the night in order to have hats to sell the next day. Caterpillar-green hats like the one the Mayor's wife had were much called for, and so were pink bonnets. Then, the week before May Day, someone came in and asked for one with mushroom pleats like the one Jane Farrier had been wearing when she ran off with the Count of Catterack.

That night, as she sewed, Sophie admitted to herself that her life was rather dull. Instead of talking to the hats, she tried each one on as she finished it and looked in the mirror. This was a mistake. The staid gray dress did not suit Sophie, particularly when her eyes were red-rimmed with sewing, and, since her hair was a reddish straw color, neither did caterpillar-green nor pink. The one with the mushroom pleats simply made her look dreary. "Like an old maid!" said Sophie. Not that she wanted to race off with counts, like Jane Farrier, or even fancied half the town offering her marriage, like Lettie. But she wanted to do something-she was not sure what- that had a bit more interest to it than simply trimming hats. She thought she would find time next day to go and talk to Lettie.

But she did not go. Either she could not find the time, or she could not find the energy, or it

Page 4

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt

seemed a great distance to Market Square, or she remembered that on her own she was in danger from Wizard Howl- anyway, every day it seemed more difficult to go and see her sister. It was very odd. Sophie had always thought she was nearly as strong-minded as Lettie. Now she was finding that there were some things she could only do when there were no excuses left. "This is absurd!" Sophie said. "Market Square is only two streets away. If I run-" And she swore to herself she would go round to Cesari's when the hat shop was closed for May Day.

Meanwhile a new piece of gossip came into the shop. The King had quarreled with his own brother, Prince Justin, it was said, and the Prince had gone into exile. Nobody quite knew the reason for the quarrel, but the Prince had actually come through Market Chipping in disguise a couple of months back, and nobody had known. The Count of Catterack had been sent by the King to look for the Prince, when he happened to meet Jane Farrier instead. Sophie listened and felt sad. Interesting things did seem to happen, but always to somebody else. Still, it would be nice to see Lettie.

May Day came. Merrymaking filled the streets from dawn onward. Fanny went out early, but Sophie had a couple of hats to finish first. Sophie sang as she worked. After all, Lettie was working too. Cesari's was open till midnight on holidays. "I shall buy one of their cream cakes," Sophie decided. "I haven't had one for ages." She watched people crowding past the window in all kinds of bright clothes, people selling souvenirs, people walking on stilts, and felt really excited.

But when she at last put a gray shawl over her gray dress and went out into the street, Sophie did not feel excited. She felt overwhelmed. There were too many people rushing past, laughing and shouting, far too much noise and jostling. Sophie felt as if the past months of sitting and sewing had turned her into an old woman or a semi-invalid. She gathered her shawl around her and crept along close to the houses, trying to avoid being trodden on my people's best shoes or being jabbed by elbows in trailing silk sleeves. When there came a sudden volley of bangs from overhead somewhere, Sophie thought she was going to faint. She looked up and saw Wizard Howl's castle right down on the hillside above the town, so near it seemed to be sitting on the chimneys. Blue flames were shooting out of all four of the castle's turrets, bringing balls of blue fire with them that exploded high in the sky, quite horrendously. Wizard Howl seemed to be offended by May Day. Or maybe he was trying to join in, in his own fashion. Sophie was too terrified to care. She would have gone home, except that she was halfway to Cesari's by then. So she ran.

"What made me think I wanted life to be interesting?" she asked as she ran. "I'd be far too scared. It comes of being the eldest of three."

When she reached Market Square, it was worse, if possible. most of the inns were in the Square. Crowds of young men swaggered beerily to and fro, trailing cloaks and long sleeves and stamping buckled boots they would never have dreamed of wearing on a working day, calling loud remarks and accosting girls. The girls strolled in fine pairs, ready to be accosted. It was perfectly normal for May Day, but Sophie was scared of that too. And when a young man in a fantastical blue-and-silver costume spotted Sophie and decided to accost her as well, Sophie shrank into a shop doorway and tried to hide.

The young man looked at her in surprise. "It's all right, you little gray mouse," he said, laughing rather pityingly. "I only want to buy you a drink. Don't look so scared."

The pitying look made Sophie utterly ashamed. He was such a dashing specimen too, with a bony, sophisticated face-really quite old, well into his twenties- and elaborate blonde hair. His sleeves trailed longer than any in the Square, all scalloped edges and silver insets. "Oh, no thank you, if you please, sir," Sophie stammered. "I- I'm on my way to see my sister."

"Then by all means do so," laughed this advanced young man. "Who am I to keep a pretty

Page 5

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt

lady from her sister? Would you like me to go with you, since you seem so scared?"

He meant it kindly, which made Sophie more ashamed than ever. "No. No thank you, sir!" she gasped and fled away past him. He wore perfume too. The smell of hyacinths followed her as she ran. What a courtly person! Sophie thought, as she pushed her way between the little tables outside Cesari's.

The tables were packed. Inside was packed and as noisy as the Square. Sophie located Lettie among the line of assistants at the counter because of the group of evident farmer' sons leaning their elbows on it to shout remarks to her. Lettie, prettier than ever and perhaps a little thinner, was putting cakes into bags as fast as she could go, giving each bag a deft little twist and looking back under her own elbow with a smile and an answer for each bag she twisted. There was a great deal of laughter. Sophie had to fight her way through to the counter.

Lettie saw her. She looked shaken for a moment. Then her eyes and her smile widened and she shouted, "Sophie!"

"Can I talk to you?" Sophie yelled. "Somewhere," she shouted, a little helplessly, as a large well-dressed elbow jostled her back from the counter.

"Just a moment!" Lettie screamed back. She turned to the girl next to her and whispered. The girl nodded, grinned, and came to take Lettie's place.

"You'll have to have me instead," she said to the crowd. "Who's next?" "But I want to talk to you, Lettie!" one of the farmers' sons yelled.

"Talk to Carrie," Lettie said. "I want to talk to my sister." Nobody really seemed to mind. They jostled Sophie along to the end of the counter where Lettie held up a flap and beckoned, and told her not to keep Lettie all day. When Sophie had edged through the flap, Lettie seized her wrist and dragged her into the back of the shop, to a room surrounded by rack upon wooden rack, each one filled with rows of cakes. Lettie pulled forward two stools. "Sit down," she said. She looked in the nearest rack, in an absent-minded way, and handed Sophie a cream cake out of it. "You may need this," she said.

Sophie sank onto the stool, breathing the rich smell of cake and feeling a little tearful. "Oh, Lettie!" she said. "I am so glad to see you!"

"Yes, and I'm glad you're sitting down," said Lettie. "You see, I'm not Lettie, I'm Martha."

2:in which Sophie is compelled to seek her fortune.

"What?" Sophie stared at the girl on the stool opposite her. She looked just like Lettie. She was wearing Lettie's second-best blue dress, a wonderful blue that suited her perfectly. She had Lettie's dark hair and blue eyes.

"I am Martha," said her sister. "Who did you catch cutting up Lettie's silk drawers? I never told Lettie that. Did you?"

"No," said Sophie, quite stunned. She could see it was Martha now. There was Martha's tilt to Lettie's head, and Martha's way of clasping her hands round her knees with her thumbs twiddling. "Why?"

"I've been dreading you coming to see me," Martha said, "because I knew I'd have to tell you. It's a relief now I have. Promise you won't tell anyone. I know you won't tell if you promise. You're so honorable."

"I promise," Sophie said. "But why? How?"

Page 6

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt

"Lettie and I arranged it," Martha said, twiddling her thumbs, "because Lettie wanted to learn witchcraft and I didn't. Lettie's got brains, and she wants a future where she can use them-only try telling that to Mother! Mother's too jealous of Lettie even to admit she has brains!"

Sophie could not believe Fanny was like that, but she let it pass. "But what about you?"

"Eat your cake," said Martha. "It's good. Oh, yes, I can be clever too. It only took me two weeks at Mrs. Fairfax's to find the spell we're using. I got up at night and read her books secretly, and it was easy really. Then I asked if I could visit my family and Mrs. Fairfax said yes. She's a dear. She thought I was homesick. So I took the spell and came here, and Lettie went back to Mrs. Fairfax pretending to be me. The difficult part was the first week, when I didn't know all the things I was supposed to know. It was awful. But I discovered that people like me-they do, you know, if you like them-and then it was all right. And Mrs. Fairfax hasn't kicked Lettie out, so I suppose she managed too."

Sophie chomped at cake she was not really tasting. "But what made you want to do this?"

Martha rocked on her stool, grinning all over Lettie's face, twirling her thumbs in a happy pink whirl. "I want to get married and have ten children."

"You're not quite old enough!" said Sophie.

"Not quite," Martha agreed. "But you can see I've got to start quite soon in order to fit ten children in. And this way gives me time to wait and see if the person I want likes me for being me. The spell's going to wear off gradually, and I shall get more and more like myself, you see."

Sophie was so astonished that she finished her cake without noticing what kind it had been. "Why ten children?"

"Because that's how many I want," Said Martha. "I never knew!"

"Well, it wasn't much good going on about it when you were so busy backing Mother up about me making my fortune," Martha said. "You thought Mother meant it. I did too, until Father died and I saw she was just trying to get rid of us- putting Lettie where she was bound to meet a lot of men and get married off, and sending me as far away as she could! I was so angry I thought, Why not? And I spoke to Lettie and she was just as angry and we fixed it up. We're fine now. But we both feel bad about you. You're far too clever and nice to be stuck in that shop for the rest of your life. We talked about it, but we couldn't see what to do."

"I'm all right," Sophie protested. "Just a bit dull."

"All right?" Martha exclaimed. "Yes, you prove you're all right by not coming near here for months, and then turning up in a frightful gray dress and shawl, looking as if even I scare you! What's Mother been doing to you?"

"Nothing," Sophie said uncomfortably. "We've been rather busy. You shouldn't talk about Fanny that way, Martha. She is your mother."

"Yes, and I'm enough like her to understand her," Martha retorted. "That's why she sent me so far away, or tried to. Mother knows you don't have to be unkind to someone in order to exploit them. She knows how dutiful you are. She knows you have this thing about being a failure because you're only the eldest. She's managed you perfectly and got you slaving away for her. I bet she doesn't pay you."

"I'm still an apprentice," Sophie protested.

"So am I, but I get a wage. The Cesaris know I'm worth it," said Martha. "That hat shop is making a mint these days, and all because of you! You made that green hat that makes the Mayor's wife look like a stunning schoolgirl, didn't you?"

"Caterpillar green. I trimmed it," said Sophie.

"And the bonnet Jane Farrier was wearing when she met that nobleman," Martha swept on. "You're a

Page 7

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt

genius with hats and clothes, and Mother knows it! You sealed your fate when you made Lettie that outfit last May Day. Now you earn the money while she goes off gadding-"

"She's out doing the buying," Sophie said.

"Buying!" Martha cried. Her thumbs whirled. "That takes her half a morning. I've seen her, Sophie, and heard the talk. She's off in a hired carriage and new clothes on your earnings, visiting all the mansions down the valley! They're saying she's going to buy that big place down at Vale End and set up in style. And where are you?"

"Well, Fanny's entitled to some pleasure after all her hard work bringing us up," Sophie said. "I suppose I'll inherit the shop."

"What a fate!" Martha exclaimed. "Listen-"

But at that moment two empty cake racks were pulled away at the other end of the room, and an apprentice stuck his head through from the back somewhere "Thought I heard your voice, Lettie," he said, grinning in the most friendly and flirtatious way. "The new baking's just up. Tell them." His head, curly and somewhat floury, disappeared again. Sophie thought he looked a nice lad. She longed to ask if he was the one Martha really liked, but she did not get a chance. Martha sprang up in a hurry, still talking.

"I must get the girls to carry all these through to the shop." She said. "Help me with the end of this one." She dragged out the nearest rack and Sophie helped her hump it past the door into the roaring, busy shop. "You must do something about yourself, Sophie," Martha panted as they went. "Lettie kept saying she didn't know what would happen to you when we weren't around to give you some self-respect. She was right to be worried."

In the shop Mrs. Cesari seized the rack from them in both massive arms, yelling instructions, and a line of people rushed away past Martha to fetch more. Sophie yelled goodbye and slipped away in the bustle. It did not seem right to take up more of Martha's time. Besides, she wanted to be alone to think. She ran home. There were fireworks now, going up from the field by the river where the Fair was, competing with the blue bangs from Howl's castle. Sophie felt more like an invalid than ever.

She thought and thought, and most of the following week, and all that happened was that she became confused and discontented. Things just did not seem to be the way she thought they were. She was amazed at Lettie and Martha. She had misunderstood them for years. But she could not believe Fanny was the kind of woman Martha said.

There was a lot of time for thinking, because Bessie duly left to be married and Sophie was mostly alone in the shop. Fanny did seem to be out a lot, gadding or not, and trade was slack after May Day. After three days Sophie plucked up enough courage to ask Fanny, "Shouldn't I be earning a wage?"

"Of course, my love, with all you do!" Fanny answered warmly, fixing on a rose-trimmed hat in front of the shop mirror. "We'll see about it as soon as I've done the accounts this evening." Then she went out and did not come back until Sophie had shut the shop and taken that day's hats through to the house to trim.

Sophie at first felt mean to have listened to Martha, but when Fanny did not mention a wage, either that evening or any time later that week, Sophie began to think that Martha had been right.

"Maybe I am being exploited," she told a hat she was trimming with red silk and a bunch of wax cherries, "but someone has to do this or there will be no hats at all to sell." She finished that hat and started on a stark black-and-white one, very modish, and a quite new thought came to her. "Does it matter if there are no hats to sell?" she asked it. She looked round at the assembled hats, on stands or waiting in a heap to be trimmed. "What good are you all?" she asked them. "You certainly aren't doing me a scrap of good."

Page 8

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt

And she was within an ace of leaving the house and settling out to seek her fortune, until she remembered she was the eldest and there was no point. She took up the hat again, sighing.

She was still discontented, alone in the shop next morning, when a very plain young woman customer stormed in, whirling a pleated mushroom bonnet by its ribbons. "Look at this!" the young lady shrieked. "You told me this was the same as the bonnet Jane Farrier was wearing when she met the Count. And you lied. Nothing has happened to me at all!"

"I'm not surprised," Sophie said, before she had caught up with herself. "If you're fool enough to wear that bonnet with a face like that, you wouldn't have the wit to spot the King himself if he came a begging- if he hadn't turned to stone first just at the sight of you."

The customer glared. Then she threw the bonnet at Sophie and stormed out of the shop. Sophie carefully crammed the bonnet into the wastebasket, panting rather. The rule was : Lose your temper, lose a customer. She had just proven that rule. It troubled her to realize how very enjoyable it had been. Sophie had no time to recover. There was the sound of wheels and horse hoofs and a carriage darkened the window. The shop bell clanged and the grandest customer she had ever seen sailed in, with a sable wrap drooping from her elbows and diamonds winking all over her dense black dress. Sophie's eyes went to the lady's wide hat first- real ostrich plume dyed to reflect the pinks and greens and blues winking in the diamonds and yet still look black. This was a wealthy hat. The lady's face was carefully beautiful. The chestnut brown hair made her seem young, but...Sophie's eyes took in the young man who followed the lady in, a slightly formless-faced person with reddish hair, quite well dressed, but pale and obviously upset. He stared at Sophie with a kind of beseeching horror. He was clearly younger than the lady. Sophie was puzzled.

"Miss Hatter?" the lady asked in a musical but commanding voice.

"Yes," said Sophie. The man looked more upset than ever. Perhaps the lady was his mother. "I hear you sell the most heavenly hats," said the lady. "Show me."

Sophie did not trust herself to answer in her present mood. She went and got out hats. None of them were in this lady's class, but she could feel the man's eyes following her and that made her uncomfortable. The sooner that lady discovered the hats were all wrong for her, the sooner this odd pair would go. She followed Fanny's advice and got out the wrongest first.

The lady began rejecting hats instantly. "Dimples," she said to the pink bonnet, and "Youth" to the caterpillar-green one. To the one of twinkles and veils she said, "Mysterious allure. How very obvious. What else have you?"

Sophie got out the modish black-and-white, which was the only hat even remotely likely to interest this lady.

The lady looked at it with contempt. "This one doesn't do anything for anybody. You're wasting my time, Miss Hatter."

"Only because you came in and asked for hats" Sophie said. "This is only a small shop in a small town, Madam. Why did you-" Behind the lady, the man gasped and seemed to be trying to signal warningly. "- bother to come in?" Sophie finished, wondering what was going on.

"I always bother when someone tries to set themselves up against the Witch of the Waste," said the lady. "I've heard of you, Miss Hatter, and I don't care for your competition or your attitude. I came to put a stop to you. There." She spread out her hand in a flinging motion towards Sophie's face.

"You mean you're the Witch of the Waste?" Sophie quavered. Her voice seemed to have gone strange with fear and astonishment.

"I am," said the lady. "And let that teach you to meddle with things that belong to me."

"I don't think I did. There must be some mistake," Sophie croaked. The man was now staring at her in

Page 9

Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle.txt utter horror, though she could not see why.

"No mistake, Miss Hatter," said the Witch. "Come, Gaston." She turned and swept to the shop door. While the man was humbly opening it for her, she turned back to Sophie. "By the way, you won't be able to tell anyone you're under a spell," she said. The shop door tolled like a funeral bell as she left.

Sophie put her hands to her face, wondering what the man had stared at. She felt soft, leathery wrinkles. She looked at her hands. They were wrinkled too, and skinny, with large veins in the back and knuckles like knobs. She pulled her gray skirt against her legs and looked down at skinny, decrepit ankles and feet which had made her shoes all knobbly. They were the legs of someone about ninety and they seemed to be real.

Sophie got herself to the mirror, and found she had to hobble. The face in the mirror was quite calm, because it was what she expected to see. It was the face of a gaunt old woman, withered and brownish, surrounded by wispy white hair. Her own eyes, yellow and watery, stared out at her, looking rather tragic.

"Don't worry, old thing," Sophie said to the face. "You look quite healthy. Besides, this is much more like you really are."

She thought about her situation, quite calmly. Everything seemed to have gone calm and remote. She was not even particularly angry with the Witch of the Waste.

"Well, of course I shall have to do for her when I get the chance," she told herself, "but meanwhile, if Lettie and Martha can stand being one another, I can stand being like this. But I can't stay here. Fanny would have a fit. Let's see. This gray dress is quite suitable, but I shall need my shawl and some food." She hobbled over to the shop door and carefully put up the CLOSED notice. Her joints creaked as she moved. She had to walk bowed and slow. But she was relieved to discover that she was quite a hale old woman. She did not feel weak or ill, just stiff. She hobbled to collect her shawl, and wrapped it over her head and shoulders, as old women did. Then she shuffled through into the house, where she collected her purse with a few coins in it and a parcel or bread and cheese. She let herself out of the house, carefully hiding the key in the usual place, and hobbled away down the street, surprised at how calm she still felt.

She did wonder if she should say goodbye to Martha. But she did not like the idea of Martha not knowing her. It was best just to go. Sophie decided she would write to both her sisters when she got wherever she was going, and shuffled on, though the field where the Fair had been, over the bridge, and on into the country lanes beyond. It was a warm spring day. Sophie discovered that being a crone did not stop her from enjoying the sight and smell of may in the hedgerows, though her sight was a little blurred. Her back began to ache. She hobbled sturdily enough, but she needed a stick. She searched the hedges as she went for a loose stake of some kind.

Evidently, her eyes were not as good as they had been. She thought she saw a stick, a mile or so on, but when she hauled on it, it proved to be the bottom end of an old scarecrow someone had thrown into the hedge. Sophie heaved the thing upright. It had a withered turnip for a face. Sophie found she had some fellow feeling for it. Instead of pulling it to pieces and taking the stick, she stuck it between two branches of the hedge, so that it stood looming rakishly above the may, with the tattered sleeves on its stick arms fluttering over the hedge.

"There," she said, and her crackled old voice surprised her into giving a cracked old cackle of laughter. "Neither of us are up to much, are we, my friend? Maybe you'll get back to your field if I leave you where people can see you." She set off up the lane again, but a thought struck her and she turned back. "Now if I wasn't doomed to failure because of my position in the family," she told the scarecrow, "you could come to life and offer me help in making my fortune. But I wish you luck

Page 10

Watch Howls Moving Castle Book Video Instruction

Please rate Howls Moving Castle Book

1 Votes
If you believe this page is infringing on your copyright, please familiarize yourself with and follow our DMCA notice and takedown process - click here to proceed .