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Asperula's Rainbow (youngsters:fairy tales, 2534 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Jan 08 2006Views/Reads: 3325/1583Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
'I don't have black cats in my garden; they're bad luck. Now shoo, before I turn you into goat!' Another bedtime story from the fairytale land of Astrantia.

Asperula's Rainbow (Another tale from Astrantia) 

© 2005 Ian G. Hobson 

It was a typical Astrantian afternoon, with warm sunshine and not a
cloud in the sky; and Asperula was sitting in her garden reading.  As 
you may recall from earlier stories, Asperula was a witch, and what she 
was reading was an old book of magic spells that she'd forgotten about 
and then rediscovered when if fell from a shelf as she dusted it. 

The spell book had proved very useful.  Asperula had deciphered some of
the ancient writings and discovered spells to cure everything from 
toothaches to in-growing toenails, and from hiccups to spotty faces.  
She had found spells to mend leaky roofs and straighten crooked 
chimneys, and to chop fallen trees into firewood, and even to turn 
weeds into flowers.  So her cottage was looking much smarter than it 
ever had before, and her garden was the best in the whole village. 

'Rap, Rap, Rap! Visitor!' announced the shinny doorknocker on her front
door.  The doorknocker was, of course, a magic one, and it had become 
very good predicting exactly when someone would arrive, even before it 
could see them coming.  And sure enough, as Asperula looked up from her 
book, Thymus the cat sprang up onto the garden gate and then dropped 
down onto the garden path.  He was on his way home after visiting his 
friend Luzula in the village, and having heard about Asperula's 
beautiful new garden, he'd come to take a look. 

'Shoo!' exclaimed Asperula, as Thymus approached.  'I don't have black
cats in my garden; they're bad luck.  Now shoo, before I turn you into 
a goat!' 

Thymus stopped and sat down to lick at each of his hind legs in turn. 
He wasn't the least bit afraid of Asperula.  He lived in the old tower, 
across the river, with Holcus the warlock and knew almost as much about 
magic as Asperula did. 

'If you turn me into a goat, I'll charge at you,' he said, interrupting
his grooming and looking around.  'And I'll eat your flowers.'  Then he 
noticed the book that Asperula held in her hand.  There was a face on 
the front cover; an unsmiling but familiar looking face.  'Doesn't that 
book belong to Holcus?' he asked.  'It looks like one of his.' 

Asperula thought for a moment; she had completely forgotten that the
book had once belonged to Holcus.  Then she remembered that Holcus had 
thrown the book at her after they had argued over something; they were 
not exactly the best of friends.  'It might do,' she replied, 'but 
that's none of your business.  Now shoo!' 

'Very well,' said Thymus, turning back towards the gate.  'I know when
I'm not welcome.' 

Asperula returned to reading her spell book, but just as Thymus leaped
back onto the gate, she looked up and said 'Wait... Does Holcus ever 
travel by rainbow?' 

Balancing easily on the top of the gate, Thymus turned back to face
Asperula.  'Travel by rainbow?' he repeated, looking puzzled.  But then 
he remembered hearing something about witches riding rainbows as an 
alternative to broomsticks.  'No, I don't think so, but he never goes 
anywhere these days anyway.  Why do you ask?' 

'Never mind,' replied Asperula, returning to her book. 

'Ah, I see,' said Thymus.  'You've found something in the spell book
about rainbow-riding.  Well, you'd have to find a rainbow first.  I 
can't remember the last time I saw one...  Perhaps you should start by 
making it rain.'  And with that, he turned and dropped down the outside 
of the gate and was gone. 

'Making it rain,' said Asperula.  'What nonsense.'   But then she looked
up from her book with the beginnings of a smile on her face.  Since 
finding the rainbow-riding spell she had felt a surprising urge to try 
it out, perhaps because she remembered stories of her great-grandmother 
travelling that way.  But rainbows needed summer rain-showers; a rarity 
in Astrantia.  So there was little chance of her doing so, unless: if 

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