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Luzula and the Northern Lights (youngsters:fairy tales, 3145 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: May 12 2006Views/Reads: 3728/2244Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
She had never been invited to enter Asperula's cottage before and she found this, and the fact that she was expected, just a little scary…. Another bedtime story from Astrantia (following on from Luzula and the Biloba Tree).

Luzula and the Northern Lights (Another tale from Astrantia) 

© 2006 Ian G. Hobson 

The doorknocker had been really bored.  Now that might seem a very odd
thing, but if you think about it; doorknockers do have about the most 
boring job that it's possible to have; just waiting around all day for 
someone to come to the door.  And this is especially true for magic 
doorknockers like the one on Asperula's cottage door because, well, 
they are blessed with a lot more intelligence than your average 
doorknocker, and often have to find things to do to amuse themselves 
between visitors: like trying to guess when the next visitor will 
arrive, or counting the cracks in the garden path or the leaves on the 
nearest tree. 

They even play eye-spy with themselves, spying something beginning with
A and then something beginning with B until they have gone through the 
whole alphabet.  And then they have to recall all of the things they've 
spied, which is not so difficult as it might sound, because with so 
little else to do, they do tend to develop very good memories. 

Now as you may recall from earlier stories, Asperula was a witch, and
her magic doorknocker was fashioned in the shape of a monkey's head, 
and as visitors approached he would shout out 'Visitor!' making it 
completely unnecessary for them to grab hold of him and knock; which 
was just as well because if anyone did do that it would give him a 
terrible headache.  Though even a headache would have relieved the 
boredom he'd suffered because, you see, Asperula had been away for 
almost half of the summer and well into the autumn.  And as word had 
got around that she wasn't at home, less and less people had called to 
see her, and so there had been less and less for the doorknocker to do. 

But at last his mistress had returned, and people had begun to call
again.  Not that Asperula liked visitors that much; especially 
children.  Which was why when a young girl arrived at the cottage one 
morning, the doorknocker didn't shout out straight away, but just 
whispered, 'Hello, it's Luzula, isn't it?  I've not seen you since the 
time your mother was ill.  How is she now?' 

'She's very well,' replied Luzula.  She was carrying a small leather
satchel and wearing leather shoes and a lovely emerald-green dress and 
a cloak of a darker green; and with her long and lustrous dark hair 
falling about her shoulders, she looked, for a nine-year-old girl, 
really quite stunning.  'I've heard that Asperula is back,' she said.  
'Is she in?' 

But before the doorknocker could reply, the door was opened from the
inside, and there stood Asperula wearing a long black dress and a 
grubby apron.  'Come in,' she said, 'I've been expecting you.' 

The doorknocker was quite surprised at this, though not as surprised as
Luzula.  Her confidence had grown in recent days as she had discovered 
that she could do things that were really quite amazing; but still, she 
had never been invited to enter Asperula's cottage before and she found 
this, and the fact that she was expected, just a little scary. 

'Thank you,' she said as she stepped over the threshold and into
Asperula's kitchen.  Though kitchen was perhaps not quite the right 
word for the room because, as well as the usual pots and pans that 
might be found in almost any kitchen, the walls were hung with dried 
herbs and wild flowers and old bones; most of them covered with 
cobwebs.  And on the shelves were all manner of bottles and jars filled 
with all manner of things, like pickled toads and rat's eyeballs and 
crow's feet and some things that seemed so disgusting that Luzula 
thought it best not to look too closely at them.  But something that 
did catch her eye was a stack of dusty old books, the top one of which 
looked very much like a book that she herself owned. 

'Sit down,' said Asperula as she pulled a rickety old chair out from
under her circular kitchen table and sat down herself; all the while 
observing Luzula and noticing how much she had changed since she had 
last seen her. 

Luzula sat opposite, looking with interest at Asperula's blackened steel

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