And I’m here with a story about Katie the Witch! In this story you’ll hear about botany, which is the study of plants. Not everyone rates botany as the most exciting subject in the world, but if you are a witch, it’s very important for making spells.
So without any further ado,
Katie never knows quite what to expect for her birthday. One year her mum gave her large green encyclopedia of Botany. It identified all sorts of obscure plants from around the world giving their health and magical properties. For example, you could discover that pennywort has traditionally been used for rheumatism and asthma, and Madagascar Periwinkle can cure all sorts of nasty things.
“Wow, thanks mum,” said Katie when she unwrapped it. But to tell you the truth, the volume was a little on the heavy side for her tastes. It spent most of the time under her bed, unloved and forgotten.
The following birthday, what Katie really wanted was a new laptop. Dad had given her some money for Christmas, and would probably give her some more of her birthday, but would it be enough for her to buy the one she wanted?
“Oh dear,” sighed Katie when she spoke to her best friend, Isis, “As I get older, I wonder if I really want to be a witch.”
“What makes you say that?” Asked Isis astonished. “Magic is so useful! I’m really envious that you can do so many things with a snap of your fingers!”
“Magic is much harder than it looks,” said Katie, “And besides it doesn’t make you rich. Look at us! We’re so hard up!”
And Isis, whose parents were rich, and gave her everything she wanted, had to agree that Katie wasn’t quite so fortunate.
“Why don’t you just magic up some money?” She asked.
“Dad always used to ask the same question. It’s one of the reasons my parents broke up. They were always arguing about it. Mum says it’s immoral to make money out of nothing and would ruin the economy. Dad says politicians do it all the time, so why shouldn’t hard up people use a little magic now and then ?”
“Well cheer up, let’s go roller-blading, at least that’s free.”
“I can’t,” said Katie. “My blades are broken and mum doesn’t like me skating because thinks it’s dangerous.”
So instead they went for a walk in the Botanical gardens, which are lovely at any time of year. Some of the trees had lost their leaves, but others were red or golden. The greenhouses were hot, green, and steamy and when the girls stepped out into the air, they both shivered.
“Brrrrr,” said Katie. “I should have brought my botany book. All these weird plants will be in there. But it’s so heavy that if I carried it in my bag I would need to find a magical cure for backache.”
But Isis wasn’t listening. She was staring at a clump of evergreen bushes. “I’m sure I just saw your cat, Solomon!” she said.
“No, that’s impossible, that lazy kitty is curled up in the airing cupboard at home.”
“No look!” Exclaimed Katie pointing at the branch of a tree.
So Katie looked. There was no doubt about it, a black cat with a cheeky face like Solomon’s was crawling along a low branch. Then he leapt down into the bushes and disappeared.
“I think you’re right,” said Katie. “I can feel a sort of tingle in my nose that means it really is him, not just any old black cat.”
“What do you think he’s doing here? We’re on the other side of town from his usual prowling ground.”
“I don’t know,” said Katie, “Let’s find out.”
So she said some magic words and snapped her fingers. A moment later, Katie and Isis were both cats. Isis was a natural blonde cat, and Katie was a dark chest nutty colour. They both ran in the direction of the bushes.
Soon they were crawling through the undergrowth. The leaves tickled their bellies, and their whiskers tingled when they tried to go through a gap that was too narrow. The world seemed quite noisy because they both had developed ultra-sensitive hearing. They could catch every bird tweet and every leaf rustle.
“This is so much more fun than rollerblading,” said Isis. Or at least she tried to say that - but what came out of her mouth was a pathetic sort of whiny meow, because she wasn’t used to talking like a cat.
When they poked their noses out of the bushes, they caught sight of Solomon. He was using his mouth to pick some leaves off a plant. Both Isis and Katie stayed ever so still while they watched him.
“I know what he’s up to,” thought Katie. “He’s collecting magical ingredients. I wonder what spell he wants to do?”
Fortunately, Solomon went on his way without noticing that he was being followed. Isis and Katie ran up to the bush where he had been collecting leaves - Katie noted the tag that read:
Salvia miltiorrhiza - Red Sage
She repeated the name three times to commit it memory:
Before running on in the same direction that she had last seen Solomon heading. They soon spied him by an ornamental pond. “I hope he isn’t stupid enough to go near the lilies,” thought Katie, worried. She knew that the powder from lilies is extremely poisonous to pets, especially cats. Fortunately, Solomon gave the lilies a wide birth and went up to a weeping willow tree where he scratched some of the bark with his claw. When he moved on, Katie and Isis ran up and saw that the name of the tree was Salix Alba
Katie repeated :
They swiftly sprinted over to the steamy hothouse where Solomon was prowling through a weird jungle made up of spiky cactus plants. Finally, he found what he was looking for and he carefully scratched off a bit of the stem of a cactus. Then in a flash, he vanished into the jungle.
“Did he see us?” meowed Isis who had now got the hang of cat talk.
“I don’t know,” replied Katie. “It’s a good thing we are in disguise. Then she noted the name of the Cactus plant that Solomon had sampled.
After that, they couldn’t track down Solomon. He must have been taking care to not be followed. So eventually, Katie said the reverse spell and the two temporary cats turned back into girls.
“Wow! That was amazing!” exclaimed Isis. “I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to be a cat.”
“It was fun,” agreed Katie, “But I wonder what spell Solomon is making.”
“How does he manage to carry so many leaves and bits of cactus in his mouth?’ asked Isis.
“Oh he swallows them and then he sicks them up when he gets home - usually in the laundry basket.”
“Yuk!” exclaimed Isis.
“He’s a naughty cat really,” agreed Katie.
Now that Katie was back to normal, she wrote down the names of the plants before she forgot them. She couldn’t wait to get back to her desk and consult the green botany book that her mother had given her. That evening, after thumbing through the pages, and taking notes, she learned that Salvia Miltiorrhiza or Red Sage is prized in Chinese medicine and has long been used to treat heart disease.
Salix Alba or White Willow has been used since ancient Egyptian times to bring down fevers. And that the Ancient Greeks and Romans used the cactus-like plant, Aloe Vera, to treat burns and wounds and these days it is often found in cosmetics and skincare.
Katie was still puzzled. “Is he opening a herbal medicine shop?” she wondered. “Perhaps he’s going to sell natural remedies online?”
She continued to turn the pages back and forth, and finally, she had an idea. She looked up “cats” in the index. And there, on page 1423, was a reference to cat remedies. Quickly she scanned the page and found that
“Magical Cats sometimes use willow bark to heal one of their 9 lives.”
Further on she read, “Cats also prize the healing qualities of Aloe Vera,” and that Chinese cats have long appreciated the magical qualities of Red Sage.”
“So that explains it,” thought Katie, “He’s a health-conscious cat. Well, why not? I’m glad he looks after himself.”
Katie’s birthday came a few days later. Her dad sent her the best sort of birthday card - one that has some money inside it. And her Mum gave her - much to her surprise - some new rollerblades.”
“Oh thank you Mum!” exclaimed Katie “You used to say that rollerblading is dangerous!”
“Well I still think that it is,” said Mum, “But Solomon has been helping out with that.”
“Meeow, so I have,” agreed Solomon. “Come on, hand it over.”
Mum gave Katie a small present which she soon unwrapped Inside was a little jar full of ointment.
“Well thank you,” said Katie. “Er, what’s it for?”
“It’s an ancient salve called 9 lives,” said Katie’s mum. “Rub a little behind your ears before you go rollerblading and it will give you a kind of cat sense. If you fall, even at speed you should land gracefully without any harm. Solomon went out and collected most of the magical ingredients for it.”
“Wow thank you, Solomon! That’s so kind of you! ” exclaimed Katie. And she gave her beloved pet a big hug.
“Oh it’s nothing really,” said Solomon. “We cats are generous and thoughtful by nature.”
And of course, Katie couldn’t wait to go rollerblading with her best friend isis - and she even let Isis use a little bit of 9 lives behind her ears so that both of them managed to land as safely as a cat does.
I’d just like to give a shoutout to Amity from Australia, who suggested that Katie and Isis follow Katie’s cat Solomon to see what he does all day - which set me thinking about this plot.
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