Abigail and Rebecca were waiting with their brooms as the Bell family finished mooring Misty Magic. Jennifer Jane ran off to the broom shed to borrow a broom for herself, then following Abigail’s lead, the group took off and headed for the secret cottage building site. The family were so excited that the journey seemed to be over very quickly. Jennifer Jane checked her watch and found to her astonishment that it had taken them just over an hour.
A young wizard came to meet them as they landed. “Welcome to Merlin Homes. My name is Martin, I’m a junior member of the firm and I’m to be the guide for your tour!”
Jennifer Jane just managed to stop herself giggling. It would be very rude if she did, but the wizard was talking exactly like all the tour guides in her own world. She expected that he would take them around the area, talking about the work in the same bored sounding voice that he’d had to use so many times before.
She was quite right, but hopefully when he got to the bit about questions she would throw him out of his stride. The building work they visited all looked perfectly normal. Jennifer Jane felt that she could see just as much, by looking at any new buildings being erected at home. She waited patiently and at last heard the words she’d been waiting for.
“That concludes our tour round the works, now then would anyone like to ask any questions before I take you to the canteen for some refreshment?”
She nearly giggled again, tour guides mostly included the words ‘Gift Shop’ in this speech at home, but she supposed that here it must be different. It was a magic area after all so she supposed that souvenirs were not really appropriate for witches.
“Please Martin, my understanding of magic is that it depends on power taken from Ley lines. If your beautiful cottages can visit worlds where there is no magic, then how do they manage to get back home again?”
Martin looked carefully at her for a moment. “And your name young lady?”
“Jennifer Jane, I’m a third year apprentice at the Witches’ Home near Lurbridge.”
For the first time Martin seemed a bit more human. He grinned at her for a moment, “Strange! No offence meant young lady but you seem rather shorter than I’d been led to believe!”
The whole party including Martin, burst out laughing at this remark.
“Answering your question,” he said when everyone had calmed down a bit, “the method we use to move our homes is as you say quite correctly, based on the use of Ley lines. Each unit has its own line buried under the back garden, which is why there’s always a wall at one end connecting it to a parallel world where magic does exist. This takes magic power from the Ley lines on that world and keeps the flow moving in the cottage’s power unit.”
“Are all your buildings on the same basic plan?” asked Dave, “and can I also ask how many there are in existence.”
“Most of our cottages are very similar. It’s a help to have a basically acceptable design whichever world you happen to travel in. In some places it may be a bit futuristic, in others definitely old fashioned, but we haven’t found a place so far where the locals haven’t accepted them. Answering your second question, our records show that we’ve built about seven hundred over the years, of which two hundred and seventy three are still fully operational. There are one or two which need a good servicing, but it’s very expensive and the present owners are presumably unable to afford the cost.”
Jennifer Jane held up her hand again to ask another question. “I’ve been taught that Ley lines are always straight and can run for miles. How do you get one powerful enough to fit in a back garden?”
Martin grinned again. “I’ve heard stories about your insatiable curiosity young lady, now I know they’re all true! The lines are bent round into a circle which fits the size of the garden. Some of our later models have greatly increased power by taking the lines round in a figure of eight, which gives an extra powerful crossing point as you should know. And before you ask how do we bend the lines, I have to tell you it’s a secret! Now if there are no more questions please follow me to the canteen.”
Jennifer Jane was delighted to find that model cottages were available for sale at the canteen counter. She was even more delighted when she was presented with one by the waitress who brought them the tea they’d ordered.
“With the firm’s compliments my dear, I have also been asked to tell you that one day you may well be allowed to buy one of our products.”
Everybody including Abigail looked very surprised at this statement.
“That’s a great honour you know,” said Abigail, “not very many people are accepted as suitable, you must be one of the youngest ever, I suppose it’s all to do with your future as the ‘Greatest Human’ witch!”
Jennifer Jane blushed at the compliment and spent the next minute staring hard at her plate, trying hard not to cry with a mixture of embarrassment and happiness!