After breakfast the following morning, all the apprentices were told to assemble outside the broom shed for a check on the condition of their flying brooms. Jennifer Jane put up her hand.
“Please Ma’am, my broom is kept in the guard room of the castle side, may I be excused to go and fetch it?”
“Yes of course, I was forgetting your broom had been kept apart from the others. Don’t worry, we won’t be doing any flying in your world, however, for the duration of the course you’d better keep it in the shed with every one else. Sign it out to be kept in the broom shed for two weeks only, on my authority.”
She rushed off to collect her broom and returned just in time to join on the end of the line. The teacher walked slowly along, making comments now and again, before coming to a dead stop in front of Jennifer Jane.
“Most unusual!” she said, “Whatever do you want with a bicycle saddle?”
Jennifer Jane explained that she had flown for several hours a day when dealing with a problem in a village on the south coast.
She’d become so tired and saddle sore as a result, that her father had added the saddle shortly afterwards to make flying more comfortable. She went on to explain that the large box in front of the saddle was for sandwiches, if she knew she was going to be out for a long time.
The teacher inspected her breakdown spell box, to make sure that the seal hadn’t been broken. “You know, I think we might be seeing a few more saddles in the future,” she smiled, “some of our young ladies find brooms rather uncomfortable, in spite of being brought up to it!”
After the inspection, everyone crowded round to admire her broom. Some of the girls were very enthusiastic and asked where they might find bicycle saddles for themselves. The boys mostly thought of it as being sissy, while the boy who’d played the joke with the hats, was rather rude.
“Of course you’re not really a proper witch anyway. You’re only a human, so I suppose you can be expected to do silly things.” He went off with his friends, all laughing loudly about the ‘human kid.’
“Don’t you worry about him,” said Maddy, “He’s not a proper wizard himself. His mother married an Elf but soon after he was born, his father left them both. I think saddles are a smashing idea. Do you think you can get one for me after you go home again?”
Jennifer Jane agreed to find a saddle for her friend after the course, “but I’ve never even seen an elf, let alone met one before, so why did his dad leave him after he was born? He looks ordinary enough!”
“Elves are very difficult people to deal with,” replied Maddy, “they live in the same world that we do, but you can’t see them because they have the ability to shift phase. When Eroin was a small boy, he should have been able to go from one world to the other.”
Jennifer Jane looked a bit surprised, as Maddy told her the tale.
“For whatever reason he wasn’t able to do so by himself, so he was abandoned. Elves are rather cruel like that, if you ever do meet one you want to be very careful. They can take you between the worlds themselves if they want to, but if they get upset for any reason they may well keep you with them out of spite.”
Maddy took a deep breath before going on with the rest of the story.
“Eroin got nasty when he found that he wasn’t a proper elf and he’s been playing tricks and bullying the younger ones ever since. He’s only allowed to stay here because of his mother. If he ever becomes too bad the witches may take his remaining magic powers away from him and turn him into an ordinary human. He knows this and tries not to make his jokes too unpleasant”
“I feel rather sorry for him,” said Jennifer Jane.
“Well don’t waste your time trying to be friendly, he only thinks that’s a sign of weakness and he’ll be even nastier than usual if he thinks you’re trying be nice to him.”