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Authors: Leonie Norrington

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BOOK: Brigid Lucy Needs A Best Friend
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Chapter eight

Diligamus nos salutat

‘We need herbs,’ Granny says, taking Biddy and Matilda by the hand. ‘We need yarrow, some dandelion, a couple of sprigs of lavender…’

‘Yarrow? Dandelion?’ I stop running and
laugh
with relief. Herbs are not spells. Herbs are for potions like the ones in the POISON—DO NOT TOUCH cupboard. The ones Granny makes to fix headaches or bruises or stop people sneezing. Granny’s just calling it a spell as an imagination game. What
fun
.

We search for herbs in the front garden and down the street. But all we see is cut-flat lawns and pruned-straight trees and concrete paths.

Until, ‘Is this a magic spell-making herb?’ Matilda asks picking a daisy.

‘Yes!’ Granny says. ‘Daisies are full of
sunshine
.’

‘Here’s some more,’ Biddy picks four daisies from under Jamie’s fence where the lawnmower can’t reach.

Granny crouches down. ‘Here is some yarrow,’ she says. ‘There is some lavender. Now where are the dandelions?’

‘Is this dandelion?’ Biddy says pointing to some tiny yellow flowers struggling up in the crack in the footpath.

‘Yes,’ Granny says. ‘That’s all we need.’

When we get home, Granny pops all the herbs in a muslin bag.

‘Do we need a
lizard’s tail?
’ Biddy asks.

‘Do you have one?’ Granny says.

‘Yep, he left his tail in my bedroom when he got a fright,’ Biddy says.

‘And I’ve got a
stiff frog
,’ Matilda says. ‘It came inside and dried up in my room.’

‘Well, lizards’ tails and frogs are very useful for changing-spells,’ Granny says. ‘And getting a friend is a change, isn’t it?’

Granny drops the lizard’s tail and the dried-up frog into the bag.

‘Do we have to say special words with the spell?’ Biddy asks.

‘We will do it tonight,’ Granny says. ‘Spells work better at night when everyone is
asleep
.’

Which is true. All the magical creatures in the Great Bushland sing their magical Incantation Songs at night. That is why you have to be careful at night-time. If one of their Incantation Songs accidentally rebounds and hits you, it can
zap
you and make you sick or dead. I shiver thinking about the Great Bushland Songs. But this is not a real one. It is just a lizard’s tail, dried-up frog and daisies potion. It isn’t scary at all.

After dinner, Granny, Biddy and me and Matilda go into Biddy’s room. Granny puts the pretend spell bag on the floor and we stand around it in a circle. ‘Hold hands,’ Granny says. ‘Close your eyes. And repeat after me: Let us greet and
love
each other,’ she sings in a soft voice.

‘What are you doing?’ I ask. ‘Why are you singing?’ Potions don’t have singing. Spells and Incantation Songs have singing. ‘
Stop!
’ I yell.

But they don’t stop. Biddy and Matilda copy Granny’s words carefully.

If they make a proper spell Biddy will get a human friend. I’ve got to stop it working.

They are holding hands. Dad and Biddy held hands to bind their promise. Maybe if I break the bond between their hands, it will wreck the spell. I race down and squeeze myself between Granny’s and Biddy’s hands and push. And push. And
PUSH!

But their hands stay tight together. And Granny continues singing the Spell Incantation Song. ‘
Diligamus nos salutat
,’ she says.

I tickle Biddy on the palm. Perhaps if I can make her palm itchy she will have to let go to scratch it.

But she just frowns and holds on tighter, still repeating Granny’s words exactly. ‘
Diligamus nos salutat
.’

Nothing is working! Biddy is going to get a boring human best friend and I will get eaten by the best friend’s cat!

‘Let us accept and love each other,’ Granny sings.

What about Matilda?

She felt me when me and the bubble landed on her. Perhaps I can make her break the spell. I dive between Biddy’s and Matilda’s hands and
tickle
Matilda’s palm.

She smiles, opens her eyes and looks at Biddy but she keeps holding her hand and repeats Granny’s words correctly.

Nothing is working. And Granny keeps singing: ‘
Esto et diligamus
.’

So, I bite Matilda’s palm.

She frowns.

Then I bite and pinch her and bite her again in the soft skin between her fingers.

‘Biddy, stop it!!’ Matilda yells, letting go of Biddy’s hand. ‘Stop
pinching
me.’

‘I didn’t!’ Biddy says, scratching her palm.

‘What is the matter?’ Granny asks. She lets both their hands go and stops singing.

Yes. The Spell Incantation Song is broken.
Whew!

‘You ruined the spell!’ Biddy yells.

‘I did not! You did!’

‘The spell will still work,’ Granny says.

Which is a total fib. It takes a long time to make an Incantation Song.

I’ve heard them making Incantation Songs in the Great Bushland. They sing the words over and over.
Sometimes all night
. Granny didn’t even get the whole spell said once.

But Granny doesn’t care. She says, ‘Come on, off to bed,’ and picks up the spell bag and tosses it on the dressing table. ‘Spells work best when you are
asleep
.’

Biddy lies in bed whispering, ‘I’m going to get a magic miracle girlfriend,’ over and over. She only stops when Granny climbs in to sleep in her spare bunk bed and says, ‘Shh, now, darling. Goodnight, Biddy.’

I’m so exhausted. I drag myself into Biddy’s hair, make a quick hair nest and fall fast asleep.

Chapter nine

a worried anxious night

In the middle of the night Dad comes into Biddy’s room to wake up Granny. ‘It’s started,’ he whispers.

‘Oh,
good
,’ Granny says and gets up.

‘What’s the matter?’ Biddy asks.

‘Go back to sleep, darling,’ Granny says. ‘Everything is alright.’

But Mum and Dad never wake up in the middle of the night unless Matilda or little Ellen is crying. Something is
wrong
.

Biddy thinks so too. She opens her bedroom door and sneaks down the hall to have a look.

I stand on top of her head holding a piece of her hair for balance, my mouth closed tight to see and hear better.

We peek into the lounge room. Mum is frowning and walking and frowning and holding her belly. She looks
sick
.

Dad is saying, ‘Are you alright?’ and ‘What can I do?’

Granny is rubbing Mum’s back and sponging her head.

‘Mum is sick,’ Biddy whispers. ‘But Mum never gets sick.’

Biddy is right. Mum never gets sick. Why would she get sick now?

The
spell!

What if, when I stopped the Spell Incantation Song, it rebounded and accidentally hit Mum? Now she is going to get sick and it is going to be all my fault.

‘It’s my fault,’ Biddy says. ‘Mum said I would be the death of her.’

She covers her face with her hands. ‘Just because you want a best friend, Brigid Lucy,’ she says. ‘You did
rudeness
, and arguing and telling tales to Granny. Now Mum is going to die.’ She runs to her room, climbs into bed and hides under the sheet.

I want to tell Biddy it wasn’t her that made Mum sick, it was me and the rebounding Incantation Song. But I’m so
anxious
and
worried
I can’t move.

But we can’t stay in the bedroom. We have to sneak down the hall again and again. But no matter how many times we look, Mum doesn’t get any better. She walks and sits. She breathes and leans on the wall. She frowns, walks and sits. She breathes and screws up her face and holds her belly.

It is so scary that me and Biddy run back to her bed and curl into a little ball wanting to disappear into ourselves
forever
.

Then Dad comes in. Biddy closes her eyes and pretends to be asleep, so he can’t tell her off for making Mum sick.

But he just says, ‘Shh, darling,’ and picks her up and carries her out to the car.

Mum is in the front seat, but her eyes are closed.

BOOK: Brigid Lucy Needs A Best Friend
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