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Chapter 9


Mr. Greenpeace was the manager of the shop named “Garden and Flowers”. He was just leisurely unpacking a delivery of lilies of the valley. This was to his taste because there was not much business and he had a lot of time for his plants. He loved such quiet and leisure. However, suddenly peace came to an end in his shop when the door banged open and a horde of children stormed in, accompanied by some croaking budgie. Protectively Mr. Greenpeace shielded his plants and glared at the invaders wide-eyed.

“Do you have garlic?”

Mr. Greenpeace ogled at the little boy who had put the question.
“What? Hum? Garlic?”

“He said so clearly”, Berta interfered. “Or don’t you know what it is?”
“Yes, hum, yes, of course I know garlic.”

“Right, so give us all you have.”

“Said so, didn’t I?”
“Hum, yes, but I don’t know if I’ve got that much…”

“You don’t know if you’ve got all you’ve got?” Berta by now got angry.
“Well, if I’ve got that much”, Mr. Greenpeace tried to talk his way out.

“Why, that much? Did we say how much we want?”
“Hum, no.”

“You see. So how can you say that you don’t know if you’ve…”
“Berta, that’s enough.” Elfrida faced the manager who now slowly retreated. She looked at the anxious man and politely said: “We need as much garlic as possible, that’s all.”

“Really? I think I’ve got five cases with bulbs.”

Mr. Greenpeace gave such a start that he almost felt among the tulip bulbs had Elfrida not held him. He then clung to a shelf, glared at budgie and started retreating to his storing room. On his way he did not regard some shrubs. He stumbled and crashed into a vegetable patch. Groaning, he got up and disappeared through a door to fetch the garlic.

“My, but he’s fidgety”, Rosy said. “We don’t harm him after all!”

Soon Mr. Greepeace returned with several cases and then 5 cases were piled up in front of the children. Mary shouted:
“With that we’ll drive off the nasty witch gang!” Mr. Greenpeace glared at her. When Mary noticed it, she added: “Or do you want to fall into a big black hole? The ground could suck everything here if…”

Screaming, the man ran through the shop, stumbled over a potato case. He tore the store room door open, banged it and from inside the key was turned. Through the closed door nothing but a faint sobbing could be heard, beside that there was silence. Daisy shook her head in bewilderment and stepped up to the door.

“Mr. Greenpeace, we have not yet paid!”
“Be gone, go away, go far, far away!”
“But you have to get money from us!”
“Piss off, I don’t want your money, take that garlic and never come back!”
Daisy turned round to her friends.
“You heard it, he makes us a present of the veggies! Come on, let’s take it to the cart.”

Luckily Bernie had thought of bringing a cart. Loading took only a few minutes and on they walked to the Magic Forest. Those who wanted to buy anything from Mr. Greenpeace today, faced a locked door and wondered. Behind the glass panel was a sign reading “Closed this week.”

After reaching the Magic Forest, the worst part of their enterprise began. It was very difficult to drag the cart along the rough forest ground. They all had to push together and hardly came forward. After pushing and pulling for some time, Rosy groaned:
“I can’t go on!”

“Indeed – already?” Berta mocked.
“She’s right”, Elfrida said. “We are far enough in the woods. Now let us dig in the garlic.”
Relieved, each took a small shovel and a hand full of garlic from the cart. Jenny and Daisy had calculated that every seventh step a bulb had to be dug in to spread them evenly over the forest.

Each of them dug a small hole, put in a bulb and covered everything with earth again. Hour after hour they worked. Towards noon only 2 of the 5 cases were empty. They all were hungry and tired. After a short break they worked on and when slowly the sun was sinking, all bulbs were buried.

“So, now we must wait and see.”

Bernie rubbed his aching hands and Elfrida retorted:
“Let’s go home to get some sleep. Tomorrow morning we’ll see how things work out.”

No one had any objection and the good spirits returned.
“I’ll stuff my belly now and take a nap”, Susy grinned.

Berta glared at her.
“Words of that kind I’d expected from Rosy...”

Except Rosy they all laughed out loud but suddenly Dr. Einstein croaked excitedly:

They fell silent at once and listened. The budgie made for a high pine tree to see better.

“All sides, Einstein? Do you mean that the witches come from all sides?”

“Are they looking for us?” Daisy wondered. “But how do they know that we are here?”

Something dawned to Jenny.

“Look about you, do you see the old fireplace over there? I think we are right on the witch-meeting point! Quickly, we have to escape or to hide!”
“There’s no hiding place”, Bernie said. “Dr. Einstein, do you see a way to get past the witches? Which way can we escape?”

Dr. Einstein turned his little head round and round.
“Too-many-witches, no-escape!”

Terrified, the children looked at each other. Was this their end? By and by the noise of the approaching witches could be heard, their ugly laugh, the breaking of branches. Fright took the friends and Daisy proposed to take the shovels and quickly dig them in the soil but Jenny shook her head.
“They’d smell us, that won’t work.”

Feverishly the children thought how to escape the approaching witches but there was no way out. The black hats of some witches came already into sight.

“I want to go home or to the North Pole for my sake...”
“That’s it, Rosy!”
Rosy ogled at Elfrida.
“North Pole? Where it was so icy when your magic bottle...”
“Right, the magic bottle, we need it now!”
“But Elfrida, the witch stole it...”

“I know, Mary, it’ll be in the witch’s house. Dr. Einstein, only you can save us now.” Elfrida liftet her hand and pointed into the direction of the witch-house. “That’s your route. Over there is a clearing, there is the house of the witch. Fly into the kitchen window and fetch the little bottle for us, brave bird!”
“Einstein-flies!” the smart budgie croaked, opened his wings and came off the pine tree.

“... if the kitchen window is open”, Elfrida added in a whisper when Dr. Einstein had already left.

Followed anxious minutes. Closer and closer the witches came but the bird was faster. The heavy little bottle in his beak, he came flying over the ground.
“Can’t-go-on!” he gasped and fell down at Elfrida’s feet.

Quick as lightning the girl picked up her magic bottle and took off the stopper. Smoke welled out of the bottle, more and more until the forest could no longer be seen. The ground seemed to rotate while the children felt like racing upwards in an elevator. This went on for some time until slowly the smoke dissolved and the ground beneath their feet became solid again.