"Cat," said Chrestomanci, from almost behind Cat's head. "Cat!"
Cat did not want to talk. He was lying looking up at the blue sky through the leaves of the apple tree. Every so often it went blurred. Then Cat shut his eyes and tears ran out across both his ears. Now he knew how little Gwendolen cared about him, he was not sure he wanted any lives at all. He listened to the shouting and crashing among the trees and almost wished Fiddle would be caught soon. From time to time, he had an odd feeling that he was Fiddle himself - Fiddle furious and frightened, lashing out and scratching a huge fat witch in a flower hat.
"Cat," said Chrestomanci. He sounded almost as desperate as Fiddle. "Cat, I know how you're feeling. We hoped you wouldn't find out about Gwendolen for years yet. But you are an enchanter. I suspect that you're a stronger enchanter than I am when you set your mind to it. Could you use some of your magic now, before someone catches poor Fiddle? Please. As a great favor. Just to help me get out of this wretched silver, so that I can summon the rest of my power."
Cat was being Fiddle again while Chrestomanci talked. He climbed a tree, but the Willing Warlock and the Accredited Witch shook him out of it. He ran and he ran, and then jumped from between the Willing Warlock's grabbing hands, a huge jump, from somewhere immensely high. It was such a sickening jump that Cat opened his eyes. The apple leaves fluttered against the sky. The apple he could see was nearly ripe.
"What do you want me to do?" he said. "I don't know how to do anything."
"I know," said Chrestomanci. "I felt the same when they told me. Can you move your left hand at all?"
"Backwards and forwards," Cat said, trying. "I can't get it out of the rope though."
"No need," said Chrestomanci. "You've more ability in the little finger of that hand than most people - including Gwendolen - have in their entire lives. And the magic of the garden should help you. Just saw at the rope with your left hand and presume that the rope is made of silver."
Cat tipped his head back and looked at Chrestomanci unbelievingly. Chrestomanci was untidy and pale and very much in earnest. He must be telling the truth. Cat moved his left hand against the rope. It felt rough and ropish. He told himself it was not rough rope, it was silver. And the rope felt smooth. But sawing was rather a strain. Cat lifted his hand as far as he could get it and brought the edge of it down on the silver rope.
Clink. Jingle. The rope parted.
"Thank you," said Chrestomanci. "There go two watch-chains. But there seems to be a very firm spell on these handcuffs. Can you try again?"
The rope was a great deal looser. Cat fought his way out of it with a series of clatters and thumps - he was not sure quite what he had turned it into - and knelt up on the stone. Chrestomanci walked weakly towards him, with his hands still hanging limply in the handcuffs. At the same time, the Willing Warlock spilled out of the trees, arguing with the witch in the flower hat.
"I tell you the cat's dead. It fell a good fifty feet."
"But I tell you they always fall on their feet."
"Then why didn't it get up then?"
Cat realized there was no time to waste trying to imagine things. He put both hands to the handcuffs and wrenched.
"Ow!" said Chrestomanci.
But the handcuffs were off. Cat was suddenly very pleased with his newfound talent. He took the handcuffs in two and told them to be ferocious eagles. "Get after the Nostrums," he said. The left handcuff took off savagely as ordered, but the right half was still a silver handcuff and it fell on the grass. Cat had to pick it up in his left hand before it would do as it was told.
Cat looked around then to see what Chrestomanci was doing. He was standing under the apple tree, and the talkative little man called Bernard was stumbling down the hillside towards him. Bernard's Sunday cravat was comfortably undone. He was carrying a pencil and a newspaper folded open at the crossword. "Enchantment, five letters, ending in C," he was murmuring, before he looked up and saw Chrestomanci green with tree mold. He stared at the two watch-chains, Cat, the rope, and the numbers of people who were hurrying among the trees around the top of the meadow. "Bless my soul!" he said. "I'm sorry... I had no idea I was needed. You need the others too?"
"Rather quickly," said Chrestomanci.
The witch in the flower hat saw him standing away from the tree and raised her voice in a witch's scream. "They're getting away! Stop them!"
Witches, warlocks, necromancers, and wizards poured out into the meadow, with Gwendolen mincing among them, and hurriedly cast spells as they came. Muttering rolled around the garden. The smell of magic grew thick. Chrestomanci held up one hand as if he was asking for silence. The muttering grew instead, and sounded angry. But none of the people muttering came any nearer. The only ones who were still moving were William and Henry Nostrum, who kept spilling out from the trees, running hard and bawling faintly, each with a large flapping eagle after him.
Bernard chewed his pencil and his face looked ribby. "This is awful! There are so many of them!"
"Keep trying. I'm giving you all the help I can spare," Chrestomanci said, with an anxious look at the muttering crowd.
Bernard's bushy eyebrows bobbed up. "Ah!" Miss Bessemer was standing above him on the slope. She had the works of a clock in one hand and a cloth in the other. Perhaps because of the slope, she seemed taller and more purple of dress than usual. She took in the situation at a glance. "You'll need a full muster to deal with this lot," she said to Chrestomanci.
A witch in the muttering crowd screamed, "He's getting help!" Cat thought it was Gwendolen. The smell of magic grew, and the muttering became like a long roll of thunder. The crowd seemed to be edging forward slowly, in a bobbing of fancy hats and a bristle of dark suits. The hand Chrestomanci was holding up to stop them began to shake.
"The garden's helping them too," said Bernard. "Put forth your best, Bessie-girl." He chewed his pencil and frowned intensely. Miss Bessemer wrapped her cloth neatly around her pieces of clock and grew noticeably taller.
And suddenly the rest of the Family began to appear around the apple tree, all in the middle of the peaceful Sunday things they had been doing when they were summoned. One of the younger ladies had a skein of wool between her hands, and one of the younger men was winding it. The next man was holding a billiard cue, and the other young lady had a lump of chalk. The old lady with mittens was crocheting a new pair of mittens. Mr.Saunders appeared with a thump. He had the dragon tucked playfully under one arm, and both of them looked startled to be fetched in the middle of a romp.
The dragon saw Cat. It wriggled out from under Mr.Saunders' arm, bounded across the grass, and jumped rattling and flaming into Cat's arms. Cat found himself staggering about under the apple tree with quite a heavy dragon squirming on his chest and enthusiastically licking his face with flame. It would have burned him badly if he had not remembered in time to tell the flames they were cool.
He looked up to see Roger and Julia appearing. They both had their arms stretched stiffly above their heads, because they had been playing mirrors again, and they were both very much astonished. "It's the garden!" said Roger. "And loads of people!"
"You never summoned us before, Daddy," said Julia.
"This is rather special," said Chrestomanci. He was holding his right hand up with his left one by now, and looking tired out. "I need you to fetch your mother. Quickly."
"We're holding them," Mr.Saunders said. He was trying to sound encouraging, but he was nervous. The muttering crowd was coming nearer.
"No, we aren't!" snapped the old lady in mittens. "We can't do anything more without Millie."
Cat had a feeling that everyone was trying to fetch Millie. He thought he ought to help, since they needed her so much, but he did not know what to do. Besides, the dragon's flames were so hot that he needed all his energy not to get burned.
Roger and Julia could not fetch Millie. "What's wrong?" said Julia. "We've always been able to before."
"All these people's spells are stopping us," said Roger.
"Try again," said Chrestomanci. "I can't. Something's stopping me too."
"Are you joining in the magic?" the dragon asked Cat. Cat was finding the heat of it really troublesome by now. His face was red and sore. But, as soon as the dragon spoke, he understood. He was joining in the magic. Only he was joining in on the wrong side, because Gwendolen was using him again. He was so used to her doing it that he barely noticed. But he could feel her doing it now. She was using so much of his power to stop Chrestomanci fetching Millie that Cat was getting burned.
For the first time in his life, Cat was angry about it. "She's no business to!" he told the dragon. And he took his magic back. It was like a cool draft in his face.
"Cat! Stop that!" Gwendolen screamed from the crowd.
"Oh, shut up!" Cat shouted back. "It's mine!"
At his feet, the little spring ran bubbling out of the grass again. Cat was looking down at it, wondering why it should, when he noticed a sort of gladness come over the anxious Family around him. Chrestomanci was looking upwards, and a light seemed to have fallen across his face. Cat turned around and found Millie was there at last. He supposed it was some trick of the hillside that made her look tall as the apple tree. But it seemed no trick that she also looked kind as the end of a long day. She had Fiddle in her arms. Fiddle was draggled and miserable, but purring.
"I'm so sorry," Millie said. "I'd have come sooner if I'd known. This poor beast had fallen off the garden wall and I wasn't thinking of anything else."
Chrestomanci smiled, and let his hand go. He did not seem to need it to hold back the crowd anymore. They stood where they were, and their muttering had stopped. "It doesn't matter," he said. "But we must get to work now."
The Family got to work at once. Cat found it hard to describe or remember afterward just how, they did. He remembered claps and peals of thunder, darkness, and mist. He thought Chrestomanci grew taller than Millie, tall as the sky - but that could have been because the dragon got extremely scared and Cat was kneeling in the grass to make it feel safer. From there he saw the Family from time to time, striding about like giants. Witches screamed and screamed. Warlocks and wizards roared and howled. Sometimes there was whirling white rain, or whirling white snow, or perhaps just whirling white smoke, whirling and whirling. Cat was sure the whole garden was spinning, faster and faster. Among the whirling and the whiteness came flying necromancers, or Bernard striding, or Mr.Saunders, billowing, with snow in his hair. Julia ran past, making knot after knot in her handkerchief. And Millie must have brought reinforcements with her; Cat glimpsed Euphemia, the butler, a footman, two gardeners and, to his alarm, Will Suggins once, breasting the whiteness in the howling, spinning, screaming garden.
The spinning got so fast that Cat was no longer giddy. It was spinning rock-steady, and humming. Chrestomanci stepped out of the whiteness and under the apple tree and held out one hand to Cat. He was wet and windswept, and Cat was still not sure how tall he was. "Can I have some of your dragons' blood?" Chrestomanci said.
"How did you know I'd got it?" Cat said guiltily, letting go of the dragon in order to get at his crucible.
"The smell," said Chrestomanci.
Cat passed his crucible over. "Here you are. Have I lost a life over it?"
"Not you," said Chrestomanci. "But it was lucky you didn't let Janet touch it." He stepped to the whirling, and emptied the whole crucible into it. Cat saw the powder snatched away and whirled. The mist turned brownish-red and the humming to a terrible bell note that hurt Cat's ears. He could hear witches and warlocks howling with horror. "Let them roar," said Chrestomanci. He was leaning against the right-hand pillar of the archway. "Every single one of them has now lost his or her witchcraft. They'll complain to their MPs and there'll be questions asked in Parliament, but I daresay we shall survive it." He raised his hand and beckoned.
Frantic people in soaking-wet Sunday clothes came whirling out of the whiteness and were sucked through the broken arch like dead leaves in a whirlpool. More and more and more came. They sailed through in crowds. Out of the whirling many, Chrestomanci somehow collected the two Nostrums and put them down for a minute in front of Cat and the dragon. Cat was charmed to see one of his eagles sitting on Henry Nostrum's shoulders, pecking at his bald pate, and the other eagle fluttering around William, stabbing at the stouter parts of him.
"Call them off," said Chrestomanci.
Cat called them off, rather regretfully, and they fell on the grass as handcuffs. Then the handcuffs were swept away with the Nostrum brothers and whirled through the archway with them in the last of the crowd.
Last of all came Gwendolen. Chrestomanci stopped her too. As he did so, the whiteness cleared, the humming died away, and the rest of the Family began to collect on the sunny hillside, panting a little but not very wet. Cat thought the garden was probably still spinning. But perhaps it always did. Gwendolen stared around in horror.
"Let me go! I've got to go back and be queen."
"Don't be selfish," said Chrestomanci. "You've no right to keep snatching eight other people from world to world. Stay here and learn how to do it properly. And those courtiers of yours don't really do what you say, you know. They only pretend." "I don't care!" Gwendolen screamed. She held up her golden clothes, kicked off her pointed shoes, and ran for the archway. Chrestomanci reached out to stop her. Gwendolen spun around and hurled her last handful of dragons' blood in his face and, while Chrestomanci was forced to duck and put one arm over his face, Gwendolen backed hastily through the archway. There was a mighty bang. The space between the pillars turned black. When everyone recovered, Gwendolen was gone. There was nothing but meadow between the pillars again. Even the pointed shoes had gone.
"What did the child do?" said the old lady with mittens, very shaken.
"Sealed herself in that world," said Chrestomanci. He was even more shaken. "Isn't that so, Cat?" he said.
Cat nodded mulishly. It had seemed worth it. He was not sure he wanted to see Gwendolen again.
"And look what that's done," said Mr.Saunders, nodding at the hillside.
Janet was stumbling down the slope, past Millie, and she was crying. Millie handed Fiddle carefully to Julia and put her arms around Janet. Janet sobbed heavily. The rest crowded around her. Bernard patted Janet's back and the old lady with mittens made soothing noises.
Cat stood on his own near the ruins, with the dragon looking inquiringly up at him from the grass. Janet had been happy in her own world. She had missed her mother and father. Now she was probably in this world for good, and Cat had done it. And Chrestomanci had called Gwendolen selfish!
"No, it's not that, quite, really," Janet said from the midst of the Family. She tried to sit down on the fallen block of stone, and got up quickly, remembering the way it was being used when she last saw it.
Cat had a very gallant idea. He sent for a blue velvet chair from Gwendolen's room and put it down on the grass beside Janet. Janet gave a tearful laugh. "That was kind." She started to sit in it.
"I belong to Chrestomanci Castle," said the chair. "I belong to Chresto..." Miss Bessemer looked at it sternly and it stopped.
Janet sat in the chair. It was a little wobbly because the grass was uneven. "Where's Cat?" she said anxiously.
"I'm here," said Cat. "I got the chair for you." He thought it was kind of Janet to look so relieved to see him.
"What do you say to a little lunch?" Millie asked Miss Bessemer. "It must be nearly two o'clock."
"Agreed," said Miss Bessemer, and made a stately half-turn towards the butler. He nodded. The footman and the gardeners staggered forward with great hampers like laundry baskets which, when the lids were thrown back, proved to be full of chickens, hams, meat pies, ice cream, fruit, and wine.
"Oh, beautiful!" said Roger.
Everyone sat around to eat the lunch. Most of them sat on the grass, and Cat made sure to sit as far away from Will Suggins as he could. Millie sat on the stone slab. Chrestomanci splashed some of the water from the bubbling spring over his face - which seemed to refresh him wonderfully - and sat leaning against the slab. The old lady with mittens produced a tuffet out of nowhere, which she said was more comfortable; and Bernard thoughtfully shook out the remains of the rope that Cat had left by the rock. It became a hammock. Bernard strung it between the pillars of the archway and lay in it, looking defiantly comfortable, even though he had the greatest difficulty keeping his balance and eating as well. Fiddle was given a wing of chicken and took it into the apple tree to eat, out of the way of the dragon. The dragon was jealous of Fiddle. It divided its time between breathing resentful smoke up into the tree and leaning heavily against Cat, begging for chicken and meat pie.
"I warn you," said Mr.Saunders. "That is the most spoiled dragon in the world."
"I'm the only dragon in the world," the dragon said smugly.
Janet was still inclined to be tearful. "My dear, we do understand," said Millie, "and we're so very sorry."
"I can send you back," said Chrestomanci. "It's not quite so easy with Gwendolen's world missing from the series, but don't think it can't be done."
"No, no. That's all right," Janet gulped. "At least, it will be all right when I'm used to it. I was hoping to come back here... but it is rather a wrench. You see..." Her eyes filled and her mouth trembled. A handkerchief came out of the air and pushed itself into her hand. Cat did not know who had done it, but he wished he had thought of it. "Thanks," said Janet. "You see, Mum and Dad haven't noticed the difference." She blew her nose furiously. "I got back to my bedroom, and the other girl - she's called Romillia really - had been writing her diary. She got called away in midsentence and left it lying there, so I read it. And it was all about how scared she had been in case my parents noticed she wasn't me, and how glad she was when she was clever enough to make sure they didn't. She was utterly terrified of being sent back. She'd had a dreadful life as an orphan in her own world, and she was miserable there. She'd written things that made me feel really sorry for her. Mind you," Janet said severely, "she was just asking for trouble keeping a diary in the same house as my parents. I wrote a note in it telling her so, and I said if she must keep one, she'd better put it in one of my good hiding places. And then... and then I sat there and rather hoped I'd come back."
"That was kind of you," said Cat.
"It was, and you're truly welcome, my love," said Millie.
"You're sure?" Chrestomanci asked, looking searchingly at Janet over the chicken leg he was eating.
Janet nodded, quite firmly, though most of her face was still hidden in the handkerchief.
"You were the one I was most worried about," Chrestomanci said. "I'm afraid I didn't realize at once what had happened. Gwendolen had found out about the mirror, you see, and she worked the change in her bathroom. And anyway, none of us had the slightest idea Cat's powers were that strong. The truth only dawned on me during that unfortunate affair of the frog, and then of course I took a look at once to see what had happened to Gwendolen and the seven other girls. Gwendolen was in her element. And Jennifer, who came after Romillia, is as tough as Gwendolen and has always wished she was an orphan; whereas Queen Caroline, whom Gwendolen displaced, was as miserable as Romillia, and had run away three times already. And it was the same with the other five. They were all much better suited... except perhaps you."
Janet took her face out of the handkerchief and looked at him in large indignation. "Why couldn't you have told me you knew? I wouldn't have been nearly so scared of you! And you wouldn't believe the troubles Cat got into because of it - not to speak of me owing Mr.Bagwash twenty pounds and not knowing the Geography and History here! And you needn't laugh!" she said, as nearly everyone did.
"I apologize," said Chrestomanci. "Believe me, it was one of the most troubling decisions I've ever had to make. But who on earth is Mr.Bagwash?"
"Mr.Baslam," Cat explained reluctantly. "Gwendolen bought some dragons' blood from him and didn't really pay."
"He's asking outrageously much," said Millie. "And it is illegal, you know."
"I'll go and have a word with him tomorrow," Bernard said from his hammock. "Though he'll probably be gone by then. He knows I've got my eye on him."
"Why was it a troubling decision?" Janet asked Chrestomanci.
Chrestomanci tossed his chicken bone to the dragon and slowly wiped his fingers on a handkerchief with a gold-embroidered "C" in one corner. This gave him an excuse to turn Cat's way and stare, in his vaguest way, into the air above Cat's head. Since Cat was fairly clear by now that the vaguer Chrestomanci seemed about something, the more acutely he was attending to it, he was not altogether surprised when Chrestomanci said, "Because of Cat. We would have felt a good deal easier if Cat could have brought himself to tell someone what had happened. We gave him a number of opportunities to. But when he held his tongue, we thought perhaps he did know the extent of his powers after all."
"But I don't," said Cat.
And Janet, who was becoming thoroughly cheerful now she was being allowed to ask questions, said, "I think you were quite wrong. We both got so frightened that we came into this garden and nearly got you and Cat killed. You should have said."
"Perhaps," agreed Chrestomanci, and peeled a banana in a thoughtful way. He was still turned towards Cat. "Normally we're more than a match here for people like the Nostrums. I knew they were planning something through Gwendolen, and I thought Cat knew it too - my apologies, Cat. I wouldn't have had Gwendolen here for a minute, except that we had to have Cat. Chrestomanci has to be a nine-lived enchanter. No one else is strong enough for the post."
"Post?" said Janet. "Isn't it a hereditary title then?"
Mr.Saunders laughed, and threw his bone to the dragon too. "Heavens no! We're all Government employees here. The job Chrestomanci has is to make sure this world isn't run entirely by witches. Ordinary people have rights too. And he has to make sure witches don't get out into worlds where there isn't so much magic and play havoc there. It's a big job. And we're the staff that helps him."
"And he needs us like he needs two left legs," Bernard remarked, jerking about in the hammock as he tried to eat ice cream.
"Oh, come now!" said Chrestomanci. "I'd have been sunk without you today."
"I was thinking of the way you found the next Chrestomanci," Bernard said, spooning ice cream off his waistcoat. "You did it when we were just going around in circles."
"Nine-lived enchanters are not easy to find," Chrestomanci explained to Janet. "In the first place, they're very rare, and in the second, they have to use their magic before they can be found. And Cat didn't. We were actually thinking of bringing someone in from another world, when Cat happened to fall into the hands of a clairvoyant. Even then, we only knew where he was, not who. I'd no idea he was Eric Chant, or any relation of mine at all - though I suppose I might have remembered that his parents were cousins, which doubled the chance of their children being witches. And I must confess that Frank Chant wrote to me to say his daughter was a witch and seemed to be using her younger brother in some way. Forgive me, Cat. I ignored that letter because your father had been so very rude when I offered to make sure his children would be born without witchcraft."
"Just as well he was rude, you know," Bernard said.
"Was that what the letters were about?" said Cat.
"I don't understand," said Janet, "why you didn't say anything at all to Cat. Why couldn't you?"
Chrestomanci was still looking vaguely in Cat's direction. Cat could tell he was very wary indeed. "Like this," he said. "Remember we hadn't known one another very long. Cat appears to have no magic at all. Yet his sister works magic far beyond her own abilities, and goes on doing it even when her witchcraft is taken away. What am I to think? Does Cat know what he's doing? If he doesn't, why doesn't he? And if he does know, what is he up to? When Gwendolen removed herself, and nobody mentioned the fact, I hoped some of the answers might emerge. And Cat still does nothing..."
"What do you mean, nothing?" said Janet. "There were some fabulous horse chestnuts, and he kept stopping Julia."
"Yes, and I couldn't think what was happening," Julia said, rather ashamed.
Cat felt hurt and uncomfortable. "Leave me alone!" he said, and he stood up. Everyone, even Chrestomanci, went tense. The only person who did not was Janet, and Cat could hardly count her, because she was not used to magic. He found he was trying not to cry, which made him very much ashamed. "Stop treating me so carefully!" he said. "I'm not a fool, or a baby. You're all afraid of me, aren't you? You didn't tell me things and you didn't punish Gwendolen because you were afraid I'd do something dreadful. And I haven't. I don't know how to. I didn't know I could."
"My love, it was just that no one was sure," said Millie.
"Well, be sure now!" said Cat. "The only things I did were by mistake, like coming here in this garden... and turning Euphemia into a frog, I suppose, but I didn't know it was me."
"You're not to worry about that, Eric," said Euphemia from the hillside, where she was sitting with Will Suggins. "It was the shock upset me. I know enchanters are different from us witches. And I'll speak to Mary. I promise."
"Speak to Will Suggins too, while you're at it," said Janet. "Because he's going to turn Cat into a frog in revenge any minute now."
Euphemia bounced around on the hillside to look at Will. "What?" she said.
"What is this, Will?" Chrestomanci asked.
"I laid it on him - for three o'clock, sir," Will Suggins said apprehensively, "if he didn't meet me as a tiger."
Chrestomanci took out a large gold watch. "Hm. It's about due now. If you don't mind my saying so, that was a little foolish of you, Will. Suppose you carry on. Turn Cat into a frog, or yourself into a tiger, or both. I shan't interfere."
Will Suggins climbed heavily to his feet and stood facing Cat, looking as if he would prefer to be several miles away. "Let the dough work, then," he said.
Cat was still feeling so upset and tearful that he wondered whether to oblige Will Suggins and become a frog. Or he could try being a flea instead. But it all seemed rather silly. "Why don't you be a tiger?" he said.
As Cat expected, Will Suggins made a beautiful tiger, long-backed and sleek and sharply striped. He was heavy as he padded up and down the slope, but his legs slid so easily in the silky folds of his hide that he almost seemed light. But Will Suggins himself spoiled the effect by rubbing a distressed paw over his huge cat face and staring appealingly at Chrestomanci. Chrestomanci simply laughed. The dragon trotted up the hill to investigate this new beast. Will Suggins was so alarmed that he reared up on his great hind legs to get away from it. It looked so ungainly for a tiger to be doing that, that Cat turned him back to Will Suggins on the spot.
"It wasn't real?" asked the dragon.
"No!" said Will Suggins, mopping his face with his sleeve. "All right, lad, you win. How did you do it so quick?"
"I don't know," Cat said apologetically. "I've really no idea. Shall I learn when you teach me magic?" he asked Mr.Saunders.
Mr.Saunders looked a little blank. "Well..."
"No, Michael," said Chrestomanci, "is the right answer. It's quite clear Elementary Magic isn't going to mean much to Cat. I'll have to teach you myself, Cat, and we'll be starting on Advanced Theory, I think, by the look of it. You seem to start where most people leave off."
"But why didn't he know?" Janet demanded. "It always makes me angry not to know things, and I feel especially angry about this, because it seems so hard on Cat."
"It is, I agree," said Chrestomanci. "But it's something in the nature of enchanters' magic, I think. Something the same happened to me. I couldn't do magic either. I couldn't do anything. But they found I had nine lives - I lost them at such a rate that it soon became obvious - and they told me I had to be the next Chrestomanci when I grew up, which absolutely appalled me, because I couldn't work the simplest spell. So they sent me to a tutor, the most terrifying old person, who was supposed to find what the trouble was. And he took one look at me and snarled, 'Empty your pockets, Chant!' Which I did. I was too scared not to. I took out my silver watch, and one and sixpence, and a silver charm from my godmother, and a silver tiepin I had forgotten to wear, and a silver brace I was supposed to wear in my teeth. And as soon as they were gone, I did some truly startling things. As I remember, the roof of the tutor's house came off."
"Is it really true about silver, then?" Janet said.
"For me, yes," said Chrestomanci.
"Yes, poor darling," Millie said, smiling at him. "It's so awkward with money. He can only handle pound notes and coppers."
"He has to give us our pocket money in pennies, if Michael hasn't got it," said Roger. "Imagine sixty pennies in your pocket."
"The really difficult thing is mealtimes," said Millie. "He can't do a thing with a knife and fork in his hands - and Gwendolen would do awful things during dinner."
"How stupid!" said Janet. "Why on earth don't you use stainless steel cutlery?"
Millie and Chrestomanci looked at one another. "I never thought of it!" said Millie. "Janet, my love, it's a very good thing you're staying here!"
Janet looked at Cat and laughed. And Cat, though he was still a little lonely and tearful, managed to laugh too.