Rebecca's Homework
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From The Swamp Stories by Anne Cooper.

Chapter 15

REBECCA DOES HER HOME WORK.

Rebecca found a quiet corner at the edge of the swamp and settled down to do her home work. She looked around until she had found she had found four pebbles, then she put them in a row on the ground. She stood in front of them and put on her magic hat. It was black, with a shining moon on it, like her Dad's. She adjusted her cloak, and picked up her wand, and thought about what her Dad had told her.

“It's all in the mind, Rebecca,” he had said, “no need to speak words, that sort of magic is different, and you will learn it later on.” She concentrated hard on the first pebble. She felt around in the back of her mind until she had found its smooth edge. she thought the magic spell that Mr. Moonlight had taught her and touched the pebble with her wand. There was a small puff of smoke and it swelled and changed into a yellow swamp ball. A bit lob sided, perhaps, but not bad she thought, for a first go.

Sophie, Sonya and Sybilla were flying back from their singing lesson with Clara, and when they saw Rebecca doing her home work, they glided silently down and perched in a tree, a little way off, so as not to distract her, and watched her at work. She touched the second pebble. There was another puff of smoke, a bit bigger, and it turned into a blue swamp ball, perfectly round this time.

“Getting better,” thought Rebecca. Kelly, Leah and Megan saw Rebecca doing her home work, and stopped to watch her. They stood in the long grass and kept perfectly still. She touched the third pebble, this time there was a big puff of smoke, and a lovely green swamp ball appeared, definitely the best yet. By now there were quite a lot of animals watching Rebecca, quietly, half hidden among the trees and grasses, so that they did not spoil her concentration. She touched the fourth pebble, this time, after the smoke cleared away, there was a really splendid red swamp ball, gleaming on the sand. Rebecca had finished her home work, but then she noticed a cob web covered with dew, on a nearby branch. Sunlight fell on the dew drops and turned them into rainbow colours. Rebecca thought how lovely it would be if she could magic it into a pretty nightie, and take it home to her Mum for a present. While this thought was in her mind, she heard a harsh voice behind her.

“Think you're clever don't you?” Rebecca turned, and saw Bad Jason standing besides her.

“I'll show you what I think of your stupid magic,” he sneered, and with a mighty kick he sent the red swamp ball soaring high over the trees, and out of sight. Rebecca gave him a terrific whack on the bottom with her wand. There was a puff of smoke.

“You rotter!” she said. Then she remembered about not speaking, but it was too late now, out of her mouth poured streams of gossamer cob web, They shone and sparkled in the sun, and wrapped round Bad Jason. Frills and ribbons appeared, and tiny pearl buttons at his neck and wrist, the skirt was long and flounced, soon he was wearing a beautiful rainbow nightie.

“Get me out of this!” he yelled. The unseen audience of Rebecca's friends among the trees roared with laughter. Sophie, Sonya and Sybilla nearly fell off their perches.

“How pretty you look, Bad Jason,” called Sophie.

“Pretty ridiculous,” Sonya said. Then, from the direction where Bad Jason had kicked the red swamp ball, they all heard a distant hum, it grew into an angry whine, and speeding through the trees and across the grasses came the red swamp ball. It fetched Bad Jason a terrific thump and sent him flying head over heels into the swamp, then it rolled over to Rebecca, curled quietly over and stopped by her feet. It took Bad Jason ages to get untangled from the nightie, while Rebecca and her friends laughed at him.

 


After he had swam away blushing all over they all had a game of swamp ball before it was time to go home. Then Rebecca put her home work swamp balls into a bag and flew home. She hoped her Dad would not be cross with her for speaking. Her mouth still felt sticky with the cob webs. But he was not cross at all.

“You obviously have a natural talent for magic, dear.” he said, as he looked at her home work. “I wish Mum and I had seen Bad Jason in his rainbow coloured nightie.”