I rang the door bell of the mansion and stood on the step waiting. Struggling to control my excitement, I looked at the letter in my hand. The script was large and loopy, almost rushed so that the words blurred together, but I could still make out what it said; the world’s most powerful wizard had hired me to be his cleaner!
My mind rolled with all the things I might see in his house. There’d be a library for sure! Books and books lining the walls. There’d be a lab for making potions, comfy rooms to rest in, kitchens to feast in and spaces to amaze guests in. Oh, it’s going to be so wonderful!
Slowly the door creaked open, light and darkness met in the middle.
‘Hello? I’m Henrietta. The wizard’s new cleaner,’ I declared.
The door got thrown backwards, banging against the side and a loud, booming voice said, ‘Of course you are!’
I felt my heart and stomach jump. The wizard was standing before me! He was very tall and dressed in a bright blue robe with a large pointy hat on his head. There were yellow crest moons and stars on the hat, as was tradition for someone as high up as the wizard. Most of his face was covered in a white curly beard, which was actually shorted then I’d thought it be. Nice blue eyes stared back and the face look youthful.
Suddenly there was a flapping of wings and a large brown bird that had been siting on his shoulder took off and flew past me. I gasped as feather brushed my cheek.
‘Blast! Adrastos! Come back!’ the wizard shouted.
I glanced over my shoulder but the bird was gone into the early afternoon.
‘Was that an owl?’ I asked politely.
‘Damn right it was! And the last I’ll see of him! Took me years to capture and train him! I knew giving him that name was a jinx!’ the wizard yelled.
‘Do you know what Adrastos means?’
I shook my head.
‘Not inclined to run away,’ the wizard answered, ‘and look what’s happened!’
‘Maybe you could tempt him back?’ I asked gently.
The wizard fell to muttering and ignoring me. Peering about and around him, I saw there was a large toad at the wizard’s feet. The toad was croaking but didn’t seem interested in escaping.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘at least your toad stays. Does he have a name?’
The wizard snapped back and looked down to where I was pointing. He scooped the toad up and held it close to his chest.
‘Don’t be silly! Toads are not worthy of names. Now, come in before anything else gets out!’ the wizard snipped.
Nodding, I followed him inside. The hallway was cluttered with coats, shoes, umbrellas and contraptions. A number of kites were on the floor tangled together as if they had just fallen from the sky. Wires dangled down with things attached to them and there was a whole stack of cardboard boxes to my left before the towering staircase.
We went into through a door to the right and I had to stop as the room was jam packed. There were so many things, it was hard to describe them all. Furniture poked out from piles of books, papers, paintings, shinny objects and bric-a-bric. I saw the wizard placing the toad in a cloudy bowl of water then shuffling through a mountain of paper on his desk.
‘Oh my,’ I uttered.
‘I don’t have time to show you around the house,’ the wizard spoke, ‘I’m too busy.’
He waved me away and sat down with a little puff on a stool.
‘Well….where should I start?’ I asked.
‘Where ever you like! But remember when you move something always put it back where you found it! There are some things in this house that are very dangerous,’ the wizard explained.
Without further words, I left and began picking my way through the house. Ever room and hallway was full of stuff, dust and dirt. The place hadn’t been cleaned in decades! How could the world’s most powerful wizard live like this?
Finally, I found the library, the place I had dreamed about and it was nothing like I wanted. Most of the bookcases were empty and the books were scattered on the floor or on the desks and chairs that were dotted around. Dust and spider’s webs covered everything and it seemed no one had been in here in years!
Deciding it would be the place to start. I got down to cleaning. Somehow though, I had a feeling this job wasn’t going to last.