There was pandemonium in Witches Hollow. Ynaz the youngest witch was causing havoc again. She had made it rain red hot cinders and her sister witches were dancing about in a frenzy trying to dodge them. When they rushed into their homes for cover, their cats became fierce tigers and chased them out again.
Putinevil, the oldest witch, was furious. She had been trying to teach Ynaz the art of wicked witchcraft, but Ynaz just could not cast bad spells. She always made a mess of things. The trouble was she kept wanting to laugh all the time and could not take it seriously.
Picking up Ynaz's broomstick, Putinevil threw it at her screeching, "You useless creature. You must go! You are banished for ever! Be off with you this instant, before I decide to turn you into stone."
Ynaz shivered, frightened as much by her words as her fierceness and did not need twice telling. She fairly leaped on to her broomstick and disappeared into the blackness of the night before Putinevil could carry out her threat.
Confused and bewildered, she did not know where to go or what to do. She felt like crying.
"I d-don't want to be a w-wicked old witch anyway" she sniffed. "I hate riding on broomsticks. It's so uncomfortable.
She wriggled about impatiently, causing the broomstick to rock and sway precariously.
"That's right! Throw me off! I haven't even got proper control over you, have I?" she said crossly.
And, as if deliberately, the broomstick gave an extra hard jolt and poor Ynaz found herself crashing down to earth. Within seconds she was in an even more uncomfortable position, dangling from the branch of a tree, caught up by her long black gown. She was about to make a clever descent when the roar of an engine startled her and a motorbike came to a halt immediately below her.
The black leather-coated driver stood astride his machine and stared up at her incredulously.
"Spotty sponkles!" he gasped. "It's a bird! What the devil are you doing up there at this time of night - nesting?"
Throwing back his head he laughed heartily and Ynaz thought she had never heard a nicer sound.
Gallantly he helped her down and surveyed her with interest. She looked every inch a witch in her pointed black hat although she was far from ugly. The lad was highly amused. "You look just like a zany witch in that gear. Where's your broomstick?" he chuckled.
"I've lost it! It was too uncomfortable anyway," she replied and it was a relief to have a good laugh. What a lovely rippling sound it was too! Ynaz suddenly felt she was going to enjoy herself in this strange place.
"Come on," said the lad, "I'll give you a lift into town .I don't think you'll find my bike uncomfortable. What's your name?"
"Ask a silly question..." he smiled. "Well I'm just plain, down to earth Jimmy".
"Plain, down to earth Jimmy!" she repeated. "Bit of a mouthful, isn't it? She smiled up at him mischievously and Jimmy gave her a friendly push towards the motorbike.
Ynaz was soon sitting much more comfortably on the pillion seat. The machine roared into life and they streaked off down the road. This, she decided was the way to travel, although the other traffic was a bit frightening at first.
Presently Jimmy pulled into a roadside cafe where a dozen or so more bikes were parked. They went inside and pushed their way through lots of black leather-clad boys and girls, towards the snack bar.
At first the loud music, laughter and chatter confused Ynaz - it was always so quiet in Witches Hollow - and the bright lights dazzled her. She blinked up at Jimmy who suddenly forgot what he was saying and stared at her. He had never seen such wonderful green eyes!
His friends began to crowd around curiously and a hush seemed to descend upon the room as they eyed the quaint little stranger up and down. Then someone gave an appreciative whistle.
"Where did you find the little blackbird?" he asked.
"In a tree of course," Jimmy replied absently, gazing spellbound into Ynaz's eyes.
Her sudden ripple of laughter brought him sharply back to reality and realising what he had said, he too burst into laughter which was taken up all round them and the noisy babble broke forth once more.
They ate hot-dogs; drank coca cola; danced; played the one-armed bandit machines and watched the records changing in the juke box. Ynaz thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It was all new and exciting to her.
Then Jimmy showed her a machine that printed words on strips of light metal.
"How do you spell your name?" he asked. And as she spelt it out, he printed it.He studied the result for a moment, puzzled.
"That's a real zany name," he said."Are you sure your haven't got it backwards?"
Experimenting, he punched out the letters again in reverse order on another piece of metal and roared with laughter as he read the word ZANY. "Spotty sponkles! It is Zany! That's you alright - a zany witch." He bent the strips of metal into bracelets and clamped them round her wrists. "There! Now you can take your pick - Ynaz or Zany. I think Zany suits you best." And he was laughing again. Zany stared at the bracelets thoughtfully. "I wonder..." she began, and broke off adding after a pause, "Will you print some more names backwards for me Jimmy?"
He readily agreed and in a few moments had produced six more bracelets bearing the words: SMILE, FUN, GAY, SUGAR, LOVE and LIVENITUP.
Zany was particularly pleased with the last one. Put-in-Evil spelt backwards had become Liven-it-Up which had a very different meaning. Ynaz was excited. She though she had found the key to her problem.
Placing all the bracelets on her arms, she thanked Jimmy for his help and asked if she could borrow his motorbike. He was so bewitched by her that he readily agreed and even went outside to see her off.
Her mastery of the big machine staggered him and when she zoomed off noisily into the night he could have sworn that the machine left the ground and took off into the air. For a brief moment he saw the strangest sight of a witch on a motorbike silhouetted against the moonlit sky; then she was gone and he was left chuckling to himself.
Dawn was breaking when Zany made her noisy arrival back at Witches Hollow and she was greeted by the chorus of the birds. Another lovely new sound that thrilled her for normally the witches slept through all the daylight hours.
She began excitedly to call up the witches who disturbed by the roar of the motorbike engine were already staggering out of their houses, blinking in the unfamiliar brightness of daylight and amazed at the spectacle of Ynaz on a motorbike.
She handed out the bracelets Jimmy had made and poured out her story to them. "So you see we have it all wrong. The Spell Book is written backwards. That's why I can't get the spells right. Elims, Evol, Nuf, Yag and Ragus were delighted with their trinkets and eagerly drank in Zany's story. She had obviously had a wonderful time and they were anxious to know more.
Putinevil listened in silence. At first, she was jealous of Zany's sudden popularity, then she became angry as she realised the witches were only too eager to change their whole way of life for Zany's airy-fairy notions and she lost no time in telling them so.
"How can you all be so stupid! Can't you see what she is trying to do? Because she cannot make spells our way she blames our Spell Book and has thought of a crafty way to get her own back. She is seeking to overpower us - even to dispose of us. Come to your senses! Look at her! She is not one of us. She cannot even ride a broomstick. Whoever heard of witches on motorbikes! I tell you she must be disposed of before she destroys us all."
The witches became nervous. They wrenched off their bracelets and tossed them away. Putinevil was right. The situation was dangerous. Ynaz had never been one of them. She had even changed her name now and wanted them to change theirs. What was she trying to do to them? They began to mumble and chant ominously.
"Turn her to stone" Turn her to stone."
Zany pleaded with them trying to make them understand that witches could be enchanting creatures not symbols of darkness and evil and she begged for a chance to prove it.
Putinevil paced up and down thoughtfully. Stopping suddenly in front of Zany, she looked her right in the eyes. "Do you want to be turned into stone then?"
Zany shuddered."No of course not."
"But if the Spell Book is written backwards and I were to turn you into stone it should be easy for me to turn you back again right?"
Oh dear! Zany had not thought of that.
We-e-ll, yes I suppose so," she said slowly.
"Ah-h!" cried Putinevil, wagging a crooked finger in her face, "you are not so sure now are you?"
Zany swallowed hard.
"Well couldn't we try some smaller spells first," she suggested, nervously.
Putinevil gave a horrible cackle and consulted the other witches, who all agreed that only such a big test could decide the issue and Zany had no alternative but to bravely stand her ground while Putinevil went into deep meditation to perform this most difficult of all spells which none of them had attempted before.
At first Zany felt rather frightened. Putinevil was an ugly old thing especially when she was concentrating so hard on a nasty spell. She croaked and mumbled and waved her arms about in a most unpleasant manner, while the other witches stood in a huddle heads together trying to help her to concentrate.
Watching their weird antics Zany thought of Jimmy and how funny he would have found it all and she began to giggle. The witches danced faster some of them tripping over their long robes and Zany just had to laugh. The more she laughed, the faster they danced until almost convulsed with laughter, Zany staggered out of their midst and leaned on a tree holding her sides and laughing fit to burst.
The spell was broken! Putinevil could not carry on. She suddenly knew what was wrong. It was this laughter! This ability of Zany's to always see the funny side of things that stopped her from making bad spells. None of the others had ever laughed like that. The best they could manage was an evil, croaky cackle.
But Zany's hearty laughter was very infectious and Putinevil was alarmed to see broad grins spreading over the faces of her sister witches.In a moment all would be lost. She had to work quickly.
Summoning all her most odious powers, she concentrated all her attention on Zany. There was a flash and bang, a puff of red smoke and silence! Zany had become an enchanting stone statue with hands on hips, head thrown back in a gesture of helpless laughter and hat askew. At the same time the sun went in and a deep gloom descended on Witches Hollow.
The witches surveyed the statue with awe, stretching out nervous fingers to touch it. They could not help but notice the beauty of the statue and compare it with themselves. They did not like what they saw and they turned on Putinevil.
"Get her back. We like her. We want to be like her." And some of them began to cry.
Putinevil, stunned at this attitude looked very thoughtful. Witches laughing! Witches crying! Whatever next! She studied the statue and ran her hands over the laughing face. Witches were never like this. Zany was beautiful. Something was very wrong somewhere. She knew she herself was ugly. Years of wicked spell-making had done that. Turning to her sisters, she murmured "Give me time to think. Give me time."
Slowly she walked around gathering up the discarded bracelets and studying them. They had indeed got their names backwards. What was her own now? Not Put-in-Evil, but Liven-it-Up! She glanced towards Zany's statue. Ah! Was it in her power then to Liven-it-Up. She found herself smiling at the idea and was not displeased at the warm feeling it gave her. Perhaps she had been wrong after all.
For the next hour or two she had her long nose buried in the pages of the Spell Book studying it from cover to cover turning and twisting the words and their meanings until her head ached. But she still could not find the spell that would bring Zany back to life.
Tired and disheartened - all the old bad temper returning - she flung the book from her in disgust. As it fell, the dust cover flew off, revealing a beautiful red leather cover with shining gold printing on it. It was a little verse which read:
Sweeten it with SUGAR and make it GAY
Add a little sunshine and time for play
A little ZANY FUN will LIVEN-IT-UP
We don't drink from the saucer, we use the cup!
Change the snarl for a SMILE - hiss for a kiss
Turn it round - see what you miss
Livenitup snatched up the book and read it again and again until she knew it by heart. The verse and the names fitted and suddenly everything clicked into place.
She rushed over to the statue, tripping over her long gown in her haste and falling flat on her face. She was up in a trice without the slightest grumble intent on changing the hiss for a kiss - she had already changed the snarl for a smile. Flinging her arms round Zany's neck she gave the stony cheek a loving kiss. There was a brilliant flash of gold as the sunshine immediately burst forth again and there was the laughing Zany in the flesh, hardly aware of what had happened.
Never had there been such excitement in Witches Hollow. Tears of joy flowed freely. They put the verse to music and danced to it, performing the funniest actions just for the pleasure of hearing each other laugh.
Singing gaily, Livenitup handed out all but one of the bracelets. The verse says "see what you miss" . Has anybody missed anything?
She waved the bracelet triumphantly above her head winking saucily at Zany.
"Love!" shouted Zany and Evol together. "Of course that's the missing link." Never before had they known such gaiety. They were jumping for joy.
Things are very different now down in Witches Hollow. Not only have they livened it up, but they're living it up and having the time of their lives... careering around on motorbikes with Jimmy and his friends.