The Witch Must Burn Page 10

“I thought so,” she said. “Oh, I had a feeling about you, Jellia, and I’m simply never wrong when I have a feeling.”

I was too startled to keep up my perfect servant act. “What—happened?”

“All in good time,” Glinda said, and this time the gentleness in her voice seemed almost real. “I moved too quickly with you this afternoon. But there’s much, much more to you than meets the eye, and together we’re going to find out just how much you can help me.”

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“Leave the understanding to me,” she said briskly. “You’re dismissed, Jellia. We’ll have plenty of time to perfect your—education.” She waved a hand in my direction and turned back to the window.

Nox took one look at me when I finally found my way back to the kitchen and told me I was done working for the day. His demeanor was as gruff as ever, but I thought I saw sympathy in his eyes. “What happened up there?”

“I—to be honest, I’m not sure,” I said, and told him everything—Glinda’s sudden niceness, the ice cream, the thing I’d done to somehow make it disappear. When I got to that part, his eyebrows went up.

“You mean, you did magic?”

“But it wasn’t something I did on purpose,” I said. Before Dorothy and her rules, everyone in Oz had used magic all the time in the palace for little things, like polishing the silver, or making the flowers in the garden grow a particularly vibrant shade. Ozma had magic, of course—Ozma was a fairy, with all the powers of Oz at her disposal. And Dorothy had power, too: the power to control the weather, set the seasons to her liking, bewitch the Scarecrow’s weird experiments into more than just lifeless ideas strung together out of wood and wire—though none of us really knew where Dorothy’s power came from, or if she’d had it in the Other Place. But what I’d done in Glinda’s room was something different from the common household magic all the servants shared. It was far more powerful—and seemingly out of my control.

“You’ve never done anything like that before?”

“I don’t think so,” I said, and then stopped. I had done something like this once before when I was a little girl. I’d been playing with some hand-me-down dolls that the other servants had given me. I was lonely—I was the only child in the palace, and one day I’d decided I wanted some real live friends, so I made my dolls come alive. I still don’t know how I knew the magic to make that happen, but I do remember when Ozma walked in on me and my animated friends. She’d instantly made them go back to being just stuffed dolls, and she’d made me swear to never do that again—and to never let anyone else know that I could do something like that. I always wanted to make her happy, so I’d never again tried to summon that kind of magic—I didn’t want to upset Ozma.

I’d always kept the extent of my magic a secret from everyone else in the palace. Adding a little extra shine to the silverware was no stretch for most Ozians, but ever since that day, I knew that my own powers were different—and stronger—from everyone else in the palace. Except Dorothy. And Ozma.

“You’re different, aren’t you,” Nox said, interrupting my reverie. I didn’t confirm his suspicions—he seemed to know without me saying anything. “That must be why we—” He cut himself off.

“Why what? And who’s we?”

“I promise I’ll tell you everything when it’s time,” he said. “But for now you’ll have to trust me.”

“Right,” I said. “Clear as mud.” I sighed, annoyed, but whatever he knew, he wasn’t going to tell me anything else now.

“You’ve had a long day,” he said. “Why don’t you get some rest, and you can get a fresh start tomorrow.” He lowered his voice again. “Whatever she says to you—whatever she lets you see—don’t trust her. Understood? She can act vulnerable, but it’s just an act.”

Nox summoned another Munchkin to show me to my room in the servants’ quarters. It was tiny, like my room at Dorothy’s, but it had none of the comforts of my room at home, where I’d spent my entire life. It was bleak and bare bones, with just a narrow bed, a low dresser, and a single small window that overlooked the palace gardens. The room was a stark reminder of how different my new life was, but at least here, I could be alone. Just the summer, I told myself again. I just have to make it through the summer. I collapsed on the bed, too exhausted to even change out of my dress, and fell immediately into sleep.


The next day the little bejeweled bird woke me up with a horrific shriek right in my ear. I sat bolt upright, my heart galloping in my chest, and it took me several minutes to remember where I was and what had happened to me. I looked down in dismay at my wrinkled, dirty dress. The bird fell silent after its initial blast, and I realized it was just some kind of alarm, not a call from Glinda. I splashed cold water on my face, brushed my hair, and muttered a quick spell over my dress; the previous day’s grime melted away, and the wrinkles dropped from the fabric. I didn’t exactly feel my usual chipper self, but the night’s rest had loosened up some of my aching muscles and done away with my headache at least. I put my hair up in a demure twist, pinched my cheeks to add a bit of color, and ran down to the kitchen.

Nox was already there, going over a complicated-looking chart spread out on the big counter. “You’re late,” he said tersely without looking up as I entered the kitchen.

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