Wee Yoni's Guide for Wet Hennes

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We interrupt this guide to provide the following excerpts from Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett.

Take medicine, for example. Magrat knew she was much better than them at herbs. She'd inherited several large books on the subject from Goodie Whemper, her predecessor in the cottage, and had essayed a few tentative notes of her own as well. She could tell people things about the uses of Devil's Bit Scabious that would interest them so much they'd rush off, presumably to look for someone else to tell. She could fractionally distil, and double-distil, and do things that meant sitting up all night watching the color of the flame under the retort. She worked at it.

Whereas Nanny just tended to put a hot poultice on everything and recommend a large glass of whatever the patient liked best on the basis that since you were going to be ill anyway you might as well get some enjoyment out of it. (Magrat forbade her patients alcohol, because of what it did to the liver; if they didn't know what it did to the liver, she spent some time telling them.)

And Granny...she just gave people a bottle of colored water and told them they felt a lot better.

And what was so annoying was that they often did.

Where was the witchcraft in that?

With a wand, though, things could be different. You could help people a lot with a wand. Magic was there to make life better. Magrat knew this in the pink fluttering boudoir of her heart.

[...]

'It seems to me,' Magrat tried again, 'that the only magic we do is all—well, headology. Not what anyone else would call magic. It's just glaring at people and tricking them. Taking advantage of their gullibility. It wasn't what I expected when I set out to become a witch—'

'And who says,' said Granny Weatherwax, slowly and deliberately, 'that you've become a witch now?'

'My word, the wind is getting up, perhaps we should-' said Nanny Ogg.

'What did you say?' said Magrat.

Nanny Ogg put her hand over her eyes. Asking someone to repeat a phrase you'd not only heard very clearly but were also exceedingly angry about was around Defcon II in the lexicon of squabble.

'I should have thought my voice was clear enough,' said Granny. 'I'm very amazed my voice wasn't clear enough. It sounded clear enough to me.'

'Looks a bit gusty, why don't we-?'

'Well, I should just think I can be smug and bad-tempered and ill-considerate enough to be a witch,' said Magrat. 'That's all that's required, isn't it?'

'Ill-considerate? Me?'

'You like people who need help, because when they need help they're weak, and helping them makes you feel strong! What harm would a bit of magic do?'

'Because it'd never stop at just a bit, you stupid girl!'

Magrat backed off, her face flushed. She reached into her bag and pulled out a slim volume, which she flourished like a weapon.

'Stupid I may be,' she panted, 'but at least I'm trying to learn things! Do you know the kind of things people can use magic for? Not just illusion and bullying! There's people in this book that can... can... walk on hot coals, and stick their hands in a fire and not get hurt!'

'Cheap trickery!' said Granny.

'They really can!'

'Impossible. No-one can do that!'

'It shows they can control things! Magic's got to be more than just knowing things and manipulating people!'

'Oh? It's all wishing on stars and fairy dust, is it? Making people happier?'

'There's got to be some of that! Otherwise what's the good of anything? Anyway. . . when I went to Desiderata's cottage you were looking for the wand, weren't you?'

'I just didn't want it falling into the wrong hands!'

'Like any hands but yours, I expect!'

They glared at each other.

'Haven't you got any romance in your soul?' said Magrat plaintively.

'No,' said Granny. 'I ain't. And stars don't care what you wish, and magic don't make things better, and no-one doesn't get burned who sticks their hand in a fire. If you want to amount to anything as a witch, Magrat Garlick, you got to learn three things. What's real, what's not real, and what's the difference-'

'And always get the young man's name and address,' said Nanny. 'It worked for me every time. Only joking,' she said, as they both glared at her.

[...]

"Can't shift it," she said. "It's octiron, too. Can't magic it open."

"It's daft, locking us up," said Nanny. "I'd have had us killed."

"That's because you're basically good," said Magrat. "The good are innocent and create justice. The bad are guilty, which is why they invent mercy."

"No, I know why she's done this," said Granny, darkly. "It's so's we'll know we've lost."

"But she said we'd escape," said Magrat. "I don't understand. She must know the good ones always win in the end!"

"Only in stories," said Granny, examining the door hinges. "And she thinks she's in charge of the stories. She bends them around herself. She thinks she's the good one."

"Mind you," said Magrat, "I don't like swamps. If it wasn't for the frog and everything, I'd see Lily's point—"

"Then you're nothing but a daft godmother," snapped Granny, still fiddling with the lock. "You can't go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world for people. Otherwise it's just a cage. Besides, you don't build a better world by choppin' heads off and giving decent girls away to frogs."

"But progress—" Magrat began.

"Don't you talk to me about progress. Progress just means bad things happen faster. Anyone got another hatpin? This one's useless."

[...]

'All that...stuff...she was saying, when we were travelling. It was so...so cold. Wasn't it? Not wishing for things, not using magic to help people, not being able to do that fire thing—and then she went and did all those things! What am I supposed to make of that?'

'Ah, well,' said Nanny. 'It's all according to the general and the specific, right?'

'What does that mean?' Magrat lay down on the bed.

'Means when Esme uses words like 'Everyone' and 'No one' she doesn't include herself.'

'You know...when you think about it...that's terrible.'

'That's witchcraft. Up at the sharp end. And now...get some sleep.'

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