“I'll call you Mila,” Jane decided, her eyes shining with excitement. “Oh, we're going to be the best of friends!”
She promptly proceeded to displaying the type of behavior that Toadmila had noticed in professed “bosom friends” at the Academy, which is to chatter on and on about one's own love, with no regard for the feelings of the listener. Toadmila simply turned her back to her and pretended that the simmering cauldron required her utmost attention. Finally, after a seemingly endless tirade about John's childhood exploits, Jane stopped mid-sentence with an “Oh!” and remained quiet for a good five seconds. Toadmila turned to see what had stopped her, and encountered a pair of round eyes staring at her with discernible pity.
“Oh, but what about you?” Jane asked. “Do you have someone?”
“I have a job,” Toadmila answered, pointing at the cauldron.
Jane did not seem puzzled this time. Toadmila imagined that the stories about witches circulating in the village, invariably portrayed the profession as being linked to a lack of romantic feelings. Which, had it been true of her classmates at the Academy, would have certainly saved her from witnessing more drama than she could stomach.
“What exactly is a witch's job?” Jane asked.
“A witch's job,” Toadmila said quickly, snapping into model-student mode and reciting the definition from her Year 1 Witchcraft textbook, “is to assist and protect her customers, be they kings or commoners.”
She stopped abruptly, realizing that she wasn't in school anymore. By the look on Jane's face, the textbook wasn't clear enough for her.
“A witch's job is to help people,” Toadmila explained. “For money, or anything valuable.”
Jane's face brightened.
“So you're not an evil witch then?” she asked innocently.
“Not unless I get paid to be,” Toadmila answered, doing her best to look scary.
“So who have you helped besides me?” Jane asked, leaning forward eagerly.
“No one,” Toadmila confessed, her shoulders sagging in spite of her best efforts at composure. “It seems that no one wants my services.”
Jane pouted. Her eyes drifted away, as if she were searching for something.
“Maybe you can help old Maggie Magpie,” she said. “I think... I think I'll talk to her.”