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A Whisper on the Chalk

TWO DAYS AFTER the battle, Tiffany led one of the farm horses up to the hills above the farm. It was a perfect early autumn’s day. There was a wonderful cerulean sky, buzzards screaming overhead and a clear view towards the distant mountains of Lancre, their tops still covered in snow even at this time of year.

There were always a handful of sheep up in this part of the downs, whatever the weather. At this time of year there were half-grown lambs kicking their heels and chasing about while the ewes grazed nearby. Here was a well-known landmark for those who knew. A special place for sheep and farmers alike. The place where Granny Aching now lay beneath the turf.

Only the iron wheels of her hut and the old pot-bellied stove with its chimney were still visible, but the ground, the ground was holy: Tiffany came to look at it every time she felt the world grinding her down, and here, where the wind never stopped blowing, she felt that she could deal with anything.

With the help of the horse and a strong rope, Tiffany hauled the rusty wheels out of the turf where they had been embedded, and painstakingly greased and coaxed them back together. Rob Anybody had watched her for a while after she had rebuffed his offer to help, then departed with a puzzled look on his face, muttering about geases, and what he’d like to do to them.

The following day, Tiffany went to visit old Mr Block, the local carpenter. He had once made her a doll’s house when she was a little girl; now she had a bigger home in mind.

He was pleased to see her but was startled when he discovered what she wanted from him.

‘Mr Block, I would like you to teach me to be a carpenter. I am going to build myself a hut – a shepherding hut.’

The carpenter was a kindly man and offered to help. ‘You are a witch,’ he said. ‘I’m a carpenter. A little hut like that wouldn’t take me long. Your granny was very good to our family and you helped my sister Margaret. I’d be happy to do it for you.’

But Tiffany was very definite. ‘That’s nice of you,’ she said, ‘but all the work on this hut must be done by me. It will be mine, from top to bottom, and I will pull it to where the larks rise. And I’ll still be a witch when anyone should call. But there I will live.’ On my own, she thought to herself. For now, anyway, for who knew what the future might bring . . . And her hand crept to her pocket, where she had Preston’s latest letter to savour.

And so Tiffany learned carpentry every evening after her day’s work was done. It took her some weeks to finish it, but eventually there was a new shepherd’s hut stationed close to Granny Aching’s grave.

There were three steps up to its wooden door, a horseshoe and a tuft of sheep’s wool – the sign of a shepherd – already nailed in place there, and the roof arched over a small living space into which she had built a bed, a little cupboard, a few shelves and a space for a wash basin. From the bed, she could see out of a small window – see clear across the downs, right to the horizon. And she could see the sun rise, and set, and the moon dance through its guises – the magic of everyday that was no less magic for that.



She loaded up the old farm horse again with the bedding from her little room in the farmhouse and her few possessions, said goodbye to her parents and headed up the hill in the late afternoon sun.

‘Are you sure, jigget, that this is what you really want?’ said her father.

‘Yes, it is,’ Tiffany replied.

Her mother cried and handed her a new quilt and a freshly baked loaf of bread to go with the cheese Tiffany had made that morning.

Halfway up the hill, Tiffany turned to look down at the farm and saw her parents still arm in arm. She waved and carried on climbing without looking back again. It had been a long day. They were always long days.

Later that evening, once she had made her little bed in the hut, she went out to collect some kindling. The white cat, You, followed close behind.

The little tracks of the Chalk were very familiar to Tiffany. She had walked along them with Granny Aching years ago. And as she reached the wood at the top of the rise, Tiffany thought she saw somebody walking through the dusky shadows under the trees.

Not just one person alone. There seemed to be two figures, both strangely familiar. Beside them, alert to every gesture, every nod, every whistle, trotted two sheepdogs.

Granny Weatherwax, Tiffany thought. Side by side with Granny Aching, Thunder and Lightning at their heels. And the little words in her head came unbidden: You are the shepherd’s crown, jigget. You are the shepherd’s crown.

One of the figures looked over and gave her a brief nod, whilst the other paused and bowed her head. Tiffany bowed back, solemnly, respectfully.

And then the figures were gone.

On the way back to the hut, Tiffany looked down at the cat and, on a sudden impulse, spoke to it.

‘Where is Granny Weatherwax, You?’

There was a pause, and the cat made a long meow, which appeared to end, ‘Meow . . . vrywhere.’ And then purred, just like any other cat, and rubbed her hard little head against Tiffany’s leg.

Tiffany thought of the little spot in the woods where Granny Weatherwax lay. Remembered.

And knew that You had been right. Granny Weatherwax was indeed here. And there. She was, in fact, and always would be, everywhere.

There was a long stream of visitors to the shepherding hut once it became known that Tiffany was back on the Chalk for good.

Joe Aching came up to deliver some messages – and a new letter, from Preston! – and bring Tiffany some things her mother had decided she needed. He looked around the neat little hut with approval. Tiffany had made the space very comfortable. He looked at the books on the shelf and smiled. Tiffany had left Granny Aching’s Diseases of the Sheep at the farm, but both Flowers of the Chalk and The Goode Childe’s Booke of Faerie Tales had their place by the little shepherd’s crown he had given her. On the back of the door was a wooden peg on which hung her witch’s hat.

‘I reckon ye’ll find some use for this too,’ her father said as he took a bottle of Special Sheep’s Liniment (made according to Granny Aching’s recipe) out of his pocket and placed it on the shelf.

Tiffany laughed and hoped her father hadn’t heard the cry of ‘Crivens!’ from the roof of the hut.

He looked up as some dust fell down from where Big Yan sat on Daft Wullie to silence him. ‘I hope ye haven’t got woodworm already, Tiff.’

She laughed again as she gave him a hug to say goodbye.

Mr Block was an early visitor too. He puffed his way up the hill and found her settled in with You the cat sitting on her lap while she sorted rags.

Tiffany watched nervously as the old carpenter looked around and under the hut with a professional eye. When he had finished, she gave him a cup of tea and asked him what he thought.

‘You’ve done well, lass. Very well. I have never seen a boy apprentice take to carpentry as quickly as this, and you are a girl.’

‘Not a girl,’ Tiffany said. ‘I’m a witch.’ And she looked down to the little cat beside her and said, ‘That’s so, isn’t it, You?’

Mr Block looked at her suspiciously for a moment. ‘So did you use magic to make the hut, miss?’

‘I didn’t have to,’ said Tiffany. ‘The magic was already here.’

The End.

 


1948–2015

AFTERWORD

The Shepherd’s Crown is Terry Pratchett’s final novel. It was written in his last year before he finally succumbed in early 2015 to the ‘embuggerance’ of posterior cortical atrophy. Terry had been diagnosed back in 2007, the year that he wrote Nation. At that time, Terry thought he might have less than two years to live and that brought a new urgency to his writing. He had never been a slouch in this respect but now things were measured by the cost in writing time. If demands for his presence took him away from writing, it had to be really worthwhile, such as feeding the chickens or attending to his tortoises. He had so many more books he wanted to write.

It says a lot for Terry’s resilience and determination not to go down without a fight that he wrote five more full-length bestselling novels between Nation and The Shepherd’s Crown (as well as collaborating with Stephen Baxter on five Long Earth novels). And Terry was still developing new ideas for books right up to his final few months.fn1

Terry usually had more than one book on the go at a time and he discovered what each was about as he went along. He would start somewhere, telling himself the story as he wrote it, writing the bits he could see clearly and assembling it all into a whole – like a giant literary jigsaw – when he was done. Once it was shaped, he would keep writing it too, adding to it, fixing bits, constantly polishing and adding linking sequences, tossing in just one more footnote or event. His publishers often had to prise the manuscript away from him, as there was always more he felt he could do, even though by then he would be well into the next story which was tugging at his elbow. Eventually the book was sent to the printer, and reluctantly Terry would let it go.

Terry had been thinking about the key elements in Tiffany Aching and Granny Weatherwax’s last story for a few years. He wrote the pivotal scenes while he was still writing Raising Steam and then re-wrote them several times as he shaped the rest of The Shepherd’s Crown around them.

The Shepherd’s Crown has a beginning, a middle and an end, and all the bits in between. Terry wrote all of those. But even so, it was, still, not quite as finished as he would have liked when he died.

If Terry had lived longer, he would almost certainly have written more of this book. There are things we all wish we knew more about. But what we have is a remarkable book, Terry’s final book, and anything you wish to know more about in here, you are welcome to imagine yourself.

Rob Wilkins
May 2015
Salisbury, UK

 

fn1 We will now not know how the old folk of Twilight Canyons solve the mystery of a missing treasure and defeat the rise of a Dark Lord despite their failing memories, nor the secret of the crystal cave and the carnivorous plants in The Dark Incontinent, nor how Constable Feeney solves a whodunnit amongst the congenitally decent and honest goblins, nor how the second book about the redoubtable Maurice as a ship’s cat might have turned out. And these are just a few of the ideas his office and family know about.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Despite the effects of his Alzheimer’s disease, Terry wanted to keep writing as long as possible and was able to do so not least through the assistance of his fine editorial team. Lyn, Rhianna and Rob would most especially like to thank Philippa Dickinson and Sue Cook for their tireless help and encouragement that kept the words flowing.

A Feegle Glossary

adjusted for those of a delicate disposition
(A Work In Progress By Miss Perspicacia Tick, witch)

Bigjobs: human beings

Big Man: chief of the clan (usually the husband of the kelda)

Blethers: rubbish, nonsense

Bogle: see Schemie

Boggin: to be desperate, as in ‘I’m boggin for a cup of tea’

Brose: porridge with a drop of strong drink added – or more than a drop. Be warned: it will put hairs on your chest

Bunty: a weak person

Carlin: old woman

Cludgie: the privy

Corbies: big, black burdies known by most people as crows

Crivens!: a general exclamation that can mean anything from ‘My goodness!’ to ‘I’ve just lost my temper and there is going to be trouble’

Dree your/my/his/her weird: facing the fate that is in store for you/me/him/her

Een: eyes

Eldritch: weird, strange; sometimes means oblong too, for some reason

Fash: worry, upset

Geas: a very important obligation, backed up by tradition and magic. Not a bird

Gonnagle: the bard of the clan, skilled in music and stories

Hag: a witch, of any age

Hag o’ hags: a very important witch

Hagging/Haggling: anything a witch does

Hiddlins: secrets

Kelda: the female head of the clan, and eventually the mother of most of it. Feegle babies are very small, and a kelda will have hundreds in her lifetime

Lang syne: long ago

Last World: the Feegles believe that they are dead. This world is so filled with all they like, they argue, that they must have been really good in a past life and then died and ended up here. Appearing to die here means merely going back to the Last World, which they believe is rather dull

Mowpie: furry animals with white tufts as tails, making them easy to spot. Sometimes called rabbits. Good to eat, especially with a dab of snail relish on the side

Mudlin: useless person

Pished: I am assured that this means ‘tired’

Schemie: an unpleasant person

Scuggan: a really unpleasant person

Scunner: a generally unpleasant person

Ships: woolly things that eat grass and go baa. Easily confused with the other kind

Spavie: see Mudlin

Special Sheep Liniment: probably moonshine whisky, I am very sorry to say. A favourite of the Feegles. Do not try to make this at home

Spog: a small leather bag at the front of a Feegle’s kilt, which covers whatever he presumably thinks needs to be hidden, and generally holds things like something he is halfway through eating, something he’d found that now therefore belongs to him, and whatever he was using as a handkerchief, which might not necessarily be dead

Steamie: only found in the big Feegle mounds in the mountains, where there’s enough water to allow regular bathing; it’s a kind of sauna. Feegles on the Chalk tend to rely on the fact that you can only get so much dirt on you before it starts to fall off of its own accord

Waily: a general cry of despair

The Witches of Discworld

by Jacqueline Simpson
(co-author of The Folklore of Discworld)

The witches of Discworld spend rather less time than one might suppose on actually doing magic. Mostly, they are called in to cope with other people’s problems. It is to them that the village turns when a child or a cow falls desperately sick, when a woman is having a difficult labour, when those who are dying cannot actually die. It is then that witches have to bring help – and take responsibility. There is nothing romantic about this work, nothing dramatic, no magic potions to cure the sick in an instant. Witchcraft is mostly about helping people by doing quite ordinary things.

However, cures and advice are more likely to be accepted if they sound magical. On one occasion a rather rational witch had been carefully telling one family that their well was much too close to their privy, so the water was full of tiny, tiny creatures which were making the children sick. They listened politely, but did nothing. Then Granny Weatherwax visited them and told them the illness was caused by goblins who were attracted to the smell of the privy, and that very day the man of the house and his friends began digging a new well at the other end of the garden. A story gets things done.

Witches also often adjudicate in neighbourly disputes; they see to it that where there has been injustice there will be a reckoning. It is a life of hard work, and rather lonely, for though a witch gains respect, she is always slightly feared.

It is also a witch’s duty to defend her homeland against the insidious incursions of malevolent beings from other dimensions, such as elves. She must keep watch, she must guard the borders and the gateways, even if in doing so she puts herself in danger too.

How does a girl become a witch? First, she must have some natural inborn talent, even if she does not yet realize it. Here, heredity can help, and in Tiffany’s case it does: the Achings, like the Weatherwaxes, have witching in their blood. But she needs training too, so when she is about eleven she must leave home and become part servant, part apprentice to an old witch, from whom she will learn about herbs and medicines and magical techniques, and whose area she will normally take over when the old one dies.

These techniques, unlike those of wizards, are not showy. True, there are a few witches who go in for grimoires and occult silver jewellery, but they are either conceited or inexperienced. The best witches use the simplest means – no need for a crystal ball for scrying when a few drops of ink in an old saucer of rainwater are quite as good; no carved wand when any stick will do. Their main tool is the ‘shambles’, a powerful magic-detector and -projector which looks a bit like a particularly complicated cat’s cradle, a bit like a broken set of puppet-strings, and a bit like a very untidy dream-catcher. But even this is formed from the simplest things. You have to make your own, fresh every time, out of whatever happens to be in your pockets. In the centre you put something alive – an egg, say, or a beetle or small worm – and pull the strings, and as the objects twirl past or even through one another, the device works. In the presence of really powerful magic, it may explode.

One of the minor benefits of being a witch is that you know, months or even years in advance, exactly when you are going to die, so you can stage-manage the event to perfection. Having done all the obvious things (cleaned the cottage, made a will, destroyed any embarrassing old letters or spells still lying around), had a nice grave dug ready for you, some witches choose to throw a really good ‘going-away party’. This is like a wake, but with yourself as guest of honour, still taking a keen interest, and distributing pleasant keepsakes to your friends. But there are also some who go in privacy to meet their old acquaintance, the Reaper.

About the Author

Terry Pratchett was the acclaimed creator of the global bestselling Discworld® series, the first of which, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. The Shepherd’s Crown is his forty-first Discworld novel. His books have been widely adapted for stage and screen, and he was the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, as well as being awarded a knighthood for services to literature. He died in March 2015.

For more information about Terry Pratchett and his books, please visit www.terrypratchett.co.uk

BOOKS BY TERRY PRATCHETT

The Discworld® series

1. THE COLOUR OF MAGIC

2. THE LIGHT FANTASTIC

3. EQUAL RITES

4. MORT

5. SOURCERY

6. WYRD SISTERS

7. PYRAMIDS

8. GUARDS! GUARDS!

9. ERIC
(illustrated by Josh Kirby)

10. MOVING PICTURES

11. REAPER MAN

12. WITCHES ABROAD

13. SMALL GODS

14. LORDS AND LADIES

15. MEN AT ARMS

16. SOUL MUSIC

17. INTERESTING TIMES

18. MASKERADE

19. FEET OF CLAY

20. HOGFATHER

21. JINGO

22. THE LAST CONTINENT

23. CARPE JUGULUM

24. THE FIFTH ELEPHANT

25. THE TRUTH

26. THIEF OF TIME

27. THE LAST HERO
(illustrated by Paul Kidby)

28. THE AMAZING MAURICE AND HIS EDUCATED RODENTS
(for young adults)

29. NIGHT WATCH

30. THE WEE FREE MEN
(for young adults)

31. MONSTROUS REGIMENT

32. A HAT FULL OF SKY
(for young adults)

33. GOING POSTAL

34. THUD!

35. WINTERSMITH
(for young adults)

36. MAKING MONEY

37. UNSEEN ACADEMICALS

38. I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT
(for young adults)

39. SNUFF

40. RAISING STEAM

Other books about Discworld

THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD

THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD II: THE GLOBE

THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD III: DARWIN’S WATCH

THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD IV: JUDGEMENT DAY
(with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen)

TURTLE RECALL: THE NEW DISCWORLD COMPANION . . . SO FAR
(with Stephen Briggs)

NANNY OGG’S COOKBOOK
(with Stephen Briggs, Tina Hannan and Paul Kidby)

THE PRATCHETT PORTFOLIO
(with Paul Kidby)

THE DISCWORLD ALMANAK
(with Bernard Pearson)

THE UNSEEN UNIVERSITY CUT-OUT BOOK
(with Alan Batley and Bernard Pearson)

WHERE’S MY COW?
(illustrated by Melvyn Grant)

THE ART OF DISCWORLD
(with Paul Kidby)

THE WIT AND WISDOM OF DISCWORLD
(compiled by Stephen Briggs)

THE FOLKLORE OF DISCWORLD
(with Jacqueline Simpson)

THE WORLD OF POO
(with the Discworld Emporium)

THE COMPLEAT ANKH-MORPORK
(with the Discworld Emporium)

THE STREETS OF ANKH-MORPORK
(with Stephen Briggs, painted by Stephen Player)

THE DISCWORLD MAPP
(with Stephen Briggs, painted by Stephen Player)

A TOURIST GUIDE TO LANCRE – A DISCWORLD MAPP
(with Stephen Briggs, illustrated by Paul Kidby)

DEATH’S DOMAIN
(with Paul Kidby)

A complete list of Terry Pratchett ebooks and audio books as well as other books based on the Discworld series – illustrated screenplays, graphic novels, comics and plays – can be found on www.terrypratchett.co.uk

Shorter Writings

ONCE MORE* WITH FOOTNOTES

A BLINK OF THE SCREEN

A SLIP OF THE KEYBOARD

Non-Discworld books

THE DARK SIDE OF THE SUN

STRATA

THE UNADULTERATED CAT
(illustrated by Gray Jolliffe)

GOOD OMENS
(with Neil Gaiman)

THE LONG EARTH
(with Stephen Baxter)

THE LONG WAR
(with Stephen Baxter)

THE LONG MARS
(with Stephen Baxter)

THE LONG UTOPIA
(with Stephen Baxter)

Non-Discworld books for young adults

THE CARPET PEOPLE

TRUCKERS

DIGGERS

WINGS

ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND

JOHNNY AND THE DEAD

JOHNNY AND THE BOMB

NATION

DODGER

DODGER’S GUIDE TO LONDON

DRAGONS AT CRUMBLING CASTLE

Praise for Sir Terry Pratchett

‘Terry was one of our greatest fantasists, and beyond a doubt the funniest’

– George R. R. Martin

‘A Terry Pratchett book is a small miracle’

– Neil Gaiman

‘Discworld is one of the very most fabulous creations in all of literature’

– Patrick Ness

‘No writer in my lifetime has given me as much pleasure and happiness’

– A. S. Byatt

‘A writer of monumental talent’

– Rick Riordan

‘His fantasies sit alongside – and are the equals of – those of Rabelais, Voltaire, Swift, Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams . . . But whereas all these are neatly arranged on the bookshelves, my Pratchetts are strewn under the beds, in the bathrooms, the glove compartments. They have shopping lists, takeaway orders and Scrabble scores scribbled on the fly leaves. They were part of life’

– Frank Cottrell Boyce

THE SHEPHERD’S CROWN
AN RHCP DIGITAL EBOOK 978 1 448 19714 9

Published in Great Britain by RHCP Digital,
an imprint of Random House Children’s Publishers UK
A Penguin Random House Company

This ebook edition published 2015

Text copyright © Terry and Lyn Pratchett, 2015
Illustrations copyright © Paul Kidby, 2015
Terry Pratchett®, Discworld®, Wee Free Men® and Unseen University® are registered trademarks.

First Published in Great Britain

‘The Witches of Discworld’ bonus content copyright © Jacqueline Simpson, 2015

Doubleday Childrens 9780857534811 2015

The right of Terry Pratchett to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

RANDOM HOUSE CHILDREN’S PUBLISHERS UK
61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA

www.randomhousechildrens.co.uk
www.totallyrandombooks.co.uk
www.randomhouse.co.uk

Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at: www.randomhouse.co.uk/offices.htm

THE RANDOM HOUSE GROUP Limited Reg. No. 954009

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

 


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1063


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