icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

The Knitting Witch

1. Ivy Lou

There was once a very pretty little girl with blue eyes and yellow curls and a big bow in her hair. Her name was Ivy Lou. Her parents gave her everything she asked for, for they were very rich and could afford to do so.

It was not very long before Ivy Lou entirely ran out of ordinary things to ask for. She had far more dolls than she could possibly find time to play with and far more toys of every sort than any other child around.

She had more clothes than she could ever wear, with a pair of shoes to match each and every dress. There were velvet shoes and corduroy shoes, silk shoes and satin shoes, lace shoes and flowered shoes, and plaid shoes and polka-dot shoes. There was a hair-ribbon to match each and every shoe, a coat to match each and every hair-ribbon, a hat to match each and every coat, and a parasol to match each and every hat.

There were closets and closets in that house, and every one of them was filled with Ivy Lou’s clothes. Of course, there was no room in any of the closets for her parents’ clothes. There was only a very small place left for them, in the cellar, near the horse’s stall.

Yes, Ivy Lou had a black and white horse in the cellar. This was the result of a sudden fancy of hers that had first come to her in a dream. She fed the horse by dropping shredded-wheat biscuits through the laundry chute—when she remembered. (Because she had begged for it, she and her parents lived in a wonderful old house that had an old-fashioned chute down which you could toss your clothes so that they would land in the basement, where the washing machine was.)

When Ivy Lou did not remember to feed the horse, which was quite often, her mother did it, or her father. They took the horse out for daily airings too, around the block, for it was much too difficult for Ivy Lou to get him up the cellar stairs. She was not a very patient child, you see.

But Ivy Lou was talented. Yes, she was known far and wide for the well-practiced tantrums that she threw when she did not get her way. They were absolutely the very worst tantrums, everyone agreed, that had ever been thrown on that street, or indeed in that entire city!

Tantrum Number One was the mildest. Ivy Lou used it when she wanted something only a little bit because she was feeling rather bored. (Quite often, she did not care to go to school, and the days stretched long and dull through all the echoing, ticking rooms of that enormous house.) Here is what she would do: She would begin spinning round and round the room, make a low humming sound in her throat, which rose to a shriek, and then to a most terrifying roar, and then stamp her feet over and over again.

Next, she would open her pretty pink mouth as wide as possible (and this had become very wide indeed, from long practice), and she would shout, so loudly that all the fancy chandeliers in the house would sway back and forth, creaking horribly upon their chains, their crystal prisms tinkling in alarm and tossing nervous darting flashes of light all over the house and even out into the street.

The little stiff gold chairs (which stood in lines against the walls of the parlor like soldiers waiting to be called to duty for any party Ivy Lou might suddenly desire) trembled in all their limbs. Quite often, one or two of them fell right over, their little spindly legs sticking up mathematically in the air.

Outside the parlor, the birds would leap from the trees till the sky was dark with them. All the cats in town would streak for cover. Then Ivy Lou would close her mouth, hold her breath, turn purple and green, spin around three times—and fall over with a horrible scream, which caused the walls to crack and perhaps a chandelier or two to fall. (Her parents and anyone else who was there always kept to the edges of the room, along with the shivering golden chairs.)

Now the walls would crack, and more chandeliers and other hanging objects fall, not only in Ivy Lou’s own house but in all the houses up and down the street. So the neighbors too had learned to keep close to the walls most of the time for maximum safety. Her father spent a good deal of money on the repair of neighbors’ homes, for he was an upright man, and fair--and very rich besides.

And that was how it was that Ivy Lou had a playhouse in the back yard that was bigger than their real house, with a television set in every room, and a real refrigerator and a real stove. But she very soon grew bored with that.