The witch's granddaughter
You may imagine the consternation at the Castle. The poor Countess who had been so cold to Babette, seemed to feel it most. She sat and cried: "O Babette, come back, come back, my dear, and I will be a real mother to you, indeed I will."
The Count immediately took steps to recover her. The forests were searched through and through by his men; but not the slightest trace could they discover.
The seven ravens said: "Caw, caw," and set off at once in search of her.
The next day Fotchen and Silverpaws and the other cats disappeared. Lucky and several of the old witch's hens were also missed.
It was evident that they had all followed Babette, and that she must be alive somewhere; but where, that was the question. Where there is magic at work, it is always a difficult matter.
One clever youth remarked that if one could find her pets, why, then one might find Babette.
But this brilliant idea was not of much use, as they were all lost.
Meanwhile Babette followed her strange guide with many misgivings and sad sinkings of the heart. They had not gone far when they came to a cottage in the forest, surrounded, like her granny's garden, by a briar hedge.
Now I must tell you that Babette had fallen into the power of a reputed wizard, and he had the power of making everything within this briar hedge invisible and intangible to those outside. So that poor Babette would be more safely imprisoned there than in an iron-barred fortress. She did not realise this at first; she grew to understand it later, when she became more acquainted with the wizard (or Mr Squint-eyes, as Babette called him) and his ways. The hedge was so thick and high, and the thorns were so huge, that it would have been impossible for Babette to think of squeezing herself through it, and running away.
The wizard parted this hedge with his wand; it closed up thick and close behind them as they entered.
The cottage garden was laid out in patches of vegetables. Not a flower was to be seen in it; but there were fruit-trees with ripe apples, and pears, plums and medlars; for it was the early autumn.