On Halloween night Hannah and I went out trick-or-treating. On the way we almost bumped into Miss Crumm, dressed in the usual black coat and knitted hat.
"Do you think she's a witch?" I whispered.
Hannah nodded. "All the kids say she is. Mean too, if you take apples off her tree."
"Let's follow her," Hannah said.
So we did. Once we got the giggles so bad we had to jump into a doorway. She looked back twice but it was getting dark.
"She wears thick specs," Hannah said. "Bet she's blind as a bat."
We followed her all the way up Fountain Road. At Brindle Avenue, we turned in too. Miss Crumm went into the house second from the end. I noticed with a shiver it was number 13.
"Let's go home," I said.
"Why now? We can creep around the house and peek in a window."
The gate had a tricky catch but we opened it anyway. I was beginning to feel funny about everything. Especially when we were creeping up the path and couldn't keep the gravel quiet. We ducked down under the kitchen window sill and Hannah peeped inside. She gulped.
"You gotta see the kitchen. It looks like something out of "Hansel and Gretel"! I mean, there's a giant black stove with a big pot on top of it. Do you think she's brewing a spell?"
"Don't be stupid," I said, but I thought about it all the same. Maybe she left the spell bubbling on the stove and went to get an old weird root from Mr. Grey at the pharmacy.
I leaned on Hannah to push myself up above the sill. Miss Crumm was standing at the stove stirring whatever was in the pot. Her back was toward us. That was when I saw the cat. It was big and black. Then it turned its head and looked straight at me. I ducked.
"There's a cat!" I whispered.
Hannah nodded. "Of course."
I had to have another peek. Miss Crumm opened a cupboard door and took out a broom — the kind my grandfather uses in the yard, made of twigs. She swept up something on the floor. With cupboard door open, I saw a dark cape thing and a black, pointy hat hanging on a hook.
I went cold all over. "Let's go," I whispered.
But Hannah stood up to see too. That was the minute Miss Crumm looked at the window — straight at us. Then she smiled and waved her hand as if she wanted us to go to the front door.
"Let's get out of here," Hannah squeaked.
We started running down the path but had trouble opening the gate. Miss Crumm came down the path toward us. Now she was wearing the big pointy hat.
"How kind of you to come to my house on Halloween! I don't usually get any callers, but I had the feeling I might this year — so I made some candy apples! Here's one for each of you."
We just managed to say "Thanks."
"I made the candy myself," Miss Crumm said. "A big job, but fun!"
So that's what was in the big black pot.
We managed to say "Thanks" and then my Dad drove up to give us a ride home. Miss Crumm gave him a candy apple too.
"Thank you, girls, for thinking about me on Halloween," Miss Crumm said. You are my very first trick-or-treaters. I had the strange feeling that this year might be different — and it is!"
Special thanks to Veronica Walsh for this week's illustration. To see more of her work, visit veronicawalsh.net.
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