"Which," thinks the girl as she leans to rest against the gate,"Is just as well as I've lost my shawl. But at least my feet are warm and dry, in spite of my boots being very large for me."
She sighs, thinking that it had been a long time since she has felt really safe but, on the positive side, nothing worse than being a little hungry has happened to her since she ran off.
She looks up, towards the nearby house and notices something that takes her interest.
" A tree," she whispers. "I'm sure that's a Christmas tree! Just like the ones in the story books!"
She looks around and sees that nobody is watching. Slowly, she begins to climb up to the windowsill.
"Oops!" she thinks. "There's a boy decorating the tree and he doesn't look too happy. Perhaps he's seen me? I better run!"
But before she can scramble down from the windowsill......
.......the boy throws the window open and demands,
"Are you spying on me? What are you doing staring in through our window?"
"Please don't tell on me! Oh, please don't call a grown up!" begs the girl.
So the girl scrambles in through the window. On the whole, she feels quite safe round other children and this one is not so very big, so she could always over-power him and escape if she needs to do so.
" My name is Dunja." she tells the boy. " I'm running away. Or rather, I've been running away for a very long time."
" Running away from who......or should that be from whom? Anyway, why are you running away and where are you going to run TO?" asks the boy.
"Oh, and I'm Bertie Button, by the way. The unfortunate, only Button Nose kid in this house." he adds dolefully.
"I'm not going back, she turned out to be a very wicked witch and she said she'd turn me into a gingerbread girl and eat me! Just because I read about Christmas trees and asked if we could have one."
Seeing Bertie's confusion, Dunja continues,
"Witches don't do Christmas and, even though I was born in a witchy family and my Dad sent me to be her apprentice, I have no wish to be an evil witch like HER."
As the girl drew breath before carrying on, Bertie sees tears in her eyes.
"SOOOO," she continues, "If you tell a grown up, they will either send me back to Esmerelda the Vile or send me back to my Dad, who will send me back to her anyway. So, I'll keep running until I find an empty house that I can live in by myself. I'll be like Pippi Longstocking and live happily ever after!"
" Don't think they would, you know. Send you to your Dad or Witch Thingy the Vile, I mean." answers Bertie.
" They are good to all we children, on the whole. And, you know what? They've rescued quite a few of us from bad situations.
"If I just call for Mam..... Oh, and I've had Harry Potter read to me, you know, and not all witches and wizards are bad, so I think they will know you are a GOOD learner witch girl and they will LIKE you."
"So why, then, did you look so miserable?" the girl demanded. "If I was allowed to decorate a tree like yours and if I lived in a warm house like this, well I'd be very happy, but you looked miserable when I looked in through the window. So, are your parent's mean to you, then? Are you just saying they are nice to trick me?"
"Oh no, they are not mean to me exactly." Bertie say. Then he realises this is a great opportunity to get a hug and leans his head on Dunja's shoulder.
"It's just that I'm the only Button Nose here and I miss my Button Nose cousins at the Village, especially Ollie.... and then I brought loads of lovely sweaters and stuff back from the Village after my visit and Mam wouldn't let me have them all and... and.....Who's Pippi Longsock then?"
"Pippi LongSTOCKING is a girl in a story book, laughs Dunja. " But I'll tell you about another girl in a story first. Her name is Pollyanna and she plays the glad game. So I play it too."
"In the glad game, you have to find something to be glad about, no matter how sad you feel." Dunja goes on. "And I'm glad I have my strong boots to keep me dry, even though I have been walking for months and I'm glad I met you and I'm glad I saw your Christmas tree and I'm...."
"So, I could be glad that I was allowed to have these foxy slippers then?" interupts Bertie.
"And glad I went for a great holiday at the Village, and happy that I had all that hot chocolate Auntie Dee made? Ooh and I can be glad that I got to have Ollie to be my friend instead of just a farway cousin."
" That's it! You are good at this game." Dunja says, giving him not just a hug, but a kiss on the top of his head.
" I think we might be distantly related too, you know, my last name is Zwergnase which means dwarf nose, or little person's nose in...."
"German!" Bertie adds, triumphantly. "So we are both a bit German!"
Bertie is always ready for a hug, a kiss or a snuggle and this girl seems to enjoy them too.
" Know what else I'm glad about?" he asks. " I'm glad you are going to be my special big sister who can do beginner, witchy-but-good magic and read me the stories about Pollyhandle and Pippi Longshoes."
" Mam!" he yells. " Here's another one come to live with us. She needs to be rescued. MAM, COME AND HELP ME LOOK AFTER MY NEW BIG SISTER!!!!!!!"