Diana wynne jones "enchanted glass" part i


Then Jocelyn Brandon died — at a great old age, as magicians tend to do — he left his house and his field-of-care to his grandson, Andrew Brandon Hope. Andrew himself was in his thirties. The house, Melstone House, was a simple matter of making a will. But it had been old Jocelyn's intention to pass the field-of-care on in the proper way, personally.
He left it rather too late. He knew Andrew could reach him very quickly. If you climbed to the top of Mel Tump, the hill beyond the house, you could see the University where Andrew taught as a dark blue clot on the edge of the great blue-green plain, only half an hour's drive away. So, when he realised he was on his deathbed, Jocelyn commanded his housekeeper, Mrs Stock, to telephone for his grandson.
Mrs Stock did telephone. But the truth is, she did not try very hard. Partly, she did not take the old man's illness seriously; but mostly, she did not approve of the old man's daughter for marrying a Hope (and then dying of it). She therefore also disapproved of the daughter's son, Andrew Hope. Besides, she was waiting for the doctor and didn't want to be on the phone when she should be answering the door. So when she had worked her way through the intricate University switchboard system and arrived at the History Department, and then to a person who described herself as a Research Assistant, who told her that Dr Hope was in a committee meeting, she simply gave up.
Andrew Hope was driving in the general direction of Melstone that evening, returning from a site connected with his research. His Research Assistant, not having the least idea where he was, had simply told Mrs Stock the lie she told everyone. Andrew had reached the curious dip in the road where, as he always said to himself, things went different. It was blue gloaming and he had just switched his headlights on. Luckily, he was not going fast. A figure was suddenly there, dashing into his headlights' glare, dark and human and seeming to wave.
Andrew trod on his brakes. His car wove about, wheels howling, in a long, snaking skid, showing him horrendous detail of grass and blackthorn on both sides of the road, violently lit by his headlights. It followed this by going up and over and down off something sickeningly squashy. Then it stopped.
Andrew tore open his door and jumped out. Into something squashy. This proved to be the ditch in which his nearside wheel was planted. Horrified, he squelshed out and around the bonnet and peered underneath the other three wheels. Nothing. The squashy lump must have been the wet bank between the road and the ditch. Only when he was sure of this did Andrew look round and see the human figure standing waiting for him in the beam of the headlights. It was tall and thin and very like himself, except that its hair was white, its back a little bent and it did not wear glasses like Andrew did. Jocelyn's eyesight had always been magically good.
Andrew recognised his grandfather. "Well, at least I didn't kill you," he said. "Or did I?"
This last question was because he realised he could see the white line in the middle of the road through his grandfather's body. His grandfather shook his head, grinned a little and held something out towards him. Andrew could not see it clearly at first. He had to go nearer, remove his glasses and peer. The thing seemed to be a folded paper with some kind of black seal on one corner. The old man shook it impatiently and held it out again. Andrew cautiously reached for it. But his fingers went right through it and grew very cold.