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Howl's Moving Castle
by Diana Wynne Jones
Howl's Moving Castle Chapter 18 Summary
In Which the Scarecrow and Miss Angorian Reappear While Howl continues his intense pursuit of Miss Angorian, Sophie, Michael, and the dog-man gather flowers to sell in their new shop. The shop soon becomes super-popular since it contains flowers that no one has ever seen before. Sophie starts talking to the flowers to encourage them to keep growing and to change their shapes. Sophie gathers some roots from a blue rose bush that she enchanted, puts them in the ground, and they produce lots of different plants—including a plant with pointed, spotted leaves and a long stalk with a flower bud. Of course it turns out that the plant is a mandrake root. So now there's only one impossible thing from the Witch's curse on Howl left: the wind to advance an honest mind. One morning, Sophie hears a familiar thump. Thump. Thump. She knows what it is even before she looks out the window: it's the scarecrow, coming down the street in Market Chipping towards their flower shop. Sophie mutters we're not here, go away… and the scarecrow hops past the flower shop without stopping. Howl and Michael are both out, and Sophie and the dog-man are alone in the shop. The dog-man concentrates hard to turn into his human self, and manages to for just long enough to tell Sophie that he was the red-haired guy with the Witch that day when Sophie got cursed. The dog-man has also told Lettie about Sophie's condition. The dog-man transforms back into a dog before he can say more. Then something totally inexplicable happens: Miss Angorian comes through the door from Wales. She says she's there because she believes that Howl might know something about her disappeared fiancé, Ben Sullivan. Sophie is immediately suspicious of this story, but Miss Angorian shoves her way in anyway, snooping all around the house. Miss Angorian sees Howl's guitar and grabs it, saying that it belongs to Ben, and Sophie tugs the guitar away from Miss Angorian, who won't let go. Finally Sophie just pushes Miss Angorian back out the door to Wales. Sophie is horribly grumpy. Why? Because Miss Angorian is prettier than her even when she was young. As for now, Sophie is just an old woman. (Someone seems jealous—is Sophie finally admitting her obvious feelings for Howl?)
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