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Howl's Moving Castle
by Diana Wynne Jones
Howl's Moving Castle Chapter 8 Summary
In Which Sophie Leaves the Castle in Several Directions at Once The next day, Howl grabs his guitar and gets ready to go and woo Lettie, but when he opens the door to the hills above Market Chipping (green blob), he sees the face of that scarecrow. The scarecrow tries to shove past Howl into the castle, but Howl manages to push him away. Sophie is so frightened that her heart goes wonky again, but Howl and Calcifer do some kind of magic to make her feel better. Howl goes off to see Lettie Hatter—the real one, who's acting as apprentice to Mrs. Fairfax. Sophie tries casually to sneak off and follow him, but Michael comes running after her, clearly worried that the scarecrow has made her lose her mind. Upper Folding (the town where Mrs. Fairfax lives) is ten miles away—she can't just walk there. Michael has a bright idea: there is a pair of seven-league boots inside. One step in those bad boys will take Sophie ten and a half miles. She can take one boot and Michael can take the other, and then he can make sure that she's okay. After some trouble with the seven-league boots (it turns out that it's hard to take just one step in the right direction when every step takes you ten miles), they make it to Mrs. Fairfax's house. Michael introduces Sophie as Lettie's great-aunt. Mrs. Fairfax's dog immediately wriggles out of the house and tries to run off to bite Lettie's visitor, but Michael manages to catch the dog before he hurts the man who is visiting Lettie. But as they are chasing him down, Sophie sees bad news: Howl is already there, he's sitting across from Lettie, and she is looking at him adoringly. Mrs. Fairfax knows exactly who Howl is, even though he introduced himself as "Sylvester Fox" (8.53) when he first met Lettie. Howl is a student of an old friend of Mrs. Fairfax's, Mrs. Pentstemmon. Mrs. Fairfax has been encouraging Lettie to be nice to Howl to see if he will teach her some magic. Lettie has a ton of talent—more than Mrs. Fairfax—and she should seize every opportunity she can. Mrs. Fairfax knows that Lettie is into someone else… but that other person is under a "fearsomely strong spell" (8.60), which will make it hard for the two of them to get their happily-ever-after. It turns out that Mrs. Fairfax also knows that Lettie is, well, Lettie, and not Martha. But she is happy to keep on a willing apprentice, even if Martha was the one who Fanny originally recommended to her.
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