|Miss Constance Level
|partly during the events of A Hat Full of Sky
|A Hat Full of Sky
|Tiffany Aching’s Guide to Being a Witch
Miss Constance Level is a research witch and former circus performer. Or actually, two witches. She had one mind but two bodies. This made the household chores a lot easier. She came to the craft later in life than most, after falling into bad company (herself), she now studies old magic and spells to find out what makes then work.
She was originally a member of a circus but left after an incident with a clown, a trick ladder, and some... custard. She has taught Tiffany Aching about witchcraft. During the period Tiffany stayed with her and her in-house ghost Oswald, one of her bodies was killed by the Hiver. This hasn't stopped her using the extra pair of hands, though.
Miss Level and Tiffany
In a house shared with Oswald the neurotically tidy ondageist, there was not much housework to do. There was the milking of the goats, led by stroppy Meg. There was not a lot of instruction in magic technique. Tiffany could not get the hang of making a shamble, and got airsick on brooms. What did take up a good amount of time was the daily round visiting the sick, the pregnant, the old, mostly doing medicine, sharing and learning gossip. Miss Level summarised the process as "Filling what's empty and emptying what's full."
People would give Miss Level gifts, of food often. What she didn't need she would pass on to others, who were going through a bad patch, or who didn't have anyone to remember them. She called it storing food in other people. When Tiffany asked if she stopped helping people who were too mean to pay, Miss Level was genuinely shocked. "A witch never expects payment and never asks for it and just hopes she never needs to. You can't not help people just because they're stupid or forgetful or unpleasant. Everyone's poor round here. If I don't help them, who will?"
Tiffany told her that Granny Aching said "someone has to speak up for them as has no voices." Bit by bit, Miss Level asked some questions about Granny Aching, which said as much about her. "She wasn't a cackler, was she?" "Was she clever at medicine?" "Did she help people?" "She made them help one another," said Tiffany. "She made them help themselves." Miss Level sighed. "Not many of us are that good."
This brought up the subject of the aged Mr Weavall. Miss Level saw to it that he got a hot meal each day, and gave him herbs to take away his pain, and cut his toenails. Tiffany was chafed by this, couldn't see why they were doing these things, and why no real magic was used. "We do what can be done," said Miss Level. "Mistress Weatherwax said you've got to learn that witchcraft is mostly about doing ordinary things."
A turning point came on the night when she returned from a meeting of the coven, mortified by having boasted that she had an invisible witch's hat, and finding, in a storm of mocking laughter, that it was not there. Retreating to her bed, she gradually licked her wounds, and turning the matter over in her mind, came to the point where she said to herself that she could see that there was a craft to be learned. She could see herself turning into a good worker, handy with potions, reliable, dependable, like Miss Level. But where was the magic? The moment she tried the magic of "See me" to see the hat, the Hiver struck.
Miss Level is a gentle soul. The one time she turned on Tiffany with force was when she suspected her (rightly) of having stolen money from Mr Weavall. Taken by surprise, in a flash the Hiver killed her, one of her.
On an occasion when Tiffany had a chance to ask Granny Weatherwax why she had been sent to stay with Miss Level, Granny made an uncharacteristically long and impassioned speech. "Because she likes people. She cares about 'em. Even the stupid, mean, dribbling ones... who treat her like some kind of servant. Now that's what I call magic... That is the root and heart and soul and centre of witchcraft, that is." After a silence, and in a footnote on Mrs Earwig, Granny said, "the start and finish is helpin' people when life is on the edge. Even people you don't like. Stars is easy, people is hard." There was another side to too. All that tramping round and doctoring helped to keep a witch human and not go cackling. Doing it moved you into your centre; stopped you from wobbling. Anchored you.
Granny even took a sanguine view of the future of Miss Level now that one of her two bodies was a ghost. Now she would get some respect, something she did not get a lot of before – respect being meat and drink to a witch.
An example of the difference between Miss Level and Granny Weatherwax: Miss Level talked to her bees every day, telling them about important goings on. Granny Weatherwax may have talked to her bees, but she also listened to them.
Another difference: When facing up to the horrible problem of telling Mr Weavall that she had stolen the money he kept under the bed to pay for his funeral, Tiffany said to Granny Weatherwax that Miss Level believed in telling people the truth. Granny said that Miss Level was a fine, honest, woman, but her own way was to tell people a story they could understand. Tiffany was a bit on edge, and perhaps did not really accept this wholeheartedly at the time. Granny told her not to mind. "Tomorrow your job is to change the world into a better place. Today, my job is to see that everyone gets there." Tiffany told Mr Weavall the truth. She had to really, to be right in herself. But when it came to helping the Hiver through the dark door, she told it a story to believe.
- According to Miss Level, the circus she used to be in was run by a man named Monty. I wonder whether there's any relation with a certain Flying Circus .
- Miss Level’s first name was decided by Rhianna Pratchett and Gabrielle Kent when writing Tiffany Aching’s Guide to Being a Witch. In A Hat Full of Sky she is only ever referred to as “Miss Level”.