The Witchmaster's Key

The Witchmaster's Key by Franklin W. Dixon Read Free Book Online

Book: The Witchmaster's Key by Franklin W. Dixon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Franklin W. Dixon
Anglia. And I must tell you that the name Matthew Hopkins is ominous.”
    Frank frowned and protested that he hadn’t noticed anything ominous about the real-estate man from London. Joe agreed.
    â€œAh–ah, the point is that there was a man named Matthew Hopkins in the seventeenth century, who called himself the Witch-finder of East Anglia. He investigated those who were suspectedof witchcraft. He used what you Americans call the ‘third degree’ to force confessions. And he executed many. You came through Chelmsford on the way to Griffinmoor?”
    â€œYes,” Frank answered.
    â€œExactly. Well, in the year 1645 Matthew Hopkins hanged nineteen witches in one day at Chelmsford. But that’s not all. When the Witchfinder General died, it came to light that he was a witch himself!”
    â€œWow!” Joe exclaimed. “The guy covered himself by pretending he hated witches!”
    Rowbotham chuckled and said that the people of East Anglia were shocked when they learned Hopkins was a witch.
    The Hardys noted that the Matthew Hopkins they were dealing with didn’t look like a witch.
    Rowbotham held up a hand. “Ah–ah, that’s what they thought of the Witchfinder General in Cromwell’s time. You must admit there’s a strange coincidence in the two men having the same name. I would advise you to be careful in dealing with any man called Matthew Hopkins.”
    They were preparing for bed when they heard a scratching sound on the window pane. It was Nip Hadley, who motioned to them to let him in. When Frank threw the window up, Nip slipped over the sill into the room.
    Hurriedly he told them of more sabotage atthe Eagleton Green artisan village. He was afraid he might be accused of setting more fires.
    â€œAnd I didn’t even set the one at the saddle shop,” he said.
    â€œMaybe you were framed,” Joe said.
    Nip groaned. “Framed! That’s it! Will you blokes help me?”
    Frank and Joe said they would do what they could to prove his innocence. A sudden thought struck Joe. “Nip, are there any other witch collections around here? The stolen items might have been sold to them.”
    â€œThere ain’t none in East Anglia,” the boy replied. “But there’s one in London. The most famous is the Hall of Magic on the Isle of Man. Well, I’d better be off.”
    Climbing out the window, Nip disappeared.
    â€œWhat do you make of that?” Joe asked his brother.
    â€œI don’t know. Why would anyone want to frame a boy like Nip? Unless it’s just to distract attention from himself.”
    â€œBut why would anyone try to make all this trouble in the artisan village? Whoever it is, he goes through quite a bit of effort with fire bombs and other equipment. It just doesn’t make sense.”
    â€œPerhaps it’s a crackpot who gets his kicks out of setting fires,” Frank said.
    At breakfast the next morning, Frank and Joe questioned Professor Rowbotham about the witchcollection in London. He told them it was in Soho Square, not far from the Medmenham Book Store, so they could visit both the locksmith and the witch collection on one trip.
    They decided to detour to the train station by way of Doctor Burelli’s office so he could examine Joe’s gum. The dentist reported that everything looked fine.
    â€œDoc, I’m glad I have your vote of confidence,” Joe declared. “We’re going to London and I’d hate to get a toothache in the big city.”
    â€œI’ve something you might like to have,” the dentist replied. Opening the trap door behind the dental chair, he climbed down into his workshop. A moment later he reappeared with a couple of masks. The dentist had a droll expression on his face.
    â€œI detect you detectives are mystified. Well, the Gravesend Players wore these masks onstage last night. I have no further use for them. You might wear them next Halloween, back

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