Witch Finder

Witch Finder by Unknown Read Free Book Online

Book: Witch Finder by Unknown Read Free Book Online
Authors: Unknown
the yard, ready for the day’s work. ‘I told her. But she works herself too hard and all.’
    ‘Did you charge her for the shoe?’
    ‘She’ll pay.’
    ‘No she won’t. You’re too soft-hearted.’
    ‘It’s not her fault. How’s she supposed to make a girl’s wage stretch to cover four mouths?’
    ‘I know, I know.’ William shook his head. ‘And her dad’s as useless as they come.’
    ‘He’s not long for this world, neither.’ Luke thought of the last time he’d seen Mr Sykes, sitting in his own piss in a corner of the hovel Minna called home, with his youngest two running around his feet, noticed only when they came too close to knocking over his bottle.
    ‘There’s many a better man than Nick Sykes rotted their brain with moonshine,’ William said. ‘She should sell that horse, get a donkey, use the money for the little’uns.’
    ‘She never will,’ Luke said with certainty. ‘You know Bess was her dad’s, back when he were a drayman. In Minna’s eyes she’s just borrowing Bess until he’s fit to work again.’
    ‘And that’ll be sometime west of never,’ William Lexton said with a sigh. Then he turned to the forge. ‘Come on now, enough gabbing. We’ve got work to do before I lose you.’
    ‘Lose me?’
    ‘Well, you can’t work here and do your task for the Brotherhood, can you?’
    ‘It’s not going to be easy, Luke. I tried to tell you last night, but you were too full of yourself to listen. No, no –’ he held up a hand as Luke began to protest ‘– I know. And I would have been the same at your age. But these are no ordinary witches, Luke. John Leadingham’s told me a bit about this family. The son’s thick as thieves with Sebastian Knyvet. They went to school together, spent half their boyhood round at each other’s houses, from what I can make out.’
    ‘And who’s this Knyvet bloke then?’
    ‘Who’s . . . ?’ His uncle gave him a look that mingled surprise and irritation. ‘Do you listen to anything I tell you? I tried to tell you all this last night. He’s one of the Ealdwitan. And you know who they are, don’t you?’
    Yes. Luke knew who they were. The witch elite of England. The ruling council. If they only ruled the witches – that would be one thing. But their tentacles reached into every place of power in the land. Half the MPs in the House of Commons were Ealdwitan and a good measure of the peers in the House of Lords too. If there was a prospect of money or power they were there, to get their share of the pie, and more.
    ‘Aloysius Knyvet is one of the Chairs who head the Ealdwitan. Sebastian’s his eldest son. Now do you see why I said this was a fool’s errand?’
    ‘So they’ve got friends in high places.’ Luke shrugged. ‘They’ve still got skin that burns and flesh that bleeds, don’t they?’
    ‘Yes, but it’s getting to that skin or that flesh. And that’s easier said than done. At least you’ve got an advantage, though I don’t know how far it’ll help. You’ll have to be careful not to let on. If you once show what you are, that you know what they are . . .’
    Luke turned away. He hated being reminded of what he was. A witch-finder.
    No one knew where the ability had come from. William thought he had been born with it, and that perhaps Luke’s father had had the same ability but had never known it, or had kept it secret through fear. John Leadingham thought that it had been gifted to Luke the night he watched his parents die – that that one searing experience had burnt the gift into him, so that never again could he look on a witch and see an ordinary man or woman. Except, as Luke himself often wondered, he could not be the only person to have seen a witch, nor even the only person to have seen a witch kill. But he was, as far as he’d ever heard, the only person who saw them for what they were, as clear as others saw black from white. Even in the street he could see them, dressed like ordinary

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