OLD TOM ELKESLEY’S BRIDE

10 Apr

OLD TOM ELKESLEY’S BRIDE

witch photo:  SitForASpellPrint.jpg

“I’ll get the truth,” sneered the Witchfinder, Old Tom Elkesley. He’d been Witchfinder for above ten years by now and he was good at his job in that he found out more witches than any other man. He hated old women, so it wasn’t difficult. All his life he’d been tormented by this or that hag and for a decade he’d been getting his own back.

And he’d convinced himself.

He could recognise a familiar when he saw one, one of the satanic creatures disguised as real creatures that acted as a liaison between witches and the devil. He’d uncovered many a dastardly plot in which old women had had kissed the fiery tongues of this or that foetid incubus as it leered at the clean blue skies of a Christian world, despoiling it.

“What will you need?” asked Sir John, minor Lord of a minor manor but filled with power in his own mind.

“Just bring the creature to me!” snarled Tom Elkesley. “I’ve a connection, I have, to the good Lord, and he will guide me along with the application of certain instruments designed to loosen tongues.”

“I’ll have not torture…” began Sir John.

Tom the Witchfinder snapped his fingers. “Phooey!” he snapped, “there’s no cause to be lily livered about witches! They’ve got all the tricks up their sleeves that a creature needs when it’s hands are in the devils underwear! I’ll use minimum force, minimum, mark you, to get at the truth! But first … who accuses the witch?”

“Nobody,” murmured Sir John. “Not one man or woman has come forth and pointed a finger at Annie Blackstock and called her witch. And to my mind that in itself is wrong. Why, just about everyone else in the village has accusers – the miller has a dozen or more, but then he’s the miller and a swindler, which explains it. But Annie Blackstock, she drifts hither and thither, smiling and carefree, mixing herbs into a satanic stew and heals the sick … she healed my own good lady not six months back, made her whole again after the Plague touched her…”

“So her deeds are disguised as good and wholesome?” suggested the Witchfinder. “She gives a false appearance of benevolence? She uses the devil’s magic to drive plague and scurvy from the flesh of neighbours?”

“That about sums her up,” nodded Sir John, “everyone loves her. Young mothers take their infants to her so that she might lay a hand on their heads and give them good health. Old men go and rest their heads on her ample bosom and dream of paradise… there’s not one soul, young or old, who would accuse one hair of her head of being witchery!”

“That seems proof enough to me,” growled Tom Elkesley. “We’re getting too good at weeding them out, we Witchfinders, so they go underground. They adopt wholesome energies with the help of some foul familiar. You say she has a cat?”

Sir John shook his head. “No, not a cat,” he said, “though I have heard she snares rabbits when food is short. They say she’s particularly adept when it comes to wild rabbits…”

“Ah! The very worst! Wild familiars, seeking strength from the devil, will allow themselves to be taken by witches! You have all but proved the point! Annie Blackstock is a witch. I’d put my life on it. And she must go to the burning field before this day is out and be returned to the devil in the form of smoke and ashes!”

“But … is there a chance … could we be mistaken?” asked Sir John. “After all, we must live with ourselves for ever after if we subsequently find we have committed a Christian soul to the flames!”

“If she is Christian then the Lord will save her,” growled Witchfinder Elkesley. “That will be our proof. It says in the Good Book…”

Sir John shook his head. “I know no Latin,” he confessed, “so have never sought the truth in that wonderful tome.”

The Witchfinder smirked. “Of course not,” he whispered. “That’s why I’m here – to interpret the Lord’s words and do his business even when that business is difficult. So bring the hag in. I will question her and decide her fate.”

“Guards!” snapped Sir John, “approach with the prisoner!”

A heavy oaken door swung open and a prisoner was pushed in.

Annie Blackstock, though approaching her middle years, was a remarkable woman with even more remarkable attributes and a way of dressing to display them at their best. She was slim and curvaceous though with ample curves both fore and aft, so to speak. Her face, though troubled, was a marvel of understated beauty, her eyes, though moistened by tears, were like windows into some distant Heaven. Her hair hung in golden tresses and her bosom seemed to swell as the Witchfinder stared at her, taking her all in with a slow gaze that moved over every particular of her person.

“Crikey!” he whispered.

“This is the witch!” declared Sir John. “This is the woman to be burnt!”

Witchfinder Elkesley held up one hand. “Now don’t let’s be hasty,” he said, his voice choking. “We must make quite certain… woman, come before me!”

She took the two steps that separated herself from the dark and terrifying man before her. “Sir,” she asked, and her voice was sweet though it shook slightly, with nerves, her accent perfect, her tiny smile heart-rending.

“Are you a witch?” he asked, convinced that somewhere along the line Sir John had made a grave mistake in his accusation. Rarely had such beauty, such captivating splendour, been this close to him and much to his dismay he became aware of a stirring in his own loins.

“Me sir?” she asked, her voice the very essence of innocence, “of course I am! What else could I be? And that is why you’re going to take me to your Witchfinder home and worship me day and night for as long as we both will live! And I will prepare such feasts for you as will defy understanding, whilst our nights will be long on love and short on sleep!”

And for Tom Elkesley that was that. It had to be. For he had seen an angel and known her name…

But for Sir John it was all most confusing, the severe Witchfinder dancing out of his court-room, holding a skinny wild rabbit close to his chest and threatening to swoon with every step he took.

© Peter Rogerson 10.04.15

Advertisements

2 Responses to “OLD TOM ELKESLEY’S BRIDE”

  1. Kevin April 10, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Oh man Peter this is so good and it is so deep. Your post is a lot like an onion or a many layered cake. Each layer has it’s own essence, own story, wow! “filled with power in his own mind” this reminds me of every politician/lawmaker and religious leader. Write on my talented friend write on!

  2. Peter Rogerson April 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    There do seem to be quite a lot of things that can be said about human nature, even the odd human nature of the middle ages when they really did believe in the power of witchcraft. It seems odd to us today, but what would it have seemed like to us had we lived back then?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: