"Good will always triumph!"
“Quick!” Arthur Rolfe seized his little sister’s hand and dragged her behind the nearest tree. Kayley giggled and then quietened with a finger to her lips as Arthur snuck a peek around the albero trunk. No one was in sight. Kayley started giggling again. “Shh!” Arthur hushed her, motioning with his hand. His little sister didn’t seem to understand the seriousness of their mission, which was to make it back to base before...
“Tag, you’re it!”
“Aw!” Arthur groaned as he looked up at his older sister. Kayley immediately squealed and ran off into the thick of the forest. Belle ran after her. “That’s not fair, Belle, your legs are longer than mine!” Arthur shouted, running after them both.
From the little cottage in the middle of the forest, their mother, Wendy, watched with a fond smile. Really, her children, at the ages of seventeen, twelve and eight, should be too old for games like this, but that didn’t stop them from ever playing them. Belle, the oldest, was always careful to keep an eye on her two older siblings, making sure they didn’t stray too far from the sight of the house, o fall into any danger.
“Come on!” she laughed, grabbing Kayley’s hand and running towards the house with her. Arthur put on a burst of speed and tackled Kayley, however, and the pair of them rolled into the house as their mother opened the front door. Belle laughed as her siblings rolled into the middle of the room, almost knocking their father over.
Wendy put her hands on her hips. “Now what have I always told te three about roughhousing?”
Arthur and Kayley rolled apart as their father, John, chuckled.
“Sorry,” Arthur replied, sheepishly.
“Don’t be too hard on them, dear,” John smiled at his wife. “They’re just having fun.”
“You two look nice,” Belle said, closing the front door. “Where is it you’re going again?”
“The Hunt Ball,” Wendy replied. “We should be back da midnight, and I expect te two,” she pointed to Arthur and Kayley who sat looking innocently up at her, “to be in letto da nine.”
“Trust me, Mum,” Belle laughed, winking at her siblings. “We’ll just have a quick story and then bed.”
Kayley’s face lit up. “Tell the one about-!”
“About the wizard!” Arthur interrupted, nudging her. “And the dragon with the crock of gold!”
Belle nodded to mostra him that she knew what he meant. Kayley’s eyes widened in realisation and she nodded too.
John smiled and ruffled Arthur’s hair. “And remember to lock all the doors and windows before te go to bed.”
“We will, Papa,” Belle insisted. “I promise.”
“That’s my girl,” John replied with a smile.
Arthur and Kayley got up from the floor and both hugged their parents goodbye. Belle did the same and then ushered them out of the door, before turning to her siblings.
“Idiot,” Arthur hissed to Kayley.
Kayley pouted. “Sorry! I forgot!”
“Alright, te two,” Belle smiled. “If te can make it the whole time you’re putting your pyjamas on without arguing, there might be some hot Cioccolato in it for you.”
Arthur and Kayley quickly scooted out of the room, leaving a trail of dust in their wake. Belle laughed and went to the kitchen. She always took her role as big sister when left in charge very seriously, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be fun too. Making up three big mugs of hot chocolate, she carried them into Arthur’s room where she found both her siblings now ready for letto and waiting for her. Arthur had the large book on his lap that he usually kept hidden under the letto where their parents would find it.
“Careful, it’s hot,” Belle warned as she handed Kayley a mug.
“Come on, read the story!” Kayley nagged.
“Alright, alright,” Belle laughed, seating herself opposite Arthur and taking the book from him as she handed him his mug. She opened it to the correct page and began to read aloud.
“They say that witches come out at night. They say it’s hard to spot a witch. They could be anyone, your successivo door neighbour, your school tutor, even your best friend. te may never know.
“But there are signs. If te hear Canto in the night, a sound like an Angel luring te to her, beware. Witches have beautiful voices that hypnotise and lure people to their deaths, so beware. Block your ears to the singing.
“Witches also had eyes that glow red in the dark. So if te ever see someone te think might be a witch, turn off all the lights, and if their eyes glow red, run for it.
“Lastly, witches smile a lot, no matter where they are. So beware the smile. It is yet another way of getting te to trust them, right before they strike.
“I speak from experience. I knew a man once named Hopkins, Matthew Hopkins his real name, and he was a witch. But no one knew at first. He claimed to be a witch hunter, and had thousands of innocent men and women burned at the stake and hanged for “witchcraft.” But I discovered that he was the real witch, using them as a scapegoat for his dark deeds. I noticed once when we were walking home in the darkness, when a streetlamp went out, that his eyes were glowing red, like they were on fire.
“So I armed myself with holy water and magical charms and declared him a witch. Of course he tried to kill me, using his magical powers, but I held fast my ground and defeated him. Holy water burns witches, and he was no exception. When I threw it over him, he knocked over a poppet he had made, and I realised it was the key to defeating him. So, I snatched a piece of his clothing and tied it to the poppet, and then threw it into the fire.
“He burned before my eyes...”
“Cool!” Kayley and Arthur both interjected in unison.
Belle smiled before going on.
“...and turned to dust. After that, I dedicated my life to the hammer of witchcraft. After all, is isn’t just some old folk tale grownups tell their children to make them behave. Witches are real.
“So remember these lessons I impart to you.
“Witches smile a lot.
“Their eyes glow red in the dark.
“Their voices lure people to their deaths.
“Holy water burns them.
“And in the end, good will always triumph.”
Belle closed the book and smiled at her younger siblings. If their parents knew that she read them this story time after time, they would scold her for “giving them nightmares,” but Arthur and Kayley never had bad dreams about these stories, they found them fascinating.
“Good will always triumph!” Kayley echoed, raising her empty mug and then rubbing her eyes.
Belle smiled. “Come on, you, bed. And you, Arthur.”
“Aw, but it’s not even nine,” Arthur protested, trying to stifle a yawn.
“I mean it,” Belle insisted.
Arthur sighed, but did as he was told as Belle led her sister out of the room and put her to bed.
“Belle do te think there are witches here?” Kayley asked.
“I’m sure there aren’t,” Belle replied. “We’re quite sicuro, cassetta di sicurezza here in the middle of the forest. Nothing can hurt us here. Now, go to sleep.”
She gave her sister a baciare on the forehead and blew out her candle before making her way to latch all the windows and doors. She knew that there were no witches here, but even so, she checked that everything was securely locked before going to letto herself.
After all, te could never be entirely certain, could you?