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The witchfinder general had a problem.He was frightened of witches.Unlike his predecessors he still had self respect,&so he didn’t content himself with finding the nearest woman sweeping, to charge her with intent to fly the broom, but this meant dealing with the real witches.
He leaned back in his chair&stroked his dark moustache thoughtfully. He looked almost regal,though he disliked the amount of velvet&gold his position required him to wear.The problem was that the hunt for witches had become fraught with the possibility they might find him instead
Any self respecting witch knew how to evade capture,as well. She was elusive.He knew that secret rooms all over Britain&old priest holes were their refuges when they weren’t pretending to be ordinary women. At any moment one might be unknowingly fraternising with the enemy.
He shuddered at the thought and then narrowed his eyes at the silver tea tray on the desk in front of him. There was something about the tea lady that still made him suspicious, though she had passed every test he had done to rule out witchcraft.
A true witch was not he knew, of course, what the simpleton believes her to be. She neither conjured nor cast her spells. Instead she stood in the world, a man’s world, and disregarded the inferiority he knew had been given to her by God, as thought it was her right.
She believed,too,that women were not socially invented for men’s pleasure or validation.That women as a group weren’t defined by anything except their material existence. It was an outrage he had hoped the threat of the Tower might have silenced but rumours of witches grew daily.
His grand study chair creaked ominously as he shifted his weight in annoyance.The old French clock on the mantel shelf,all filigree and flair, announced the hour. It was all vexing.He’d had this job 6 years&every witch he caught now seemed to be responsible for recruiting 10 more
He had trained spies, and suitably cunning informants, in his employ but the witches kept finding each other, organising, talking, &creating impenetrable networks all across the country, perhaps across the globe, of those who said “No” to their subjugation, and even worse, to him
“No” was a cruel word, he thought, like the bitter taste of unsweetened coffee.Or as sour as the sadness of having no coffee at all.He was beginning to realise that identifying witches wasn't the biggest problem at hand. The bigger worry was what to do with them, once spotted.
In the beginning, when the outbreak of witches, as he thought of it, had first become apparent, there was still only a few witches prominently asserting themselves, so it had been easy enough to deal with. A healthy dose of shame, like strong medicine, had done the trick.
You can demonise a group so small they wouldn’t fill a village. Now, though, they were a city. An angry, brave, determined city, of female voices speaking out against the prevailing ideas. It was starting to get outside of his control.
He was starting to get uncomfortable in the knowledge that threats&edicts&contemptuous dismissals were gliding off the witches like water off duck feathers.There was no way around it, they weren’t listening to the stories&the words that tried to keep them in their place any more.
It was as though he had wasted his entire career trying to scare them into submission.Something needed to be done.He stared at his luxurious blue fountain pen, where it rested on the varnished wood& the blank piece of paper beside it.He waited hopefully for ideas that didn’t come
In the kitchen,singing Bread&Roses by the sink,the tea lady’s hands were covered in soap suds as she washed dishes.While she scrubbed,she watched copper leaves dance in a breeze outside the window. Thank goodness, she sighed happily, that tonight is drinks night with the coven
@FionneOrlander something silly I wrote when I was waiting for sleep last night. I thought it might make you smile, as it (sort of) counts as me writing a story XD
Part 2:
The Beleaguered Bat was the rendezvous for coven meetings. At least the ones for the witches of this part of London. It was a small pub,with oak beamed ceilings&a landlord who sucked the air in through his teeth when asked hard questions & turned a blind eye to his clientele
When Lucy got there, fresh from her job as tea lady for the Witchfinder General, only Cass and Alfonso had got to the Bat first, so she shook the rain from her coat, unwound her scarf and scrambled over to them
Cass, from afar, looked like a demure librarian. It was only as you got near to her&saw the determination in her eyes that you realised that here was a woman who could stamp your returned copy of Usborne’s Book of Legends, while making mincemeat of the dragons contained therein
Alfonso was not a man,nor a dragon,but a very silly,very large, loving Great Dane who thought everyone in the world was lovely. When Cass had got him Lucy had joked with her,as he drooled happily onto her hand, that “he isn’t much of a pet for a witch,but he’s certainly familiar”
Tonight,he was curled up on Cass’s feet,probably making them go numb,snoring loudly&threatening to drownout whatever godawful popstar was warbling over the sound system.Cass was halfway down her 1st pint when Lucy reached their table “scale of 1-10, how was work?” She asked Lucy
Lucy grimaced&shrugged “-5, the witchfinder is still struggling with the lack of scarlet letters he’s been able to hand out recently, so it’s like working for a live, and intermittently erupting, volcano”.
Cass crunched a peanut and raised an eyebrow “I’ve had a mad idea about that”. Lucy sank into the chair opposite “more or less mad than the time you took up paragliding?” Cass shrugged “more, but better...
....What if you became the next witchfinder general one day? We wouldn’t have to meet in secret anymore. All women could be free to be who they want to be”. Lucy rolled her eyes “I don’t think the promotion prospects of his tea lady involve getting to take his job”
Cass got that look on her face that Lucy knew meant she had already planned several steps ahead and then she reached into her bag, pulled out a very crumpled newspaper page, spent a few seconds flattening out its creases and then brandished it at Lucy triumphantly.
It was an advertisement for a job as the Witchfinders apprentice. Lucy sighed “he hates me&he’s suspicious of me”. Cass grinned “go to work wearing an I detest witches t shirt,tell him you’re allergic to newts. Surely you can get an interview at least? This is step 1 in my plot”
“And what are my qualifications for this, exactly?” Lucy asked her. Cass’s grin widened and she rummaged in her bag again, this time bringing out a bulky set of papers “your CV” she said, dropping it with a flourish in front of Lucy, who picked it up and read it.
“You’ve said I have an A plus in espionage, and a degree in cunning thinking. He’s never going to buy this, he’s seen my CV already, and the most witchfinding thing it had on it was a summer course in interpreting Hieroglyhics”. She chucked the CV back at Cass
“Besides arranging shortbread artfully” she added “my job is actually useful to us. We need someone in the building, and it’s because of *this* job that I’ve been able to get enough information to mean not one of us was arrested in the last seven house raids..
..We can’t give that up for a pipe dream...although” she paused and Cass grinned at her “you’re considering it then”. “No” Lucy answered slowly “but I’m thinking you might want to go for it. You’ve already got the made up CV&the grand idea.”
Cass laughed&then hesitated. “Oh” she said thoughtfully, “this could work”. She crunched another nut with relish&as she did the door was flung open&their fellow coven members spilled in,closing umbrellas&chatting happily. Lucy beamed “better get the first round in then” she said
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