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DescriptionWhen Richard and Henry's father told them to leave the pigs alone, Henry took matters into his own hands. But the pigs didn't like being hit with rocks, so they fought back. Just before the pigs charged, Richard saw a young girl staring at them from the bushes. Was she giving them the evil eye?
The local doctor has fixed Henry up, but the priest wants Meg, the young girl from the bushes, captured and punished. Seem like the whole town agrees that Meg is a witch, just like her mother was. But Richard isn't so sure. Richard knows that if he's going to save Meg from being tried as a witch and tortured, he's going to have to come up with a clever plan.
But will he be able to save poor Meg?
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Excerpt:The pigs were outside our window again. Grunting, pawing at the dirt. Angrily, I pushed my blanket down around my ankles and looked over at Henry's bed. He was already sitting up, his eyes glinting in the faint light coming through the window.
He held a finger to his lips, but it was too late. Baby Mary was already whimpering in her cradle. I knew that unless her nurse did something, she'd soon be shrieking loud enough to wake our mother. Seeing as how Mother died right after Mary was born, you can imagine how loud I'm talking about.
Feeling more irritated than ever, I rolled out of bed and headed for the crib. I did stop once to give a swift kick to Nurse Nelly's backside. She rolled over with an "Oof!" that made me laugh and made baby Mary holler even louder. I snatched her up and handed her to Nelly. "Take her before Dad…"
Too late. Our father was already sitting up, blearily rubbing his eyes. "Fine introduction to a new place." He lifted his head and sniffed the air. "What's that smell?"
"Pigs," Henry said. He was two years older than me and a lot bigger. When we played knights or war it was always Henry who won. I could see from the gleam in his eye that he had an idea. "Why don't me and Richard go out and kill one? We could have ham…"
"Kill them?" My father shook his head. "Not a good idea."
"I'm the new Justice of the Peace here. Not a good way to start my year term, by killing the peasant's animals. And make no mistake, they belong to the peasants who live in those miserable huts outside of town." He looked at Nelly, who was rocking the baby. "What's wrong with her?"
"She's hungry, that's all. Little lamb."
My father grunted. "Well, feed her. I've got a busy day." He looked at us. "And you two, back to bed. You'll have to be up soon enough. I've got a tutor coming up from London. Maybe he'll be here today, maybe tomorrow. I want you both rested."
"London, ooh." Henry made a face.
"Hush. Back to sleep, the two of you."
Obediently I headed back to my bed. Henry didn't move. "Dad…"
"No killing pigs." My father wrapped himself back up in his blankets and threw his heavy form back on the bed so hard it creaked. "Anyway, they're dangerous. Nasty beasts. You'd find yourself cut up by their teeth and hooves."
Henry's shoulders slumped. I lay on my pillow and watched through narrowed eyes as he walked slowly toward his bed. He lay down, but I didn't close my eyes. I waited.
* * *
When my father and Nelly were both snoring, Henry slipped out of bed and reached for the cloak folded at the foot. His eyes on my father's humped form, he crouched down and reached beneath his bed. I knew what he was looking for. The sling he'd made from a strip of leather and a polished stick. He used it for killing birds, but I knew that a larger stone could fit in the cup at the end. From outside I could still hear the pigs, probably rooting for acorns at the base of the old oak in front of the house.
Henry looked at me and crooked a finger. Silently, I slid out of bed and followed him out the door. We walked along the curved path that led from the door toward the side of the house. The sun wasn't fully up and I shivered in my thin nightshirt, wishing I'd been smart enough to bring my own cloak.
The Witch of WarcastleBy: Ann Mason