Chapter 18


[New readers: to start at chapter 1, click Archives / November 2012 on right hand side]

Luke’s name flashed up on Ludovic’s phone. He hadn’t seen his assistant from the dig for several days.

“Luke, hello. How are you?”

“I’m ok, thanks. I’ve been busy. I’m back in Oxford, trying to write everything up.”

“That must be difficult. It’s all been a bit inconclusive. The most interesting bit is the bit that you can’t write about.”

“Yes, I know,” said Luke ruefully, “and it looked like it was going to be a rich site.”

“Well at least you’ll be able to publish with me once the police investigation is finished.”

“I know, but that won’t help my PhD thesis directly.” Luke hesitated. “Actually that’s why I’m ringing. I’ve come across some new material that might be relevant.”

Ludovic frowned. “New material, in Oxford?”

“I’ve spent the last two days in Queens College Library. They’ve got some interesting sources on eighteenth century witchcraft and witch hunts.”

Ludovic nodded, “I knew that they had an original copy of Daemonologie. You mean that they have got more than just James the First’s little book?”

“There’s loads of sources. I was trying to find something that might pick up on that pamphlet that you found in the British Library.”

Ludovic shuffled through the papers on his kitchen table. A Cheapside Witch Burn[ing] he read…  harboring an enjin of the devil.

“I found a book, dated 1632, published in Utrecht. It’s basically a quick reference guide on how to spot witches and satanic messengers. Most of it is the usual stuff about warts and foul practices, but there is one chapter about what the devil usually wears when he is in town. It makes reference to a “visitation and purging” in London in 1629 when “the devill was summoned and came many times at the behest of one maid who was known as a sorceress”. It goes on “her mother confessed her daughter did shelter him closely so she might not see” but one night she surprised them in the cellar and saw him.”

“So what was he wearing?” Asked Ludovic.

“That’s just it,” Luke said. “The book says the following “she saw him clad in a black cowl to hide his horns, with a green serpent on his arm, his hooves were white as fine goatskin but the bright fire burned red-hot through them.” When I saw that I just thought of our scrap of black fabric and the red sole of a shoe.”

“Well possibly,” said Ludovic. “I agree that red footwear was unusual in the eighteenth century.”

“There is another bit,” Luke continued. “But I couldn’t see any connection. It says “around his neck he wore a tablet bearing the seal of his kingdom”. I’m guessing that it was some sort of medallion. It might have been a pilgrim’s emblem.”

There was silence.

“Hello? Hello?”

Ludovic could hear Luke move his phone from his ear and look to see if he had lost his signal.

“Hello, sorry,” Ludovic muttered. “I’m just noting this down. It is probably coincidence. It’s interesting though. Please let me know if you find anything else.”

“OK,” said Luke cheerfully. “See you when I get back.”

Ludovic put down his phone, deep in thought.

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