“More riding,” Wyn complained as she looked at the horses that waited in the yard of the inn. They had arrived late last night by TARDIS and The Doctor had demanded and got lodgings for them with very comfortable beds, huge four posters with curtains that closed around them to keep out the draughts of a blustery and wet October night.

This morning they had eaten the most peculiar breakfast any of them had ever eaten, boiled bacon served in huge joints that were carved with sharp knives at the table, bread made from barley, and ale in huge pewter tankards that held at least a pint and a half.

The Doctor had drunk his down with no apparent ill effects. Jamie had managed half of his. As a Time Agent he had drunk in plenty of space ports where stranger things than ale were served, he pointed out. Stella and Wyn did no more than take sips to mitigate the saltiness of the bacon.

“How long until coffee and tea become available in this country?” Stella asked as she wrapped the long, warm riding cloak around her against the cold. They were waiting for The Doctor to arrange the transport of the TARDIS by horse and cart. It had stopped raining and it wasn’t windy now, but there was an iron grey sky and it was cold and they wished he would hurry up.

Wyn sighed and thought of latte’s served in warm cafes with hot croissants and jam in little individual pots.

“I think we’re a bit early,” she said. “Coffee houses start in the middle of the seventeenth century when men in powdered wigs used to hang out in them and gossip. Not sure they used to serve it for breakfast even then. The Doctor said ale is probably the safest drink around here. The alcohol kills off any germs in the water. He’s probably right. Even milk isn’t a good idea. It’s about three hundred and fifty years before pasteurisation was invented. We’re just going to have to get used to ale while we’re here.”

Jamie was missing the automatic drinks dispenser in his bedroom, too. But he smiled bravely.

“1622! I’ve never been this far back in time before. Most of my work is in the space travel era.”

“You just didn’t want to wear the clothes,” Wyn teased her lover, who was in male form today. It was better, The Doctor had said, for them to travel the early seventeenth century roads as two men and two women rather than one man and three women. It meant that Jamie was required to wear the early seventeenth century gentleman’s attire of doublet and trunk hose, which he felt less comfortable in than The Doctor seemed to be.

The two bone fide women looked elegant in dresses of the period. It was past the time of very excessive ruffs, at least, and they had high collars that were quite practical in keeping the neck warm.

“The corset underneath is killing me, though,” Stella pointed out. She was still reeling from the shock of NEEDING something that laced up tight on her in order to get into a period dress. She thought she already had a perfect figure.

Wyn smiled serenely. She had taken a tip from Rose many years ago about time travelling. Period dress is fine. But use twenty-first century corsetry. She had one in her luggage packed into the saddle bags that would fit Stella. She’d tell her about it later. It would teach her not to assume she was the family expert on fashions

“All right,” The Doctor said as he returned to them. “That’s the TARDIS sorted. K9 is hunkered down inside for the ride.” He waved to the carter and his boy as they moved off out under the archway with the TARDIS, on its side, fixed firmly in place.

“You put the perception filter on, I presume?” Jamie asked. It still looked like a twentieth century police box to him.

“Oh, yes. Master Cobb and son think they’re transporting a rather large chest, and that’s what anyone else will notice on the road. It’ll be slower than us, of course. But no matter. As long as it arrives by nightfall. We’ll only be a couple of hours on the road to Read.”

With that he lifted Stella, side saddle, onto one large horse and nodded to Jamie and Wyn to mount the other two as he climbed up in front of her. Wyn was a bit disconcerted by the idea of riding side saddle, but she had to admit it felt very elegant and feminine. Jamie rode close beside her and The Doctor with Stella took the lead. Behind them came a stable lad riding his own horse and leading the laden pack horse. They rode out of the yard of the inn called The Swan and took a steep but well made road – well made for the early seventeenth century anyway.

It wasn’t long before the road turned, though it kept on rising further. They looked down from their elevated view over the village of Whalley where they had stayed, the little houses, the inn and its yard, the church, the ruined abbey and the big house where the lord of the manor lived, and the river Calder snaking around it on its way to become a tributary of the Ribble a few miles down the wide valley.

“It’s very nice here,” Jamie commented as they came to a level piece of road and let the horses drop to an easy walk. “A change from the plains of the Tu’lK’et’h. Different from the countryside where I’m from, too. There it is mostly grasslands and landscaped parks.”

He looked around favourably at the east Lancashire countryside, especially the dark forests on the flanks of steep hills. His eyes fixed on the highest hill to be seen, a long ridge like a great animal lying at rest. It stretched across their immediate view. In the iron grey light of a late October day it looked sullen and grey itself, strangely foreboding, and yet captivating.

“I feel as if I can’t take my eyes off it.”

“Pendle Hill,” The Doctor explained. “Yes, it is a dominating sight. The highest hill for several miles, it has a beacon on top to be lit in the event of any great crisis or unrest. Most famously it was lit some seventy years ago by the followers of the ill fated Pilgrimage of Grace. It has another reputation, of course. Mainly ill-deserved. There was only one proven and recorded incidence of witchcraft and occultism associated with these parts.”

“Oooh!” Stella exclaimed. “Of course. The Pendle Witches. I read about them when we did Tudors and Stuarts at school. Is that now? Is that why we’re here?”

“No, all that was ten years ago,” The Doctor answered. “It’s peaceful here now. But I thought I would take a visit to an old friend who was around in those dark days. We’ve enjoyed a pipe and a goblet of wine by his fireside and talked about the excitement many a time.”

“A pipe?” Wyn exclaimed. “Doctor? You don’t smoke.”

“When I’m a gentleman of this era I do. It’s the fashion. When in Rome…”

“Heaven help us if you’re ever in Rome!” Wyn replied. “Or were you? You didn’t put any ideas in Nero’s head about fiddle playing and open fires did you?”

The Doctor grinned widely and wouldn’t say any more. Wyn laughed and told him that he was a pain in the neck when he was being ‘enigmatic’. He just grinned even wider and dropped back to have a word with the stable lad.

It wasn’t a difficult journey. Two and a half hours at a horse’s leisurely walking pace. The Tu’lK’et’h would have thought it a mere stroll. Even so, they were all glad when they turned off the seventeenth century equivalent of the A671 to Burnley and along a narrower, private road with meadows either side then two stands of trees that sheltered a solid looking mansion of the sort Wyn and Stella had both learnt about in their early years of high school. This, The Doctor told them, was Read Hall, where they were visiting the old friend he spoke of, one Sir Roger Nowell, High Sheriff of Lancashire and Magistrate in this district.

An outdoor servant came to attend their horses and show the stable lad where he could find the kitchen and get ale and bread before he set off back to Whalley with his master’s horses. Indoor servants in smart livery took the baggage and led the guests in through the main door.

They were conducted to a warm parlour, lit by candles over the fireplace and the grey sunlight coming through the glazed window. Roger Nowell was seated in an elbow chair by the fire in his day gown, a tankard of ale and a plate of bread and cheese by his side. A woman sat opposite him with a similar meal. The master of the house rose to greet his guests warmly.

“Doctor,” he said with a smile. “It is good to see you, my old friend. The years seem kinder to you than they have been to me.”

“Clean living,” The Doctor said in reply. “You are in fine health yourself for your years.” Nowell was at least sixty, possibly nearer seventy, a good age for this period, but he was strongly built, broad shouldered and with a lean body. His eyes were bright and alert and his hair still had some chestnut-brown among the iron grey. He bowed courteously to Jamie and a deeper, graciously charming bow to Wyn and Stella as The Doctor introduced them as Master and Mistress Garr Jass, and the honourable Stella Grant Jones of Wales, who travelled under his protection to see something of England before she was portioned off into marriage.

“That was my reason for coming here to visit my cousin,” said the woman in the other chair with a smile. She stood up and curtseyed to The Doctor and Jamie and then nodded to the women, especially Stella. “I was your age, then. I was so taken with this part of the country I decided to stay. Cousin Roger succeeded in portioning me off into marriage, but sadly my husband died of fever some years after and I returned to Read to keep him company in his latter years.”

“You remember Margery, of course,” Nowell said to The Doctor and he answered that he did. Then Margery suggested that she should take the ladies above stair to freshen up from their journey. The Doctor took the opposite chair at the fire and Jamie found himself a comfortable place on a padded window seat where he could look out on the view.

“You are breakfasting late, Roger,” The Doctor pointed out as they settled comfortably and he accepted the servant’s offer of cheese and ale for himself and Jamie.

“I rose late,” Roger answered. “I spent much of last night in a wild goose chase up the hill. Some fool had lit a bonfire and we suspected foul play. But by the time I reached the summit with the Constable and the Watch there was nothing but ashes and embers.”

“Was it foul play then?” The Doctor asked, interested to hear of anything of the sort.

Mischief, more like,” Nowell answered dismissively as he finished his breakfast and stood to take down a stout box that contained pipes and tobacco. He offered The Doctor one and Jamie was surprised when he joined with Nowell in the ritual of filling and lighting. He diplomatically refused the offer for himself. He looked out on the cold morning, glad to be in a warm room. He looked up at the hill that dominated the view and remembered the weather that had battered against the shutters of the room he slept in last night.

“Mischief?” he queried. “Begging your pardon, sir, but it seems a lot of effort on a blustery night for mere mischief.”

“Aye, I thought that, too,” Nowell agreed. He seemed about to expand on his thoughts but stopped as the ladies returned to the room, divested of their cloaks and with faces sprinkled with water. Wyn and Stella both stared at The Doctor smoking a seventeenth century clay pipe. When he had mentioned it earlier they had been convinced he was joking.

“You KNOW that’s not good for you, don’t you!” Wyn told him.

“I have often thought so,” Margery said with a conspiratorial smile that lightened her face. “Cousin Roger was one of the first to take up the habit, having travelled to the New World where the plant comes from. Now almost every gentleman of means does the same, but I do believe it is a noxious thing that can do no good.”

“Nonsense,” Nowell answered with a good natured tone in his voice. “It clears the lungs and keeps agues and fevers at bay.”

Margery looked unconvinced. Wyn wondered what she would say if she knew about twenty-first century views of smoking and was determined to have stronger words with The Doctor later. They all three of them joined Jamie by the window and he filled them in on the conversation.

“Yes,” Margery said. “It was a cold night and a fool’s errand. I was half convinced it was a means of getting us out of the hall so that it might be ransacked by thieves. Besides, tonight is the more likely night for real ungodliness.”

“Tonight?” Wyn queried, looking to The Doctor and Sir Roger.

“It’s October 31st,” The Doctor confirmed. “The Eve of all Hallows.”

“Ohhh!” Stella exclaimed. “Halloween.”

“A Welsh phrase,” The Doctor explained to his seventeenth century friends. “You expect trouble then? But I thought that sort of thing was quelled ten years ago when the culprits were hanged at Lancaster. Surely it is not happening again?”

“Not in earnest,” Nowell answered. “But from time to time some fool always thinks to make something of the old reputation the hill has. Even though the penalties for witchcraft still stand, there are those who make a sport of defying the king’s law and recalling what was a dark time best forgotten. If it was my own choice I’d have gone to my warm bed and left them to catch their deaths of cold up there.”

“It WASN’T your own choice?” The Doctor seemed surprised by that.

“That’s Lady Penistone’s doing,” Margery explained. “She insists that Roger clamp down on ungodly habits. She brings so many complains of recusancy to him when he holds Petty Sessions that it takes all day to count the fines issued, to say nothing of the time wasted in collecting them. I don’t think it is Roger that the mischief makers seek to defy, but her.”

“Lady Penistone? A Yorkshire name,” The Doctor noted. “Not of these parts?”

“She came from York two years ago and took up residence at the Rough Lee. She calls herself Lady, though I have doubts about that. Perhaps married into a title. I suspect she’s of more common birth, not that I would say so to her face. She is a widow, she claims, and came to live quietly at the old manor with a few servants to tend her needs.”

Margery said nothing but she raised her eyebrows. There was an expression on her face that Nowell caught and laughed aloud. The Doctor caught the look and smiled, too.

“What’s the joke?” Wyn demanded.

“Something else not to be repeated in the presence of Lady Penistone,” Nowell added. “I know Margery and The Doctor are thinking the same as I have thought more than once. That the last mistress of Rough Lee came to a sticky end.”

“She was Alice Nutter, one of those hung for witchcraft,” The Doctor explained.

“Oh!” Stella looked surprised. “But I thought that they were old hags and wicked girls.”

“Alice wasn’t,” Nowell answered. “She was a woman of breeding. Or so she liked people to think. Yes, she and Lady Penistone have much in common. If nothing else, the fact that Margery gets the same expression on her face when either is mentioned. As if she had tasted a mouthful of sour wine.”

Margery laughed out loud at that and her laughter was the sort that banished cares. Wyn and Stella had enjoyed her company as they freshened up and decided they liked her. She was something of a kindred spirit, in fact. At seventeen she had been Roger’s helpmate in tracking down and bringing those infamous witches to justice. Wyn had been The Doctor’s companion at the same age in various adventures and Stella now joined her in the same role. Of course they couldn’t share those adventures with Margery, but somehow the three of them recognised the same qualities in each other straight away. Now they contemplated a shared adventure as they listened to The Doctor and Sir Roger talk of the possibility of trouble tonight.

“You’ll not exclude us?” Margery spoke up when Nowell suggested riding with the Watch after nightfall. Nowell and The Doctor both looked around. seventeenth century Margery and her twenty-first century female conspirators all had the same look on their faces. It was one both men knew and dared not argue against.

“You’ll wear breeches beneath your riding skirts and sit astride the horses safely,” Nowell said. “The Hill is no place for feminine niceties even in daylight.” But he assented to them being a part of the venture on those terms.

That said the conversation turned to less immediate matters. The Doctor and Nowell were soon discussing the problems of a magistrate keeping law in a wild countryside that lent itself too easily to lawlessness.

Wyn half listened and remembered that among his accomplishments The Doctor DID have a law degree from his home world. He understood the terminology and kept up the conversation easily. Margery, meanwhile, talked with them about more trivial things such as balls and other social customs of the ‘north parts’, assuming them to be different from those in Wales, which for her must have been as foreign and far away as the ‘New World’ her cousin had visited.

The morning and early afternoon passed that way, punctuated by servants bringing cheese and apple tarts and copious amounts of ale, which they gradually got accustomed to as a way of slaking thirst.

Mid afternoon they were treated to a meeting with the Lady who had been the subject of so much of the conversation. Nowell’s chief house servant showed her into the drawing room and he was, of course, expected to offer her hospitality. The Doctor gave up his seat by the fire and stood leaning on the mantle instead, watching her closely.

She was about forty-five years of age, but slender and still something of a handsome woman with black hair free of grey and firm features on what was a rather severe face.

She had come with information. She had learnt that there was to be a Sabbat on the hill tonight.

“From where does a Lady such as yourself hear such things?” Nowell asked with a sly smile at The Doctor, who was listening and watching Lady Peniston carefully.

“Does it signify?” she replied. “I lay information for you, Sir Roger, that wickedness is brewing. Ignore it at your peril.”

“I shall not ignore it,” he answered. “I am merely concerned for your safety. If you are in the company of such as would carry out such wanton acts?”

“I am quite safe,” she responded. “Or I shall be when the culprits are under lock and key. But I shall not detain you from your guests.”

“Not at all,” Nowell said. “The Doctor was most interested to meet your ladyship.”

“Was he, indeed?” She turned and looked at him. He looked at her. For a brief moment The Doctor felt that HE was the one at a disadvantage. There was something in her look that chilled him.

There was something about him that startled her, too, if the very brief flicker of a reaction was true. She regained her poise at once, but he had seen it. He had made his own judgement about Lady Penistone.

As she had made her judgement about him.

He watched as her eyes turned towards his companions and took them in one by one. She seemed to be analysing them all deeply. Jamie puzzled and interested her nearly as much as The Doctor obviously did. He met her gaze with a carefully composed expression. Margery was trying to do the same, but the sour ale taste crept across her face despite her efforts. Wyn had a very similar expression. Stella noticed the two of them and did her best not to giggle.

All in all they were glad when Lady Penistone took her leave. Something of the pleasant afternoon’s hospitality resumed. At least until about three o’clock when Stella failed to hide a yawn and The Doctor suggested that the ladies should have a rest in their chamber. Jamie confessed to needing a short respite, too, claiming to have been disturbed by the wind last night against an ill-fitting window shutter.

Margery was happy to be hostess, conducting them to the rooms that the servants had prepared for the guests. They were all quite genuinely weary and welcomed the idea of a sleep before the promised night time adventure, but they also expected it to be a ploy by The Doctor to talk to them all privately.

He did find an excuse to go up to the chambers once they were settled. He tapped on the door and slipped inside. Stella was lying on the smaller bed where a servant might spend the night. Wyn and Jamie were lying on the big four poster bed together. He noted that Jamie had reverted to female. In the doublet and hose she looked strangely androgynous.

“You really should lock the door or at least close the drapes,” The Doctor warned her. “As broad-minded as Roger and Margery are for their time, you’re a little beyond their comprehension, and you would certainly come under Lady Penistone’s list of ungodly things.”

“If anyone found out about your double hearts you’d be in trouble too,” Stella pointed out. “I’m surprised you hang out in a superstitious time like this.”

“How come Sir Roger knows about you anyway?” Wyn asked. “When were you here last? I presume you’re using Power of Suggestion to make them see you as you were then?”

“I was 400,” he said. “Or thereabouts. “Middle age of my first life. My wife had passed away and my son had his own life to lead. I had itchy feet to get away from Gallifrey. I spent some time in Earth’s historical periods and made a few good friends. Puccini in Milan, Leonardo in Venice, that’s Da Vinci of course, not Caprio! Cleopatra…”

“Nero?” Wyn asked.

“No, he was later. Louis Pasteur, Einstein.…”

The Doctor’s companions looked at him thoughtfully as he talked of his famous friends through history. It sounded like a fantastic adventure, and yet at the same time a lonely one.

Wyn wondered if she would ever live long enough to know all his secrets.

“I couldn’t tell you all of them even if you did,” he told her, even though that had been an unspoken thought. He smiled warmly at her. “Anyway, try to get some rest for another few hours. I’m going to ask down in the servants hall if my TARDIS has arrived yet.”

He wasn’t particularly worried about it. It WOULD take a horse and cart with a full load a lot longer to negotiate the steep upland roads and the weather was not the best. Wheels stuck in muddy ruts, all kinds of ordinary delays would make it a difficult trip. He vowed to tip Master Cobb well for his effort.

But the servants had not seen any sign of a delivery and by the time his friends had woken from their naps and dressed for dinner he really was starting to be anxious. He shared his concern with Roger Nowell as they ate.

“That great chest you carried with you last time you visited? You still have it?”

“I do,” The Doctor answered. “Or I DID. It seems to be astray, which concerns me greatly, quite apart from the harm that may have befallen Master Cobb and his boy. It’s dark now and they can’t surely still be on the road.”

“Cobb is a good man,” Nowell confirmed. “He won’t have been a party to any banditry. But he may well have been a victim. It is not unknown in these parts. And a poor fight he and his lad could have put up, if any. It’s not a pleasant thought that we might find their bodies by the wayside, quite apart from the theft of your property. Let us eat hastily and then be on our way. I’ll send a man now to alert the constable. He’ll raise the watch and they can meet us halfway as we retrace the Whalley road.”

Knowing that something might have happened to the TARDIS spoiled their appetites. They ate only enough of the food to stoke them against a cold night’s riding, then quickly they all donned warm cloaks and were off.

Again Stella rode with The Doctor, but this time in front of him and astride the horse. She, Wyn and Margery were breeched as Nowell had instructed and rode in the man’s style. Four of Roger’s servants rode with them, carrying torches. All of the men had swords. Jamie surprised The Doctor by strapping on the scabbard with practiced ease. He, of course, was well versed in swordsmanship. Nowell produced two short daggers and passed them to Margery and Wyn.

“Should we be beset by more devilry than we expect, protect yourselves. Do not hesitate to do so,” he said. They both accepted the weapons uneasily. For all his lightness about the ‘mischief’ earlier Nowell now seemed worried.

They moved off, along the private road and then out onto the future turnpike road that later still would be the A671. In this time and place it was a dark, dark place. It would have been a moonlit night but the clouds were still sullen, heavy and unbroken.

There were a few faint lights from time to time - candles in the cabin homes of peasants and brighter lamps in the more substantial homes of the yeoman farmers and other better off classes. But street lighting was unheard of and the way was dark beyond the light cast by their torches. It was just possible to make out the brooding hill from the equally brooding sky, and the darker patch that was the Pendle forest, but beyond that it was impossible to get any bearings.

“Doctor!” Stella called out suddenly. “Stop. I think I saw something.”

The Doctor reined in his horse. So did the others. He and Jamie jumped down first and ran. Nowell was about to follow but The Doctor waved him back. He had taken his sonic screwdriver from inside his doublet and was using it as a penlight, concealed in his hand as he bent to look at the ‘something’ Stella had spotted.

It was a boy, lying in the overgrown grass at the edge of the road. They would easily have missed him. It looked as if he had fallen and rolled judging by the broken grasses.

“The carter’s boy,” The Doctor said as he examined him and determined that he was alive, though dreadfully cold from exposure to the elements. He had a broken leg, too. Lifting him would hurt if he were not unconscious to all sensation.

The Doctor carried the boy as gently as he could and put him up on Jamie’s horse. Jamie mounted and held him securely. The Doctor slipped the sonic screwdriver into his hand.

“Setting 24€76 for tissue repair. Zx3%J to bring him around afterwards. We need to find out what happened to him, and to his father, and my TARDIS.”

“Understood,” Jamie whispered. One of Roger’s servants went with him as he turned his horse and rode for Read Hall. It was only a mile. They should be all right, The Doctor thought.

He hoped.

“What now?” Margery asked. A question they all considered. “Do we continue to look for the cart and The Doctor’s chest or do we assume it is lost?”

They all turned and looked at the hill. That had been their first objective. But now they had two problems. And what was their priority?

Then there was a shout and the sound of hoofbeats. Another party with torches approached. Nowell and his men all drew their swords. The Doctor did, too. As the two pools of light merged they saw a dozen men in jerkins and breeches of manual workers. They, too had swords drawn, but less elaborate ones. At once though, both sides identified each other and sheathed their weapons. The Constable of the Watch rode towards Nowell.

His news was grave. Master Cobb was dead, stabbed through with knives, and his cart nowhere to be seen, nor his boy.

“We have the boy,” Nowell assured him. “The brave soul must have tried to get to Read on foot. He’s there now, receiving the best aid we can offer and should be able to tell us what happened in the morning. Was there any sign of a trail?”

“None we could see in the darkness,” the constable answered. Nowell nodded and turned to The Doctor, whose face in the torchlight was that of a worried man. “I assure you, my friend, your chest will be recovered. I will not let this matter lie. But there is little we can do until we hear from the boy and there is daylight to make a search. Meantime, I propose we ride to the Hill as we set out to do.”

“Yes,” The Doctor reluctantly agreed. “Of course.”

His hearts were heavy all the same as they turned to the cross country route that would bring them to the Hill in a short time. It wasn’t the first time he had ‘lost’ the TARDIS. It had been stolen once in the Himalayas when he was travelling with Marco Polo. Once even earlier than that, when the chameleon switch still worked it had disguised itself as a car and been towed away for having an invalid tax disc. The worst had been more recent when it had fallen through a crevice into the heart of that strange planet called Crop Tor. That time he really had thought he had lost it. He had been forced to contemplate a life without his time machine. A Time Lord without the power to command time.

He felt that way now. He needed the TARDIS. Without it, in this century he was a man with the wrong sort of blood and two hearts, and if he was ever found out his life could well end with a lynching rope even if he had the friendship of Roger and Margery to fall back on.

There were his friends to consider, too. What of them? And Jo and Cliff who had trusted him with the care of their daughters?

And there was simply the fact that the TARDIS WAS his oldest and most constant friend. He had always had a symbiotic link with it. He used to be able to sense where it was within a few miles. He always said he couldn’t lose it.

He wondered if he could sense it now. He took a deep breath and half-closed his eyes, concentrating hard on the TARDIS rather than the road ahead. Yes, he thought. He could feel something. The TARDIS WAS out there somewhere. He might even be able to get a direction if he could concentrate deeper.

But he wasn’t able to do so now. A shout went up from the watchmen ahead and he saw at once what the excitement was.

They were climbing Pendle Hill now, and at its summit there were lights. Not just a bonfire, but moving lights, torches held by people. With his Gallifreyan eyes, even without his trick glasses he didn’t dare use here, he could see better than anyone else yet could. He saw a bonfire flickering and shadows passing across it as people moved around it.

As they got closer they heard sounds, too. A rhythmic chanting, though as yet the words could not be made out.

A witches coven? A black sabbat? A pagan ritual? Whatever was going on it was illegal in this time and place and a matter for the watch and the magistrate.

“Ride cautiously,” The Doctor called out as the watch made as if to race to the top. “Cautiously and slowly and catch as many as you can. Don’t give them time to scatter.”

“The Doctor is right,” Nowell added.

They moved slowly towards the top, keeping to the shadows and such cover as was afforded by scrubby bushes and outcrops. Nowell led the way, the watch and its Constable following. The Doctor hung behind with Stella still riding with him. Margery and Wyn were with him.

“It really IS a witches sabbat!” Margery exclaimed as they drew closer and could see more clearly. Most of the people who chanted and moved in a circle around the fire were young women, though there were some young men, too. They were all, male and female, in long grey ‘shifts’ of rough fabric with head and arm holes and rope tying the waist. Naturally enough there wasn’t a pointy hat in sight. But clearly this was witchcraft of some kind.

The chanting was Latin, but nothing so sophisticated as a black sabbat. It was just a few random words spoken over and over, and Wyn, as she listened, thought it was as if the people chanting them didn’t actually know what the words meant, as if they had learnt them by rote.

“Somebody THINKS this is a Sabbat,” The Doctor said. “There’s something not right here. I wonder….”

Whatever he was wondering went unspoken because at that moment the cover was blown by a watchman who called out and ran at the crowd. At once they scattered, dropping their torches. The watchmen and the Constable and Nowell all dismounted quickly and ran to catch hold of as many of the culprits as they could. The Doctor suddenly jumped from his horse and returned moments later with a struggling ‘witch’ in his custody. When she kicked out and bit him he applied just enough pressure with his thumb against her neck to render her limbs paralysed temporarily. That meant that she got a much more comfortable journey than many of the other captives, because The Doctor hauled her up on his horse with Stella and walked. The others were tied to the reins of the watchmen and made to run along beside them.

“You’re too kind, Doctor,” said the Constable. “Giving up your seat to a witch.”

“I think there has to be an examination before the magistrate to determine if she IS a witch,” The Doctor answered. “Until then I’ll judge her no more than a foolish girl who lacks manners before her betters.”

Nowell was on the point of answering that when Wyn and Margery, the only two riders not escorting a prisoner suddenly shot off to the left. The Doctor followed them at a run and saw with his superior eyesight what had sent them off the path. Their two horses blocked the path of a man, dressed in the same rough clothing, who had tried to get away in the confusion. He turned and ran back and The Doctor blocked him, but he missed the knife that glinted in his hand. He felt it slash his arm before he could disarm him. The cut went deep, glancing off the bone, but The Doctor brought his good arm around and subdued the man.

“Are you injured, Doctor?” asked Margery as she swung around and dismounted and was at his side a moment before Wyn. “Did he get you?”

“No,” he lied. “A glancing blow only. There is more damage to a good silk doublet.” He let the Watchmen take the man, but he pocketed the knife. He wanted to remove any traces of his own blood before it was seen as evidence. He would have to change his clothes, too, and get Wyn to put on a bandage to make it look as if he did have a flesh wound that needed treating. “You ladies took a risk, though,” he said.

“Nevertheless,” Margery insisted. “You should ride now. I’ll take young Stella with me and you ride home with your prisoner.”

That was a sensible plan and they made the change before they set off again, heading directly for Read Hall where Nowell said the miscreants would be incarcerated in a locked cellar overnight and he would hold interrogative sessions in the morning.

The Doctor’s arm quickly healed, as he knew it would, but he made a pretence of stiffness as he rode and Wyn kept close beside him. It gave him chance to look closer at the girl he had captured. She was semi-conscious now and didn’t seem in any state to cast a spell upon him. She seemed frightened and uncertain of where she was or why she was there. With his ‘good’ arm The Doctor put a hand on her forehead and concentrated on her thoughts. He was surprised by what he saw.

And at the same time, not wholly surprised.

Because something had been wrong with the set up here all along.

The ‘witches’ were all locked up in the cellar and Nowell sent his own men and the constable and the men of the watch to the kitchen to help themselves to food and drink after their efforts. He had a cold supper and wine brought to his drawing room where he and Margery and their guests rested themselves and talked over the evening’s events. The adventure on the hill was quickly related to Jamie who in return gave his own report.

“The boy is better than we had a right to expect,” he said. “No permanent injury. But he’s had a bad shock and he was cold for such a long time. Added to that, he’s grieving over the death of his father, which he witnessed.”

“Aye, that’s evil work,” Nowell admitted. “The lad’s an orphan now, too. I’ll see what can be done for him. I’ve favours owed from some who might offer him a good apprenticeship, perhaps. He deserves no less. Meantime he’ll be in my care here. But did he manage to speak at all of his ordeal?”

“He did, sir,” Jamie continued. “He says that the cart was waylaid by eight ruffians who appeared suddenly. His father was thrown down and stabbed mercilessly. He was pushed from the cart and winded, but pretended to be more badly hurt and they left him for dead. He heard them speaking, though. He heard them say that her Ladyship would be pleased with the haul.”

“Ladyship?” The word was echoed by all who listened and it seemed the same Lady was in all their minds - the one that gave Margery a taste of sour ale. That expression was on her face now.

“We would need more than that to accuse a woman of breeding and wealth,” Nowell observed.

“I don’t see why,” Wyn protested. “Doesn’t the law deal equally and fairly in these parts? Is guilt dependent on social status – or lack of? You’ve a cellar full of scared girls and silly boys because they’re just peasants, but this ‘Lady’ gets the benefit of the doubt because she’s rich?”

“I agree,” Margery said. “But we must be careful. She is clever.”

“Well, I’ve seen no evidence of her cleverness yet,” The Doctor answered. “And if she’s involved in murder and theft I’ll expect the full weight of the law brought down on her, Lady or no Lady. As for the ones in the cellar….”

“They were performing a black rite upon the Hill,” Nowell said. “Caught in the very act of it. When I’m done questioning them they’ll be sent to Lancaster gaol and doubtless some, if not all of them, will end up on the gibbet there.”

“Oh!” Stella cried out. “But… the one I was riding with, she was younger than me.”

“There is no age limit on witchcraft penalties,” Nowell answered. “The crime is a capital one. Being lenient with those who are found guilty of it is seldom wise. It makes the law seem weak in the face of the enemies of God and King.”

“Then the law is cruel and horrible,” Stella burst out before running from the room, tears in her eyes. Wyn followed her.

“She’s young,” The Doctor said in apology. “And it has been a trying night.”

“That is so,” Nowell answered him. “Yet, you, too, were inclined to be gentle to the young witch.”

“She is not yet proven a witch, as I said. If, indeed, these young people admit to what is against the statues of law, then of course the law must have its day. But I reserve judgement.”

“And you injured by one of them, too,” Margery commented. “You are an uncommonly generous man.”

“I try to be,” The Doctor said. “As for the wound, it was a scratch. There was not even blood on the knife. But I think, all the same, I should be to my bed soon. There is much to be done tomorrow. A hearing to be conducted, and the search for my chest.”

“We would all be best taking to our beds now,” Nowell said. “The watch will be rising at first light to make inquiries about the robbery, Doctor. I’ll advise them to look in the direction of Rough Lee, I think. If any evidence is found to support the boy’s testimony I will act upon it.

Stella was still upset when The Doctor and Jamie went up to their adjoining chambers. She was lying on her bed crying. Wyn was trying to comfort her but she wasn’t having it.

“They want to HANG people just for doing something silly up on the Hill,” she said. “It wasn’t even a REAL Sabbat or whatever they call it. And nobody was killed, there were no sacrifices or anything.”

“It’s the law of this land at this time,” The Doctor said as he came and sat by her side. “But for what it’s worth I agree with you. that was no Sabbat. It was a game of one. And I don’t think that girl is a witch, either. Or at least not by her own choice. I looked at her mind. It was like looking into fog. She had no idea what she was doing up on that Hill. I don’t think she even knew she WAS on the Hill. She was under some mind of mesmerism, if you want my professional opinion.”

“Then she’s innocent?” Stella looked at The Doctor with wide, hopeful eyes. “Doctor, you can prove that she’s innocent?”

“No, he can’t,” Wyn answered her. “Stella, even in the twenty-first century he couldn’t go to court and say he did a bit of mind reading and saw that the suspect didn’t do it. NOW, they’d hang him as WELL as her.”

“She’s right,” The Doctor sighed. “But I won’t leave it at that. I promise there will be no hanging of any innocent woman while I’m here. But we can do nothing more tonight. You go to sleep. All of you.”

Stella lay down, happier now that The Doctor had made that promise to her. He tucked the blankets around her and kissed her cheek gently. He stood and looked around at Wyn and Jamie. “You two don’t need tucking in, do you?”

“No,” Wyn answered. “We can manage that for ourselves.” He warned them to lock the door and draw their bed-curtains and then went to the adjoining room. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to sleep himself. He had a lot to think about, still. The quiet times when his Human friends slept were when he did most of his deep thinking.

He sat down on the bed anyway, and pulled off the long leather boots he felt had become welded to his feet. He liked period clothes, but he sorely missed his lightweight canvas shoes. When he got to wear them again he would feel like he could float.

That train of thought just reminded him of what else he was missing. His suit and shoes were inside the TARDIS.

The connecting door opened and Jamie slipped into the room. “Here’s your sonic screwdriver. And…”

“What is it?” The Doctor could tell he had something more to say.

“There’s more to what the boy told me than I passed on to Sir Roger. It’s more our line of work than his. The boy swore on his father’s recently dead soul that the men who attacked them appeared out of thin air. I questioned him about it a couple of times, and bearing in mind he’s been through a lot… but what he described sounded to me like a transmat beam.”

“A transmat in 1622!” The Doctor whistled between his front teeth. “I mean, ok, I know it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle, seeing as I have the TARDIS and you’ve got your wrist gismos tucked under your doublet sleeve, but.…”

“But we don’t use our technology for highway robbery and murder.”


“The boy could have been imagining things. He was pretty banged up.”

“But you don’t think so, do you, or you wouldn’t have told me.”


The Doctor smiled widely. “I’ll trust your judgement. And yes, this is way beyond Roger’s jurisdiction. But not ours. Go on back to Wyn. Have a cuddle, go to sleep. I’ll wake you an hour before dawn. We’ll go have a look before the Watch trample over the evidence.”

This time he did lie down. He didn’t sleep, though. He put his mind into a slow trance. His hearts beat slow, his breathing was only shallow. His brain alone worked hard, reaching beyond the dark room where he lay. Yes, he was the one person in this place who was capable of what they would call witchcraft. Except it wasn’t. It was simply a natural gift of his race, honed and perfected in special tutorials at the Prydonian Academy.

He felt the minds of his friends in the room next door. Stella was sleeping, though fitfully, Wyn and Jamie were close to sleep, cuddled up close together. Beyond, he felt Margery sleeping soundly, Nowell feeling the cold of the night more than he would admit. He was not as robust as he pretended. He felt the servants at their rest, except for two stout men who stood guard down by the cellar. He felt the hazy minds of the prisoners within. He passed over them quickly. They were disturbing to look at. He promised himself he would help them later.

He let his mind roam further, beyond the quiet house and into the Pendle countryside. He could sense ordinary people at their rest after a hard day’s work, he could sense rogues who were not asleep and plotted lawlessness of the ordinary sort that kept Roger Nowell busy every day. It was nothing to do with him. He sought a different sort of mischief. He found his bearings and directed his probing mind towards the house called the Rough Lee. There he sensed something that didn’t surprise him and a number of things that did.

He pulled his mind back and let it become calm and quiet like the rest of his body. He had a good idea of what was going on, now. At least half of the mystery, anyway. He was content to let himself rest now in the slow trance that was as refreshing to his body as eight hours of deep sleep.

“You’ll keep, Lady Penistone,.” He whispered aloud. “You’ll keep.”

He woke Jamie while it was still dark. Wyn stirred, but not even for the chance of adventure was she prepared to get out of a warm bed into a cold, dark morning. Jamie dressed quickly in warm clothes and he and The Doctor slipped quietly through the silent house and out into the night. There was a pink glow to the horizon to the West where it wasn’t blocked by the Hill. Dawn wasn’t too far off.

It was getting lighter by the time they found the place where Master Cobb had been waylaid. There were all too obvious signs of violence. The grass was broken down and there was a darker patch on the rough ground where the murdered man had bled out. There was a jumble of footprints that indicated a struggle and confusion and the deep tracks of cartwheels where they had stood for a time with a heavy load.

What there wasn’t, was any sign that the cart had been driven away. Which was no surprise to The Doctor.

“Transmat beam?” Jamie guessed.

“It would need a very strong one to transmat eight men, a cart and team of horses, AND the TARDIS,” The Doctor said. “There’ll be a residual trace even now.”

Jamie pulled back his doublet sleeve and pressed buttons on his time agent wristlet.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m picking up very strong signals. I can probably pin point the source in a minute or two.”

“I know the source,” The Doctor said.

“Yeah, I can guess, too, but let’s confirm anyway. Yes. About three miles that way.…”

“The Rough Lee.” The Doctor smiled grimly. He felt no triumph about being proved right. Not while he stood in this place, where a good, honest man had died for no good reason. He felt a little guilty that he had asked him to transport the TARDIS. He could have found another way of getting it to Read Hall.

But even a Time Lord couldn’t turn back time to prevent such deeds. All he could do was make sure those responsible were brought to justice.

“You got enough juice in that wristlet of yours for a short transport?” he asked Jamie.

“Only enough for one of us,” he answered. “It’s not meant for group travel.”

The Doctor made a short, sarcastic laugh and took hold of Jamie’s arm. He applied the sonic screwdriver to the wristlet.

“Now it takes two,” he said and Jamie grinned and pressed the transmat button.

It would never be his favourite form of travel, having his molecules disassembled and reassembled. But if he was right, at least it would only be a one way trip.

As his vision cleared and he looked around his new location he gave a short cry of triumph.

They were in a cellar that clearly belonged to a substantial house. It had all of the expected things in it; casks of ale, flagons of wine, cheeses ripening, hams curing on hooks. Among the unusual things was a tall blue box with the words Police Public Call Box in familiar letters around the top.

But the TARDIS was not the only incongruous thing in this cellar. The Doctor and Jamie both looked closely at the other anachronism that was sitting there. It looked like a space ship’s navigation console lashed to a static transmat control panel.

“Crystalline power source, half life of ten thousand years,” The Doctor observed. “Looks like the remains of a Sub-Temporal engine.”

“Sub-Temporal?” Jamie queried.

“Cheap form of time and space travel,” The Doctor explained. “If the TARDIS is a sleek ocean liner and your vortex manipulator is an open dingy, this is a tramp steamer that’s tramped into far too many foreign ports. And it’s broken, obviously. Somebody crashed here in this time and has been bodging together what was left of their craft.” He pressed a button on the console and noted that there was a scanner that would have registered the arrival of his TARDIS. A prize the owner of this set up could not have resisted.

One bad turn deserved another, he thought. He knelt at the back of the machine and removed several pieces of circuitry and the deep blue piece of crystal that powered it. Then he turned and pulled his TARDIS key from inside his doublet. “A much more comfortable trip back to Read Hall. K9 will be happy to see us and Stella and Wyn will be glad to be able to use the bathroom when they wake up in the morning.”

“We’re not going to confront the one that stole the TARDIS?”

“I’ve got a feeling she’ll want to confront us later,” he answered.

Wyn and Stella were overjoyed when they woke some hours later and learnt that the TARDIS was recovered, and not only because it meant they could use ‘civilised’ bathroom facilities and fill K9 in on what happened. They HAD been more than a little worried about the possibility of living in the seventeenth century. Quite apart from the hygiene issues and the fact that they both hated the taste of ale, AND never seeing their home and family again, the fact that Margery was about the only woman alive who even considered the idea of female emancipation, there was the dreadful thought of a bitter, bloody civil war in their natural lifetime. There was also the ever present risk of being found out as not of this time, or for Jamie and The Doctor of being found not of this world.

Wyn had a horrible vision she couldn’t shift of them both being hanged as witches or worse at this Lancaster that Nowell spoke of.

Though apparently there WAS nothing worse than a witch in 1622.

The breakfast of bacon and ale was a solemn affair this morning, for a solemn duty awaited them all afterwards. Fifteen prisoners needed to be formally questioned and in all likelihood formally charged with a capital crime. Stella was still distressed about that. She believed that the law in this instance was more terrible than the crime. Even The Doctor faced her wrath about it because he agreed on principle with the seventeenth century statutes for punishment of witchcraft.

“Yes,” he told her. “When witchcraft means subtle poisons and the deaths of innocents. Yes, when it is murder by sinister means, the law must have its day. I hate that it means the death penalty. I have never cared for that in any place or time. But I have no power nor obligation to intercede for those who commit such acts.” Stella looked at him and said nothing. “BUT,” he added. “We’re not talking of such people here. And I WILL do all I can today, for these unfortunate prisoners. Because I do NOT believe they are witches and I KNOW something else is going on around these parts. And I believe that two mysteries are in fact one and they will both be resolved today.”

More than that he would not say. Stella was still not wholly satisfied but he would not budge. He had a half a plan in his head. He had half an idea of what was going to happen later. But for the moment events just had to unfold.

As soon as breakfast was over, Nowell and Margery went to the substantial room with a surprisingly small and barred window that was used as the Magistrate’s courtroom when Nowell sat in Session every second Monday. It had a long table across one end and seats around the sides for the bailiff and constable and any who came to watch the proceedings. Nowell took up his seat and Margery sat at his side, acting as clerk with quill pens, ink, knife and sand shaker and a sheaf of parchment on which to record the testimony given and the pronouncements of the magistrate. To the surprise of his companions The Doctor sat at the table, too. Nowell was under the impression that he was a notarised lawyer and appointed him as chief interrogator – as prosecutor. Stella glared at him as she sat in a chair at the back of the room alongside Wyn and Jamie.

Nowell called for the first of the prisoners to be brought in and the bailiff went to do his bidding.

It was a girl. She looked about Stella’s age. She gave her name as Anne Rufford and her occupation as kitchen maid at the Swan Inn. The Doctor asked her in a firm, steady, but not unkind voice, to explain what she was going up on the Hill last night.

“Conjuring devils,” she replied. “I have been promised fine clothes and gold in my hand for serving the dark lord. I was commanded to go up on the Hill on All Hallows Eve and dance skyclad till the devils came and sat upon my soul and worked within me.”

“Skyclad?” The Doctor smiled. Margery did, too. Nowell’s mouth turned just a fraction at the corner but only a fraction. The mention of conjuring devil’s set his face hard and implacable. “It was a little cold for that last night. You didn’t wholly complete your orders.”

He noticed a stifled giggle and knew that Stella had just worked out what “skyclad” meant. As she composed her face he returned to the important detail.

“Whose command?” he asked. “Who commanded you to go up on the Hill and conjure devils? Who promised you riches for doing so?”

“I… nobody, sir,” the girl answered. But The Doctor thought the lie pained her. He turned to Margery and asked her to read back the testimony, such as it was. The words ‘I was commanded to go up on the Hill’ were there in black and white.

WHO commanded you?” The Doctor demanded and there was a harder tone in his voice. Roger Nowell repeated the question but the girl was not even close to being able to answer them. Her eyes were glazed over and she was shaking with fear as if a devil was, indeed, working on her soul, though The Doctor knew it was nothing of the sort and when she turned deathly pale and fainted he was out of his seat and at her side in time to catch her.

“She is still a prisoner with charges to answer,” Nowell said, rising, also. “But let her be taken to a quiet place where she can recover.” The constable rose and did as he commanded. “Let the next prisoner be brought,” Nowell added and The Doctor took his seat beside him.

“It was a genuine swoon,” he said. “No play acting to evade questions. The girl was so afraid of the one who commanded her that she could not go on.”

“Aye,” Nowell agreed. “I thought so, too. but what does it signify?”

“We shall see,” The Doctor answered as the next prisoner, another girl of similar age and class, was brought in. This one was Agnes Sowerby who was scullery maid at the home of the master miller of Wheathead. When prompted she spoke openly, regardless of the penalties, of conjuring spirits on the Hill. But when she was asked to say who had commanded the Sabbat she began to shake and tremble and became incoherent. The Doctor half smiled as his Gallifreyan ears picked up a whisper. Stella leaned towards Wyn and asked her what was the film about witch trials in puritan America that they saw a while back. The one where all the girls got hysterical and kept accusing innocent people. Wyn replied to her. The Doctor nodded imperceptibly. He had thought the same thing, too. But this was more than just mass hysteria. By the time three more girls had been examined and all reacted the same way his own theory was coalescing.

They weren’t all girls. A pair of ploughboys were brought before the court. The Doctor recognised the one who had attacked him with the dagger. The young man, no more than eighteen, recognised him and his eyes flickered between the prosecutor and the dagger that was presented as evidence. But The Doctor didn’t refer to his injury. He put the same questions, feeling a little sorry for Margery who had to keep scratching away at the parchment without even the luxury of a macro key on a stenography machine to type the recurring sentences quickly.

The young man’s reaction to the key question was even more extreme than any of the girls. His eyes almost turned in their sockets and his teeth clamped together as he went into what in later centuries would be called a grand mal seizure. Again The Doctor was out of his seat, kneeling at his side and putting him into the recovery position, clearing his airways carefully and ensuring he could not bit his tongue in half. When it was over and he slipped into ordinary unconsciousness, the bailiff carried him away, again with Sir Roger Nowell’s injunction that he was still a prisoner and may yet have to answer further questions.

“Is there need to go on with this?” Margery asked as she flexed her tired writing hand. “Is it likely any of those yet to be questioned will give a different story, or be able to give up the name of the one who seems to be responsible? Cousin, it seems clear that they are all in fear of that one. The one who has a spell cast over them all.”

“Not a spell,” The Doctor said. “Though I suppose you may call it that. But it is not occult or magic that causes such behaviour, but a scientific process.”

“Scientific?” Roger Nowell looked at The Doctor. “There is a science that makes people worship the devil?”

“There is a science which, if misused, makes people act against their will, although it must be said, not wholly against it. A man who has not the intent to murder will not do so except very reluctantly. These young people were not so far influenced that they would catch their deaths of cold on the last night of October dancing ‘skyclad’ on an exposed Pendle Hill. And despite what we saw, they would never have succeeded in conjuring devils even if that was the intent. Because beneath the clouds of mesmerism these are innocent people.”

“Can you prove it, Doctor?” Nowell asked. “If so, then do so.”

“I can,” he said. “But only by the appliance of the same science which you would call witchcraft. Roger, I do not ask you as a friend, for I would not in conscience use that friendship for such ends. But I must beg an indulgence of you, as magistrate. I ask for immunity from the same statute laid against these people. I would beg, also, that your diligent clerk lays down her quill and does not record what occurs.”

Roger Nowell looked at him with surprise on his wise features. The Doctor bit his lip nervously. He was about to burn his boats as far as his relationship with Nowell was concerned. In endeavouring to clear the names of these innocents he was offering himself up instead, and exposing his friends to danger, too. He could feel their unease though he could not see their faces. He was too intent on Nowell’s expression as the good man searched his conscience in the face of this strange request. He had to hope he was as fair and open-minded as he had always believed him to be, that he WOULD understand that the science he spoke of was not witchcraft.

“Immunity is granted,” Nowell said. “At least temporarily. Show me your science, Doctor.”

“Bring in the next prisoner,” The Doctor said to the bailiff. While that was being done he looked around the room. He went to the far wall and took down a small mirror. Most mirrors of this time were polished steel, but the well off could afford real silver-backed glass if only in the very smallest panes. He picked up a candle in its silver stick, too, and waited for the bailiff to return.

The prisoner was the girl he had put on his own horse last night. The one whose mind he had already read. He felt pleased at that coincidence. He had never read a mind without feeling a little of that mind remaining in his soul. That was one reason not to do it too often. Not every mind was something he wanted to carry with him. But he felt a responsibility for this girl even more than he did for the others.

“Mary,” he said. “Mary Hayworth. That’s your name, isn’t it? You told me last night.”

“Did I, sir?” she looked puzzled. “I don’t remember. But I must have done if you say I did.”

“What DO you remember, Mary?” he asked and she launched into the same story about conjuring devils. She seemed to condemn herself with her own words.

“Enough,” The Doctor commanded. “We’ve heard that tale already, word for word. But I wonder what is your true story, Mary?” And he held up the mirror and the candle and moved them in such a way that a dancing light reflected off the mirror. He shone it in her eyes. She screwed them up against the painful glare.

Self protection, The Doctor thought. You can hypnotise a man to walk like a chicken and sing like Elvis, as he had once commented. But you can’t make him kill himself or, unless he is already of murderous intent, kill somebody else. And you can’t make a girl strip off on a hill in October or stare into a bright, hurtful light. “Try to look at it, Mary,” he said in a voice that was gently hypnotic itself. “Try to watch the light and don’t think about anything else.”

Mary did as she was told. She looked at the light even though it was painful. As she looked, her eyes seemed far less glazed and her face took on a look of horror. She burst into tears. The Doctor put down his strange tools and put his arms around her. When her tears were done he turned her to face Roger Nowell. He kept a gentle arm around her shoulders.

“Tell the truth to Master Nowell, now,” he said. “And no harm will come of you or your friends.”

“Sir,” she said, still tearful. “I don’t know what the truth is. I feel as if I have been in a dream for these past days. I fear God. I pray every night before I go to my bed. I attend Divine Service every Sunday. Sir, I am not wicked. But I have felt my body do wicked things while my mind was powerless to stop it. I went up the Hill. I said wicked words. At least… I think they were wicked. I know not the meaning of them. I fought the urge to perform acts of lewdness in front of the men, though I could not stop myself from doing the other wicked things. But sir, I did not mean to do them. I had no control over my body. I was taken over. My mind was not my own.”

“Who took you over, Mary? Who made you do these wicked things?”

“She gave me a bitter drink, and she took… she took….”

Mary stopped speaking as the door to the justice room opened. Everyone turned as Lady Penistone swept inside.

“Your Ladyship?” Roger Nowell stood and nodded his head towards her, the very merest impression of a bow. “Do you come to give evidence today? As you can see we are in the midst of a hearing.”

“I do,” she said. “I am here to give full witness to the scandalous acts of witchcraft and devil worship committed by a number of young people of this neighbourhood, including that one before you now. She is a servant of my house, I regret to say. But that will not protect her.”

“No,” Mary cried out. “No, it is HER. She is the one who gave me the bitter drink that made my mind full of fog. And she scratched me and drew blood on a pin.” The girl held out her arm and there was, indeed, a long scratch that would have bled quite painfully. “SHE did it, Lady Penistone.”

“Well, really,” Lady Penistone laughed coldly. “What nonsense. Trying to implicate me in her wickedness. Really, Sir Roger, I hope you don’t give such a thing a moment’s thought.”

“I give it every thought, Madam,” he answered. “The law IS fair and equal and before me the word of a servant girl counts just as equally as the word of her mistress. She WAS about to tell us something before you came in. Mary, was THAT the testimony you were going to give?”

“Yes, sir,” she answered. “That’s the truth. Lady Penistone cast a spell on me and made me do those wicked things. And she did it to the others, too.”

“Others?” Lady Penistone looked coldly at the girl and a flicker of concern crossed her mind. “Do others tell the same slander?”

“The others have not,” Nowell answered. “They all appear to be under some kind of mesmeric influence and are unable to speak freely. This girl alone was freed of it.”

“Freed how?” Lady Penistone asked. Nowell, to his credit, realised where she was going and did not answer her, but she had seen the mirror and candle set aside and made a guess.

“Somebody used magic to influence this girl’s testimony, and you allowed it to be done before your eyes, Sir Roger? I am shocked. Don’t you see? This girl is the one under the influence, to implicate me.”

Nowell said nothing, still, but he didn’t have to. She turned and looked directly at The Doctor.

“I accuse him… the so called Doctor… of the use of witchcraft and devilry to influence this court. I believe he has already bewitched you, Sir Roger, into believing that he was acting in the interests of the truth, when in fact HE is the cause of the darkness that has descended on this place. He caused these wicked creatures to summon devils for him on that cursed Hill.”

Roger Nowell still said nothing. Nor did The Doctor. Neither could deny that he HAD done something that, by his own admittance, might be construed as witchcraft. And until he had, Mary had not been able to say who had ordered her to go up the Hill and join the Sabbat.

Lady Penistone’s version of events sounded convincing to anyone who didn’t know that The Doctor was innocent.

The trouble was, Sir Roger Nowell couldn’t say for certain he was.

That is obscene,” Wyn exclaimed, rising from her seat and coming to stand with The Doctor. “He is a good, kind man, who helps people who are in trouble. How dare you accuse him of any such thing.”

“And who are you?” Lady Penistone said. “Are you known to anyone in these parts? Can any man vouch for you?”

“Well, no, obviously,” she answered. “I’m a visitor here. But…”

Wyn sighed. She saw the trap, too.

“YOU bewitched me,” Mary Hayworth cried out to Lady Penistone. She seemed to have been forgotten somehow in the strange turn of events that unfolded. “You are a WITCH!”

“You are a kitchen wench who will hang by my witness,” she answered raising a hand to strike the girl. The blow never came. The Doctor’s arm reached out and held her tightly.

“Doctor…” Margery stood, staring at him. “Doctor… where is the wound on your arm? I saw you cut. You were bandaged earlier. Yet you have full strength in it now….”

“Ah.” The Doctor looked at her. “Well… there… really there IS an explanation.”

“Of course there is,” Lady Penistone answered, shrugging away from him. “He is a witch, a conjurer of evil spirits with his magic box….”

Now Lady Penistone had made a mistake. And it was Stella who spotted it.

“What do YOU know about a box?” she asked. “We never saw you before yesterday. How do YOU know about The Doctor’s box?”

“So you don’t deny he has a magic box?”

“We deny nothing,” The Doctor said to her. “Sir Roger knows that I travelled as far as Whalley with a large chest. I arranged for it to be transported here. It was waylaid by bandits and a good man was murdered for it. And as this young woman said, HOW did you know of it?”

“I came by information…” she began.

“No,” The Doctor cut her off. “Let’s not have any more of the well informed Lady. Let’s have all subterfuge done with. For me, and for you. Let us acknowledge each other for what we are, Lady Penistone. For we have both travelled much further than Sir Roger knows or could dream possible and we know things that he cannot begin to understand.”

“Doctor…” Wyn put her arm on his shoulder. “Doctor you can’t….”

“I must,” he said. “To protect the innocent. It is the only way. I must….”

Lady Penistone moved sharply and suddenly towards the door. She got no further. Jamie proved that he could move fast, too, and blocked it. Nowell nodded to the Bailiff and Constable and they, also, moved to guard the only exit from the room.

“Let what must be said be said,” Nowell said. “Come what may. But nobody will leave this room until it is done.” Lady Penistone looked mutinous, but the Bailiff and Constable were both strongly built young men and they were under Nowell’s orders. She turned and sat herself in a chair. The Doctor remained standing. He turned and looked at Sir Roger and Margery as they sat in their places, still. Margery looked bewildered but wild horses could not have dragged her away. Roger looked stern. He looked puzzled. He looked betrayed and angry.

And The Doctor felt very sorry for that.

He blinked back tears as he looked at his two seventeenth century friends. “Roger, Margery, you have always been good friends to me. That hasn’t changed as far as I am concerned. I will always think of you as friends. If you feel differently when this day is over, then I will fully understand. For the sake of that former friendship… please grant me one promise. That my friends will not be held accountable. THEY are innocent bystanders in all of this. I brought them with me because… because my life is too lonely without friends. Please promise me that they will not be harmed.”

“I cannot make such a promise, Doctor,” Nowell answered him. “I am sorry, but matters are so uncertain here. If, indeed, your companions have no part in this…. But no, you cannot ask me to make a promise I may not be able to keep.”

“Very well,” he said. He turned to Jamie. “If all else fails… I gave your gismo more than enough juice earlier. It will carry three a short distance.”

He turned back to look at Sir Roger and Margery again.

“Roger, you are an educated man. You understand the new teachings of men like Copernicus and Galileo, who have revealed the existence of other worlds beyond this one. Other planets that appear as stars in the sky.”

“Yes,” Sir Roger admitted. “I have read some of those ideas. Though I am far from an expert.”

“Let it suffice. Because, Roger, I have to confess that I lied to you about my origins. I am not from any part of London. I am not from this planet. I am from another world that has another sun that appears as a star in your sky. I travel in time and space in my ‘magic box’ as Lady Penistone called it. I am not a sorcerer. I am not a witch. I have never infringed a single law of this century. I simply come from a different place where life is different to yours.”

Margery’s mouth dropped open as she heard what he said. Roger’s face was impassive.

“Lady Penistone ALSO comes from another planet, another place. One nearly as far away as my own. She comes from a race of people who are in some small way related to mine, I think. She comes from a planet called Karn, where I suspect she was a member of a sisterhood that many called witches, though most of them were nothing of the sort. Some of the sisterhood travelled in time and space, in defiance of my own people who sought to control the time vortex. Lady Penistone’s ship crashed here on Earth with her and, I am guessing, eight strong men who were her servants, aboard. She used her abilities, many of which you would certainly call witchcraft, to carve herself a place in your society – as Lady Penistone of the Rough Lee. But of course she desired to leave here. This planet in this time would never do for her. She wanted to escape.”

“Doctor….” Sir Roger Nowell began to speak then gave up. He glanced at Margery. She had taken up her quill when The Doctor began to speak. He put his hand on her arm as if to halt her from making a record of his words, then he shook his head and told her to continue. He told The Doctor to continue, too.

“That is why she mesmerised those innocents you have captive here, Roger. She used something called ‘blood control’ to make them do as she wished. The bitter drink helped to make the minds pliable. She had them go up on the Hill and chant. The words were not random. They were a…. well… yes, a spell. That’s the only word for it. A charm. It was meant as a communication. The right words chanted in the right way, they have power. They would send a message across the galaxy….”

“E.T. phone home!” Stella said with a nervous giggle.

“Exactly,” The Doctor answered her, knowing that only she and Wyn would possibly understand that cultural reference. “The only problem was that there WAS no answer. Was there?”

“No,” Lady Penistone admitted. “I tried many times with my own people. We went up there in secret and sent out the signal. But there was no answer. And there was a risk that we would be caught. That’s why I used these peasants instead.”

“So, you admit that Mary and the others are innocent?” The Doctor asked.

“Of course they are,” she said. “They were just tools.”

“Roger, Margery, do you note what she has said?” The Doctor looked at them firmly.

“I note it,” Roger said. “Margery, set that down clearly. There are no charges against any of those taken last night.” He looked at Mary Hayworth who sat quietly, her eyes big with wonder, trying to take in what was being said by those she regarded as her betters. “Mary, you are free to go. But I think returning to the Rough Lee is not a good idea just now. Go to my kitchen. The cook will give you food and drink. Do not take anything you have heard here to heart. Try to forget it, if you can.”

“Yes, sir,” Mary said, curtseying to him. She left the room quietly. The Doctor watched her go then turned back to Lady Penistone.

“You covered yourself, of course, by acting as informant to Roger, urging him to crack down on the ungodly behaviour. You knew, even if the unfortunates you used were captured they would only condemn themselves. Your blood control prevented them from naming you. And you could always find more innocents to continue the effort. Except… Except I came. Of course you would know I had arrived. The machine you built would have picked up our arrival. The TARDIS… my ‘magic box’ - a powerful source of energy in a world where a water mill is the most sophisticated engine around. You hatched a second plan. You ordered your people to steal the box. The thing that would allow you to escape from here.”

“Can you blame me?” Lady Penistone demanded of him. “I have been trapped here for two years. This primitive planet with its superstitions….”

“No, I don’t blame you for wanting to get away from here,” The Doctor said. “This isn’t your home, and of course you wanted to get away. But I DO blame you for using Mary and the others, putting their lives at risk. And I DO blame you for the death of Master Thomas Cobb, an ordinary, decent man who we have ALL forgotten. You didn’t wield the knives, but you gave the order for him to be waylaid and robbed. And that makes you just as guilty as those who spilled his blood.”

“It does, indeed,” Sir Roger Nowell said. “If that be the truth of it, wherever you come from, here in the County of Lancashire you have committed a capital crime, and you shall hang for it.”

“No!” Lady Penistone screamed. “No.” She turned to The Doctor. She reached out her hands in supplication. “No, please. Doctor… don’t let them hang me. I’m… I’m not of this Earth. Don’t let them kill me. Take me with you. Take me from this place. Take me HOME.”

“No,” he answered. “I WON’T let you escape. Young James Cobb deserves to see his father’s murderers brought to justice. If you had come to me… told me your problem… I might have been able to help you. But you chose the path of deceit, of theft and murder. But even if….”

He stopped speaking. Because what he was going to say next he couldn’t say even to one as cold-hearted and cruel as Lady Penistone. He couldn’t tell her that she would never have had a reply to those messages she was sending from the top of the hill. She could never go home, any more than he could.

Karn had burned the same day Gallifrey did. The whole solar system was destroyed. Her people, her world, was gone, too.

“NO!” She looked at him with a frozen expression of deep shock, and The Doctor realised that she must have some limited capacity for telepathy as well as her other powers. That burning hurt was impossible to hide. “No!”

The last ‘no’ was a heartbroken one. The Doctor felt her pain, but he couldn’t sympathise with her. He thought of an innocent man murdered and an orphaned boy left for dead. He gave his compassion to them. He stood back from her. He didn’t try to restrain her when she turned and ran towards the bailiff. When he realised what she meant to do it was too late. He saw her grab the bailiff’s sword and turn it in her hands before falling forward onto it.

Stella and Wyn both screamed as they saw Lady Penistone fall, the cheap sword breaking as her body hit the floor. Margery gasped out loud but did not scream. A pool of blood quickly stained the polished wooden floor. It was lighter than Human blood, but not as light as Gallifreyan.

She was the last of the hybrid race of Karn. And now she was dead. The Doctor felt a twinge of sorrow, but still he kept his compassion for the innocent.

“Wrap the body and remove it decently,” Sir Roger Nowell ordered. “Summon the watch and have them go to Rough Lee. Arrest Lady Penistone’s servants. They, too, will answer for the murder of Master Cobb.”

“Take hammers,” The Doctor said. “Go down to the cellar. There is a machine there. A strange one. Smash it to pieces, destroy it. Also… somewhere in the house there will be a vat of some sort, a cauldron or bowl containing blood. Take it outside in the yard. Smash the bowl, swill away the blood. It will break the spell. The others that she used will recover their wits as Mary did.”

The Constable looked at The Doctor hesitantly. Was he still to take orders from him after all the strange things that had been said?

“Do that,” Sir Roger told him. “Make an end of that woman’s evil, once and for all.”

There was a pause after the Bailiff carried Lady Penistone’s body out and the Constable went to summon the Watch to do the magistrate’s bidding. The Doctor stood in the middle of the floor still. Margery sanded the pages of parchment she had completed. Wyn and Stella and Jamie stood, wondering what would happen next.

“Margery,” Sir Roger said. “Take those three to their room. Sit with them there. They are not prisoners, but I do not wish them to leave this house, yet.”

Margery did his bidding, too. Jamie, Wyn and Stella went with her. They looked at The Doctor anxiously before they were ushered out of the room.

He remained standing where he was. Roger Nowell moved around his table, picking up the sheaf of parchment that Margery had filled. He read them through slowly then looked at The Doctor, still standing there.

“What am I to do with this fantastic story?” he asked. “What am I to do with you?”

“It is for you to decide,” The Doctor answered. “I am in your hands.”

“What will Sir Roger do with The Doctor?” Stella asked as she sat on the bed she had slept in the night before.

“I don’t know,” Margery answered. She was staring at the TARDIS. “This… is the box? It looks different… I remember it differently. But… it’s a carriage… It takes you all to different places?”

“Yes,” Wyn said. “But… I don’t think The Doctor would want us to talk about it to you. It’s best you don’t know too much.”

“But The Doctor…” Stella insisted. “If he.. Sir Roger… If he hurts The Doctor….”

“Maybe you should leave in this… carriage… box….” Margery suggested.

“Not without The Doctor,” Wyn answered. “We’re going nowhere without him.”

“But he could be….” Margery began. “I mean… Roger.… The Doctor admitted to a great many terrible things…. I don’t think Roger can just let him go. He can’t. And that means that The Doctor could be….”

“No,” Jamie said. “No, I won’t let anything happen to him. I’d rather die myself than let him be hurt.” He stepped close to Margery. “You’re important to Roger, aren’t you? He wouldn’t want you to be hurt?”

“Yes,” she answered. “But.…”

Jamie pulled up his sleeve and tapped on his wristlet quickly.

“Wyn, Stella, get into the TARDIS,” he said. I’ll be back soon.” Then he reached out and pulled Margery around, holding her across her neck as he hit the transmat button. The two of them disappeared.

They materialised in the drawing room where his wristlet had located The Doctor and Nowell. Margery swooned dizzily but kept to her feet well for her first time in a transmat. Jamie held onto her tightly. She was his hostage to exchange for The Doctor’s liberty.

Except he didn’t seem to need liberating. He was sitting in the elbow chair opposite Nowell, drinking wine and smoking a noxious-smelling pipe. He looked up in surprise when he saw them appear.

“Wyn told you that isn’t good for you,” he said. “Doctor… I thought you were a prisoner.”

“No,” he answered. “Sorry, Roger pressed me to take a drink and a smoke with him.”

“You’re not in trouble?”

“We talked about it,” Sir Roger said. “And it seems there is nothing in the Statutes that makes coming from another planet a crime in the County of Lancashire, or indeed in England as a whole. There is nothing, either, about using the science of mirrors and light.”

“So there’s nothing to arrest me for,” The Doctor added. “And Roger has forgiven me the lies I told him.”

“So… it’s ok then?”

“We’re going to get going soon,” he said. “It’s better we don’t stay. Young Mary, the Bailiff, the Constable, they all heard me talk about being an alien visitor to Earth. If we stay around one of them might be tempted to talk. It would be easier for Roger and Margery if we slip away quietly.” He put down the pipe on the fireplace. “You know, Wyn is right. It’s not a good habit. But I don’t think Roger will be so easily persuaded to give it up.”

He stood up. So did Sir Roger. They walked back up the stairs in the ordinary way, Margery keeping her distance from Jamie in case he was impatient. Wyn and Stella hadn’t done as Jamie told them. They were still waiting in the bedroom.

Margery and Sir Roger said goodbye to them properly. Stella even managed to hug Sir Roger, all forgiven between them. Then they stepped into the TARDIS. The door closed. Sir Roger put his arm across Margery’s shoulder and they watched as The Doctor’s strange machine disappeared in front of their eyes.

“And that’s NOT witchcraft?” Margery asked as the sound died away.

“Apparently not,” Sir Roger answered. “Apparently it’s science.”

“How do they know which is which where they come from?” Margery wondered aloud.

“I don’t know,” Sir Roger responded. He stepped forward into the empty space where the TARDIS had stood. “God’s grace on you, Doctor,” he said. “Wherever you are.”