Samson Confronts a Witch
Samson Confronts a Witch.
‘Yes brother, what is it?’
‘We’ve just received news. It’s your father, he’s dying and has asked you to come.’
Samson turns to the young novice monk with him.
‘Prepare my travelling garment and pack. I must go. I’ll leave this afternoon. Hurry. Prepare your things too to accompany me.’
The brother nods and scurries off to get things ready.
‘It’s a long trek brother and I’m sorry that I will have to push the pace. I don’t know how much long my father has and I want to be with him, to see him, in these final moments. I owe him so much. He’s very dear to me.’
‘Don’t worry about me,’ the novice replies. ‘I’ll go at your pace brother. Let it be God’s will that we arrive in time.’
Travelling on foot the pair follow pack horse tracks and ancient routes which criss-cross the land. Stone crosses mark some of the paths and locals point to routes when they are unsure. Most of the journey is through thickly wooded uncultivated land with the odd hut and small hamlet dotted in between.
They are stomping along through a particularly densely wooded area when suddenly a shrill shriek pierces the air. The pair stop, look at each other and wait. Another vile shriek follows and another. The hair on the back on their necks begins to prick. The young novice starts shaking visibly. The hideous noise comes closer. Every muscle in their bodies is tense, ready to flee.
‘Whatever is this?’ murmurs Samson calmly.
An eerie scream erupts within a few feet of them. The novice bolts, running as fast as he can. He crashes through the undergrowth, not following any path, just running, running fast, anywhere to get away.
‘Stop brother!’ Samson calls after him but his entreaty falls on deaf ears.
The bloodcurdling shrieks continue but moving away again from where Samson is. More steadily Samson follows the novice, trying to find the route he’s taken. He uses his staff to thrash back undergrowth, all the time calling out, ‘Brother, where are you? Brother, let me know.’
There’s no answer except further cackling shrieks.
Samson continues, searching the undergrowth, the bramble mounds, pushing through the scrub under the tree canopy. He moves slowly, hampered by thorns snagging his tunic and tugging at the wool. He’s trying to free himself from a bramble patch when he faintly hears a groan up ahead. ‘Is that you brother?’ An answering groan convinces him and Samson with a final tug, frees himself to stumble forward.
He pushes aside a low growing elder bush and gasps. ‘Oh, my brother!’ Samson rushes forward. The novice monk is pinned to the forest floor. A trident sticks out of his chest and leaning over him, clothed in bright red her shaggy hair hiding her face, is a sorceress. She lets out a mocking shriek when Samson arrives, her hand still victoriously on the trident. Samson can see the monk is severely wounded and his life blood is bleeding out.
Instantly he acts. He rises up and commands the hag, ‘thou do harm no longer.’ The words are enough. The evil force gripping her leaves immediately and she slumps forward heavily to the ground, her life breath leaving.
Samson rushes to help his friend.
‘I’m here son’ he whispers gently to his dying companion. ‘I’m here. This is not unto death.’ And he starts praying earnestly. On and on he prays, hour by hour, until the breakthrough comes, and he knows the monk will now live. The bleeding has stopped, he’s fallen into a restful sleep and the wound begins to heal. Before long there is no mark of where the trident had been thrust and come morning, they are able to continue their journey with no further ill effects.