DISCLAIMER: First things first, I do not own this. Joseph Delaney does.
The highest point in the County
is marked by mystery.
It is said that a man died there in a
great storm, while binding an evil
that threatened the whole world.
Then the ice came again, and when it
retreated, even the shapes of the
hills and the names of the towns
in the valleys were changed.
now, at that highest point on
the fells, no trace remains of what
was done so long ago,
but its name has endured.
They call it -
A Seventh Son
When the Spook arrived, the light was already beginning to fail. It had been a long, hard day and I was
ready for my supper.
‘You’re sure he’s a seventh son?’ he asked. He was looking down at me and shaking his head doubtfully.
‘And you were a seventh son too?’
Dad nodded again and started stamping his feet impatiently, splattering my breeches with droplets of brown
mud and manure. The rain was dripping from the peak of his cap. It had been raining for most of the month.
There were new leaves on the trees but the spring weather was a long time coming.
My dad was a farmer and his father had been a fanner too, and the first rule of farming is to keep the farm
together. You can’t just divide it up amongst your children; it would get smaller and smaller with each
generation until there was nothing left. So a father leaves his farm to his eldest son. Then he finds jobs for the
rest. If possible, he tries to find each a trade.
He needs lots of favours for that. The local blacksmith is one option, especially if the farm is big and he’s
given the blacksmith plenty of work. Then it’s odds on that the blacksmith will offer an apprenticeship, but
that’s still only one son sorted out.
I was his seventh, and by the time it came to me all the favours had been used up. Dad was so desperate that
he was trying to get the Spook to take me on as his apprentice. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time. I
should have guessed that Mam was behind it.
She was behind a lot of things. Long before I was born, it was her money that had bought our farm. How else
could a seventh son have afforded it? And Mam wasn’t County. She came from a land far across the sea.
Most people couldn’t tell, but sometimes, if you listened very carefully; there was a slight difference in the
way she pronounced certain words.
Still, don’t imagine that I was being sold into slavery or something. I was bored with farming anyway, and
what they called ‘the town’ was hardly more than a village in the back of beyond. It was certainly no place
that I wanted to spend the rest of my life. So in one way I quite liked the idea of being a spook; it was much
more interesting than milking cows and spreading manure.
It made me nervous though, because it was a scary job. I was going to learn how to protect farms and villages
from things that go bump in the night. Dealing with ghouls, boggarts and all manner of wicked beasties
would be all in a day’s work. That’s what the Spook did and I was going to be his apprentice.
‘How old is he?’ asked the Spook.
‘He’ll be thirteen come August.’
‘Bit small for his age. Can he read and write?’
‘Aye,’ Dad answered. ‘He can do both and he also knows Greek. His mam taught him and he could speak it
almost before he could walk.’
The Spook nodded and looked back across the muddy path beyond the gate towards the farmhouse, as if he
were listening for something. Then he shrugged. ‘It’s a hard enough life for a man, never mind a boy,’ he
said. ‘Think he’s up to it?’
‘He’s strong and he’ll be as big as me when he’s full grown,’ my dad said, straightening his back and drawing
himself up to his full height. That done, the top of his head was just about level with the Spook’s chin.
Suddenly the Spook smiled. It was the very last thing I’d expected. His face was big and looked as if it had