Spells Trouble (Sisters of Salem #1) by P. C. Cast

Sarah pressed her finger to her lips and Dorothy nodded, her eyes bright with intelligence. The child didn’t move. She didn’t speak. She also didn’t go back to sleep.


“God’s teeth!” Constable Grant, the junior guard, who went from room to room throughout the night to watch over the condemned, stood at his great oak desk. He set his cheap cigar on the fireplace ledge and closed his Bible abruptly, holding it in his bony hands as he stared at the door.


The constable jammed the cigar between his teeth and strode to the entrance of the courthouse’s jail, which held three small cells along the rear wall, though only one was occupied. “Begone, foul beast of Satan!” he said around the cigar as he threw open the door and waved the Bible into the night.

The huge cat slipped lithely around him, ear tufts bobbing as the feline padded directly to the cell that held Sarah and her daughter. Constable Grant slammed the door and turned, only then seeing that the cat had snuck inside. He spat out the cigar, dropped the Bible, and stared incredulously as the large black-and-tan-striped feline rubbed itself languidly along the bars of the cell and purred riotously.

Sarah squeezed her daughter’s shoulder. It was time.

Immediately Dorothy sat, holding her arms out and saying, “Mommy! Odysseus! ’Tis Odysseus!” Then, just as they’d practiced earlier, the child trotted to the edge of their cell where she sat and reached through the bars with both hands to caress the cat who was so unusually large he dwarfed—and intimidated—many of the village dogs.

“Get the child back! Back, I say Mistress Goode! I shall not abide Satan’s beast!” Constable Grant grabbed an iron fireplace poker and held it menacingly aloft as he threatened the purring cat and grinning child.

Sarah squeaked a sound of motherly distress through the ball of masticated rosemary she held in her mouth and rushed to her child—and as the constable loomed over the massive cat, Odysseus met Sarah’s gaze. She nodded. The feline familiar drew a deep breath and then squeezed between two bars until, like a cork freed from underwater, he popped into their cell to curl up contentedly in Dorothy’s lap.

Constable Grant banged the poker against the bars, red-faced and repeating, “I shall not abide Satan’s beast!”

At the same moment Sarah reached the bars. She looked up at the florid young man who was only a handspan away from her and then spat the mouthful of rosemary—filled with intention and saliva—directly into his face.

He dropped the poker. It clanged against the stone floor as he made odd squeaking noises while wiping frantically at the green goo that bespeckled his face and filled his watering eyes.

Sarah lifted her hands and grounded herself. With all of her being she reached down, down, down through the stone floor to the fertile earth below and drew to her the power that rested there as surely as the moon drew the tide. She felt the heat of the earth warm her skin and raise the small hairs on her arms and then Sarah Goode spoke urgently, her voice filled with the confidence and authority that had so intimidated the men of Salem that they had felt the need to hang her.

Rosemary muddled through the mid of night,

Shall now make thee fumble—make thee lose sight.

Grant gasped as she began the spell. His face blanched to milk while he staggered and wiped frantically at his eyes. Blindly, he stumbled back. His gait was awkward—as if he could not quite make himself awaken from a nightmare. He dropped heavily to his knees while he continued to wipe at his face.

Heavy are thy thoughts

Upon waking you shall remember naught.

“Satan’s whore!” he slurred, and lurched to his feet.

Undaunted, Sarah continued her spell.

Deep shall be thy sleep

But first thrice I say to thee—drop the key, drop the key, drop the key!

“I shall not succumb to you!” Constable Grant reached blindly into his pocket for the iron key ring as he stumbled backward, toward the door. “Witch! You shall never get—” His words broke off as his feet tripped over the Bible he’d dropped. He fell, arms windmilling. Grant’s head hit the corner of his desk and he collapsed unmoving to the floor. The constable’s hand opened and with a musical jingle the keys dropped against the stone.

“Hurry, Odysseus!” Sarah spoke to the feline, who bounded off Dorothy’s lap, drew in another deep breath, and squeezed back through the narrow bars. He padded to the ring of keys and picked them up with his mouth, carrying them to the jail cell.