The two Giant Redwoods in The Dingle are favourite trees for Ravens, they regard them as their own property. Bran has a perfect view; he watches the boys messing about on the bridge over the little pond, and there’s a thing he has never seen before, a group of grown men playing soldiers,
“I’ve seen it all now, Bronwen, Chertsey is full of surprises”.
The Home Guard are doing their drill, we shouldn’t laugh, but it’s very hard not to. I think they can see the funny side as well, they haven’t enough rifles and have to use broom sticks to do their drill.
The two girls must have seen us go by, and are calling us all sorts of names from the look-out, they’ll spoil our games for sure like they always do. We’ll have to think of a way to dodge them.
Nutsan, has good idea, He spends a lot of his time in the Town Hall Library, and tells us about an old map he had found.
“The library lady thought I would like this old book, before it was thrown out, and when I took it home, I found this old map inside, it’s all about St Anne’s hill”.
Before he could say anymore, his brother quickly puts his hand over Nutsans mouth. This of course made the rest of us want to know what was so secret. He said it wasn’t important, but then after lots of pushing and shoving, and the risk of him falling off the little bridge and into the black water of the pond, he let Nutsan carry on.
If Bran had proper ears, they would have pricked up at hearing this, even so he was taking it all in, this sounded very important indeed.
“The map is so old it’s almost falling apart, the writing is very faded and in Latin, or some such old language. Some of the pages of the book are badly burnt and the map is singed around the edge. When I had a better look, I worked out what it was all about and that’s when I realised that it was a sort of prayer to someone called Stangarthe. It asked for a sacrifice of something of value at a well near the top of a hill. I worked out that the place we are standing in now, was originally called Stangarthes Hill, after the infamous Saxon tribal chief. The name was later shortened to Stan’s Hill and then to St Anne’s Hill, as we know it today”.
Bran had heard enough, he gave Bronwen the wink—something a one-eyed Raven should never do. They fly back to the Conspiracy to tell them about the boy’s discovery, it causes quite a panic, everyone is flapping about not knowing what to do, a meeting is held, and a plan is hatched.
After hearing about the map, we just looked on opened mouthed, we had never heard of anything like this before. How could such a story of St Anne’s Hill, the most popular place in Chertsey, a place brimming with all sorts of fancy tales, stay hidden for so long, and right in the middle of the town.
“We knew that the only well up the top of the hill was the Nun’s Well, and we looked around for signs of a burial site of some sort. We found a deep hollow next to the well where nothing was growing, and we poked around, never really expecting to find anything, but soon we came across some large tree trunks laid down in a row as if it was bridge or the roof of something. One of the trunks was very rotten from the spring water, and it was easy to chip it away. We could hear the bits falling into water below, it sounded quite deep. The trunk was so big it is taking for ever, so we covered the hole with branches after each day to hide it from people making a wish”.
Now that we all knew about it, we were eager to have a look, but those girls were still up on the lookout. We decided to wait until they had gone home for their tea. It was getting late by the time we went up to the Nun’s Well, and a bit creepy. Like everywhere in Chertsey, this part of the woods is supposed to be haunted. Nutsun was very nervous.
“I can feel someone watching us, does anyone else feel anything”?
“Are you are trying to wind us up again with all this ghostly stuff, Nutsy”?
His laughter soon began to sound hollow; something was moving in the bushes. The branches high up in the trees started shaking. There was a low humming sound, we stopped and tried to work out where the hum was coming from, first it was in front of us and then it came from behind. It gradually became louder and then was coming from all around us like a fog of sound. A funny noise was coming from the well, a sort of croaking sound, like some sort of big bird that we had seen in Tarzan films. In the bushes and trees all around us, I could feel dozens of eyes looking at us.
Bran and Bronwen and the rest of the Ravens were guarding the Nun’s well. They watch the boys as they flee through the woods. They can’t stop laughing out loud—one Ravens laugh is bad enough—but a chorus of Ravens is the sound of the devil.