Ladd and Uwin had finished their dinner and Uwin was telling Ladd more about the cunning folk in England as compared to witches. They suddenly heard a commotion on the street outside the shop and a lot of yelling. Both jumped up and headed through the shop for the outside door. When they stepped outside, they realized the air was filled with smoke. Looking down the street, they saw a fume of smoke that was lit by fire within it. Uwin realized that some of the shops along the street were on fire. The shops were all made of wood and were very close together If one shop caught on fire, that fire could wipe out an entire street.
Uwin leaped into action. He went into the shop and got two buckets for he and Ladd so they can help dip water to put out the fire. Then, they start running to the scene of the fire. Two shops were already engulfed in flames. The men had a line set up from the shops to the river behind them, but it seemed they were fighting a losing battle. The fire was moving faster than they could carry water to put it out.
Uwin said, “Ladd, this is a serious situation. We need to help. I don’t know if your powers are strong enough yet to help with this fire, but we have to try. It will be very taxing on you. I’ll help too.”
“I’ll do my best, Uwin.”
The two men stood in the background. Uwin knew that Ladd’s powers were stronger than his own, so he watched Ladd go first. He saw Ladd go very still and watched his eyes flash as he concentrated on that fire. It seemed as the boy held that position for a long time. The fire started to abate. The water the men were putting on it started to work.
Uwin touched Ladd’s arm and said, “Enough.”
Ladd broke the spell and fell to the ground overcome with fatigue.
Uwin kneeled beside him and started talking to him.
“Ladd, son, are you alright?”
Ladd awakened, but he was groggy.
He said, “Uwin, I need to go to sleep.”
Uwin helped Ladd up and slowly helped him back to their shop. Ladd fell on his bed and was asleep instantly. Cat was running around them in circles and immediately jumped up on Ladd’s cot. He spent all night guarding him.
“Ladd, I have seen with my own eyes that you have natural powers. In order to do a proper job training you, I need to know how strong your powers are. So, we will begin testing them.”
Ladd nodded his head.
“I’ll give you your assignment in the morning. Now get some rest.”
Ladd said that he would. He went to his cot, with Cat, and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.
The next morning in the shop was an uneventful one. Uwin gave Ladd an assignment. He explained to Ladd that wizards did not typically practice black magic now. Black magic was the practice of doing harm or evil. Instead, they practiced white magic, the practice of doing good. He told Ladd that his first assignment as a wizard was to identify someone who came into the shop and do something good for them, but not to let them know it was he who did it. Uwin told Ladd to try to use his powers as a wizard to accomplish his assignment if he could, but to be careful since he was not fully in control of them yet.
Ladd had no idea how to do what Uwin wanted him to do. He wasn’t even sure what it was that Uwin wanted him to do, but the older man told Ladd he would know it when he saw it.
Before lunch, an older lady came into the shop. Ladd noticed her because she was walking round and round and she was not filling up her grocery tote very fast. She seemed to pick and choose very carefully. When she came to pay for her groceries, she nervously put her things onto the counter. She asked Uwin if he sold day-old bread cheaper than fresh bread. He said that he did and left to get her a loaf. Ladd realized she was short of money for the groceries she needed as she fumbled in her purse.
Ladd felt himself get cold and chill and he got that frozen feeling. He wasn’t quite sure what to do, so he looked at the lady’s purse and concentrated really hard. He wanted her to have more money so she would have enough to eat. He could only hold his concentration a few moments. He didn’t know if it worked or not until the lady pulled out her money to pay Uwin.
She said, “Sir, I don’t understand. I have more than enough money for fresh bread and the other things I needed. I didn’t have this much money when I came into the store.”
She looked very nervous and flustered.
“Ma’am, you must have miscounted,” Uwin said gently.
“Oh no, I don’t think so.”
Ladd stood there smiling. She looked at him oddly.
Ladd said, “Ma’am, why don’t you just continue to shop and pick up all that you need?”
“Yes, I think I will do that, but so much money. I just don’t understand,” she mumbled as she went to pick out the rest of her groceries.
Uwin looked at Ladd, who was all smiles.
“Ladd, did you help that lady out?”
“I hope I did all right, Uwin.”
Uwin smiled and said, “Yes, she obviously didn’t have enough to buy what she needed. That was very kind and you controlled your powers very well. I’m proud of you.”
The woman came back with a full order of groceries and paid her bill. Ladd went on about his work in the store. After he and Uwin had a quick lunch, the same woman walked in the shop again, carrying something in her hands.
She brought it to Ladd and sat it on the counter in front of him. It was a beautifully prepared plate of food.
“Son,” she said, “The work of the cunning folk is going on here and I want to thank you.”
Before Ladd or Uwin could say anything, she turned around and walked out of the shop.
Ladd said, “Uwin, what was she talking about? What are the cunning folk?”
Uwin explained to Ladd that the woman had brought him the plate of food as an offering because she saw that he had helped her. Then, he explained the cunning folk to Ladd.
“Ladd, sometimes wizards and witches who do good instead of evil are called cunning folk. It’s just a label that distinguishes good wizards that practice white magic from bad wizards that practice black magic. Everyone knows that magic is still practice and most people even depend on it. But, they want to think it is practiced by cunning folk and not witches and wizards. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I do, Uwin,” Ladd said. “What about my grandmother? Was she a member of the cunning folk or was she a witch?”
“Ladd, I’m not sure the cunning folk label existed when your Grandmother Eleanor was alive.”