Dread comes with darkness. Bar your doors and windows, and keep out the evil spirits. That’s what people say. I hide under my blankets, but Mama says they won’t keep me safe. I’m not even safe in her arms. That’s why the mare took baby Bert when he was sleeping, and the blacksmith’s wife. You never know when she might come, but Mama says no night is safe.
The Mooney woman taught him how to do it. She was forbidden to be on the premises, but she called Alfie over one day when he was playing near the fence that bordered the lane. The call was a high fluttering whistle, dancing like a mountain stream. He had been building a den from old branches and bracken when he heard, and though he knew from whence came the sound, he was drawn there as though to a trove of sweets.