Since everyone was required to take the new class, which was taught by Ms. Circe Centaur, it had been split into several classes. The content each week was the same in all of them.

But this only added to the puzzle. Why was every student in the school—including the juniors and seniors—required to take this special, new course, and why was a new teacher put in charge of it?

“All we know is that she moved here from Salem,” Peter said. Salem was the nearest large city.

It turned out that Peter and Skip had been assigned to Centaur’s Monday class while Larry attended it on Tuesday. So Peter and Skip were always a day ahead of Larry in learning what was being taught that week.

As Peter and Skip entered Larry’s room, they saw a squirrel jump out the window. But they were getting used to this.

“Well, the first class has met; and all the teacher told us was a review of ancient legends and folklore,” said Peter, puzzled. “This doesn’t sound like nature walks.”

“Some students seem to like it,” noted Skip. “But it’s all sorta, well, uh,—wayout. But there will be some who like that kinda thing.”

“Well, at least there’s no homework yet. That’s helpful,” added Peter. “We sure have enough to do on literature, math, and science assignments.”

“Perhaps they brought in a new teacher because none of the current faculty were qualified to teach whatever this new subject is,” suggested Larry.

“Could be right,” said Skip thoughtfully.

“Another odd thing about this,” Peter said, “is that the teacher says she wants to present class lectures for a number of the initial classes, without being interrupted by questions. So, for awhile, it’s just learn and take notes.”

“That’s strange,” Larry said, “Does she want to put things in our minds, without our asking any questions about it?”

This was getting more puzzling all the time. The three met outside the library. In this morning’s class, Ms. Centaur had told the students they should be closer to nature; and a good way to do this was to be more like the animals of the woods.

“Ms. Centaur said today we need to practice the ‘nature activities’ of the ancients in order to feel better and do better,” said Skip.

“The ancients!” exclaimed Larry. “What kind of ancients?” he asked.

“She didn’t say,” replied Skip.

“She also said that the students at the school were very bright, and this class would deepen their wisdom,” added Peter. “She always seems concerned that we read those children’s stories about magical lands which are unreal; you know, Wizard of Oz and the more recent fantasy books sold in Christian bookstores. She especially recommended the Harry Potter books. She said they would really help us.”

“Something is building up here,” said Larry. “We need to be careful.”

Seeing Larry walking on campus, Peter and Skip ran across the lawn and stopped him. “This time Ms. Centaur is saying that fairy tales open the imagination, so we can enjoy new worlds; whatever that means.”

“Yes, what does that mean?” responded Larry.

“Some of the kids say this class looks like it’ll be real nice, with little homework,” said Skip. “They think they’re going to enjoy it.”

“Actually, it doesn’t seem like this will be a very difficult class,” added Peter. “The teacher said the best preparation we can make is to borrow from a large collection of fairy story books and children’s books about witches and dragons. She said they will open the doorway for the deeper truths she will give us soon.”

“How can fairy stories help teenagers prepare for the responsibilities of adult life?” queried Larry.

In the cafeteria and in the dorms, the new course was becoming a hot topic of conversation. Some thought it was great; others shrugged and didn’t much care as long as it didn’t involve homework. Many thought it a big joke. But a small, but growing number were becoming concerned.

Out the window flew two black-capped chickadees, as Peter burst into the room, “What is this all about!”

“That teacher is saying the students are going to learn how to cast spells. She says it will really help us.”

Skip added, “She said this will erase our gloomy moments.”

Both boys looked at Larry, who said nothing for a time. So the two boys sat down and the three just looked at each other for a moment. Then Larry said slowly, “I think this may be spiritualism.”

“What’s that?” asked Skip.

“Never heard of it before,” added Peter.

“Spiritualism is the worship of Satan.” Silence for several minutes as those words sank into Peter and Skip.

“Do you really—?” began Peter.

“Yes, I’m afraid so.” Another pause and then Larry added, “I’ve got to study into this.”

Reaching for his well-worn Bible and pulling his large concordance off the shelf, he set to work as the other two went next door.

Since no roommate had been assigned to Skip, he and Peter went over to his room to study together, so Larry could have it quiet while he began researching into this in the Bible.


As they opened the door, they knew they really had news for Larry. Trying to ignore a cautious squirrel who munched on a seed while watching to see if they got too close, Skip spoke in a tone indicating a solemn announcement was about to be made. “The lesson today was the importance of repeating a word over and over again. We were told it will help expand our minds and prepare us to receive new light.”

Larry slumped back in his chair. “I heard somewhere that repeating a single word or saying a nonsensical sentence repeatedly is a way to be hypnotized,” he said thoughtfully.

Hearing what Larry had just said, Peter decided he needed to sit down too. “Well, I’ll have to say,” he said, it doesn’t really sound good.”

That afternoon, Larry headed to the library and checked the inter-library loan data on the library computer. Then he ordered several historical and technical books.

For the first time, he met Miss Stevenson, the librarian. Although quiet as most librarians are, she seemed to be a very capable person.

By the end of the next class session, the objective was becoming more apparent.

Anxious to learn the latest, Larry stopped them outside Chaffee Hall. They had just emerged from Ms. Centaur’s class.

“In this class session, something slipped out,” said Skip. “Ms. Centaur said that ‘Wicca’ means the study of nature and how the things of nature can help us. What did she mean by that? What’s Wicca?”

Both boys were stunned when Larry said, “Wicca is witchcraft. That’s the modern name for it. I know that much, but I don’t know a lot more yet.”

“You mean we’ve got witchcraft on our hands?” Peter said in a shocked tone.

“She said it. So it must be part of what she has in mind,” replied Larry.

“Has in mind for us?” wondered Peter.

Slowly, the three walked back to the dorm, each lost in his own thoughts. Then they entered their corner room and sat down.

“This sounds like trouble,” said Larry darkly. “Friends, we need to pray. Would you pray with me?”

When they arose, Larry sat down and he looked a little white under the gills.

“Don’t you feel good, Larry?” asked Skip.

“An idea just flashed into my thinking. Could it be that Circe Centaur is a witch?”

“Witch!” the two boys said almost together.

“What do we know about her?” asked Larry.

“Well, about all is that she is a new teacher and that she moved here from Salem, Massachusetts.”

“I’ve begun reading into this subject. Do you know what is in Salem?”

“No,” both boys chimed.

“It’s a nice little city; but it has, for its size, the largest collection of professional witches in America.”

Larry went to the library and ordered more books by inter-library loan.


Several days had passed, and there was a growing pile of books stacked in an apple box beside Larry’s desk.

The more he studied, the more concerned he became. In the cafeteria, some other students had told them they were worried about the class too.

But what could be done? Larry knew where to find the answers.

Kneeling down alone in the room, he pleaded for help. “Please, Father in heaven, please give me guidance. What should I do? If this is wrong, how can I go about stopping it?”

Larry well-knew the power of prayer. He had learned, from the experience of years, that staying close to God and, by faith in Christ, living by the Bible, frequent prayer would bring the help and guidance he needed.

Rising to his feet, it was clear needed to be done next. Walking next door to where Skip and Peter were studying, he popped his head in the door, “Hey, anyone want to go with me to see Dr. Vandersleeve?”

“The president of the school!” exclaimed Peter.

“What do you want to see him for?” asked Skip.

“This thing seems to be developing into a real problem. His office is the first place we should go,” responded Larry. “I really can’t say more. All I know is that I should go.”

Dr. Vandersleeve’s private secretary looked up as the three boys entered the outer office. “Well, boys, what can I do for you?”

“We need to see Dr. Vandersleeve.”

“He’s on the phone just now. Do you care to wait a few minutes or would you rather return later.”

“We’ll wait. Thank you so much,” replied Larry.

Sitting down, all three silently prayed for success. Living with Larry was changing both of them. They were learning the value of prayer.

“All right, Dr. Vandersleeve will see you now.”

Glancing up from the papers on his desk, the distinguished-appearing man looked at Larry. “Gentlemen, what may I do for you today?”

“What do I say now?” Larry thought to himself. But, remembering how Nehemiah darted a prayer to heaven before addressing the emperor of Persia [Nehemiah 2:4], with but a moment’s hesitation, he was ready to speak to the most important person on campus.

“Dr. Vandersleeve, a number of the students have expressed their concerns about the new courses which are being held. I thought it well to speak to you about the matter. Surely, we do not want to do anything to injure the reputation of the school or its administration.”

The president was expecting a comment like this, but the last sentence caught him off guard. It hit him in a soft spot.

“Well, uh . . how concerned are they?”

“They are concerned. Some feel it is very serious. Some students are becoming a little agitated.

“I thank you for stopping by. I,—, uh, I can’t do anything about, uh, I mean I will check into the matter. Thank you.”

At this, the president arose from his chair, signaling that it was time for the boys to leave.

“The president is usually so self-possessed in his talks to the assembly, when all the students are gathered. But he sure wasn’t when you spoke with him,” said Peter, wonderingly, as they left the administration building.

“I don’t know what to make of it,” muttered Skip.

“He seems afraid of something,” Larry said.

Silence for a moment as they thought back over that conversation; then Larry spoke, “Yes, he seems afraid to do anything about the situation.”

“What are you going to do next, Larry?” asked Peter.

“It seems I’m not going to be ready for action until I have a clearer understanding of the problem. In a few days I may be ready.”

“Ready for what?” asked Skip.

“I don’t know. God will guide.”

“Living with you, I’m learning that more and more,” said Peter thoughtfully.


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