The Doctor listened to the strange tale Newt told of the mysterious fortune teller in the woods with an amused frame of mind, though he kept his face serious, because he knew that she took this fortune telling thing very seriously. Well, she would, being only thirteen, and a very young thirteen, at that; besides, she still regarded the teleportation of herself and her friends halfway across the universe as magic.
The Doctor knew very well that what seemed to be magic to one society and civilization would be termed science by another, and that there was almost always a reasonable explanation for anything that at first appeared to be magic, but he also had been around the galaxies enough times to recognize that it was much easier to deal with any given person within the bounds of their tribal superstitions and beliefs, because very few individuals were able to shake those off and live in a wider world.
Therefore, he hadn’t contradicted the children the night before as they had spoken of the magic spell that had sent them to Purvis Major, nor would he contradict Newt now as she spoke of the fortune teller. True soothsayers were very rare, and never human, but many of them might be able to appear to be human, if the need arose. He also didn’t know if the fortune teller was one of the natives of Purvis Major, or whether this so called Madame Du Pompadour was, like himself, a visitor to this place.
He also had no sure indication of what species the Old Mrs. M was, or what motivation she actually had possessed for sending the children off to the far end of the universe all on their own, but that was another matter entirely and he would look into that later, after he took them home.
Children this young shouldn’t be racketing about the universe all on their own, and he felt the responsibility to return them to their homes in safety, and to stand as their guardian until that task was accomplished.
In the meantime, Newt was offering him the contents of her notepad, and he took it carefully, keeping in mind the trust she was offering him along with the notepad and its contents.
He quickly read through the so-called prophecy, expecting it to be made up of so many generalities that it could be interpreted in any way that the events actually fell.
The papers on the note pad read, “The familiar spirit that has chosen to live within my crystal ball, which is that being who delivers to me proclamations regarding the future, instructs me to say to you that you must do nothing. All will be revealed unto you when the time is right. Midnight is the witching hour, and the hour when the greatest power comes to those who have power. The spell that has been cast around you as a net will lift at midnight, and you will find that all in your life will be as it should, but beware, for time does not run at the same speed when in different dimensions, and therefore you must be careful, for any injury that you take while in this continuum will travel with you into the next, even unto death. Beware of pirates who make false promises, and always trust your physician, after all, an apple a day gets the doctor away!”
“Hmmm…” the Doctor said, “this will take some time to talk about. Why don’t we find a nice place to sit down and discuss it?”
He led the way into the forest, and the three children followed in his wake.
As he walked, he formed a picture in his mind of a snug cottage, complete with a nice little garden and ivy twined well, where there would be a table full of refreshments where they could sit and talk in privacy. Well, he amended, as much privacy as you could have on a planet that was populated by telepathic trees who could create any environment you wished to have created for you.
The Doctor knew that the cottage was prepared when he saw the inviting little path just ahead of them, and he veered onto it, leading the children to the cottage, which was exactly how it had been imagined in the Doctor’s mind. He sent his thoughts out again, thanking the tree beings for their hospitality, and felt a comforting assurance that he would always be welcome in their realm because of his kindness to one of their own number many, many years ago, when he had befriended Jade, the lovely tree woman from the Forest of Cheem.
With a pang, the Doctor recalled how she had willingly given her life to save all of the people who had been gathered on Platform One. He shook the memory free, and continued down the path to the cottage, certain that the pirate ladies wouldn’t be able to find them here, even if they thought to look.
The tree people of Purvis Major assured him that no one would ever be able to find the Doctor against his will, on any planet where their people lived.
When they reached the clearing with the cottage, the children stopped short, wary of entering yet another enchanted clearing. The Doctor opened the small white picket gate, and gestured them forward.
“It’s all right,” he promised them with a smile, “we’re all safe here. We’re not trespassing here. The house belongs to some friends of mine, and they have given me permission to use it. I thought it would be a good place to speak in private, and to discuss your prophecy, Newt.”
Newt nodded, and proceeded into the small yard, the boys following nervously in her wake.
The Doctor drew a bucket of water from the well, and then carried the bucket into the house with him as he opened the front door and walked in, acting for all the world as though he owned the house. He knew his confident attitude would spread to the children, and they would be comforted by it.
Quickly glancing around the single room of the cottage, the Doctor carefully set the mossy bucket on the table, and then stepped over to the shelf near the beautifully and intricately carved mantle piece and retrieved four beautiful, leather bound wooden mugs. He peeked inside of them, and as he expected, found no dust or other contaminants. The Doctor set the mugs on the table and retrieved a dipper from its peg on the wall, and dipped out some of the cool, sweet, well water into the mugs.
By this time, the children had all seated themselves around the table, and the Doctor set the dipper in the mossy bucket from the well, and set the entire bucket within reach on the sparkling clean hearth stones.
“Now,” he said, pulling the list from his coat pocket where he had carefully tucked it, “shall we see if we can get to the bottom of this fortune you’ve been given?”
He laid the note book on the table in front of them, and said, “These things are usually better understood if you take them apart and look at each section individually. Newt, how about if you read the entire thing to us, and then we can go over it a section at a time, to see what knowledge we’ve that will shed any light on what this fortune teller - Madame Du Pompadour, I think you said her name was?” he paused while Newt nodded at him, “has told you. Do recall, please, that a fortune teller usually tries to state things in a hazy and hard to understand manner, because they really don’t have any idea what’s going to happen in the future. Most events are constantly in flux, meaning that they’re easily changed, and only a true telepath would have the ability to make an accurate prediction. And true telepaths are very rare, and not often human in shape,” he added offhandedly, “so we might also want to consider the notion that she, or it, or whoever it was that you met, is a fraud, and none of this might be a true telling.”
The children nodded, and Newt took the note pad from the table in front of the Doctor, and began to read in her clear and youthful voice.