Mrs. Earnshaw’s House

“What on earth’s the matter with you, dear?” Anne turned to face the front door of Mrs. Earnshaw’s house with a jolt and breathed a sigh of relief as she realised it was Mrs. Lane from next door who had grabbed her. “Speak up, I can’t hear a thing after that awful scream you let out!” Mrs. Lane’s friendly accent soothed Anne’s nerves and gave her the strength she needed to finally speak.

“Mrs. Earnshaw came after me with a knife. Her cellar is some kind of Witch’s lair.” Anne spat out, only to find herself unable to believe her own words. What would Mrs. Lane think?

“Witch?! Oh dear, that would be a fright.” She simply exclaimed and reached out to comfort Anne. Mrs. Lane directed her attention behind Anne and spoke again. “Have you been scaring the neighbourhood children again by taking out your false teeth, Ethel?”

Anne spun around and saw Mrs. Earnshaw in the room with them, still dressed in her ceremonial robes and clasping the dagger. She cackled and waved it around as if it were a butter knife. “Stop acting like you’re Mother-flamin’ Theresa, Agnes. You know as well as I do that pantry in’t gonna fill itself up with sweets.” Anne found herself frozen to the spot again, only this time it was from sheer disbelief.

“That’s no excuse to go beckoning t’ Lords, making ‘em drag poor Anne over here like she’s your own personal shopper.” Mrs. Lane said as she bent down and picked the box of chocolate up from off the floor where, in all the excitement, Anne had dropped it. She handed it back to Anne, but Anne still couldn’t move. “You’ve frightened her half to death!”

“I figured she’d just drop the chocolate and run.” Mrs. Earnshaw replied.

“We’ve got enough’t neighbours gossiping ‘bout what goes on in this house without you makin’ things ten times worse! Now’re you gonna apologise?” Mrs. Lane demanded.

Mrs. Earnshaw pocketed the dagger and reached for Anne’s hand. Regaining her senses, Anne recoiled.

“I am sorry, love! You gotta understand, it’s m’ diabetes.” Mrs. Earnshaw’s sincerity confused Anne and she tried to understand what had happened.

“You’re saying you performed a spell to make me come over here and bring you chocolate?!”

“Well what t’ell d’you fink I was doing, getting ready to butcher you?” Mrs. Earnshaw laughed as she shook her head. Anne’s attention was drawn back to Mrs. Lane, who also let out a small laugh.

“I should defend my senile old friend here. You see, we’ve been practicing witchcraft for decades. Not got us much in the way of results, like, but when Ethel sets her mind on something she just has to have it!”

“Don’t fink you haven’t caused your fair share of mischief. They never did find your third husband.” Ethel pointed accusingly.

“Now there you go, see, it’s stuff like that that gets people talking.” Mrs. Lane explained to Anne, “He went into hiding, changed his name, nothing untoward whatsoever!”

Trying to understand, Anne redirected her attention back to Mrs. Earnshaw and spoke again. “But what about the dagger? Why did you come after me with a blade?”

“To open box wiv! Heck, you don’t half cause me some bover. Even as a young ‘n you were always whining and crying.” Mrs. Earnshaw rolled her eyes.

“So all this was for some chocolate. Excuse me for being blunt, but why couldn’t you just go to the corner shop like a normal person?” Anne said, finally getting some of her confidence back.

“Cos!” Mrs. Earnshaw barked, before looking away sheepishly. “Ain’t got no money, ‘ave I.” Anne widened her eyes in disbelief as she turned to Mrs. Lane.

“She’s absolutely terrible with ‘er pension. You won’t see me lending her owt!” Mrs. Lane handed the box of chocolate back again; only this time Anne accepted it.

“So what now? I can’t just let you have it for free. The money’s going to charity.” Anne asked as Mrs. Earnshaw pleaded.

“You know I’m good for it, Anne. You and me, we’re old friends!”

“You just said I caused you nothing but bother.”

“Flamin’ Nora, back me up, Agnes! See, this is what happens when you leave it up to me to supply treats for t’ feast.” Ethel pouted and Agnes nodded her head in realisation.

“Oh, see now, I forget it was tonight. Lucifer will be catty if he doesn’t get his offering.” The seriousness of Mrs. Lane’s tone alarmed Anne.

“What do you mean?” Anne asked.

“Well, every week or so we have a special night to come together, and see he sort of needs an offering to be persuaded to join us.” Mrs. Lane clasped her hands as Mrs. Earnshaw sighed.

“I wouldn’t waste your breath. He doesn’t trust me, he won’t let us summon ‘im here!”

“But don’t you see, Ethel, this must be why the spell brought Anne here!”

Mrs. Earnshaw’s face unnerved Anne as she smiled, exposing those teeth again. “That’s right! You can present the offering to ‘him!”

“To who?” Anne asked as Mrs. Lane stood by Mrs. Earnshaw.

“LUCIFER!” They both cried in unison, hands stretched down to the ground, as if beckoning to the underworld. Upon seeing this, Anne screamed in terror and flung her arms into the air as she fled Mrs. Earnshaw’s house. Agnes looked at Ethel with concern, but Ethel simply cackled and reached for her dagger, plunging it into the box of chocolate Anne had dropped.

“Lucifer!” Agnes called again, with arms out stretched. Trotting inside, Lucifer leapt into Agnes’ arms and purred. Ethel offered the now open box of chocolates to her neighbour. Agnes picked one out and fed it to Lucifer.

“You know, you really shouldn’t give chocolate to your cat.” Ethel said as she popped one in her own mouth.

“Oh hush, Ethel!” Agnes said as she stroked Lucifer’s black fur. “He’s my blood sacrifice, I’ll feed him whatever I like!”