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Hauntings & Other Spooky Stories

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“Now, pay attention, Bessie,” said Mrs. Hudson with a smile, “a witch’s role is not just to further her own work, but she must also be ready to lend a hand in assisting other supernatural agents in theirs.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Bessie. She gave an obedient nod, but her eyes wandered nervously to the stairs and the bells on the wall.

“Mister Holmes’s train has been delayed, and Doctor Watson is enjoying a good book. They shan’t disturb us.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I know we usually have our training sessions in the lumber room, and I confess I am much more comfortable sharing the wisdom of the ancients amongst our jars and bones. But, if you think about it, we have jars and bones here, too.”

Bessie considered the point thoughtfully, then nodded again.

“And this is one lesson that must be taught here,” continued Mrs. Hudson as she raised both hands, “in the kitchen. Now, let’s begin. Everything’s ready. First toast the bread on both sides.” She demonstrated. “Then toast the cheese on one side. Put it on the bread and brown the other side. Now, apply the mustard in an even fashion…”

“But Mrs. Hudson?”

“Yes, my dear, am I going too fast for you?”

“No, ma’am, but isn’t that Welsh rarebit?”

“What an apt thing you are! You’re going to go far in the coven, my dear Bessie, mark my words.”

“Thank you very much, ma’am, but forgive me for asking a stupid question…?”

“There are no stupid questions, my girl, except ‘What’s that burning?’ The answer is always ‘curtains.’”

“Yes, ma’am, but I was wondering what Welsh rarebit had to do with witchcraft?”

“On the surface, very little, but, curiously, human beings are extremely willing to blame any phenomena outside the norm on having eaten this dish prior to retiring for the night. It’s quite remarkable. They will happily blame any maneuvers by ghouls, ghosts, possessed furnishings, oh, the list is endless, on the consumption on a Welsh rarebit. You can invade their dreams, their homes, their gardens, their ancestors’ graves, even their very persons and terrorise them to no end, and they’ll say, ‘Oh, it was all that Welsh rarebit I had for supper.’ And so, in behooves you, my dear, to learn how to prepare this dish well and propagate its popularity among your employers. It will a great boon to you in the future and should you need to work with another agent, well, you can provide a very useful service.”

“Oh, I see!” said Bessie with a smile. “M’ gran used to make it with beer.”

“Now, that’s a very good point, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We will cover all the variations. Now, many prefer to add a bit of spice such as pepper to the final dish, and that is a perfect opportunity for you to add a pinch of whatever herb or preparation with further your own needs. So, let’s say, you want to silence a noisy violinist…”