Fanshawe tried to study her words with as much introspection as possible. What does she m... "You're not saying that Let.i.tia had anything to do with the guy's death, are you? That's impossible. What? She slipped him some drug to cause heart failure?"
"What it might be that you should do is like what my father used say to us when we was girls, sir, and what he said was that the surmise, sir, might call for a bit more forceful ponderment, sir," and then she winked at him.
Fanshawe felt his face go blank when something seemed to snick in his mind. "Oh, come on, Mrs. Anstruther. She put a curse on the guy? She stuck a pin in a voodoo doll?" He laughed. "She's a palm reader, not a witch."
Mrs. Anstruther's expression turned dead-serious. "Oh, hain't she now? Are you sure of what it is you're speakin', sir?"
Fanshawe just kept looking at her.
She turned quickly, offering a lively pretense as a man, woman, and two young teenagers approached the kiosk. "Lovely talkin' to ya, sir, as always, and I hope to talk to ya again soon. Got ta tend to these tourists now-"
"Have a good day, ma'am"-again he couldn't resist. He put a $10 bill in her tip jar.
The woman brought her hand to her heart, acting overwhelmed. "Gracious me, sir! The proper words simply don't exist to express my feelin' of grat.i.tude, sir, and bless you, sir!"
Smiling, Fanshawe pointed to the jar full of bills. "Looks to me like you're doing all right today."
She hunched over to whisper, "Yes, sir, but most'a that ain't but a bunch of piddling singles, sir. Ten-spots, now, they's what we call in England rare as rocking-horse s.h.i.+t!"
Fanshawe could've gusted laughter as he left her to her business. But as he crossed the cobbled street, the levity faded. What the old woman had distinctly implied stuck to him like burrs.
Let.i.tia Rhodes? A witch?
The idea seemed absurd, but then why should he discount it so quickly when he'd already convinced himself that Wraxall's sorcery, and Evanore's witchcraft, was real?
Fanshawe felt physically aimless when he re-entered the inn, went upstairs, and showered and changed.
Physically but not mentally.
His thoughts had become something like an apparatus of many moving parts, all turning in synchronicity so to process everything Fanshawe had experienced.
A relapse into his voyeuristic obsessions hand in hand with Abbie, his only romantic interest since his marriage; the Wraxall legend; death by *barreling'; what were possibly hallucinations of a barking dog and then what he'd witnessed in the wax museum; Karswell's dead body and its coincidental condition, not to mention that he was investigating Jacob Wraxall just as Fanshawe was; the secret attic room and the discoveries of a more telling diary penned by Wraxall himself, plus multiple containers of witch-water and
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