The priest from the small chapel of St. Barnabus leaned on one of the uprights of the lychgate
and watched the solitary figure coming along the road. Father Mulligan wondered if the stranger
was one of the farm-hands that occasionally came around looking from work, but at this time of
year it was doubtful. Winter didn’t call for much field-tending.
The meandering thoroughfare known as Caulder’s Way had always been thought as a good
capture-area for the struggling religion and Father Mulligan had taken the position of running
the tiny chapel with great verve and a confidence that he could rid Bogul County of it’s pagan
The small portly man in the black cassock believed he could move the surrounding homesteaders
from their silly superstitions and enjoy the meaning of one-true God. The balding priest watching
the skinny-framed woman amble along the road also believed it would bring him a respect that he
had always yearned for.
“Fair travels,Ma’am” Father Mulligan called as the female in the shabby poncho neared the stone
wall that ringed the small graveyard. It was mid-day and the priest was just about to make himself
a lonely lunch, but now with the arrival of the small woman in the wide-rimmed hat, he pondered if
more than just a meal was available.
Peggy Powler looked up from her own pondering and viewed the fat man in the black gown, the
last Witch of Underhill processed the features of a lustful man in seconds.
“And to you too, Sir” Peggy replied with a false upbeat tone.
The grey skies still held sway overhead, but the downpour had ceased as she came to where
the priest leaned against the resting-place for coffins. Peggy had always been cautious of these
structures because some clergymen secreted crooked sixpences into the woodwork or hid a chunk
of knotted horse-hair in the sloped-roof of the entrance.
These charms were to ward off witches and any canny-woman of renown, knew this.
“My, that’s a big gun you have there…” Father Mulligan chirped “…may I ask if you’re a hunter
of sorts?” he enquired with a slight-smile. The shotgun jutted nearly a whole-foot above the old
sorceress’ wiry-shoulders and still scanning the wooden structure around the gate, Peggy nodded
“Of sorts” Peggy agreed with a murmur during her examination.
The priest offered the stranger to rest her bones in the peace of the chapel’s nave and even take
of a sparse meal in the small private chambers at the rear of the church, the overture of seemingly
kindness was given with a pleasant smile of a simple servant of God.
But Peggy Powler knew better and after nearly being raped by a bigger male in the same garb
as Father Mulligan in her earlier years, the Witch knew that the double-tongue was a familar
friend of these particular shaman.
“Aye, a chance to rest me-feet is a grand idea” she had replied easily and followed the inflated priest
into the building, the knife from Betty Boggs’ home tapped her thigh from one of the poncho’s pocket and brought an extra sense of assurance.
The memory of the encounter with Bishop Sands fluttered in the back of her mind as she stepped
into the vestibule and recollection of how Peggy had despatched the half-naked cleric with his own
chain of office -brought a brooding gaze across the face of the Witch.
“I rarely have guests at this time of the year…” Father Mulligan said over his shoulder as they
walked down the wooden-boarded aisle. “…My flock tend to stay indoors due to the season’s
weather” he snorted and casually pointed towards a small doorway in the wall of the right-hand
transept. “I eat in there” he said softly and opened the dark-oak egress.
Madam Ruth Powler’s daughter stepped inside and clutching the handle of the gully-knife under
her poncho, she waited for might happen next.