“Who’s Mr. Crabb, anyway,” a plump, middle aged woman whispered to her female companion.
“Nobody knows,” said her elderly companion. “They said he came from the East. Had no family of his own. No one ever visited him an’ he never left the town to visit anyone. Mr. Alfred said he never even received letters.” Mr. Alfred was the postmaster of Asbjorn. He operated the only post office in town. He was a friendly man. He had at one time five sons. His eldest had died during the war; another had been lost at sea, while a third to an unknown illness, and the fourth had gone hunting and never returned. His last son, he sent to live with some relatives after his wife died. He believed there was a curse put on his family by someone and didn’t want him to have the same fate as his brothers, though at least that was the assumption of Alden.
“Did anyone converse with Mr. Crabb?” the woman continued their discussion.
“Oi believe he said very little,” said the elderly one. “He kept te himself most of te time. He might have spoken with Mr. Banny a few times an’ other people, here an’ there. Exchanging pleasantries, Oi imagine.” Walter wondered what they spoke about. He needed to remind himself to ask Uncle Obel when he got the chance to.
“Oi don’t even recall te last schoolmaster before Mr. Crabb.”
“Oit wuz some young female,” said her friend. “She taught fer couple of months before she got ill an’ passed away. The Mayor wuz in no hurry te replace her. They say, there is a misfortune upon those who teach here. Someone is either being cursed or damned in this town.” Her plump companion agreed.
“Maybe so, but don’t ye think Mr. Crabb caused his demise? Maybe he angered a traveler. Oi heard he wuz short with people. He probably got curt with a stranger an’ abducted him. The stranger might have dealt with magic who shouldn’t have been crossed. We do git a lot of strangers ‘round here. Children use te say he wuz mean to ‘em.”
“Maybe,” the elderly woman thought for a moment. “That could be a possibility. Besides, children exaggerate. Discipline is necessary, any slight of permissiveness an’ they get out of control.” Both ladies turn to look disapprovingly at Walter who was half listening and half mopping the floors. He started mopping faster and went about his duty in a more serious way, but it was hard not to listen as they continued their conversation. “As Oi wuz sayin,” the elderly lady said. “Children exaggerate at times. However, we are surrounded by strange magic, there is no doubt ‘bout that. Especially, ‘round this time… the witchin hours are upon us.”
“Indeed, they are,” agreed the plump woman. “The Night of the Withes.” The elderly lady hushed her. “I wouldn’t be sayin that out loud. People are superstitious here, one word if this hocus pocus and it’s like a blaze, never to be put out.”