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Breaking a Spell
by [?]

“Witchcraft?” said the old man, thoughtfully, as he scratched his scanty whiskers. No, I ain’t heard o’ none in these parts for a long time. There used to be a little of it about when I was a boy, and there was some talk of it arter I’d growed up, but Claybury folk never took much count of it. The last bit of it I remember was about forty years ago, and that wasn’t so much witchcraft as foolishness.

There was a man in this place then–Joe Barlcomb by name–who was a firm believer in it, and ‘e used to do all sorts of things to save hisself from it. He was a new-comer in Claybury, and there was such a lot of it about in the parts he came from that the people thought o’ nothing else hardly.

He was a man as got ‘imself very much liked at fust, especially by the old ladies, owing to his being so perlite to them, that they used to ‘old ‘im up for an example to the other men, and say wot nice, pretty ways he ‘ad. Joe Barlcomb was everything at fust, but when they got to ‘ear that his perliteness was because ‘e thought ‘arf of ’em was witches, and didn’t know which ‘arf, they altered their minds.

“Somebody’s been making a fool of you and me too,” he ses, in a angry voice. “It’s only gin, and very good gin at that. Get up and go home.”

It all came out next morning, and Joe Barlcomb was the laughing-stock of the place. Most people said that Mrs. Prince ‘ad done quite right, and they ‘oped that it ud be a lesson to him, but nobody ever talked much of witchcraft in Claybury agin. One thing was that Bill Jones wouldn’t ‘ave the word used in ‘is hearing.