"Abbie!" Baxter barked, "if you don't stop talkin' all of that bucket-of-blood claptrap, I'm gonna-"
"But it wasn't the things Wraxall bought on his trip that were so important," she talked right over her father's objections, "it was specifically the people he went to talk to."
"So you've said," Fanshawe pointed out. "He went to see other warlocks."
"Yes, a number of them, but there was one-above all the others..."
Fanshawe waited, tapping his fingers on the bar and knowing she enjoyed stringing him along like this. "And?"
"This guy was the Mount Everest of warlocks," she said in a hushed tone. "His name was Wilson-I forgot his first name, but it was something unusual. There've been whole books about him. He was regarded as the most powerful sorcerer in England; he even turned lead into gold, and became very rich."
"The only thing he turned lead into," Baxter piped up, "was baloney."
"Wraxall bought the Gazing Ball from him, but when he got it back to Haver-Towne, he told the residents it was like a wis.h.i.+ng well. That's the baloney, if you ask me. Why would someone like Wraxall, at the least a devotee of the occult, go all the way to Europe to consult with other occultists, then, on his last stop, visit someone as notorious as this man Wilson, just to buy some weird variation of a wis.h.i.+ng well?"
"That explanation does sound fishy," Fanshawe agreed but still he was nagged by the sudden distraction of Abbie's beauty. I went all through dinner without l.u.s.ting after her, but now it's bowling me over. The calamities of last night and this morning, then the wax museum and his fears of becoming hallucinatory, and now this revelation about the looking-gla.s.s supposedly being possessed of supernatural characteristics? Everything mashed into his head like a logjam, and leading the jam, all of a sudden, was his steaming attraction to Abbie.
I need to think straight...
"There was another rumor that supposedly goes back hundreds of years," she added, "that the Gazing Ball, instead of being a map of earth, was a map of h.e.l.l-"
"Know what I think, missy?" Baxter chided. "I think it's a map of your backside, showin' my foot kickin' it!"
Abbie just chuckled and shook her head.
"I couldn't see that it was a map of anything," Fanshawe offered. "There were some markings on the pedestal but as for the metal globe itself-"
"Right. It's so tarnished you can't make out anything."
Fanshawe's observations began to settle down. "It's just another thing about Wraxall that's curious."
"Yeah," Abbie said. "Intercontinental travel was no easy feat back then. It was dangerous. One out of every twenty s.h.i.+ps either sunk due to poor maintenance or went down in storms. It would have to be important for Wraxall to make a trip like that."
Baxter was beginning to en
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