“Oh dear Bunty!” said Lola, blanching as she saw the word written on the card. “I’m not sure that I want to read this word-you remember what happened at the summer vac. when she tried to kill Miss Honeycake and set fire to Schlepping Towers?”
“Yes..” said Bunty tentatively, as it was years ago and she didn’t remember the exact details as there were so many attempted murders, spies, fallen governments, drug trafficking nuns, Nazis, explosions and badgers to consider.
Lola attempted to mime, pulling some very strange faces and appearing to be mimicking holding reins and riding a horse.
“Giddy up?” Bunty guessed wildly.
“No!” hissed Lola, “The horse, auntie thingy, uncle you know!”
“Is it a play?” asked Bunty excitedly, “I love plays, especially if they are about vicars and French windows and daggers and such!”
“No it isn’t a play! This isn’t charades! You rode her!” exploded Lola.
“Yes, I remember now.” said Miss Damson quietly “The flames were ever so hot, then they took me away for ever so long. My head hurts.”
“Now look what you’ve done!” spat Lola.
Bunty was about to protest, but she was interrupted by terrible howl coming from the moor, which startled Mr Dorking who had been quite happy until then chewing Lola’s muff on the shag pile. He emitted a low growl.
“It’s the beast, it’s the beast.” chanted Mr Damson in a revery, “It’s come back through the dark after many many years alone, waiting for this night.”
“Lola, stop her, she’s frightening me!” pleaded Bunty.
“And me!” protested Lola, “Not to mention that thing outside-what on earth could it be? Get the guns Bunty!”
“Yes, but maybe now would be a good time for the code word?” asked Bunty.
Just then the lights flickered and went out; the howls intensified outside as the temperature in the room dropped.
“Damn, where is my bloody lighter?” cried Lola, as she fumbled in the dark. She succeeded in finding it, burning her fingers and dropping it onto her muff which went up in flames.
The girls stamped the fire out eventually but not before they had managed to light some candles.
Mrs Damson sat rigid in the corner of the room throughout the incident.
“Right,” said Bunty, “you can come with me to the gun cabinet I’m not going anywhere in this house alone-but what about Mrs Damson?”
“I’m not staying by myself with that mad old thing!” said Lola, “She is homicidal after all.”
“But will she be safe?” asked a concerned Bunty.
“There’s one way to guarantee it,” said Lola, chasing Mr Dorking out of the room and ushering Bunty into the corridor. She stood outside the door with her hand firmly on the knob, and shouted into the room at Mrs Damson,
“Shiksa!” locking it behind them. “Run as if the Devil were after you!” she cried, as they ran with their dripping candles to the gun cabinet in the Whip Crack Away! room.
Outside the howling continued, coming nearer to the house across the moor.