The Sorcery Club

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21. The selling of spells

The period of stage four promised to be one of such a lucrative nature, that the trio set to work to profit by it at once. They bribed medical men to procure for them the mumia of people suffering from every kind of disease; of criminal lunatics; of idiots and epileptics; they obtained, by bribery also, the blood and hair of the most abandoned men and women—rakes, thieves, murderers. They bottled and labelled, and arranged and catalogued, the mumia, in a laboratory designed for the purpose; and, when all their preparations were complete, advertised—

SPELLS FOR SALE
The Modern Sorcery Company Ltd.
offer for sale every variety of spells—love charms, sleep charms, etc.

In order to carry out the principal conditions of the compact, namely, to do harm, they made pseudo-love charms as follows:—

They procured the hair of a girl whom they knew to be an incorrigible, and, at the same time, heartless flirt; and, in the manner described (and related in the last chapter) made a magnes microcosmi of it. When ready for use, i. e. after it had been in immediate contact with the girl's flesh, so as to get it fully charged, they had portions of it set in rings, lockets and pendants. And the purchaser of any one of these trinkets had only to persuade the object of his (or her) affection to wear it, and his (or her) love would at once be reciprocated.

Had the magnes microcosmi been charged with real, deep-rooted love, the effect on the wearer would have been highly satisfactory, but charged as it was with the effervescent and fleeting fancy of a flirt, the effect on whoever wore it could not be more disastrous. The sentiments of the hopeful purchaser would be reciprocated for a time, which would probably lead to marriage—after which the affection his adored had professed would suddenly decrease, and before the honeymoon was over, would have vanished altogether.

During the week following the announcement of the sale of these spells, over a thousand were sold, the applicants being mostly shop girls, typists, clerks and servants; in the second week the sales rose to three thousand, and every succeeding week showed a still greater increase.

In charging the magnes microcosmi, the motive of the purchaser had always to be taken into account. If the love charm were wanted by a woman—a housekeeper may be, who desired some rich old man to fall in love with her, in order that she might come into his property; or by a woman—a companion probably—who, having wormed herself into the confidence of some eccentric old lady, was anxious that that lady should leave her all her money—Hamar took care that the magnes microcosmi should be charged with a lasting infatuation; and the sale of this love spell—the spell that was sought solely that the purchaser might inherit property to which he (or she) had no claim—far exceeded the sale of any other spell. Indeed, it was extraordinary how many people—people one would never have suspected—desired spells that would do other people harm.

Lady De Greene, the well-known humanitarian, who was most indefatigable in getting up petitions to the Home Secretary, whenever the perpetrator of any particularly heinous and inexcusable murder was about to be hanged, and who was universally acknowledged "incapable of harming a fly," called, surreptitiously, on Hamar.

"I understand," she said, "everything you do here is in strict confidence!"

"Certainly, madam, certainly!" Hamar said. "We make it a point of honour to divulge—nothing!"

"That being so," Lady De Greene observed, "I want you to tell me of a spell that will hasten some very obnoxious person's death."

"If you will give me a rough idea of their personal appearance," Hamar said, "I will make a wax image of them, and undertake they will trouble you no longer."

But Lady De Greene shook her head. She had no desire to commit herself.

"Can't you do it in any other way," she said, "can't you let me give them an unlucky charm—the sort of thing that might bring about a taxi disaster?"

Hamar thought for a moment and then—smiled.

"Yes!" he said, "I think I can accommodate you."

Leaving her for a few minutes, he went to the laboratory, and from a tin box marked homicidal lunatic, he took a plain, gold ring. With this he returned to Lady De Greene, murmuring on the way the prayer he had learned from the table.

"Here you are," he said handing the ring to Lady De Greene, "give it to the person you have mentioned to me—and the result you desire will speedily come to pass."

Three days later, London was immeasurably shocked. It read in the papers that the highly accomplished Lady De Greene, beloved and respected by all, for the strenuous exertions on behalf of humanitarianism, had been barbarously murdered by her husband (from whom—unknown to the public—she had been living apart for years), who had suddenly, and, for no apparent reason, become insane. Hamar, who was immensely tickled, alone knew the reason why.

This was no isolated case. Scores of Society women came to the trio with the same request. "A spell, or charm, or something, that will bring about a fatal accident—not a lingering illness"—and the person for whom the accident was desired, was usually the husband. And the trio often indulged in grim jokes.

Without a doubt, Lady Minkhurst got her heart's desire when her husband abruptly cut his throat, but alas, amongst those decimated, when the charm fell into the hands of one of the footmen, was her ladyship's lover.

Again, Mrs. Jacques, the beauty, who, at one time, wrote for half the fashion papers in England, certainly secured the demise of Colonel Dick Jacques, who tumbled downstairs and broke his neck, but as in his fall the Colonel alighted on one of the maids, who was not insured, and so seriously injured her that she was pronounced a hopeless cripple, Mrs. Jacques—with whom money was an object—had, of course, to maintain her for the rest of her life.

Likewise, Sir Charles Brimpton, in jumping out of the top window of his house, besides pulverizing himself, pulverized, too, Lady Brimpton's pet Pekingese "Waller," without whom, she declared, life wasn't worth living; and Lord Snipping, in setting fire to himself, set fire to Lady Snipping's boudoir (which he had been secretly visiting), and thereby destroyed treasures which she tearfully declared were quite priceless, and could never be replaced.

Crowds of young married women were anxious to get rid of their rich old relatives, who clung on to life with a tenacity that was "most wearying."

"Can you give me a spell that will make my grandmother go off suddenly?" a girl with beautiful, sad eyes said plaintively to Kelson. "Don't think me very wicked, but we are not at all well off—and she has lived such a long time—such a very long time."

"You don't want her to be ill first, I suppose," Kelson inquired.

"Oh, no!" the girl replied, "she lives with us and we could never endure the worry and trouble of nursing her. It must be something very sudden."

"This will do it," Kelson said, giving her a locket containing the mumia or essence of life of a mad dog; "fasten it round the old lady's neck, and you will be astonished how soon it acts."

"And what is your fee?" the girl asked, her eyes brimming over with joyous anticipation.

"For you—nothing," Kelson said gallantly. "Only tell no one. May I kiss your hand."

The firm's sale of spells for getting rid of husbands having risen one day to five hundred—and the sale of their spells for putting old people out of the way to fifteen hundred—even Hamar, who was no believer in the perfection of human nature, was astonished.

"My word!" he remarked. "Isn't this a revelation? Who would have thought how many people have murder in their hearts? At least half Society would, I believe, become homicides if only there were no chance of their being found out and punished. Anyhow, if we go on at this rate there will be no old people left."

And it did indeed seem as if such would be the case. For the moment the idea got abroad that old people could be thrust out of existence with absolute safety and ease, there was a perfect mania amongst men, women, and even children, to get rid of them, and the deaths of people over sixty recorded in the papers multiplied every day. The following is an extract from the Planet of July 28—

Bolt.—On July 27, at No. —— Elgin Avenue, S.W., Emily Jane, loved and venerated mother of Mary Bolt, M.D., in her 69th year. Drowned in her bath. And all the Angels wept!

Cushman.—On July 27, at No. —— Sheep Street, Northampton, Sarah Elizabeth, adored mother of Josiah Cushman, Plymouth Brother, in her 88th year. Run over by a taxi. Joy in Heaven!

Starling.—On July 27, at No. —— Snargate Street, Dover, Susan, highly esteemed and greatly beloved mother of Alfred Starling, Wesleyan Minister, in her 71st year. Lost in the harbour. Asleep in Jesus.

Tretickler.—On July 27, at No. —— The Terrace, St. Ives, Cornwall, Elizabeth, adored grandmother of Tobias Tretickler, Congregationalist, in her 91st year. Fell over the Malatoff. "Oh, Paradise! Oh, Paradise!"

Broot.—On July 27, at Charlton House, Queen's Gate, S.W., Jane, greatly beloved mother of John Broot, Labour M.P., in her 83rd year. Fell down the area. Peace, blessed Peace.

Gum.—On July 27, at No. —— Church Road, Upper Norwood, Sophia, widow of the late Albert Gum, L.C.C., in her 85th year. Choked whilst eating tripe. Sadly missed!

Paveman.—On July 27, at No. —— Queen's Road, Clifton, Bristol, Anne Rebecca, dearly beloved mother of Alfred Paveman, grocer, in her 74th year. Accidentally burned to death! At rest at last.

But it must not be supposed from these few notices, selected from at least a hundred, that the applicants for spells were by any means confined to the upper and middle classes. By far the greater number of spells were sold to the working people—to those of them who, prudent and respectable, counted amongst their aged relatives, at least, one or two who were insured.

Nor was the sale of spells confined to adults; for among the numbers, that flocked to consult the trio, were countless County Council children.

"Can you give me a spell to make teacher break her neck?" was the most common request, though it was frequently varied with demands such as—

"I'll trouble you for a spell to pay mother out. She won't put more than three lumps of sugar in my tea;"—or, "Mother has got very teazy lately. I want a spell to make her fall downstairs"—or, "Father only gives me twopence a week out of what I earn blacking boots; give me a spell to make him have an accident whilst he's at work." And it was not seldom that the trio were petitioned thus: "Please give us a spell to make our parents die quickly. Teacher says at school 'perfect freedom is the birthright of all Englishmen,' and we can't have perfect freedom whilst our parents are alive."[22]

The statistics of those who died from the effects of accidents for the week ending August 1, of this year, in London alone, were—over sixty years of age, five thousand; between the ages of twenty-five and sixty, six thousand; and, for the latter deaths, children alone were responsible.

The greatest number of these accidents occurred in Poplar, West Ham, Battersea, and Whitechapel; and at length the working class applicants became so numerous that the Modern Sorcery Company could not cope with them, and were forced to raise their charges.

Among other customers, as one might expect, were many militant Suffragettes; whom Hamar and Curtis palmed off on Kelson.

"Give me a spell," demanded a hatchet-faced lady, wearing a half-up-to-the-knee skirt, "one that will cause the roof of the House of Commons to fall in and smash everybody—EVERYBODY. This is no time for half-measures."

Had she been pretty, it is just possible Kelson might have assented, but he had no sympathy with the ugly—they set his teeth on edge—he loathed them.

"Certainly, madam, certainly," he said, "here is a spell that will have the effect you desire," and he handed her a ring containing a magnes microcosmi fully charged with the essence of life of an idiot. "Wear it," he said, "night and day. Never be without it."

She joyfully obeyed, and within forty-eight hours was lodged in a home for incurables.

Another woman, if possible even uglier than the last, approached him with a similar request.

"Let me have a spell at once," she said, "that will make every member of the Government be run over by taxis—and killed. They are monsters, tyrants—I abominate them. Let them be slowly—very slowly—SQUASHED to death!"

"Very well, madam," Kelson said, carefully concealing a smile, "here is what you want—wear it next your heart;" and he gave her a locket, containing a magnes microcosmi charged with the essence of life of a leper, which he had procured at considerable risk and expense.

"I consider your fee far too high," the Suffragette said. "You take advantage of me because I'm a woman."

"Very well, madam," he said, "I will make an exception in your case, and let you have it for half the sum."

With a good deal more grumbling she paid the half fee, and, fastening the locket round her neck, flounced out of the building. As Kelson gleefully anticipated, the spell acted in less than two days, and with such success, that he was more than compensated for the monetary loss.

Shortly afterwards, Kelson received a frantic visit from another Suffragette—a woman whose virulent sandy hair at once aroused his animosity.

"Quick! Quick!" she cried, bursting into the room where he was sitting. "Let me have a spell that will blow up every Cabinet Minister, and their wives and families as well."

"Such an ambitious request as that, madam," Kelson rejoined, "cannot be granted in a hurry. I must have time—to—"

"No! No! At once!" the lady cried, stamping her feet with ill-suppressed rage.

"—to consider how it can best be done," Kelson went on calmly. "I must have time to think."

The lady fumed, but Kelson remained inexorable; and directly she had gone, he made a wax image of her, and taking up a knife chopped its head off. In the evening, he learned that a lady answering to her description had been run over by a train at Chislehurst—and decapitated.

Kelson grew heartily sick of the Suffragettes. They were not only plain but abusive, and he complained bitterly to Hamar.

"Look here," he said, "it's not fair. You and Curtis see all the decent-looking women and shelve all the rest on me. I'll stand it no longer." And he spoke so determinedly, that Hamar thought it politic to humour him.

"Very well, Matt," he said, forcing a laugh. "I'll try and arrange differently in future. After to-day you shall have your share of the pretty ones—anything to keep the peace. Only—remember—no falling in love."

Footnotes:

[22] Lest the reader should query this, let him consult the police in any of our big centres, and he will learn that crime and prostitution is immensely on the increase among children. In Newcastle it is estimated that there are over two thousand girls, of under fourteen years of age, voluntarily leading immoral lives, and making big incomes.


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