Unbeknown to Tilly, the Monsignor had ventured only into the tiny and scruffy graveyard which surrounded his emporium and as he wandered over to the gravestone in the furthest corner; it was just as he had thought!
For there at the foot of the grave was the freshly baked Cream Pumpkin Pie from the Dolce Vita Patisserie and which Ethel Pinchot had bought for the celebration of Día de los Muertos as a special gift for an old Pinchot ancestor buried in this very graveyard.
Only now there was no trace of any of the fresh cream topping!
"And", she quickly added, "How can you possibly explain that white foam that I have seen all around his mouth?"
"Hmm, white foam around the mouth you say..." replied the Monsignor before quickly adding; "Miss Simms I would ask that you kindly wait here until my return." and with that he moved quickly over to the open door and promptly vanished!
"Oh my!" sighed Tilly, "Now what do I do?"
Seeing the silver pistol on the wooden shelf above the fireplace beside a large shelf crammed with all manner of strange potions; Tilly wondered if she should just grab the thing and make a run for it; but thinking better of it; she decided to wander over and take a closer look...
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As there was something very calming about this gentleman's manner and even though he appeared to know exactly who she was; Tilly's confidence quickly returned and after a quick rummage through her basket and with the clump of Murphy's fur in her hand; she told the Monsignor how she had lately been 'extremely troubled' with the 'strange' behaviour of this small feline as he had prowled his way through the sleepy hamlet of All Hallows and of her fear that he had been transformed into some kind of shape-shifter or even worse... a werewolf!
Tilly thought that she could hear the faintest chuckle of laughter from the Monsignor as he began to rummage through the cupboards of the old dresser and having plonked a wooden box containing a jumble of papers on the floor and clearing away the parchments upon the reading stand; he carefully unfolded an old document he had removed from within this box.
"Oh my!" sighed Tilly.
For there on top of the old chest was some of Bella Pendle's 'Blood Bread', a strange confection of dough she peddled from the Dogwood & Myrtle Store but only for her most favoured customers.
"Ah, ha!" thought Tilly because now, it was all starting to make perfect sense for she had heard the rumours that the old lady was not only fond of mixing this dough with far too much brandy and also with the blood of a dead vampyre!
And even though Bella Pendle had always so knowledgeable and complimentary about the Monsignor Suárez, Tilly hadn't quite understood why the old crone had been so reluctant to help her and why she'd sent her off to ask that grumpy Claire Eno for the directions to this place.
"Oh my!" chuckled Tilly at the thought of old Bella Pendle being partial to the Monsignor; however being the kind soul that she was, Tilly would find it hard to be cross with her and she was beginning to understand the old crone's appreciation for this softly spoken gentleman with his elegant sense of style!
"I wonder where he could have gone to." sighed Tilly.
"Miss Simms would you kindly compose yourself", came the softly assured voice and as Tilly plucked up the courage to take a peek from between her trembling hands; she saw before her a gentleman of quiet elegance with the palest skin imaginable and who was now peering at her with a look of both puzzlement and concern.
"Oh my!" thought Tilly, "Who is this? Is this really him? Could this be the Monsignor?"
In her frightened state, Tilly had dropped her map that had guided her to this very place here and now moving quickly across the room, the gentleman retrieved this crumpled piece of paper from the floor and in the same quiet voice, said; "Miss Simms, welcome, I am the Monsignor Suárez and may I ask what brings you to my home at this hour and by yourself?"
"Why thank you Miss Simms' the Monsignor replied as he struggled to regain his composure, 'This is very kind of you and I hope that you will allow me to offer a gift by way of appreciation."
And with that the Monsignor carefully placed a bottle of Holy Water along with a sprig of Whitehorn and one of his business cards inside Tilly's basket.
"I give you these for protection and assistance Miss Simms and if you should ever find yourself troubled by the presence of a vampyre, my sincerest hope is that you will not hesitate to seek me out once more.
"Thank you most kindly for coming to see me today Miss Simms, it has been a pleasure and until next time, I will bid you a safe farewell..."
Oh My! Here's Some Food For Thought!
"Oh My!" screeched Tilly Simms at the top of her voice upon hearing that sudden and very LOUD creaking sound followed by that HUGE thud!
"Miss Simms, I know Murphy very well and while I do not believe that he has the characteristics of a werewolf or indeed those of any
shape-shifter; may I ask what makes you believe that this feline has become something other than he is?"
"Well..." Tilly quickly blurted out as she told the Monsignor how she had seen Murphy prowling the pathways wearing a strange silver mask and of the large clumps of grey fur that he had been leaving everywhere...
Returning to the warmth of his emporium with what remained of the Cream Pumpkin Pie; the Monsignor hoped that he could finally calm Tilly's excitable mind with reassure her that Murphy was not about to turn into a werewolf...
For as he explained to her; the 'white foam' that she had seen around Murphy's face was indeed nothing more than the fresh cream he had eaten from this very pie!
"But" stammered Tilly, "What about that strange silver mask he has been wearing and the clumps of fur that he had been leaving everywhere?"
"Miss Simms, believe me when I say that I truly appreciate the uneasiness that you have felt about Murphy as your anxiety remains perfectly sensible and even though I do not share your concerns about this feline; please allow me to offer an explanation which I hope may ease your mind.
"For is it possible Miss Simms, that this silver mask you talk of was nothing more than a playful act on Murphy's part to join in with the festivities of Día de los Muertos?
"We know that the wearing of masks is very popular during this festival and is it possible that he simply wanted to take part in the celebrations?
"And the fur that you have seen around the All Hallows Hamlet; have you considered that the feline could be simply moulting? My dear Miss Simms, the shedding of fur can be completely innocent and therefore it need not signify that unnatural forces are at work here."
"Oh my!" replied Tilly and with feelings of great relief and quite a lot of embarrassment; she impulsively removed her Cream Pumpkin Pie from inside the basket and promptly handed it over to a rather shocked Monsignor Suárez!
Even though the bottles had all been neatly arranged on the old rickety shelf, Tilly had a struggle to understand what some of the bottles actually contained as most of the labels were so old and worn.
"Wolfsbane? Salt of Angel Tears?" Tilly wondered and as she was about to take a closer look at the powder that had been sprinkled all over the bottom shelf; she noticed something very familiar!
And as Tilly now made her way to the open door to begin her journey home, she heard for the second time that LOUD sound of something creaking followed by that huge THUD!
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