The evening sky was low and the clouds were smoky, full and heavy with snow. Occasionally the wind would blow the snow across the windows, sprinkling the corners of the sills with sugar-like piles. It drifted about the boughs of the hemlocks near the ground, melting their shapes into the landscape. It was cold and would grow colder.
The evening meal was being prepared. A pot of Bean soup bubbled on the stove. Grace grated potatoes for the pancakes, grated onions and chopped parsley. She turned and stood in front of the cupboard that was filled with jars of lovely things, veggies and fruits canned from the effort of a well tended garden. The smell of a Salmon fillet broiling in the oven drifted into the living room where Prunella sat and stared at the embers of a dying fire. Her mood had not improved and she occasionally snifted as if to punctuate an especially distasteful thought.
Murray snoozed on the floor near Grace's feet. Ernie stood on the counter, watching Grace select a jar of string beans, and it was clear that they were having a conversation that they thought might be overheard. It was stitled and began in fits and starts.
"I think we could take a walk tomorrow morning Grace," said Ernie gesturing silently to Prunella. It was his turn to raise his eyebrows and nod his head in the general direction of Prunella's home.
"I think a walk into the woods is definetly in order," agreed Grace nodding her head back at Ernie and making a grimace in Prunella's Direction in the living Room.
"Do you anticipate a Problem?" asked Ernie, adding hastily "The weather is not very good and the snow..."
" We might have to drag her there..." interrupted Grace in a very quiet voice, "But she is GOING."
The meal was tasty, but the tension in the dining room was felt in the shoulders of all who dined. There was no merry making and Grace felt the heavy atmosphere settle on her as the animals cleared up the dishes.
"We will will be tAking you home tomorrow Prunella." Grace drew her finger in an imaginary circle to include all the animals seated by her and around the table. All the faces present turned to Prunella. Waited for her reponse.
"Ok Grace, I can see that I am NOt welcome here, and I wouldn't want to be where I am not welcome."
The animals all nodded. Grace said nothing.
The evening wore on and Grace was happy to finally retire to bed. She sank deeply into the covers, then kicked off the lot, feeling herself grow too hot. She was restless. Murray too could not seem to get settled. He scratched at the surface of the floor and circled to find a spot.
Meanwhile, a light glowed under the doorway of the guest room, and Prunella could be heard muttering. The door opened and Prunella emerged, looked about and stole into the kitchen. She later returned with some pilfered items hidden under the folds of her borrowed housecoat. The door closed once more and this time clicked with the fastening of the lock.
The bright yellow seam of light at the threshhold slowly turned purple. Yes, thats' quite right. The light turned a noxious and glowing purple and Ernie watched from the shadows and heard her incantation from behind the door.