Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Sergeant Pugh

On Friday I ventured out to the kitchen gardens to freshen up one of the pa-kua ideograms I had put there. My protection spell had developed thin spots, more quickly than I should have expected. So I was not entirely surprised when I arrived at the south garden wall and encountered Sergeant Pugh sitting on that wall, his crutch leant to one side and his hoe the other.

"Morning ta ya, Miss," he said amiably, and when I had returned his greeting, "I 'spect yer here ta put back that heathen figure I scrubbed off the wall."

"Heathen figure?" I repeated, innocently.

"Aye. Tsing Ping says it's the sign for 'fire' in his language, and it were devillin' him something terrible, kept him out of the garden from here to the manse." Pugh paused to take a swig from his bottle, utterly unconcerned about my seeing him break the rules. I supposed he thought we were even on that score, and he was not wrong. "Are ye troubled with ghosts, Miss, that ye seek ta keep 'em out of the grounds?"

"We have had some complaints about ghosts in the ward, yes," I told him. "It wasn’t my intent to keep your friend out, however." I had painted the ideogram with glue, knowing that it would gradually wash away, but knowing also it would be invisible to the naked eye. "Did Tsing Ping show you where to scrub?"

"That he did, Miss."

"I see. And, has Tsing Ping mentioned any unusual spirits about the grounds, causing trouble? Have you noticed any new spirits loitering about the place?"

Pugh’s watery blue eyes were shrewd. "Other than what the young lady’s been playing with in the wards? Lighting fires an all?"

"Yes," I said. "Other than those."

"Nah," Pugh said, and took a pull from his bottle.

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