This is the second part in a series, so if you haven’t done so already, you might want to read Part I before continuing.
Bridget was in a hurry. The minister and his family had shown up for an unexpected visit in the middle of baking day, so her mother had gone to host them and Bridget was left to finish the baking – hopefully in time to serve their guests some fresh, hot bread before they left. She had just finished shaping the loaves when she remembered the protection spell her mother had taught her to perform every time they worked in the kitchen, so Bridget frantically threw a pinch of salt over her shoulder, mumbling the words under the breath as she did so.
“What are you doing?”
Bridget stood bolt upright in front of the oven, where she had just placed the finished loaves. She found herself facing Mary, the minister’s youngest daughter. “What?”
“Mother told me to come help you with the baking, and when I walked in, I saw you throw something over your shoulder.”
“What would I be throwing over my shoulder?”
Mary walked over to the kitchen table and inspected the small bowl of salt from which Bridget had indeed taken a pinch of salt and thrown it over her shoulder in her haste. “Salt. I saw you reach into this bowl and then throw your hand over your shoulder. Look,” she pointed at the tracks Bridget’s fingers had left in the salt.
“It’s just a silly superstition,” said Bridget, trying to laugh it off. “Something my mother says they did in the old country.”
Mary looked at her with penetrating eyes and Bridget was suddenly very glad that she had remembered to put the crosses in their buns. “What superstition?”
Bridget’s mind raced as she tried to come up with something that would sound plausible and not at all like witchcraft. “Throwing salt over your shoulder is supposed to bring you good luck. They thought it chased away demons and ill wishes. It’s silly, I know.”
Mary looked back at the bowl of salt. “Really?”
Mary tilted her head as she considered the salt. “I suppose it makes sense. Ghosts don’t like salt either.”
“Exactly. That’s why people use it to keep bad spirits away, too. At least, that’s what my mother told me. It’s just an old superstition. It probably doesn’t do anything.”
“Nevertheless,” Mary said thoughtfully as she continued to consider the salt. Bridget waited for her to go on, but she just stood there silently staring at the bowl.
“Why don’t we go join the others?” Bridget finally said. “The loaves are all in the oven and the washing up can be done later.”
She ushered Mary out of the room, hoping to distract her from whatever suspicions might be brewing in her mind.