428 The Book of Indoor and Outdoor Games
bursts of hysterical laughter, quickly suppressed, startled the silence from time to time.
Suddenly a gong or clock struck, and a curtain at the end of the room was drawn back, revealing a dimly lighted tableau of the "Three Witches of Macbeth" gathered around a steaming cauldron suspended between sticks over a bed of ashes. While the smoke rose from the boiling water—hell-broth, I should say—one of the witches croaked forth the famous lines:
"Thrice the brindle cat hath mewed," etc.
The curtain fell, to rise in a few moments on Hamlet and the Ghost. Hamlet was a comely youth draped about with his mother's black velvet gown, and the Ghost was most effectively livid and "spooky" with his face smeared with phosphorus.
A third tableau gave us our witch-hostess riding her broom, apparently through the air, with what she sought to make "an evil smile," a huge black cat beside her. A black curtain behind her concealed the apparatus that supported her, and the dim light was favourable to illusion.
The three witches next appeared and swept us with their brooms into another room, where little tables were scattered about, each made ready for one of the time-honoured oracles of fortune.
One held a plate of apples, with knives ready for the magic paring. After carefully removing the skin—a broken paring breaks the charm—each inquirer of fate turned three times around, then whirling the apple-skin three times around the head over the left shoulder, dropped it behind, saying:
"By this paring I wish to discover The letter of the name of my true lover."