Once I realized there would be a bit of a Pied Piper element to The Brixen Witch, I knew I had research to do. After the fun part -- reading every single version of the legend that I could find -- it was time to get down to brass tacks or, in this case, rats' tails. How to write believably about the task of catching rats?
I'm not proud. I started with Google. Eventually I found my way to an awesome, wonderful website called Project Gutenberg. That's where I found this, from 1898:
This detailed 63-page treatise told me everything I'd ever want to know about catching rats, and a lot I would have preferred not to know. (I learned not to snack while reading it.)
It was written by a man who clearly took great pride in his work. And why not? He had 25 Years' Experience.
He was a good writer, too. Here is the bit of ad copy he wrote at the end of his booklet:
Ike Matthews is prepared to go out Ratting with parties of gentlemen or their gamekeepers on their private estates during the summer, supplying dog, ferrets, and nets, at moderate charges.
Ike Matthews is also willing to go out rabbit-shooting with gentlemen during the season, and will supply and work ferrets at reasonable charges. He is also prepared to break dogs and puppies to ferreting and Ratting on reasonable terms.
Any number of live Rats and rabbits supplied at a few days’ notice.
All orders promptly attend[ed] to.
Which just goes to show: There's a lot of truth hiding within the pages of fiction.