A Short Story by Peter Carseldine
Edith Blakesley and her husband Doctor Tobias Blakesley drove away from the University where they were both lecturers. Doctor Blakesley was the head of English Studies and Mrs. Edith Blakesley lectured in Archaeology. Once out on the road, Edith said to her husband, “Toby, Allan Greenway popped by today and he mentioned a property up at Alchester. He said the place was not lived in and has been abandoned for some time. It may be worth looking into.” The Blakesleys had been for some time, looking for a country residence as a weekend retreat and eventually a place to retire when the time came. “Is it on the market?” asked Tobias. “He didn’t really know. He did say the house itself, while not very large, was extremely old. He said it was on about ten acres. And Alchester was such a centre for the Romans during their occupation,” replied Edith. “Sounds interesting when you put it like that. See if you can find out some details.” “Actually, I have some details. I was just sounding you out,” said Edith. “You mean, putting your finger in the water to test if it was warm?” replied Tobias. “I wasn’t too sure if you would be interested in Alchester. Thought you may like somewhere to the southwest, Cornwall for instance.” “Ten acres is a good size bit of land, Edith. Besides, it isn’t all that far from the University and we have to work for a few years yet. The southwest would be impossible. It is too far away.” “It was nice of Allan to tell me about it. He knows we have been looking for a country retreat and somewhere we can live when we retire,” replied Edith. …………………………………………….. The following Saturday Edith and Tobias drove the seventy odd kilometres up to Alchester and met an agent. “Doctor Blakesley, Mrs. Blakesley, how do you do? Maurice Peterson is my name. Call me Maurie. Nice to meet you both. So, you are both University Lecturers? Interesting indeed. Such a nice day to come up here to Alchester,” said Maurice Peterson, a rather portly garrulous fellow with a ruddy complexion. “Pleased to meet you Maurie. Yes, both my wife and I work at the University. What…” “Interesting, and what fields do you lecture in, may I ask?” said Maurice, not giving Tobias a chance to ask his question. “My wife lectures in Archaeology and I lecture in English Studies. What can you tell us about the property, Coxes’ Folly? Is it for sale?” “How interesting! Coxes’ Folly will interest you both from a historic point of view and archaeological, I might add,” Maurice prattled on. “But is the place on the market? You have not answered my question,” said Tobias, becoming a little impatient. “The place is not on the market, but I know the owners, well, a relative of the owners. The old lady is in a retirement home now. Leave it with me and I will phone you when I find out the details,” stated Maurice. After Tobias and Edith left him, they drove out to the property. The gate was chained so they could not enter. They continued along the road a little further to a T-junction and found a country pub where they decided to have lunch. It wasn’t long before Tobias struck up a conversation with a couple of elderly locals. Tobias chanced a question, “Tell me, the old abandoned estate ‘Coxes’ Folly’, what do you happen to know about it?” “Wot you mean, lad, know ‘bout it?” replied the old local, somewhat suspiciously. “Well, do you know of its history? Who owns it?” “Why you int’rested, lad? Ol’ mother Flipper Flopper, that’s what we calls ‘er, she own it but she way with fairies now days. Why you asking, ‘bout Coxes’ Folly?” “Aye, Clem’s right,” piped up his mate, “Her way with fairies. Her boy, he lives in France, me thinks, eh, Clem?” “Aye, lazy lout. He don’t care nuffink for his auld mother. Oi, you ain’t tinking o’ movin’ in, is yar? Why you so int’rested in said Coxes’ Folly?” said Clem looking over the top of his spectacles. “Ooooo, I woonee be doin’ that, lad. Place got ill omen; you know. It’s the music, i’nit Clem?” chipped in Clem’s mate. “Aye, music plays an’ nobody knows where comes from. Said it get cold and spooky when music plays, aye,” said Clem. “Aye, cold an’ spooky orrite, aye Clem. He’s right, Clem is,” concluded his mate, addressing Edith. “Music? What kind of music?” Edith asked. “Me, I knows nothing ‘bout music, lady, buy folks say kinda like harp or fiddle or like an’ very mournful, like,” replied Clem. “Yer, like harp or fiddle like as Clem says and mournful like folks tell,” echoed Clem’s mate nodding his head in agreement. When Tobias and Edith’s meals arrived, Tobias excused themselves, saying, “Well, if you will excuse us and thank you, gentlemen. Most interesting what you have told us. At least we did not travel all the way up here for nothing.” As Tobias and Edith walked to the table away from the bar, they heard Clem’s mate say, “Int’restin! int’restin? He says it int’restin. You woonee catch me out there with that there music, eh, Clem? ‘Aye, not me neither, not for all the tea in China,” replied Clem. “Eh? Tea? What tea, Clem?” And Clem just shook his head, saying, “Daft ‘ol coot.” ………………………………………………………………………………… It took some six months of negotiations to finalise the settlement of the property ‘Coxes’ Folly’. It took contractors engaged, a further couple of months to return the house to as near original as possible. It was late autumn when Tobias, Edith and Felicity, their youngest daughter, were able to stay in the house. The autumn chill settled over the estate as the sun dipped below the horizon. The family lived without all the electronic devices of the modern age, trying to replicate the life before modern entertainment. They sat in the parlour in front of the open fireplace, reading. Towards late evening, a strange chill settled over the room. The fire still gave off warmth but still the chill prevailed. Not only was there a chill but an unexplainable air of melancholy surrounded them. Edith put her book down and looked toward her husband, “Toby, am I imagining it or do you too sense a chill and a strange change in the atmosphere?” “Yes, I do. Maybe those two old codgers in the pub are correct. Maybe there is something odd about the place,” he replied, having also put his book down. “I feel it as well,” said Felicity, adding, “what two old codgers and what did they say?” “They said the place was spooky and chilling.” Tobias related the conversation with the two old country folk in the pub. “Wow, really? How exciting. A real haunted house!” No sooner had she spoken, when there came from somewhere in the house, the sound of a stringed instrument playing a mournful tune. “And there is the music, Dad! Sounds like a lyre. Where can it be coming from?” “Oh! My goodness, what have we let ourselves in for?” exclaimed Edith. “Aw, come on mum, where is your sense of adventure?” Felicity arose and walked around the room and then ventured into other rooms. The volume of the music did not change, nor did the chill or the strange melancholy feeling. It made Felicity experience sadness, but she knew she did not feel sad. She returned to the living room where her parents had remained in their chairs. “This is so strange. The volume of the lyre does not change no matter which room I went to. Let’s investigate further tomorrow.” They remained in their chairs, listening. After ten to fifteen minutes, the chill in the room began to lift along with the gloom. The music then ceased. “That is amazing! What do you think Dad? I am going to get to the bottom of this mystery,” Felicity concluded. …………………………………………………………. The next day, Felicity began a thorough search inside the house. Her father joined her after breakfast. They could not locate any sign of anything which could have been the source of the music or the chill and the melancholy sensation. They extended their search to the exterior of the house but with the same results; nothing. Felicity gave up the idea of searching and along with her parents, explored the rest of the estate. After a full day and dinner at the local pub, they again retired to the fireside to read. Felicity was anxious to know if the same haunting experience would again occur during evening. She was not disappointed. At the same time as the previous night, the room began to chill and the odd gloomy feeling spread. The mournful sound of the lyre began soon after and continued for the same length of time. Chapter 2 On the next visit, the family was accompanied by a friend and fellow student of Felicity’s, Jason Harpwell. They borrowed the university’s ground penetrating radar from the archaeology department, so a more detailed study in and around the house, could be made. They arrived at the T-junction near the estate just on noon, so it was decided to have lunch at the pub before going to the estate. When they entered, they were instantly spotted by the two country locals Tobias and Edith had spoken with the last visit. Tobias breasted the bar and ordered drinks. “Top o’ the mornin’ Squire. Aye, you be new Squire now you buyd said Coxes’ Folly,” said Clem. “Aye, you be new Squire, to be sure,” added Clem’s mate. “Gosh, gentlemen, no need for stand on ceremony with me. Just call me Toby,” Tobias said as the drinks were put on the bar top. “No, if it be all same with you. Respect, Squire. Respect what’s gone now days. No respect no more,” said Clem. “Aye, all respect, is gone now days,” added Clem’s mate. Felicity came over from the table to help her father with the drinks. She stood between her father and Clem and his mate. “Top o’ the mornin’ miss! My, you be bonny young lassie, aye. You be movin’ in Coxes’ Folly with youse folk, too? You be careful ’bout spook and spooky music,” said Clem. “Aye, you be careful about music. An’ chill an’ gloom,” parrot fashioned Clem’s companion as he look intently at the pretty young Felicity. “Oh, yes, we have already had an encounter with the music and the chill. I intend finding out exactly where it comes from. It is rather exciting,” Felicity replied, noticing Clem’s friend’s intent stare, which did not unduly bother her. “Ooooo, I woonee be doin’ dat, lassie. You let sleepin’ dorgs lie, to be sure,” said Clem’s companion, continuing his fixed stare. “Ernie, stop gawkin’ at young lassie, will yar?” and as he spoke, he cuffed Ernie lightly on the back of his head, almost knocking off his cheese cutter cap. “Oi, I wanee gawkin’ Clem!” protested Ernie. “To be sure, Ernie, youse almost dribblin’,” and then addressing Felicity and Tobias, “Yer, Ernie’s right. When I was mere bairn, my ‘ol granddaddy, he tells me that ‘ol Misses ‘Ardcastle, she and the Vicar, they tried to exo- exor, whatever word is, the place and they really upset spook ‘an said spook, it ‘aunted ‘ol Misses ‘Ardcastle till day she dies, to be sure. So youse be careful.” “To be sure, it ‘aunted ol’ Misses ‘Ardcastle till day she dies,” echoed Ernie. “Ernie knows too. Ernie’s old daddy, he was milkman way back ‘an ‘e takes milk to ol’ Misses ‘Ardcastle, an’ Ernie, his daddy, he tells ‘im ‘bout ol’ Misses ‘Ardcastle, how she went kinda bonkers, eh Ernie?” “Aye, she went bonkers from music ‘auntin’ her all time.” “Aye, spook, it it got fair inside ‘ol Misses ‘Ardcastle head.” “Aye, fair in ‘er head, like Clem tells,” concluded Ernie. “Thank you, Clem, Ernie, we will be very careful. Oh! And the word is Exorcism. Hope to see you some more,” said Felicity as she helped pick up the drinks. “Aye, that word, exor- whatever,” replied Clem. “Interesting, gentlemen, interesting and thank you. As Felicity said, we will be careful,” said Tobias. As they walked away, Clem, watching them, saying, “Int’restin, Int’restin, Squire always say Int’restin. You woonee catch me messin’ wif spooks, not for all the rice in China.” “Eh? Rice? Wot rice, Clem?” “You daft ol’, ‘tis a sayin’, daft ol’ git. Don’t you know……” Clem’s voice trailed off and he sipped his stout. ………………………………………………………………………. As soon as they had settled in, Felicity and Jason set about scanning with the ground penetrating radar. They started inside the house as the ground floor was solid stone paved. All seemed solid until they entered the parlour. The radar immediately indicated there was a cavity beneath the solid stone floor. “Wow, Mum, Dad, look at this! There is some sort of hollow under this floor,” she exclaimed. “Are you sure, Felicity? Where is the access point? You searched so thoroughly last time we were here,” replied her mother. “There must be one somewhere. What do you think Jason?” said Felicity “Let’s check the perimeter of the building, Felicity. Maybe there is something hidden,” said Jason. They ran the radar along the exterior wall of the parlour and it was not long before the machine detected a structure some 1.8 metres below the surface. The soil being light, the image came with good clarity. “Run a traverse a metre from the wall, Jason,” said Edith. Jason did as instructed and it became clear, as additional traverses were made, the structure appeared to be a set of stairs. The next day, equipped with digging tools, they started to excavate the structure. It soon became apparent it was a set of stairs which appeared to lead to the foundations of the building, underneath the parlour. By days end, the stair well had been excavated. “Well, I think we have done enough for today. Let’s knock off and have dinner down at the pub. I am too exhausted to cook,” suggested Edith, to which all agreed. The following day they finished the rough excavation and then cleaned it up with trowel and brush. The excavation uncovered steps of a Roman structure. However, the opening at the bottom in the wall under the parlour, had been filled with bricks. “These steps date back to about the 300s AD as there is a mention of Constantine the Great here in the mosaic,” Edith remarked. “What about the bricks?” Felicity asked. “You go check your text books and you tell me when bricks were first fired in England,” replied Edith. “As I recall, it was about the 1200s,” quoted Jason. “Ok, Mister Smarty. So what do you think is behind the brick wall?” “Only one way to find out,” replied Jason, “The original opening is an arch so it will be safe enough to remove the bricks.” They carefully removed enough bricks, making an opening just large enough to comfortably access the cavity beneath the parlour floor. It was late in the day when Felicity went and got two torches from inside the house. She and Jason were just preparing to enter the opening with Edith and Tobias just behind them when, suddenly, something unseen darted out of the opening, rushing between Felicity and Jason and passed Edith and Tobias. Nobody saw anything, nor did they feel anything physical. It was a sensation, a strong spiritual sensation, immediately followed by a chill and a feeling of despair, stronger than experienced in the evenings when the music played. Felicity gave a shrike and covered her face. “Oh! My God, what was that? Have we released something from behind the wall?” “That is enough for me,” said Edith, “We are not going into the cellar tonight. We can look tomorrow.” After the evening meal, all retired to the parlour in front of the fire. After a day’s hard work, all four were feeling drowsy. Towards late evening, they felt a strong presence in the room, a presence as if someone was drifting about creating a slight movement in the air. It was far more noticeable than on previous evenings. Felicity stood and looked around. She noted a slight movement of some papers on the sideboard. “This is weird. Those papers moved!” she said excitedly. “We should have listened to those two old country bumpkins. I am not sure at all about this place.” “It is a bit spooky, Mum but stop worrying. Nothing is going to hurt us.” “You think,” replied Edith. Felicity walked over to the table when the music began to play. She listened for a while before she spoke, “Wow! Hear that! Why? That music is different, not so mournful. I wonder why? Maybe it is because we have released the spirit from the cellar.” “Oh, my goodness, I am not sharing a house with a ghost!” exclaimed Edith. Felicity went to the sideboard, took a glass and a bottle of sherry and poured a good size drink and took it to her mother, “Here mum, settle down, like I said, nothing is going to hurt you.” “And like I said, you think,” replied Edith. Chapter 3 After breakfast the following day, Felicity and Jason took their torches and ventured down the newly excavated stairs. Edith and Tobias followed, Edith somewhat reluctantly. Felicity and Jason scanned the cellar with the torch beams. There was an accumulation of all manner of things scattered about the floor. Felicity ventured forward while Jason held his torch to light the floor for Tobias and Edith. Felicity had drawn some ten paces ahead of Jason when she let out a scream, “Oh, my God! Oh! There is a body here!” The other three were beside her in an instant and Jason shone his torch onto the object, “It’s not a body, Felicity, calm down. It’s a skeleton.” “Well, it once was a body.” “Yes, but a couple of hundred years ago,” Jason replied. “I would suggest a few more than a couple, Jason,” said Edith. She bent down to examine the bones more closely. “Look here,” she said, pointing at the outstretched arms, “This person has been executed. The arms and legs are tied down, but the cords have all but decayed away. They were fastened to the iron rings in the stone. They have all but rusted away as well,” and, looking more closely Edith continued, “And look here at the chest cavity. What remains of a knife,” she pointed out, “The blade has rusted considerably in the dampness of the cellar, but the bone handle is well preserved.” “Is it male or female?” asked Felicity. “Well, you tell me. Look at the pelvis. I suggest female,” “Oh dear, poor thing,” exclaimed Felicity, “What should we do?” “Given the age of it, I don’t think it is a matter for the police. What do you think Toby?” “I would agree,” Tobias replied. “Ok, say nothing about this outside the four of us. We will take a small bone sample and have it carbon dated at Uni,” said Edith. Edith took a small bone from the hand and slipped it into a specimen sachet. ……………………………………………………………… In the evening, as was their usual habit, all retired to the parlour to relax in front of the fire and read. The warmth of the room made all feel drowsy. Jason went and lay on the sofa. Felicity sat in an arm chair next to her mother. She struggled to keep awake. Edith had succumbed to sleep, her book dropped to her lap. Tobias sat in a chair a bit further from the fire and a distance from Edith and Felicity. He too was fighting drowsiness. Felicity was aroused by a movement. It was the same as the previous evening but this time close by. It seemed to pass between her and her mother, who was still asleep. When the music began, Felicity became aware of something she could not explain. She looked at her mother and although still asleep, she had become restless. She pushed the book from her lap and sat quite rigid then she uttered some strange words firstly in a low tone and as she repeated them, each time she spoke louder, “Ôu hwaet aheordan mec friglæ, þancian.” And repeated, “Ôu hwaet aheordan mec friglæ, þancian.” Tobias snapped out of his semiconscious state and looked across at Edith, “What is your mother saying, Felicity?” “I don’t know Dad. Something strange has happened. Mum was asleep and there was a movement, the same as last night, but this time it moved between us. The music began to play and Mum sat up quite rigid and started talking.” Again, Edith repeated the words as Tobias listened intently, “Ôu hwaet aheordan mec friglæ, þancian.” “That’s odd. She is speaking ancient English.” Felicity touched her mother on the arm. Edith flinched and quickly withdrew her arm from Felicity’s touch. Felicity became quite frightened but just then, the music slowly died away. There was no further movement. The room was again calm. Edith relaxed from the rigid state she had been in. A moment later she awoke. She looked about in a dazed manner and then looked at Felicity. “You ok, Mum?” A moment or two passed before she replied, “Yes, I think so. I just had the most vivid dream.” She still looked at Felicity, trying to focus on her daughter’s face, before she again spoke, “It was really strange,” she said slowly. “What’s strange, Mum?” “I dreamed I was another woman. Yes, someone who had been set free. Set free from somewhere, but where?” “That is what you said Edith. You spoke in an ancient twelfth century English language. It was something like ‘you have set me free, thank you’ and you repeated it,” said Tobias. “Oh! Oh, my goodness. I dreamed I was, oh! I was a woman in medieval England. Oh, no. The woman in the cellar. I was in her place,” and turning to Felicity, she said, “I thought you said there was nothing going to hurt us?” “You are not hurt Mum; you just had a weird dream.” “Weird dream or not, I don’t like being possessed by some woman’s spirit from medieval England,” replied Edith. “The ancients believed during Roman time, if a body was not interred correctly in the ground, then the soul wandered restlessly around for eternity¹. The belief may have been carried on, up to when the woman in the cellar was executed,” added Tobias. “Maybe we should have the remains buried in a correct manner. We should arrange a burial at the Church of England,” suggested Felicity. “We should do something. I am blessed if I want to be possessed and haunted by whatever spirit we have unwittingly freed from the cellar or wherever. How am I going to sleep knowing I am going to be subject to such a possession? I will have second thoughts about coming here,” Edith complained. “I wonder if it is because you took the bone sample from the skeleton you are the one being possessed?” suggested Felicity. “Good point, Felicity. Let us return it,” said Jason, who had been listening from where he was lying on the sofa. “Yes, we will do it now and I will take a sample and see what happens,” Felicity added. At this late hour, the evening had grown quite cold so Felicity and Jason donned jackets and warm boots. Felicity took the bone sample and her torch as Jason also took his torch. As they entered the cellar Felicity felt the strange sensation of something present, the same feeling she had earlier when the spirit seemed to come between her mother and herself. She and Jason crossed to the skeleton and Felicity opened the specimen sachet and gently tipped the small bone back onto the floor, to the place where her mother had picked it up. She then shone her torch toward the feet and noticed a small bone lying apart from the left foot. She bent down and picked the bone up with a pair of tweezers. As she picked it up, something restrained her. She gave a low cry and then stiffened in a crouched position. Jason, who was shining his torch on the skeleton immediately redirected the beam onto Felicity. Something, quite invisible, was holding Felicity in the crouched position. There was a visible pressure mark of a hand upon the back of her jacket, restraining her. As she remained in the position, she began speaking in the same strange language her mother had spoken. Jason then noticed her right arm being shaken until Felicity lost her grip on the small bone she held in the tweezers. As soon as the bone fell to the floor, her arm stopped shaking and the pressure on her back lifted. She ceased speaking in the strange tongue. As soon as the pressure lifted, she slowly straightened her stance, spun around and grabbed hold of Jason for support, “My God, what happened? Did I black out? I felt something. What happened Jason? What was it?” “As soon as you picked up the small bone, I think the spirit came upon you. You spoke in the same odd tongue your mother did, well it sounded the same.” “That was awful, Jason. Something strange happened to me. I know I was not dreaming but I was not myself. I was some other older woman. Forget the sample and let’s get out of this cellar.” They went back to the parlour and told what they had just experience. “I thought you said nothing would happen to us, Felicity?” said Edith. “Well nothing serious, Mum,” replied Felicity. “Not yet, Felicity, not yet. Unless we can clear this matter up, I am not interested in coming back here that is for sure. We will sell the place or leave it to whatever inhabits the place,” said Edith. “Ok, we will talk with the Church of England Vicar tomorrow,” said Tobias. “And I want to talk to old Clem as well. Jason and I will go and see those two. See what stories they have.” ¹Ref: ‘The Ancient City’ by Fustel De Coulanges Page 17. Chapter 4 Reverend Bentley Alcyone received Edith, Tobias, Felicity and Jason at the Vicarage and conducted them into his spacious office. “Do come in. I am pleased to meet all of you. Evidently you have made the acquaintance of our village larrikins Clem Edmonds and Ernie Dingle? They have spoken of you and you’re taking possession of Coxes’ Folly,” said Reverend Alcyone. “That is so, Reverend and that is what we have come to talk to you about,” replied Tobias. “Oh? I understand there are stories of strange occurrences at Coxes’ Folly. While I have not experienced any first hand, there are many in the village who testify they have. As you no doubt have heard, I have only been the Vicar here for a matter of two years, having taken over from the Reverend Boswell. Since I have lived here in Alchester, Coxes’ Folly has not been lived in.” “We have already had first hand experiences of some weird happenings at Coxes’ Folly, Reverend. If you have spoken with Clem and Ernie, then I am sure they would have told you about the strange music and odd atmosphere that settles over the place,” said Felicity. “Yes, indeed they have. I am sure there is a logical explanation for these occurrences, Miss Blakesley. It is Miss Blakesley?” “Oh, yes, Reverend. Jason it a fellow student and friend from university,” said Felicity. “Reverend, we are here to discuss a burial,” said Tobias “Oh? And may I ask the circumstances, Doctor Blakesley?” Tobias went on with a detailed explanation of the events which had to date and the reason they thought it appropriate to bury the remains which they had discovered in the cellar at Coxes’ Folly. “I suppose we should have some form of death certificate,” suggested Tobias, “Or inform the police?” “There are a few formalities which must be attended to but I will take care of those. I will inform Constable Porter of this discovery. He will no doubt want to investigate and speak with you. The police presence in Alchester is only small but he will know what course to take. I will arrange with the undertaker, Archie Mortimer to collect the remains. Our sexton can work with the undertaker on the burial details. Of course, there will be charges, as you may well understand. To whom shall I direct those?” “Oh, we can take care of those, Reverend. We only want a basic burial, nothing lavish, you understand?” “Yes, of course Doctor. Shall we make a time of next Wednesday at four in the afternoon? I shall have everything arranged by then.” “Thank you, Reverend Alcyone and a good day, to you, sir,” said Tobias as they left the Reverend Alcyone’s office. “Dad, please drop Jason and me off at the pub. I want to talk to Clem and Ernie,” said Felicity once they were in the car. …………………………………………………….. Clem and Ernie were at their usual positions at the bar when Felicity and Jason entered. Both men arose from their barstools as the couple approached. “Top o’ the mornin’ Miss Felicity and Master Jason,” greeted Clem. “Aye, top o’ the mornin’,” repeated Ernie. “Oh! Clem, no formalities. You can drop the miss and master. You call us just by our names,” said Felicity. “Oh aye, but miss, tis the way we’s brung up. My ol’ Mum would clip me behind me ears if we dinny show no respect. But for you lassie, we bend me Mum’s rules,” replied Clem. “Aye, we bend rules like Clem says,” chipped in Ernie. “An’ to what we ‘ol codgers owe this pleasure of a visit, Miss, ah! Felicity?” said Clem. “We have come to tell you about what we found at Coxes’ Folly, Clem. We found a way under the house to a cellar and we found a skeleton in the cellar,” Felicity replied. “Blimey O’Rielly, you not tamper with said bones, did you Miss?” asked Clem. “Well, yes we did, Clem.” “Cor-blimey, Miss Felicity! How you find a way into cellar? Only one way we knows, eh, Ernie? Cor love me! Dinny tell me, spook visit you?” “Aye, the spook, it visit you, I bet?” said Ernie. “Well yes, Clem, I did have an experience with the spook. We searched the house and I couldn’t find a way into the cellar. We had to use some equipment from the University to fine an old set of buried steps,” replied Felicity. “Now my ol’ Granddad, he telled me when I was a wee bairn, he says there was ways through door behind panel in library. He says the way was to slide bookcase and there be a panel. Me, I nair seen it meself,’ replied Clem. “Aye, ol’ Mrs ‘Ardcastle, she knowed as me Dad tells me, too,” added Ernie. “Oh dear! That would have saved a lot of work for us if had known about the access behind the bookcase,” Felicity replied. Felicity then related the incidents where she and her mother had been possessed by the spirit. “Ooeee, Miss Felicity, me ‘en Ernie, we warns you bout messin’ with spook, dinni we Ernie?” “Aye, Clem, that we did, to be sure, to be sure,” replied Ernie. “Anyway, my Dad has arranged with Reverend Alcyone for a burial of the remains. The burial will take place in the Anglican cemetery next Wednesday at four o’clock. How about you and Ernie come along? You two know more about the spook than anybody else we know.” “Aye, we know alright, Miss. What you tink, Ernie? Me tink I will go see,” said Clem. “Aye, we knows to be sure. I’ll come ‘long too, Miss.” “Ok, come to our house first, a three o’clock. Reverend Alcyone and Mister Mortimer will be there,” said Felicity. “The Reverend, he knows all about Holy Ghost, but don’t know ‘bout spooks, well dis spook, anyways. The Reverend, he only been ‘ere, what? Mebby two years, eh Ernie?” “Aye, Clem, mebby two years. Na, he don’t know this ‘ere spook like we’s do, to be sure, to be sure,” replied Ernie nodding in agreement. “Wonderful, Gentlemen, thank you. Look forward to see you at Coxes’ Folly next Wednesday, three o’clock in the afternoon,” replied Felicity. As felicity and Jason left the pub, Jason remarked, “You know, Felicity, I think those two old codgers know a lot more about our spook, as they call it, than they are letting on.” Chapter 5 Just before three o’clock the next Wednesday afternoon the undertaker, Archie Mortimer drove the hearse along the driveway at Coxes’ Folly and stopped at the front porch. He got out of the hearse, went to the rear and opened the doors. The Sexton, James McGuire and Reverend Alcyone also got out of the vehicle and went to the rear. Archie Mortimer began withdrawing a casket from the hearse when Tobias Blakesley came off the porch and walked towards them. “Good afternoon Reverend, gentlemen, Tobias Blakesley,” he said extending his hand. Felicity and Jason then joined the group. After introductions all around, Archie Mortimer said, “Where should we take the casket? If the remains are a skeleton, then we better take it to where the remains are?” Edith then came over and stood with Tobias. He introduced her to Archie, saying, “Archie, like you to meet my wife, Edith. Edith is an Archaeologist, so I suggest she is the most experienced to advise on the removal of the skeleton.” As they discussed this point, a little old Morris Minor drove up and parked behind the hearse. Everybody turned to see who had arrived just as Clem and Ernie got out of the car. “Ooopps, sorry everybody, I forgot to tell you I asked Clem and Ernie to come over and join us and later attend the burial” said Felicity. Clem came from the driver’s side of the car and walked directly to the group, “Top o’ the day Reverend, Squire, Archie, Madam and Miss Felicity,” greeting each in turn and then turned to Jason and the Sexton, “Master Jason, James. Wanee miss sortin’ this ‘ere spook out for quids,” Meanwhile Ernie had finally extracted his walking stick from behind the front passenger seat, adjusted his cheese cutter cap and made his way to the group. “We should take this casket down to the cellar. Somebody on each handle and let’s move,” said Archie Mortimer. “Aye let’s put spook to rest,” said Clem taking up a handle. Edith and Felicity led the way with two gas lamps. The casket was placed beside the skeleton and the remains were carefully placed in it. Edith’s archaeological experience, working with Archie Mortimer, proved invaluable in placing the remains in the casket. The casket was then carried out of the cellar and into the sun room at the rear of the house. All gathered around as Reverend Alcyone began to pray, “God our Father, Your power brings us to birth, Your providence guides our lives, and by Your command we return to….” As Reverend Alcyone spoke the last words, there was a sudden rush of something, something unseen but of high energy. Everybody standing around the casket stiffened like statues. They stood as if turned to stone. Felicity, who was standing at the foot of the casket, was knocked off balance by the sudden rush of unseen energy. She fell backwards into the casket. The sexton, James McGuire, was holding the casket top open. He received such a shock, and when he stiffened, lost his grip and the casket top fell closed, shutting Felicity inside the coffin. It was some minutes after the top fell closed, everybody relaxed. All looked around in a dazed and vague manner not understanding what had happened. Jason was the first to speak, “Where’s Felicity? She has vanished.” “Blimey! Oi, Sexton, quick smart an’ lift that there coffin lid,” said Clem. James McGuire quickly opened the casket to reveal Felicity had vanished. Only the skeleton remained. “Oh my God!” screamed Edith and she fell backward into Tobias’s arms. At the same time Clem turned to Jason, “Quick lad get ye into cellar. You be youngest an’ fastest. Come, into cellar all.” They took the gas lights, and all went down into the cellar. Felicity was already lying on the cellar floor where the skeleton had been, cords securing her wrists and ankles to the iron hoops. She appeared to be asleep but was struggling, her body moving violently. Clem quickly took a clasp knife from a pouch on his belt and cut the cords. As soon as he cut the cords, the spirit rushed past everybody and seemed to leave the cellar. Felicity relaxed and opened her eyes and Clem helped her to her feet. “Oh my goodness! What happened? How did it happen? How did I get back into the cellar? Oh! Clem, you saved me from an awful vision, a vision I was to replace the young woman who was the skeleton. They were going to kill me,” said Felicity as she hugged Clem. “To be sure, Miss, that it was. I knows all ‘bout it. I seen it all afore,” replied Clem. “Aye, all afore when ol’ Mrs ‘Ardcastle, she live ‘her as my ‘ol dad would tell,” chipped in Ernie. “We be bound to ‘av said burial now and fast. Now spook is free, said spook must be put to final rest,” said Clem. They all went out of the cellar and the sexton secured the top of the casket. It was loaded into the hearse and proceeded to the cemetery. A chill fell over the immediate country side as the casket was taken from the hearse and carried to the grave then lowered in. Reverend Alcyone took a hand full of soil and tossed it onto the casket at the bottom of the grave, saying, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” As Reverend Alcyone turned and walked away from the grave, he was followed by the rest of the small group just as the first dusting of snow for the winter began to fall. Farewells were made and all began to depart when Felicity turned to Clem and Ernie saying, “Come back with us and have supper. You can tell us more of what you know about the strange happenings at Coxes’ Folly.” “Aye thank you Miss, if it be accept by you good mother?” “Oh yes, do come along. And let us get out of this cold,” said Edith. After supper, they all adjourned to the parlour and sat chatting. Such was the congenial company and enjoyable conversation; the evening grew late before it was noticed. Toward mid evening, a light hearted air, one of peace and tranquillity descended over the room created by good company and conversation. It was as such, until suddenly, the music began to play.