Sir John and Marie sat in the large lobby of the mansion with the bags they had brought from London. The Jennings’ instruments and devices were in four large suitcases and their clothes and personal effects were in one. An art gallery worth of portraits from all ages glared down at them from the dark wooden walls and a large stuffed moose regarded them suspiciously.
“I’ll send for the carriage presently,” said the ageing butler.
“Thank you, er Smyth, whichever tavern in the village you recommend,” said Sir John, and looked around the room. “Impressive selection of artwork. Who’s that imperious looking chap on the end.”
“That’s the first Lord Howarth, who built the original Grimley Hall. It was somewhat smaller than the current incarnation.”
Marie looked around the room, trying to find a likeness of the apparition she had seen. The pictures were mostly of men, and mostly older men. Only one seemed to be more youthful, but he didn’t look like the boy at all.
“Oo is this younger man,” said Marie. “All the others seem much older.”
“That is Lord Charles Howarth, who died in… uncertain circumstances… in the northern wing,” said Smyth, looking meaningfully at Sir John.
“In the room we are currently…” started Sir John, finishing by waving his hand.
“The very same, sir. He was found dead in that room after a night of cards with friends. He had seemingly lost a large sum of money. Nothing was proven, so no charges were brought. I believe the local priest was trying to exorcise his spirit when he was forced to leave by some unpleasantness.”
“I see,” said Sir John. “Oh, and what of this chap here – he looks a rum sort, there must a few stories about him.”
“That,” announced Lady Howarth, appearing from the top of the stairs, “is my father. He built four factories, increased the family fortune by tenfold and extended the house to its current form. He was a true Howarth, full of vigour and strength. And certainly not rum. Why are you leaving Jennings, your job is far from complete.”
“Yes, indeed,” said Sir John, “but we have set up specialist instrumentation in the room and will return in the morning to get the results. I expect we will have some answers then.”
“There is no need to leave, we have room for you here. Smyth can arrange everything,” replied Lady Howarth.
“Stay?” said Sir John, with a slight waver in his voice. “Here?”
“Yes, I see no problem with that. Put them in the north wing, Smyth, there is a vacant room there as I recall,” said Lady Howarth.
“The bedroom directly below the haunted room?” said Smyth. “The room that once was Lord Charles’ bedroom?”
“Yes…” said Lady Howarth. “Yes, I believe it was.”
“Well, Lady Howarth,” said Sir John, forcing a smile, “we are most grateful for your hospitality.”
The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 4