Lady Howarth and the Jennings stood in the corridor to the west of the empty room. The wood paneling they had seen in the foyer extended along its length along with the theme of artworks. The corridor looked like a gallery or a museum, and one for very fine objects.
“Now let me make this very clear,” said Lady Howarth. “There will be no going in rooms. There will be no touching of objects or any movement of anything. This is the most private part of the mansion and we are not sight seeing. You may make use of your… devices… to identify the source of that strange sound, and that is all.”
Sir John swallowed hard. “Thank you Lady Howarth,” he said. We shall begin by using the Ectoscopic Glasses again. If you could be so good as to stand behind me a little way to avoid interference.”
Sir John donned the heavy brass goggles again which spared him from seeing the glare that Lady Howarth shot at him. He started to wander down the corridor looking around.
“Nothing so far, nothing here,” he muttered as he went. Suddenly, he turned to look at a painting and his head shot backwards, banging into the opposite wall. Marie winced at the crashing sound.
“Careful man,” shouted Lady Howarth.
“Good God it’s lit up like Crystal Palace,” said Sir John. He took the goggles off and looked at the painting, as Marie and Lady Howarth came to join him. “What is this, what is its significance?”
Lady Howarth stopped in front of the painting.
“Oh this,” she said. “Hmmm…”
Marie caught up with them both and looked at the painting, her face fell.
“Two young men?” said Sir John. “Who are they Lady Howarth?”
“Well this is the first thing you’ve found that makes any sense,” she said. “This is my father Edward and his companion Robert as young men before they left for the navy. The companion was the son of a servant who died, leaving him an orphan. My grandfather, gentleman that he was, decided to treat the boy as his own. When they achieved majority, they were shipped off to the navy. It was my grandfather’s belief that a spell in the navy would straighten out any defects in a boy’s character. My father entered as an officer of course, and the companion at the lower ranks. They were at sea for a number of years and returned when my grandfather died. They returned together, my father inheriting the house. They had left as boys but returned as men. Naturally the servant boy had gained men’s habits too, and had taken to drinking and gambling. He showed no respect for my dead grandfather: went to the local tavern by all accounts. In a week he was dead. Buried locally I believe. Presumably, his is the apparition causing problems. Typical, needy and greedy to the end.”
“Fascinating,” said Sir John.
“And the boy who died,” said Marie, recognising the face she had seen twice as a phantasm, “ee is the one on the left?”
“Heavens, no,” said Lady Howarth. “That’s Lord Edward Howarth. That’s my father.”