Lady Howarth, SIr John and the Bishop were in the haunted room. There were some dull thumping sounds as the Bishop began to speak, waving his crozier. Small objects occasionally flew across the room. Lady Howarth stood imperiously in the middle of the room, defying the spirits, whilst Sir John was wearing the Ectoscopic glasses and looking around wildly. His hair was nearly on end, although it was hard to tell if that was ghostly forces or just terror.

The Bishop was intoning something slowly, when there was a commotion at the door and Marie burst in.

“What is the meaning of this?” said Lady Howarth.

“You must stop this at once!” said Marie. “There is no need for this, I know what has happened.”

Just then the butler came into the room. “Now then, madam, you can’t go in there,” he said and looked puzzled.

“I thought I told you to stop anyone coming in?” Said Lady Howarth to the butler.

“I meant to, your Ladyship,” said the butler, “I don’t know what happened.”

Marie addressed the Bishop, “Monseigneur, you must stop.”

“I don’t know who you are, but I am in the middle of a sacred rite. It is highly dangerous to stop now whilst the spirits are arisen.”

“But it is wrong to continue, I can show you.” Marie turned to her husband. “Mon cher, make ‘im stop, things are not what they seem. I ‘ave it all figured out.”

“What is it, Marie?” said Sir John, “What have you figured out?”

“Sir John, you will remove yourself and your wife from this room,” said Lady Howarth sternly.

Mon cher, please listen to me,” said Marie.

“Sir John, did you hear me?” bellowed Lady Howarth.

Sir John looked at Lady Howarth, then at Marie, and then back between the two, his face looking anxious. The Bishop had paused his litany.

“Sir John!” said Lady Howarth at fever pitch.

“Lady Howarth, I am talking to my wife!” said Sir John loudly, then gentler to Marie, “What is it?”

“It’s what you said at the start,” said Marie, “how we should not be biased by stories and just use fact. What you saw in the portrait in the hall, what you saw the first time you used the glasses, what you saw in the corridor… something is wrong and I can prove it.”

“How?” said Sir John.

“We need to go back to the corridor,” said Marie.

“Out of the question!” said Lady Howarth. “Smyth, remove these two!”

Arrêter,” whispered Marie then ran for the corridor to the west of the room.

“Smyth!” bellowed Lady Howarth, but the man seemed rooted to the spot.

Chapter 14“Pardon, Monseigneur”

Marie ran down the corridor and stopped in front of the portrait of the two boys. Lady Howarth, the Bishop, and Sir John arrived at the end of the corridor, with a bemused looking Smyth behind them. All the paintings and the ornaments were moving and rattling now, creating a racket. The ghostly voice that came out of the Thanatograph could be heard behind the walls.

“What in blazes is that voice?” said the bishop. “What’s it saying? Usurper?”

“I will show you!” said Marie and pulled the boys’ portrait off the wall and threw it to one side. She started banging on the wall with her fists. There was a sound like a drum as she did.

“She’s gone mad!” said Lady Howarth. “Smyth, stop her!”

Smyth muttered something, although it was hard to tell what over the din. It may have just been a cough.

“She is possessed by a demon!” said the Bishop and made towards Marie. He put his hand on her forehead and muttered something in Latin. Marie turned around to face him, looking wild and confused. Then as he continued, her features softened and she smiled.

Pardon, Monseigneur,” she said, and snatched his crozier. She stood away from the Bishop and the wall and held the crozier behind her head. She swung it round with a grunt and hit the wall. A crack started to appear.

“Stop it! Stop it now! Have you forgotten who I am!” shouted Lady Howarth. Marie brought the crozier down a second time and the crack widened.

“I have not forgotten who you are,” said Marie, “but I’m not so sure you know.” With a final swing the crozier smashed into the wall. Plaster fell everywhere to reveal an alcove. And in the alcove, were the bones of a young man. The rattling and chaos and voices stopped instantly.

“I present,” said Marie, breathless, “Lord Edward Howarth.”

“What rot!” said Lady Howarth.”My father is buried in the Howarth mausoleum.”

“Your father may be,” said Marie, “but your father wasn’t Lord Howarth. He was the boy, Robert: Lord Howarth’s childhood companion, and his murderer.”

“This is nonsense,” said Lady Howarth. “What proof do you have for these allegations? You will leave my house at once!”

“Something strange has happened here,” said the Bishop. “It cannot just be swept under the carpet, Lady Howarth. Madame Jennings, you make a bold claim, what evidence do you have?”

“Here,” said Marie, “are letters from Lord Howarth. They explain most of what happened. The rest is…” Marie went silent as she realised she could not explain what she had seen. Sir John went to his wife, seeing her confusion.

“The rest is conjecture at best and hogwash in reality. In any event, there is an easy way to disprove it. Lord Edward had a fall from a horse as young boy. His leg was fractured and never quite recovered. That was kept secret of course to maintain his manly reputation. I don’t know what this macabre find is, or who it was, but unless it has a…”

“…Severe fracture on the upper left femur?” interrupted Sir John, who had been staring intently at the bones, “not made at the time of death, years earlier I would say. Looks like he lost a tooth as well.”

Marie glanced down at the portrait she had thrown from the wall. The picture of Lord Edward looked like it was smiling in a lopsided way, self conscious of his smile.

“I’m afraid, “Lady” Howarth, that it seems there is something to this allegation. As I said, this cannot simply be swept away. The constabulary should be called. There are… implications,” said the Bishop.

“But it can’t be,” said Lady Howarth, turning white. “I would be penniless, a commoner. I’d be forced to live somewhere like Cheapside!”

“Oh,” said Marie. “I’ve been there once.” She put her handkerchief over her nose.


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