The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 10

Marie and Sir John sat in a small sitting room and were preparing to take afternoon tea. A collection of dainty sandwiches and small cakes were already on a tiered tray next to a line drawing of the HMS Dreadnought, signed ‘E Howarth’. 

“So I spoke again to Lady Howarth, and she explained her latest initiative,” said Sir John to his wife. “She has sent for the Bishop. Apparently he can perform an exorcism which is guaranteed to work, no matter how diabolical or malevolent the haunting. He should arrive tomorrow.”

Sir John sat back and looked at the small pile of sandwiches and cakes in front of him, without touching one.

“I’m invited to attend to observe, and in Lady Howarth’s words, ‘learn’.”

He continued to look at the pile in front of him without moving.

“You are not ‘ungry?” said Marie. “You are waiting for the tea?”

“More the former,” admitted Sir John. “It’s our first case, and we don’t have an answer to our mystery. I’m not even sure if the ghost is this peasant boy or the gambling ancestor… or somebody else”

The maid came into the room carrying a tray with a teapot, cups, and sugar and walked carefully over to the couple.

Butter Fingers 2“Butter Fingers!”

“I know what you mean,” said Marie. “I am sure there is more to this than it seems. But we are not completely lost. We ‘ave some clues. For example, we ‘ave ‘EH + AC’.”

A loud crash interrupted the two, and they saw the maid had dropped the tray a few feet away from them. She looked white with shock at the act.

“I’m so sorry, sir,” she said and started to gather up the pot and things. “Really, really sorry.”

“Never mind,” said Marie. “No one is ‘urt.”

She took the tray out, and the Jennings continued their gloomy reverie.

“Of course, we don’t know who AC is … and it ends tomorrow for sure?” said Marie, thinking of the mournful boy she had seen.

“It seems that way. The Thanatograph is not to come to the exorcism, either. Apparently Lady Howarth did not appreciate its presence. I’m paraphrasing; what she said was a bit more direct than that.”

“We ‘ave so little time,” said Marie, as the maid brought another tray. “If only we knew what it meant, ‘the letters spell it out’.”

There was another crash, and the Jennings both looked at the maid. She had dropped the second tray and the tea things were scattered on the floor.

“Butter fingers!” she said absently and began picking up the things, flushing red.

“No problem,” said Sir John with a forced jollity. “Er, perhaps we’ll leave the tea for today, just the, er, sandwiches and cake will be fine.”

The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 9

Marie was sitting in the bedroom crocheting a shawl when her husband returned, pushing the Thanatograph into the room.

“Ow did it go?” she said.

“Not terribly well,” said Sir John. “In fact, it was awful. The exorcism was a disaster. The Thanatograph insulted Lady Howarth, and the priest had to be given gin to calm down.”

“I ‘eard,” said Marie. “Well, the screaming at least.”

“Lady Howarth was most animated,” continued Sir John, “and she used some very colourful language. It’s not really the sort of thing one says in front of a man of the cloth.”

“Oh dear,” said Marie. “ Still, I have some good news.”

“You do?” said Sir John, the colour returning to his cheeks.

“Yes, I did my little sneaking and I found something.”

“Really!” said Sir John, becoming animated.“What was it?”

“On the back of the painting…” started Marie.

“Yes!” said Sir John eagerly.

“Some initials were etched – EH + AC” Marie said.

“Is that it?” said Sir John, looking a little dubious.

Mon cher – don’t you see – EH is Edward Howarth – the father.”

“Yes?” said Sir John.

“So ‘oo is AC?” asked Marie.

“I dont know,” said Sir John.

“Exactly!” said Marie, looking triumphant.

alice“Just Nonsense!”

“My dear,” said Sir John, gently, “I’ve had rather a long day, so maybe I’m missing something, but don’t we now have two mysteries instead of one.”

“Yes,” said Marie, but I ‘ave an idea.”

“Oh, good!” said Sir John.

“We use the board.”

“Oh, dear,” said Sir John.

Mon cher, I know you don’t like this way, but it works sometimes, no?”

“It just so … unscientific,” said Sir John.

“What can be the harm?” said Marie,

“Very well then,” said Sir John, “but I remain skeptical on this issue.”

Marie  pulled the cloth off the table to reveal a set of bits of paper with hand-drawn letters in a neat circle. She took the glass near her and turned it upside down and put it in the centre of the table. She closed her eyes and rested her finger lightly on the glass.

“Ready,” she said, and heard her husband swallow hard and say, “Yes.” in a croaky voice. He had fished out his notebook in readiness.

Marie said, “Ok then – I ask ‘oo is AC?”

The glass shook a little and started to move across the table under Marie’s fingers. Sir John frantically scribbled down the letters that were touched by the glass. At first there was a slow graceful movement, but gradually the glass moved quicker, barely touching each card as it swung wildly from one to another. Finally, the glass lurched crazily around the table before Marie gasped as it flew out of her fingers and across the room. Letters scattered from the table in the wake of the glass.

“What do we ‘ave?” she asked.

“Let me see,” said Sir John, who started reading his notes.

“What are the words?” said Marie. “I can’t tell.”

TLSIO

“Oh, for goodness sake,” said Sir John. “Well, I presume that’s some sort of supernatural joke.  It says the letters spell it out. You see, it’s not anything meaningful – just nonsense.”

The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 8

From the corridor with the boys’ portrait, Marie could hear the activity in the next room. Although she couldn’t make out exactly what her husband was saying, it sounded like he was explaining the Thanatograph in excited tones. This was punctuated by interruptions from an irritated sounding Lady Howarth and a nervous sounding priest.

Marie studied the portrait in front of her. She was sure there was more to it than she was seeing, but what it was, was beyond her. It was a painting in a rural setting of two boys on the cusp of manhood. And the boy on the left was the same one Marie had seen in the haunted room and the bedroom.

From next door came a creaking noise that Marie knew was the Thanatograph. She had seen it before; it was like a gramophone but with a blank record. The hiss and crackles were supposed to let the voice of spirits come through. It sounded like something was happening this time, as a gravely voice came through.


Marie could just make out her husband saying, “Remarkable, isn’t it?” Then Lady Howarth said loudly, “What’s it saying – sounds like – ‘you’ something – ‘you – serpent?’ ‘YOU SERPENT’! Well what an ungrateful wretch – Priest – start the exorcism.”

Marie could hear the priest starting, speaking loudly over the increasing din of the Thanatograph, although there was a waver to his voice. He reached a crescendo shouting “in the name of the father and, and” but was interrupted by a crash and what sounded like a table falling over. Then there came a shriek, from the priest, some shouting, from Lady Howarth, and finally the sound people of running and a door slamming.

%22You Serpent!%22“You Serpent!”

Marie sighed and turned her attention back to the painting.

“They should listen to you,” she said. “Who are you? Why are you here?”

She looked closely at the picture of the ghost boy. To Marie’s eyes it seemed like he was moving a little. His right arm had been lying casually over a gate, but now it seemed to stiffen. The boy’s head seemed to tilt and his gaze was now following his arm, indicating something to the left.

“Aha,” said Marie, and followed the line. There was a door on the left not far from the painting. She went over to it, but it was locked. Marie looked back at the painting and the boy.

“I’m sorry, but please ‘elp… I ‘ave no time,” whispered Marie.

The figure of the boy seemed to frown and the arm seemed to stiffen some more, Marie followed the line again. It pointed past the edge of the painting to the door. There could be no mistake. She was looking back and forth from the boy to the door, to see if she had missed something when she finally understood. She pulled the painting away from the wall and there on the back was written “EH + AC” in a thin pencil line. She smiled and looked back at the painting. The boy had returned to his normal relaxed pose.

She quickly headed out of the corridor, turned a corner into the main part of the house and walked straight into the butler. Marie froze.

“Madam, you can’t be here, this is off limits,” said the butler, aghast.

Oublier!” said Marie, waving two fingers in front of his face. His expression glazed over and he looked about himself, blinked, turned around and walked away. Marie sighed in relief and went to find her husband.

The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 7

In a smaller dining room, Sir John and Marie dined together. Lady Howarth had started to explain why she wouldn’t join them, then when she couldn’t think of a reason, had just waved her hands dismissively. The table was covered with silverware and in the center was a large soup tureen that the maid had brought. The room was a pale green with more portraits of Howarths. It seemed there had been a lot of them painted over the ages.

“So tomorrow the priest will come again, now he has the real ghost in his sights,” said Sir John, eating a huge bowl of soup with rustic abandon. “It looks like we may have cracked our first case, Mrs Jennings!”

“I’m not so sure,” said Marie as she took a small spoonful of her soup. “Something is not right.”

“How do you mean?” he said. “It all seems cut and dried.” He spilled some soup on his cravat and started fussing with it.

“It makes no sense though for this ‘peasant boy’ to haunt the mansion for so long. He was treated well, and respected even. And…” Marie hesitated, “I just…”

“…Have a feeling?” said Sir John, smiling. “Well your feelings have proved useful so far. I’ll tell you what, tomorrow before the exorcism I’ll use the Thanatograph. That will allow ghost voices to be amplified so maybe we can hear the voice of the phantom and find out more.”

“And I’d like to see that painting again,” said Marie. Sir John spat soup across the table.

“You can’t do that!” he said. “Lady Howarth was quite forthright on that matter as I recall.”

“Then during the exorcism,” said Marie, “I can go and look.”

“But that would be…” started Sir John.

“Maid,” whispered Marie as the maid came for the tureen. The Jenningses smiled at the maid as she took the soup away.

The Constabulary! “The Constabulary!”

“I trust all was pleasant?” she said.

“Very much so,” said Sir John. “Thank you Miss, er, Copsey.”

When the maid had left, Sir John turned back to his wife.

“…Breaking and entering!” he exclaimed. The maid was just going through the door and jumped a little.

“It’s not,” said Marie. “We are entered already and I will break nothing.”

“I don’t like it,” said Sir John, his voice rising. “There could be trouble. You could get caught. Lady Howarth would be furious. She might call…”

“Maid!” whispered Marie as Miss Copsey brought the main course.

“Here’s your fish, sir… madam,” said the maid.

“Thank you, very much obliged,” said Sir John, a little irritably.

“Is everything well?” said the maid, looking concerned.

“It’s fine, thank you,” said Marie, softly and Miss Copsey left.

“…The constabulary!” blurted Sir John loudly, and the retreating maid jumped and looked back quickly. Marie smiled at her and she scuttled out.

“It will be fine, mon cher,” said Marie. “You help the priest and I will see what I can find. Nothing untoward will happen; I am sure of it.”

Sir John started to gingerly eat the fine trout on his plate, his appetite vanishing.

Image thanks to thegraphicsfairy.com

The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 6

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.

Careful Man 3“Careful Man!”

“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.”

The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 5

Inside the empty room all was quiet. From outside was a sound of a key in the lock and the voice of Sir John speaking.

“Yes, Lady Howarth, we slept very well. Well, Mrs Jennings did at least. I spent most of the night awake to er, ensure we were unmolested. In the end it was not necessary, but I prefer to take precautions in these situations.”

There was a rattle in the lock again.

“Seems a little stiff. I must warn you Lady Howarth, before we go in, that the Thaumograph is a sensitive yet subtle device. It’s like a seismograph except the pendulum is disturbed only by supernatural activity, not geological. When we review the marks the needles make we don’t expect to see anything too dramatic. If we are lucky we may see some vague indication of activity: a slight deviation from a straight line for example.”

The door swung open and Sir John, Marie, and Lady Howarth walked in. The Thaumograph was lying on its side in the centre of the room. The black canvas that made up its body was in disarray and the mechanical body had been disassembled and laid on the floor.

“How unusual!” said Sir John. “This room was locked all night?”

“Indeed it would have been,” said Lady Howarth. “And I dislike your inference. My staff are beyond reproach. They have been in the family for decades.”

“Well on a positive note we have evidence of some supernatural activity,” said Sir John.

“I knew that already,” bellowed Lady Howarth. “I brought you here to rid me of it, not to tell me about it.”

thaumagraph 4“How Unusual!”

“What is over there?” said Marie pointing west, in the direction that the apparition had indicated last night.

“That,” said Lady Howarth, “is the private family area. That area is not a cause of concern, and is consequently off limits.”

“I think maybe we should have a look in there,” said Marie.

“Are you deaf as well as French? That wing was built to be the family sanctuary from…” said Lady Howarth, waving her hand to indicate the world at large. “It will not be violated.”

“I think maybe we’d better leave it,” said Sir John, who was hearing Marie quietly count to ten in French. “We have no evidence…”

“I just ‘ave a feeling mon cher. Call it woman’s intuition,” said Marie.

Sir John turned to look at Lady Howarth and was about to speak as Marie looked down and whispered under her breath, “Parle à moi, mon petit.” There were 3 loud knocks from the western wall.

 

“What the devil is that?” said Lady Howarth. “What did you do?”

“I did nothing,” said Marie. There were 3 more knocks.

“What is that noise?” said Lady Howarth and left the room, calling out, “What’s going on there?”

“Now we ‘ave evidence?” said Marie.

“Indeed,” said Sir John, looking a little perturbed. “Indeed we do.”

The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 4

“Why don’t you try to sleep,” said Marie to Sir John, as they both sat in the four poster bed.

“I can sleep perfectly well if I want to,” replied Sir John staring wide eyed into the room. “I just simply want to make sure that you are safe.”

He went to pat her shoulders and tapped her pillow absently.

“I don’t think we ‘ave anything to fear here, mon cher,” said Marie.

“Well I have this just in case,” said Sir John. “It’s a daguerreographic device. I can capture the image of anything that appears, as evidence. It has this lightning flash which will render the room as bright as day if necessary.” He indicated vaguely to his bedside table as he stared intently into the room.

“Well, if we need to watch for something, why don’t we take it in turns,” said Marie. “Then at least we get some sleep.”

“Marvellous idea, Mrs Jennings,” said Sir John. “Perhaps you can take first turn.”

I'm Blind!“I’m Blind!”

Several hours later, the candle by the bed had burnt down and the room was plunged into darkness. Marie was sleeping curled up in the bed and Sir John was sleeping sitting up. A thin rivulet of saliva ran down his chin and he was snoring gently.  On the ceiling of the room, an area seemed to light up and drift down. It hovered at the foot of the bed and expanded, getting brighter and finding form. The shape that had once been dust, and before that a young man, rested at the end of the bed. Sir John started to stir as the light grew in intensity. His eyes began to move and he opened them up.

“Good God!” he exclaimed and reached for the bedside table. The noise woke up Marie just in time to watch her husband pick up the the cumbersome device and press a button. There was an explosion of light.

“I’m blind, I’m blind,” said Sir John, who dropped the device and waved his arms around.

“Shh, mon cher, it’s just the lightning flash,” said Marie holding her husband. “It will pass.” She looked at the apparition at the foot of the bed, tilting her head quizzically.

The apparition, still with a tear on its cheek, raised an arm to point to its right. Marie nodded at it, and it faded away. Sir John had calmed down by then and looked around.

“What the blazes was that?” he said.

“There was nothing, it was just a dream perhaps,” said Marie. 

“The daguerreograph!” said Sir John. “We may see something there.”

They looked into the box and saw a close up picture of Sir John’s startled face.

 

The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 3

Continuing our repeat of The Howarth Haunting…

—-

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.”

Stay? Here?“Stay? Here?”

“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 2

Continuing our re-run….

——–

“And this is the room where the most activity has occurred,” said the middle-aged Lady Howarth as she led Sir John and Marie into a large empty room on the second floor of the mansion. “The furniture was removed after…” she continued when Sir John interrupted her.

“No, Lady Howarth, I insist you tell me no more. Objectivity is the key to good science. If we hear more we may be somehow prejudiced.”

Lady Howarth looked at Sir John and made a face like she was chewing lemons. “As you wish,” she said. Marie walked by the fireplace and ran a finger over the dusty mantelpiece.

“No one ‘as cleaned here for a while,” she said and knelt down by the fireplace.

“The servants won’t come in, haven’t done for years,” said Lady Howarth. “You’re French?”

“Oui,” said Marie.

“I went there once,” said Lady Howarth and put a handkerchief over her mouth and nose.

“First, I will examine the room using these Ectoscopic Glasses. These allow me to see the traces and the nature of any spectral apparitions.” Sir John donned a bulky pair of brass and chrome goggles. He tipped forward from the weight at first, then steadied himself and moved around the room. Lady Howarth watched with a bemused look on her face and, as she was doing so, Marie put her hand in the fireplace and scooped up some ashes.

ocus-pocus-sepia2“‘Ocus Pocus”

“I think I detect something,” said Sir John pacing around the room. Marie started walking around edge of the room and when no-one was looking she dropped a little ash in each corner.

“Yes!” proclaimed Sir John. “A definite trace left behind. Something very old and potentially evil… there!” He pointed in front of himself and pulled off the goggles to discover he was pointing at Lady Howarth. Her lips were very thin.

“Perhaps if you wait outside,” he said. “I think maybe your presence is affecting the aura.”

She left wordlessly and closed the door with a tut.

“I think maybe this isn’t the ideal device,” Sir John said to Marie. “I’m going to get the Thaumograph. If I set it running overnight we can capture any supernatural activity.”

He left Marie and she moved to the middle of the room. She put her palm flat in front of her face and blew the last few ashes into the air.

“‘Ocus, pocus,” she said.

The sun was already lighting the dust in the room, stirred up by the movement of the three people. But now the dust seemed to congeal in front of Marie. At first it looked like a funnel shape, as if the wind had caught it. But then it grew more form and the image of a teenaged boy formed. A dust tear ran down his face.

“Tell me,” said Marie gently. Just then, there was a crash as Sir John came through the door, holding a contraption of metal and black material on a tall tripod. The dust image dissipated in front of Marie at the sound of the noise. Sir John dragged the object into the centre of the room.

“Now,” he said triumphantly. “Now we shall get answers.”

 

The Howarth Haunting: Chapter 1

Dear Readers, as faithfully promised at the weekend, we are travelling back in time, not just to the Victorian Era, but to the very start of the Jennings and Jennings stories. We present, or re-present…The Howarth Haunting

All was quiet in the drawing room at Southampton Row when Sir John Jennings burst in, brandishing The Times.

“Well it’s in, my dear! The advert is in! Shall I read it to you?”

His wife looked at him warmly and said gently in her French accent, “I have heard it, peut etre?”

“Perhaps not the final wording. I think I had the polished article in the end. Ahem… ‘Jennings and Jennings, Paranormal Investigators, available for hire in the Home Counties. Are you plagued by supernatural goings on or troubled by fantastical events? We can help, using the most modern scientific advances, to rid you of even the most ancient of terrors. 3 pence an hour, double on Sunday.’”

“Very good, mon cher,” said Marie Jennings, working on some crochet. “Now, I suppose we wait.”

“Indeed,” said Sir John, pacing around the room. “Anytime now we may get a card or a telegram or may even a contact on the new telephonic device.” He indicated a large brass object with a mouthpiece and a listening horn.

“The Queen has one you know!” he added.

“You may have mentioned that,” said Marie.

“Yes, sorry dear, to be such a bore. It’s just so exciting to finally put all of these ideas into action. The years of tinkering, inventing. There was a time when only you believed in me, I fancy, when you were the only one who understood my fascinations.”

Victorian phone 3 (1)“Your Majesty?”

He was interrupted by a buzzing noise coming from the telephonic device.

“What should I do?” he said, turning white.

“Perhaps you should answer it?” said his wife.

Sir John grabbed at the listening horn and put it to his ear and moved to the mouthpiece.

“Your Majesty?” he said, then quickly, “No, no, sorry I just thought… No, no I wasn’t expecting her to… Please stay on the line. Who are we? We are investigators of the paranormal, madam. We use scientific breakthroughs, many of them of my own invention and fashioning to uncover the truth and shed some light on the darkest of domains.”

He winked at his wife as he said this and she smiled indulgently.

“Experience? Well some of our work is of a theoretical nature at this juncture…. Yes, but I’m confident we can… Well let’s say no result, no fee, how’s that? Yes, good… and the nature of the er, event? Oh, a haunting…Oh yes, that shouldn’t present any problem. But surely a priest could be called… Oh, you did… Ran screaming from the building, I see… No, not at all… and the address? Grimley Hall, Woesbury. Well that sounds like a… like a place. You’re about half a day away I think. Tomorrow? Say at lunch? Good.”

Sir John put down the phone.

“Well Mrs Jennings, we have our first case”

Marie smiled up at him and noticed that his hand was only shaking a little.