The Howarth Haunting: Epilogue

“You’re calling from what? The Manchester Guardian? No, thank you. I have no interest in talking to a provincial paper,” said Sir John and put down the telephonic device.

“These people are like seagulls,” said Sir John to Marie. “They make a racket and pick away at you.”

“Still, it is nice to have you home,” said Marie. “I missed you.”

“And me, you,” said Sir John. “The constabulary had lots of questions, not a few I couldn’t answer. And none seemingly that Lady… that Miss Scrote could answer.”

Marie coughed. “That is her real name?” she said.

“Yes, it seems it is. It’s generally agreed now that her father was Robert Scrote so she’s no longer Lady Howarth and instead is plain Miss Violet Scrote. The newspapers started to get interested, as well, and they had even more questions than the police.”

The telephone rang again.

“Hello? You’re from where? The Washington Post? But the events didn’t occur anywhere near Sussex!” said Sir John, and put the phone down angrily.

“It’s a shame they don’t pay money for these conversations,” said Sir John. “I don’t think Lady… I mean Miss Scrote is likely, or even able to pay us.”

“Oh, that would be monstrous,” said Marie. “People would just make up stories for money…  What will happen to her anyway?”

“To Miss Scrote? Well, it seems Lord Edward had a cousin, Margaret,  who is delighted to take ownership of Grimley Hall. She has an estate already so probably won’t move there. She has said that Miss Scrote may stay there for a while, perhaps work in the kitchens or something, and have a small room. They’ll pay her a reasonable wage, even though she has no employable skills as such.”

“So she won’t move to Cheapside?” said Marie with a smile. “It must be the cousin who sent this,” she continued, indicating a large object on a table in the room.

They both walked over to the table and looked at a bulky object tied under a large piece of tarpaulin tied by string. There was a note that read, “Awfully grateful, Margaret.”

“I didn’t look,” said Marie, “in case it was one of your experiments.”

Sir John untied the tarpaulin and they both peered inside.

“How interesting,” said Sir John and replaced the tarpaulin. Marie did not stop him. “Must be the Howarth naval connection, I suppose.”

Octopus 2“How Interesting!”

“But tell me, how was your trip to the village?” said Sir John. “Did you find Alice Copsey?”

“I did,” said Marie, “and I read her her letters. She was so old and frail. I think this is why the ghost was so active. He didn’t want her to die not knowing the truth. She listened quietly to the letters and at the end she smiled like an angel. And a single tear ran down her face.”

“You may well be right. There hasn’t been a single haunting since you uncovered the skeleton,” said Sir John, when the telephone rang again.

“Now look here, I don’t care who you are or where you are from, but I have no wish talk to you so please GO AWAY!” He paused and turned white. Then his head bobbed down quickly. “Your Majesty!” he said weakly.

The Howarth Haunting: Chapters 13 & 14

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.


The Howarth Haunting: Chapters 11 & 12

Marie sat in the chair in the bedroom and tried to calm her mind with some crochet. Sir John was with Lady Howarth and the Bishop and they were getting ready to start the third attempt to rid Grimley Hall of its unwanted guest. Marie was thinking of the crying boy, trying to solve the puzzle before it was too late. There was a knock at the door and she went over.

“Tea, Madam,” said a quavering voice outside the door.

“But I didn’t…” started Marie then opened the door. Outside was the maid from the day before. She held a silver tray with a pot of tea and a cup. It was shaking so much the tea things were rattling. Also on the tray was a set of letters, tied with ribbon.

“I’m sorry Madam,” said the maid, “but I couldn’t help overhearing you yesterday. About AC and EH and… and some letters. Alice Copsey. She’s my aunt, see. Well my great aunt. There were rumours of her and… and the old master…”

“Rumours?” said Marie.

“Well, more sort of facts. They were sweet on each other ‘parently.  She told me about these letters what he wrote, showed me in secret. But she couldn’t read nor write, and she was embarrassed to say, Madam.”

“You’ve read them?” asked Marie.

The girl hung her head. “I can’t read nor write neither. She said, my aunt, I mean, she said when he left, he never said a word of goodbye to her and when he come back, he wouldn’t go anywhere near her. He were like a different man. I thought maybe you could find out what happened. And maybe it’s something to do with all this business, like what you and Sir Jenkins was saying.  She said it broke her heart Madam, when he left. She’s never looked at another man all her life, not even now in her dotage.”

And with that the girl, turned and practically ran away.

“The letters spell it out,” said Marie. She sat back down and looked at them all. The first few were love letters from an Edward Howarth to Alice Copsey. He regaled her with fine words and regretted the circumstances that kept them apart. Marie snorted. She looked at latter letters and he was worrying about his forthcoming enlistment to the navy, how he would miss her, how he feared she’d find someone else. Marie went to the last letter and started to read.

letters 2“Tea, Madam”

“I have a made a plan, a wild plan, maybe, but one I will carry out. I have spoken with Robert and everything is arranged. On the day we leave for Portsmouth, I’ll stop the carriage by the woods, and will go deep inside. Meet me where we went last summer and sheltered from the rain. Robert will disguise himself as me and will join the Navy on my behalf. His friend Cuthbert will go disguised as him.  It will be a good life for Robert, being a naval officer, better than he could have hoped for. As for us, I shall bring a little money and we can elope and start a new life. We will be poor Alice, but we will be together. I gladly, madly throw this manor, title, and fortune away to be with you. I choose you Alice. I choose you.”

“It’s beautiful,” said Marie, “but it’s not what happened. What happened to you?”  She said it idly to herself then looked up and, with no surprise, she saw the apparition looking at her. The ghost boy pointed at the Thanatograph, which began to spin without assistance…

“Where is she? I don’t understand,” said a voice. “You gave her the letter, Robert?”

“That I did, Edward. Same as all the others,” said another voice.

“Then why isn’t she here,” said Edward. “Your friend Cuthbert manage to make it.”

“Maybe because it’s cos she can’t read,” said Robert.

“She can’t… then how did she read the others?” asked Edward.

“She didn’t, but she was too embarrassed to say, and you was too arrogant to ask,” said Robert.

“Well, if she hasn’t read it, she doesn’t know I’m here,” said Edward.

“No. No-one knows you’re here,” said Robert. “…‘cept me and Cuthbert.”

“What’s that, what do you have there?” said Edward. “Is that a knife? What are you? My God!”

There was a nasty sound, wet and harsh, and Edward made a gurgling sound.

“But, I gave you everything,” moaned the dying Edward.

“Let’s just say I wants to make sure you ain’t coming back, if you changes your mind.”

The Thanatograph stopped, and Marie leaned back. “Mon Dieu,” she said. The boy with the tear pointed at the Thanatograph again and it spun some more.

“Why are we stopping here?” said Cuthbert, but it was a new voice, a man’s voice.

“I want the staff to go ahead, make sure that all the old faces have left in case they recognise me, and make our bedrooms nice and warm.” said Robert’s voice, sounding rougher, older, and more assured.

“But why here, Bobby, of all places. It gives me the creeps, you know, when I think about it.”

“Oh grow up, Cuthbert. And it’s Lord Edward to you. Here, get digging, we’re going to take him, or what’s left of him back to the Mansion so no-one ever finds out.”

“Why me, though?” wailed Cuthbert.

“Well for one, I’m Lord of the Manor now, and for another, because you done him in the first place.”

“Don’t remind me,” moaned Cuthbert. “I sees him in my mind every day.”

“Oh cheer up – look here’s ten pounds, you can take that to the tavern afterwards and see if you can’t forget your worries.”

The Thanatograph ground to a halt and Marie ran out of the room, heading to the exorcism.


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.”


“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

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.