Episode 50…Gossip and fantasy
There was much relief as she reached the cottage, others had been busy with their morning pleasures and by now it was midday. Margarita greeted Esme with a warming smile and a recommendation for lunch. ‘Bill and Charles will be here soon… They are still discussing Bill’s work, that I’m sure is something of a formality as Charles has always loved anything Bill has put a brush too.’
‘Margarita’ Can…Look can I ask you…’ Esme stumbled over her words thinking this was foolish. She tried again with some reluctance. ‘Can you tell me about the old house on the headland, it’s a ruin I know, but you must know something about it?’
‘You’ve been there, well of course. Some folk here think of it as a magical place, a place where certain thoughts, good thoughts, can become a reality. If you spend any little time within its ruins thoughts can become real and touchable, I think true, perhaps? If you are there and have ghosts to exorcize, then you will.’
‘Margarita, maybe I’m going crazy, but when I was there, the grounds and the old ruined house became real to me, it looked just as it must have looked in its heyday. It was just as if it was in its own proper time. I climbed the tower to the room above and watched dancing ladies on a fine green lawn. I spoke to Tobias. Then he was gone. Am I going mad! What you have just told me really frightens me. I think, I’m in some sort of nightmare and that I will wake up and none of you will exist’. Her hands were trembling and her eyes were wild with fear. She slumped back into a kitchen chair and gazed without looking at Margarita.
Just at that moment Charles and Bill entered the kitchen and looked rather surprised. One look at Esme told them she was very upset.
‘What is it Esme’, asked Charles. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘She’s had a nasty fright Charles’, said Margarita. ‘She has been up to the old ruins.’
‘Ruins… What ruins.’ demanded Charles.
‘It’s the old Manor house that stands on the headland.’ Bill Porrit added ’Been a ruin since it burnt down many years ago. Long before we moved here, and of course, we’ve heard much gossip and there are many local stories about the place. We’ve listened to some very wild claims and superstitions in the Village. One popular belief is that a young bride, Rebecca Haig, took up residence at the Manor house along with her handsome young bridegroom. For a time they were happy, until the day came when Rebecca discovered that her husband had a lover in the village. She became so outraged and in a fit of temper stabbed him through the heart as he sat in his bath. Still crazy with jealousy, she set fire to the house and then thrust the knife into her own breast. Gossip say’s that she still haunts the house and grounds, becoming a black Witch who can throw spells of delusion over anyone that goes there.’
For moments there was silence in the room. Then Esme spoke with sadness in her eyes. ‘That’s horrible, absolutely awful. Dreadful.’
The others were silent. their heads looking down. It was hard to contemplate the outcome of Bill’s words and the implications that lay behind them.
‘I’m sorry Esme.’ Margarita walked over to Esme giving her a hug. I’m very sorry. I should have warned to stay away from that place, but I thought you would walk only along the beach. I am so sorry for you. Please forgive me.’
Soon forgiveness was in the air and Bill introduced four glasses and a bottle of Scotch from the stone larder and quite firmly said; ‘I think we could all do with one of these!’
It was on the second filling of the glasses that Charles casually announced he would take his camera up to the ruins. ‘To find if there is any truth in these stories. The camera never lies.’ he added.
‘However, everyone else must stay here. I will go alone.’
Once again… Everyone was silent.