Emily reading the letter that McBride has just presented
to her at her bedroom door, hands the letter to Annabell.
“Mr. Morton wants to meet you?” Annabell is stunned.
“I do not think we should go, Heart?”
“If that is your wish?”
“We will not go?”
“Mr. Morton states he does not believe he has long to
live in this body. For the child’s sake should we not speak
with him one last time? How will I explain our refusal to
the child inside me? Will he not ask of his Earthly father?”
Annabell cannot be more astounded. “Heart, how do
you know this is not a further entrapment?”
“I do not. But I do not believe they will harm the child.
If they harm me, they will harm the child. You can bring
a gun as he suggests, Annie. That will be your protection.
Do you have a gun?”
“We could take Uncle’s Mauser he uses for hunting. He
keeps it in his study.” Annabell at the back of her thoughts
has great foreboding. But she knows Heart’s determination.
She knows from the revealing yesterday this is not a casual
Nothing here is an act of chance. Heart
cannot go to the meeting alone. All that took place last
night, each entwined in the other! She has to go.
. . .
It is a little after the hour of noon. In the drawing
room, Ronald back from his walk is engaging Constance
with a little repartee. Unfortunately Constance is winning.
“Gladys has to give Shapanzi his daily Swedish lesson.”
“The sleeve hound needs to be educated in more than
one European language?”
“I’m afraid so, dear. I have to say his bark is beginning
to sound quite strange.”
“Gladys is learning Swedish herself in the process, that
on top of her raising her French and Italian for our trip.
I have told her it is unlikely she will need Swedish. Her
comment was, ‘Who knows where we will be after the trip
to the Alps.’ We will stop in Paris, will we not, Knobs?”
“I would say so. Wouldn’t miss the women’s croquet for
worlds. Likely some Swedes.”
“There you are, Knobs!”
“I cannot see any point in staying here after next week,
“We can travel up to your place, we have reservations
for the ship in a month. When we feel like it take the boat
train across, see Paris. Maybe come back afterwards when
everything is up and working properly. If it ever will be.”
George knocks, pokes his head around the door, seats
“Ah! George! We were just talking about you!”
“I hope you were kind?”
“We will be taking off for the summer next week. Will
you be staying here?”
“Yes! I don’t think I will return to India. Not now at
“Good! That takes some weight off my mind. When we
return, I believe we will be living in London. The court is
aware I will be absent the whole summer but I have decided
to resign. We will be back here to see you sometimes, if you
“It is because of Meg I intend to stay,” says George.
“Yes! Well, I have been managing the property all these
years. Time for you to step up.”
George smiles. “You don’t mind then if I marry?”
“Is that your intent?”
“Perhaps early October, when you return from the Alps.
If you will come?”
“We will sort out the dates late summer. That seems
to be best. Meg will be the one to make the decision when
“Yes! I will keep you informed of our itinerary. Hotels
we will be staying at for you to send post.” Ronald smiles, “I can telephone, I forget that.”
Constance gets up. A sepia taken of Ronald and George’s
father so many years ago seems to stare at her.
At that moment, Miss Hooper bursts through the door.
“Oh! Your ladyship, Magistrate Bexfield. Please forgive
me, but I must speak of what I know. He has said they are
going to kill him!”
“Going to kill him?”
“I promised Miss Stanton to keep silent if there is no
reason, but there is a reason. I am sure there is a reason, a
reason why Shapanzi and I...”
“Miss Stanton. Who is Miss Stanton?”
“Miss Ackrim, sir. Bella Ackrim. Only her real name is Miss Stanton the wife of
Mr. Morton. Mr. Morton is the son of Caroline Keys. He
says they are going to kill him.”
“Who did, Mr. Morton?”
“That is what his wife told me. She was sobbing, sir.
He said he is not returning to their home in London. I think
he has to flee or they will kill him.”
“Who will kill him?”
“I don’t know, Magistrate Bexfield. All I know is that
I just heard that Miss Annabell and Miss Emily have gone
to the moors.”
George steps in at this point. “You say Mr. Morton is
the son of Caroline Keys?”
Miss Hooper looks quite abashed. “That is what Miss
Stanton told me, sir.” She looks at Lady Middleton. “Would
you tell them, your Lady!”
Constance has gone quite pale. “Yes!” She takes hold
of Ronald’s hand. “Will it never be resolved? Caroline had
a child, George. She begged me to tell you only when you
returned. But there has been no time. I did not know Mr.
Morton was her son.”
“He believes he is your son, Magistrate Bexfield.” Miss
“Yes sir. Miss Keys was taken in by a family shortly
after birth. She fell ill and during that time murmured
certain words that a maid heard. That maid has just spoken
of it. Bexfield, was one of the words, and Popum, I believe.”
“Oh, my God. I have to go to see my son,” George
rears up out of the chair. “He will be at the Coulter’s with
Edward.” With that the door closes. George has gone.
“What is this about Miss Annabell and Miss Adams
going to the moors?”
That moment Arthur looks inside, noting the worried
expressions, he asks, “Is something wrong? George was on
the stairs. Rushing by he said he has a son.”
“There might be something wrong, Arthur. Stay here
and listen. Miss Hooper, you are concerned about Miss
Annabell and Miss Adams going to the moors.”
“I was just in the kitchen getting food for Shapanzi,
sir. The butler mentioned to the cook that Miss Samson
and Miss Adams have taken to riding out to the moors. The
butler said they appeared concerned. He wondered if it had
anything to do with yesterday.”
“It is unusual,” says Constance. “The appointment at the church this afternoon. The rehearsal! Why the moors?”
“Yes, at five at the church. Continue Miss Hooper.”
“Mr. McBride had seen the two young ladies on his way
to the stables, sir. Miss Annabell on her horse. Miss Adams
on the pony. Miss Samson had your rifle with her.”
“Holding my Mauser!”
“I don’t know, sir. He just said rifle. He spoke to the
stableman who had overheard them mention the ruins out
on the moors. I had to come and tell you. Especially after
Miss Stanton saying they were going to kill Mr. Morton.”
The Squire has already rang the bell for the butler.
McBride knocks, enters.
“Miss Hooper has told us you have seen Miss Annabell
with my Mauser?”
“Has there been anything unusual this morning? To do with Miss Annabell or Miss Adams?”
“Nothing that I know of sir. Oh! Yes! I did take a letter
to Miss Adams. It came from the estate, sir.”
Miss Hooper has this awful almost mesmerized stare as
she stands by the drawing room door. “Lady Middleton, I
think more there is to this than even I have spoken of.”
“My God,” says the Squire. “It must be this business
with Emily. Arthur, if you will accompany me, let us see
if we can catch the girls. Bring your pistol, old fellow. I
know you carry it in your luggage. Stay here, Constance.
Miss Hooper, take care of Lady Middleton. This is for the
two of us to go.”
. . .
Lawrence gets on his horse. Riding from the estate to
the ruins, images flow around him. His aunt when he was
a small child, her arms around him trying to protect him
from a danger her mind could not accept. Bella, her hands
grasping him by the collar, holding him, desperately not
wanting to let him go. The old American Shaman comes
into his vision: “I see your death. I see your ghost.”
He knows they are going to kill him but long has been
the time when he cared for his life. Lawrence’s thoughts
return to the last time he was at Hartlepool. Contracts,
provided by the great empires of commerce of the families
had swelled the opulence of the mansion.
In that gathering where he was to bring forth the High
Being, everything had been catered specific to each taste.
Angulse Sherod knew with whom he dealt.
Those invited had discrimination not of the ordinary. Even of eating, his uncle’s import business could bring all
they desired. Lawrence himself marvelled at the richness,
how the world served the families: blood crocodile soup,
green lip Aotearoa mussels, Japan Sea Urchin.
Coffee of an extract none who drank ordinary coffee could every capture.
Paprika cream from Hungary. Biryanis elephant steak.
Tsukemono pickles. Pounded silver, raw Kofte meat from
Turkish nomads. Sweet African honey bees marinated in
pineapple nectar. Egyptian red-necked grebes. Romanian
It went on and on. Pine-nut pastries shaped like braids.
Birch syrup. Cozonac bread cooked by magic ritual. Magic
was the essence. Magic for them was always real.
From every corner ships brought fineries: Chinese red
Reishi mushroom, Sumatra pear, rainforest Strangler fig
topped with liquorice, anethole and wild plum. Catering
to their stomach is how Angulse insinuated himself to their
They would relax after the engorgement. Fermented
White Oak, Ox-Tongue tobacco. For those of the inner
circle, a special ambrosia boasting of the taste of burnt
And so those who came, endeared of the coven, each in
their own way were prepared.
Then it was time.
The servants would remove themselves, dismissed not
merely from the plush mansion rooms but the buildings.
Members of the coven seeing that all workers were removed
from the high-walled Hartlepool estate.
Only the coven and the exceptional guests.
A framed picture is turned, a new image brought from
behind: Setekh, Egyptian god of drought and tempest.
Then another reveals the Norse god Loki, entrails of one
of his sons binding him. A third reveals Angra Mainyu,
magnetizing humankind into its world of darkness.
All around the spacious hall images of the dark force
legions: Inverted crosses, skulls staring jewels blazing fire
as replacement for eyes.
Shuriken dripping with poison. Human bodies with no
heads. The whore rides her seven-headed dragon, horns
blaring as destruction takes place. Cities in ruins, cities in
flames, cities swallowed by gaping bowels of shifting Earth.
On a woodblock the words: