In the end he sought its possession!
He called it La Barron.
Hundreds of boys are hung up,
vilely abused and killed.
The child now dead is beheaded.
Chapter Eighteen
Bluebeard
‘Henrietta!’
‘Yes, my love’
‘My appraisal of Jehanne?’
‘Wondrous my love.’
‘Is it true?’
‘Would you accept whatever in your thoughts I speak!’
‘Henrietta, your knowledge of Ronald’s death?
‘My love, could I have interfered?’
‘What will I do now?’
‘The service can always use a good man!’
. . .
Arthur tries to catch his breath as Constance and he traipse through the muddy edge of the field.  “There is dark energy within the Enslavement Dream.  Not the least from those who we call Dragon Heads.
“Creatures depicted around the world in drawings, plays, literature, in our country, statues in the City, possession of the mind that we take of little account.”
“Mind possession Arthur?”
“Subtle possession.  That which takes place with the elite and with who we call the ‘ordinary’ person.”
“I’ve heard them talk about politicians being possessed?”
“Power attracts possession.
“Jack the Ripper?”
“The ‘From Hell,’ letter.  Sending a human portion of kidney. Telling of eating the remainder.  Mister Lusk. ‘Very nise,’ he wrote.”
“Why would someone do that?”
“Why does someone kill?”
“Yes!”
“All killers are likely encouraged.”
“From the other side?”
“We have this fear of ghosts, but ghosts should be the least we fear.  Possession is allowing.  It is allowing ourselves to manifest the hate inside.  To succumb to influence from we know not where.”
“Is this a form of energy?”
“The dragon beings?”
“Is that who you are speaking about as possessing?”
“Dragons from their ether, demons from ‘hell’ worlds, us inside ‘The Game,’ left and right.  Many acts done by those little aware they are being influenced by possession. “Then there are those who do know some power comes over them.  Such as Bluebeard, the real Bluebeard, Gilles de Rais.
“There is a real Bluebeard?”
“Bluebeard is a tale of the inner-space beings.”
“It is!”
“Gilles de Rais was a captain in The Maid’s campaign.  He fought as a young man in the battles of the Loire, right alongside Jehanne.”
Arthur stops, examines where his next step should be. Rain pouring solidly through the night, the fields in places are difficult.  “Gilles is from a high French lineage of the families.  He underwent the ceremony as a child.”
“The ceremony, Arthur?”
“That’s how it’s spoken of in the upper blood-lines. A holy ceremony to them.  Something they do with their young.  A procedure of dividing the wits.”
“Arthur, whatever does that mean?”
“A procedure practiced long before we have written records, two or more people inside one mind is how best you can think of it.
“Think of the mind as a stage.  One actor appears on the stage, then another makes a presentation.  Sometimes both actors appearing together, blended, usually later in life if the mind engages in a merging process.
“A document we have at the service, an old French manuscript, speaks of Gilles having the ceremony at the age of three.  The ceremony was not successful.  There was a second attempt when the boy was seven.
“This new attempt produced a cruel, vicious person within the child.  De Rais’ father, de Laval-Montmorency, believed those conducting the ceremony had overstepped. He threatened to speak if they did not do something to destroy this new actor.  He did not realise the new actor could not be destroyed, as much part of the mind as the original created actor.
“Someone inside the families threatening is perceived as a more real threat to them.  De Laval-Montmorency is killed, as his wife as an example.  Gilles and his brother René are given to his grandfather Jean de Craon for their care.
“Jean de Craon, one of the families’ priests in France, due to his esoteric relationship with the inner space beings who they consider their mentors, had been involved in both ceremonies of Gilles.  Varied acts of cruelty from the new actor when it emerged had shown this mind to be extremely cruel.”
“How do they create a mind, a new actor, Arthur?”
“Torture!  There is no other word for it.  The person is brought to a condition where it believes it is about to die, quite easy with a young child.
“The favoured way is to hold the child under water untill its mind accepts that it is suffocating, that it is dying. Incantations are spoken explaining how the mind is able to remain alive, to free itself.  The first mind creates a new actor.
“A very delicate moment where a choice has to be made by the priest engaged in the ceremony, when to raise the child from suffocation.  If done too soon, before the mind creates a new actor, the ceremony has to be performed again at a later time.  Often this is done within days or weeks.  The father of de Rais, de Laval-Montmorency, would not allow a new ceremony until the boy was seven.
“It is said that the front actor, as the person who is usually upon the stage, is opposite that buried underneath. This was true with Gilles De Rais.  An extremely pleasant child, as a young man he could charm anyone.  He was also brave, helping Jehanne greatly in the battles to rid the Loire of foreign occupation.
“The Dauphin arriving in Reims for his coronation, a Holy Ampulla has to be brought from the Abbey of Saint-Remy to Reims cathedral.  At each French coronation a small drop of the oil is placed on the new monarch.  This a heritage of rite brought down through the Merovingian line of the families.  Oil inside the Holy Ampulla is announced to the people as having been sent directly from heaven.
“De Rais is one of the four nobles chosen to bring the vial from the Abbey of Saint-Remy.  For his honourable and brave effort and achievements in battle and for his bringing the holy oil, now the Lord of Ingrande and of Champtocé is rewarded by the newly crowned Charles VII with the distinguished military title of Marshal, Maréchal de France.
“Returning home, De Rais begins to place much of his yearly income from the many estates he owns into stage productions.  De Rais is fascinated with theatre.   So lavish are the productions and so costly that though considered a success money spent far exceeds money returned in ticket prices.
“At this time cousins engage de Rais in secret rituals, esoteric aspects of the families’ connection to the inner-space beings. Ronald, George and I know these as intelligent entities — Dragon-heads, beings residing in a frequency different from ours, a frequency where they have bodies.  Using trickery of mind, a being can be seen by unskilled human eyes, as having human form.  This request for a deity-being to show itself is practised by certain core families in secret rituals they have.  A religious procedure!
“An ordinary person's mind seeing such a being might refer to these as demons, for they are part of the left side of The Game. Henrietta separated these as different.  Not widely varied in intelligence as demons, Dragon-heads play with extreme intelligence, dreams that form the base of how our political systems enslave.
Possession by dragon-heads should be considered as an extremely sophisticated technique.  So we have the dragons — for they do have wings at an inner ether, and do fly — these elevated by many people upon Earth to Gods.
“Lower levels of the hierarchy of The Kingdom, who Earth people consider and name demons, also manifest from an inner ether, a different frequency to ours.  But like the dragon-heads, conditions can be produced where all beings of the Kingdom can been seen by human eyes. With low level beings of the hierarchy of The Kingdom, when they present themselves, often this will cause disturbances of a dramatic nature in an individual. Someone we consider a Bedlamite, at least for the period of the possession.
“Kingdom beings, having many levels, are also worshipped by humans: Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, many more who those not aware have managed to combine into one person.
“With the engagement of de Rais by his cousins in secret rituals, the underneath actor within the mind of Gilles de Rais achieves primacy over the pleasant actor who mostly has presented itself. There begins the luring and the killing. Boys are the main target. The aim is to capture the child’s soul.”
“To capture the child’s soul?”
“Henrietta considered that nonsense.  ‘They capture the ghost body,’ is how she would express it.  When I asked more about this, her explanation is similar to George in his conversation at the dinner table the night he returned. ‘The ghost body exists inside every human’ she said, ‘and every form of life that we can see on Earth, including plant life.  We who exist upon this planet all have an ether body functioning at a frequency slightly higher than our earthly container.’
“‘An old custom of the families from Druidic times is to capture the ‘soul’ of a person by placing the mouth over that person at the point of death.
“‘If one has a strong enough intent knows the correct practice to take that ‘soul’ it can be done, but it is not the ‘soul’ that is taken. It is the mind of the individual that resides in the ‘ghost’ frequency.  Around the world, religious incantations at funerals have as a secret purpose that the person freed of their corporal body will move on, with its mind, from the state of the ghost body, and that its ‘ghost’ body will disintegrate back into its ether, as the human body disintegrates into Earth dust.’
“‘Sometimes,’ Henrietta said, ‘ghost bodies walk around with a mind different to the mind of the former human who has departed from its ghost body.  This is because the ghost body of the former human has been taken over by a spirit-being previously without an ethereal ghost body.  Beings who often do not know how to function inside a human ghost body.  Something that will look to an observer in the ethereal ghost existence as, let us say, weird.
“‘This also might happen with a human body; a taking over by a spirit entity must be done very quickly before rigor mortis of the body.  This might continue for a short time without anyone knowing the original person has died.  The entity mostly cannot function within the human body and departs — creating a good tale to be told around a fire.’”
“What happens to the soul?”
“The soul is never within a frequency as we understand the word. Soul exists unto itself, Conny.  That is how I have come to understand.  It does not move as we recognise movement.  It is beyond mind as we understand mind.  So of course it can never be captured. Only its lower bodies, its mind bodies, ethereal bodies inside The Game can be captured and imprisoned.
“Gilles De Rais as he gets older grows a beard that has a blue tinge, natural, not coloured by him.  The capture of the children and the pleasure experienced in the acts of torture and death, the terror-energy misery produced from the child is a very impressive moment for all who attend these séances.  The document we have speaks of the energy as of a rarefied kind.  An entity given the name La Barron is present at these séances.  ‘A spectral creature,’ it is said, ‘watches at the side,’ watches the process of torture and ‘sodomitique’ ritual that de Rais and his companions engage.
“After death has occurred, de Rais and those present at the ritual satiated with carnal excitement and energy, will watch as the dragon-head fades back into its own frequency.
“De Rais in his thoughts, in his possession by the dragon-head, is more and more encouraged to bring freshly lured boys to the castle.  A dinner is provided with all the luxuries that the child asks.  Taking the child to a special room away from the ears of ordinary servants, the Dragon-head manifesting as a shadow, feeds once again upon the unholy energy produced in the torture and the killing.
“Hundreds of boys are hung up, vilely abused and killed. The De Rais estates each have a castle.  From the villages of these estates a child will be spirited away.  The father, the mother, the sisters, brothers, never to see that child more.
. . .
Bella is at last at home with her father.  She had held up as much as she could.  Lucy after Lawrence’s death had been with her. Lucy she could cry with.
The funeral for Lawrence had seemed never to come. The police kept returning asking questions about London, about Exeter.  The little she knew she told them.
A murder in Exeter?  A young woman working her night trade near where Lawrence’s uncle held his business premises in Hartlepool?  She knew nothing about either.
A soothing detective stated the woman working her night trade had recently moved from Hartlepool to Exeter.  An eager policeman who had approached her because of her business, Angulse Sherod had been mentioned.  Having contact with the detective talking to Bella, the policeman had mentioned this.  The woman had been asked if she knew Lawrence Morton.
Dreading to get an answer, Bella asks if Lawrence had been seeing the woman.
“No!  It was only Angulse Sherod, his uncle, she was seeing,” the detective replies.  “But she had seen Lawrence Morton once he was described to her.  The good-looking boy accompanied his uncle walking.  ‘He would look as he passed,’ she had said, ‘but he never spoke to her!’ ” The detective had smiled.
“Did Mr.  Mortimer speak of activities that have taken place in Hartlepool?”  the inspector with the detective asks.
“Did Mr.  Mortimer accompany his uncle to Hartlepool or did he meet him there?  Did she know Angulse Sherod?”
“Lawrence helped in the business at Hartlepool, that was all she knew,” she told the inspector.  “He had gone to Hartlepool three times in the past year.  She did not know how he helped his uncle. She had never met Angulse Sherod.”
“Does Mr.  Mortimer go often to Exeter?”
“He has not been to Exeter while Lawrence and she have been together.”
“What is Mr.  Mortimer’s occupation in London?  Did he work for his uncle?”  Bella could do nothing but shake her head.
“He received a stipend from his uncle?”
She had nodded.  “He had a bit of a flutter with the cards,” she told them.  “His uncle did not pay him a lot.”
“What game did he play?”
‘Vingt-et-un.”
“Anything else?”
Bella had been sick with the questions.  “He would take up Brag or Cassino sometimes.”
The pain of the questioning is too much.  “Lawrence taught her Martingale,” she hoped if she gave them something they would cease bothering her. “She never could understand the complications, how to play the cards.”
The questions stop.
Lawrence’s father comes to tell her Lawrence’s body is being moved to a funeral home in Exeter.  “The police have decided to discontinue their investigations,” he says.
Lawrence’s father adds that he has contacted Angulse Sherod to say he wishes to take care of the cost.  “The police believe now Lawrence’s shooting of his uncle was not intentional.  Lawrence was trying to protect himself.”
Mr. Bexfield mentions the funeral arrangements will be in Exeter. Mr. Sherod had wished to have the funeral at Hartlepool because Lawrence had so many friends there.
Mr. Bexfield said he had to be quite firm with Mr. Sherod.
He had to threaten legal proceedings.  Mr. Bexfield said he could understand Lawrence being buried in Exeter but Hartlepool was too far away.  It was out of the question. He wished to visit his son often.  Mr. Sherod agreed to have Lawrence buried in the church his wife and he attend in Exeter.
“The funeral service will be this coming Tuesday.  Would Miss Stanton mind if Miss Trenton and he accompany her to the service.  They would leave Monday, stay overnight at a hotel in Exeter.”
There is more spoken: A question about her intentions? She is most welcome to remain at the manor.  “Lawrence is my son.  I consider you my daughter, if you will excuse the impertinence.”
Mr Bexfield had been delicate in his enquiries as to her financial requirements.  The cottage in St.  Pancras is on quarterly rental, she explains.  She will return there.  She does not know for how long.
Lawrence’s father came to her the next morning, handed her a letter accompanied with a solicitor’s agreement.  A cheque for one thousand pounds was included.  A burse of five hundred pounds to be forwarded quarterly.  In the letter Mr. Bexfield stated that his son would not wish Miss Stanton to be in any difficulty with regard to worldly needs.
In truth she is pleased Miss Trenton and Mr. Bexfield did accompany her to Exeter.  How her heart had ached. The flower thrown into the coffin affected her the most. Mrs. Sherod had given it to her, tears streaming from both their eyes.  The uncle had shaken her hand.
How she wishes the boy she knew was still here.  In those Weatherby woods he’d said goodbye.  But she didn’t know.  She could not believe it would be this way.  Deep inside she knew it was true, but her mind could not accept he would just go like that. Not see her back to London, or come back to her in St. Pancras.
He had told her the reason was that he was afraid for her. The last thing he had said was that he could not be with her.  They were going to try to kill him if they could.
If she was with him they would kill them both.  She asked him why? He said because they thought she knew.  She didn’t know but they would think that she knew.  In her heart something told her she would not see him again.
She knew that she would not again be with him when he walked away.  But she was hoping, praying something would change. Nothing about it she understands, not fully, even now!
When Mr. Bexfield asks if she wishes to stay for the funeral meal, she requests to be taken to the station.  Miss Trenton and Mr. Bexfield drink some tea with her in the station restaurant, wait with her on the platform.  They wave as the train pulls away.
The Sunday evening before her leaving the manor she had been outside in the garden when Mr. Hews walked by. He asked if she minded him sitting with her.  They talked by the pavilion for some time.  Mr. Hews had her speaking of Lawrence’s dream murmurings.  A vision she herself had two days previous, she mentions.  She had been walking by the greenhouses.  The Magistrate’s outline she had seen.  He was speaking with himself.
There is so much relief to her that Lawrence is buried in consecrated ground.  In the listening, in the watching as the protective words by the Reverend are uttered, the holy water sprinkled copiously upon the coffin, her soul seemed to find so much comfort.  Lawrence she believes has found his freedom.  No longer have they power over him.  She knows that in some way.
Arriving in London she returns to the cottage.  Five minutes inside she cannot stay.  Contacting the owners next door, asking them to send for a hackney, her clothes packed, a few precious things of Lawrence taken with her, she again is away.
Bella arrives at the farm.  It is late.  In her tiredness, in her tears, in her father’s quietness, she falls asleep.
. . .
Constance about to cross the style from one field to the next is reaching out to steady herself.  Arthur standing ready to help, she takes his hand. A trial, she thinks as she attempts to manoeuvre the top of the style.  “Thank you.  It is a climb.”
“I agree with you!”
“You agree with me?”
“That life is a climb.”
Constance laughs.  “Not exactly what I was thinking.”
“I know my dear.”
Constance looks down at her Wellingtons.  “We will be scraping mud off these for days.”
“Mine are going under the pump.”
“Well, that is a good idea.”
“I’m full of them.”
“Arthur, you seem jolly all of a sudden.”
“It’s the things we talk about, my dear.  Don’t you think they make us jolly?”
“No!”
“Why do we talk about them?”
“You bring these topics up, Arthur.”
“Yes!”
“So are you going to continue?”
“With Bluebeard?”
“How many children did he kill, Arthur?”
“We were having dinner, Henrietta and I.  We had been invited.  I believe they knew who we were.  We have been around so long, you know.”
“They know you work for the service?”
“I have never had anyone say that to me, not in those words.  But sometimes I do catch a hint.  They have there own spies you know. They are not stupid people.  I think it intrigues them.”
“What intrigues them?”
“They wonder why we do it?”
“Do it?”
“Pretend we are what we are not!  It’s not as if we are trying to take any money from them, not that they would let us of course.  I think it just fascinates that there is a small department in the British police who are paying us to have dinner with them.”
“They don’t feel vulnerable?”
“That has never been my experience.  We entertain them.”
“Why?”
“That our life is spent with the sole purpose of checking up on what they are doing.  Henrietta has good hearing, her French perfect.  At this dinner we were invited, two at the table were talking softly, disclosing details of a Sabbat meeting to be held.  I swear I don’t know now if it was not intentional.  A child sacrifice was to take place. The date of the meeting was given.  The address was not mentioned but the name of the club was.  Our contact with the local police, with constabulary in tow, we arrived to prevent the ritual. The aristocrats had been warned of course. Instruments and vessels of sacrifice remained upon the table.  A safe in a wall section in-between rooms we almost missed.  Not something you usually see.  The police locksmith had his tools so we were able to force the safe open.  There was just the one historical scroll about Bluebeard inside.
“Working at the translation written in old French, I am somewhat proficient in old French, was the story of de Rais.
“How he had been altered by ceremony.  For him another ceremony and the actor created.  ‘Free of emotion’ is how we interpret.”
“Why an actor free of emotion?”
“For the purposes of cruelty.  It speaks about the outer actor of de Rais being completely overcome by the inner, emotionally-free actor.”
“The outer actor of de Rais no longer existed?”
“That may not be the correct interpretation.  The mind is a strange substance.  We think we are the human brain, but we are not.  We are something behind the mind, even the greater mind, and that of course we cannot reckon with.
“The families are very cognisant of how to manipulate the human brain, how to manipulate large groupings with words that carry emotion.  We respond as an animal does, it doesn’t take that much skill to understand.  They know how to get to us kill other humans for instance, what stirs us.
“Soldiers and for that matter lay people, those who do not go off to fight, are given a script of evil regarding the opposing force. We become toughened as the saying goes. That which once would have been a great horror now is considered part of the way we live.
“De Rais is groomed into the teachings of the families by his uncle who has become his ward.  Jean dCraon seeking an heir, Amaury the son being killed at Agincourt, John Tournemine, Guy’s cousin, who should be given custody per Guy’s will, is refused custody. Jean dCraon through political wangling taking charge of Gilles and his younger brother René.
“Gilles De Rais as outer actor a courageous young man, fighting for his country, fighting alongside Jehanne the Maid, is now home burning money in theatrical elaborate stage presentations, his estates’ incomes recklessly squandered.
“Then the history changes to La Barron and the séances. De Rais taking children, doing monstrously perverse things to them.  The manuscript speaks of La Barron as being a powerful ‘Extra.’ Henrietta accepted this wording as being a ‘Great Actor’ as George would speak about in his early days.
“I had always thought of this as foolishness,” Constance laughs. “That they are the ones who direct The Game.”
“Direct The Game, responds Arthur.  “Henrietta, if you recall, added that they are the ones who have been playing so long inside The Game they have forgotten a connection with Soul, with their own connection to realness.
“Later she changed this opinion.  She said they know Soul exists.
“They are so taken with The Game that any reality that might be beyond their play takes away their sense of power. A supreme level of power you might say, the left and right in competitive battle.
“It is something to think of Great Actors creating this dream, The Enslavement Dream, for the benefit of them playing a game.”
“La Barron is a Great Actor?”
“I don’t buy it myself.  I think the Great Actors are far beyond the reality of experiencing pleasure out of pain in the form of torture. I believe the creature La Barron to be an inner space creature, one of those who live their life taking energy, misery-energy from us. These creatures are part of a set of creatures placed within The Game to experience sustenance from misery-energy.  These creatures as I know them have no emotion themselves. They merely take from our disturbed emotions.  They encourage what we do in any emotional context.  With de Rais they encouraged the séances.
“As the séances develop, the need to capture, torture and kill grows within the individuals who are participating. Gilles de Rais confesses to killing 800.  We might think this as an exaggeration for the purpose of confession so as to be excused from torture himself.  Villages around the castles: Champtoché, Suze Nantes, les châteaux de Tiffauges et de Marchecoul, all have children taken.
“The cruel actor of de Rais in complete prominence, he is encouraged by thoughts, by being under the possession of the inner being La Barron, to engage in sodomitiques passions.  Make no mistake humans become possessed. Humans do terrible things to each other, that I believe is why the inner beings continue with us.  The ordinary person is capable of anything for payment. There are moments when humans relish violence and torture, only needing to be told by an authority that gives ‘permission.’
“Much of the carnal acts in which Bluebeard engages are beyond my ability to give utterance.  The boy is given hippocras, a spiced intoxicant while dining.  After the meal he is taken to an apartment where servants are forbidden to approach.  De Rais, captivated with theatre, joins with the ethereal inner being in the acts committed — a real terror, a real victim, a real engorgement of lust.
“One has to wonder why the villagers let this continue for so long. How much does it take for people to shift from their normal routine to deal with some horror overtaking them.  In this instance the people in the villages themselves stopped the killings. Parents formed groupings; a whole nexus of information is shared between villages.
“When a drunken outburst in a wine house takes place, someone who works in one of the castles of de Rais, this knowledge spreads quickly, village by village, throughout all areas of castles that de Rais holds.  The Seigneur Baron is now on everyone’s lips.
“The families at this point intervene.  Too many cousins, too many of their own are involved.  Frequent séances. At the highest levels those within the police hierarchy take instruction to no longer force the lower commands to ignore that which for so long they have ignored.  De Rais’ cousin, Gilles de Sillé, the second high ranking in the coven, he is taken and imprisoned.  De Rais is taken.  So also servants who have assisted.
“With torture those in command at the core of the French families know de Rais will speak of the séances, of the ceremony, of other revulsion committed by people in high positions.  Torture must be avoided and the offer of no torture given.  The families’ agents meet with the police. Terms the families set are agreed.  This includes death, but death without torture.
“Not all is kept from the trial.  The shadow being La Barron becomes a demon manifesting as cruelty within this realm. Something the common person will accept.
“Later the families begin to gradually disguise the truth. A story, a fable is presented the masses find palatable.  The story of de Rais now a tale of Bluebeard, the aristocrat, name forgotten.  Events in the castles become fictional. Bluebeard has many wives.  These hung upon walls.  A secret room of former wives.  The youngest wife given keys has a great curiosity.  She turns the lock that is forbidden. Only historians have some knowledge of that which has in this reality taken place.  Future generations reading a story inside the dream is the fable.
“It is brought out at the trial that the child is hung in ropes. Dangling in the ropes male coven members shoot their seed upon the child.
“The child taken down is reassured all is play.  More carnal acts take place.  At the time of the sacrifice, a short sword, a double edged instrument known as a Braquemard, meaning a male organ, is used.  In the ritual it is this ‘male organ’ that will slash at the child’s throat but not cut the throat.
“Watched by La Barron disembowelling then takes place.
‘The Greatness,’ La Barron, becomes engorged with energy at the disembowelling, at the screaming that takes place from that which remains of the child.  The entity La Barron does not participate himself.  Being not of physical form, only a shadow, of another frequency, he is unable.
“But La Barron can witness and is witnessed by those attending.
“While the child is still alive, organs will be torn out, sometimes before the slashing at the throat.  With this disembowelling those humans attending find pleasure, the scroll states, in seating themselves upon this child’s open blood-retched stomach.
“La Barron who stands watching, the scrolls say, this being has a sort of armoured, scale-like sheen.  All present, all coven members kneel to this shadow as the child expires.
“Even this is not enough.  The dead child is beheaded. Once beheaded the child’s body is carnally abused again.
“The scroll states there are other beings watching these acts of horror.  These beings watch through the eyes of those attending. All are possessed.  These beings have come to witness, for an instance, a moment of conclusion, that which they have engaged themselves as drama within the dream.”
. . .
Arthur looks up as McBride brings two boiled eggs to the table. He taps one.  The eggs, hot, directly from the boiling pot are just as he like them.  Arthur smiles gratefully at the butler.  “You have heard of the tale of Bluebeard, Horace?”
“Bluebeard, sir!”
“The children’s story.  You must have had it read to you.”
“Let me summon my mind, sir.  Back in the Hielans as y’ken.  It’s a’been a few years since them far days.  To frighten the lassies, is it not, sir!”
McBride pauses for a moment.  “Oh!  Yes, sir.  A new young wife is with her husband in a castle.  The husband is going away on some business matter, or is it to fight in a war, sir.  ’Look you, wife,’ the husband says, giving a ring of keys to his new wife, ‘you will need these.’ He points to one key, ‘Never ever turn this lock!”  McBride looks across at Lady Middleton for help.
“‘I’ll do as you say,’ the bride replies.”
“Indeed she does, m’lady.  But when the master has left the castle, the young wife becomes curious.”   McBride smiles at Arthur.  “Curiosity is always the downfall, I’m afraid.  Is it not sir?
“The bride has to find that door and she goes through all the palace trying the key in every lock. The young lass thinks she has tried every door and that her husband has been teasing her, when she comes across a door on the top floor of a back turret.  She tries the key.  It turns.
“The door opens.  Daring to go inside, for lass with her curiosity has courage, what does she find, sir, m’lady! Bones!”
“Bones!”
“Human bones chained to the wall.  Running back out of the room she quickly closes the door, locks it.  Feeling all might still be well with her, that her husband will not know of what she has done, she gazes down at the key.  It is stained sir.  The key is now blood red.”
“The key is blood red, Horace!”
“That is how a young lassie told it to me, sir.  The young wife tries to wash the key, sir, tries to make it as it was. But no soda, nothing of any cleaning will take the stain away.  Then her husband returns.  ‘Give me the keys, wife,’ he says.  She hands him the key ring, trying to hide the key that is all red.  The husband moves her hand away, stares at the redness.  Before two shakes of a stick, his sword taken out of its scabbard, the wife’s head is lopped off. That is the end of her, for her failing. Curiosity kills the cat as they say.”  McBride picks up the almost empty coffee pot.
“Anything else, Lady Middleton, Mr. Hews, sir, while I fetch more coffee?”
“Nothing, thank you, Horace.  Not for me,” Constance continues with the buttering of her toast.
Arthur shakes his head.  “Thank you!  Just coffee!”
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