Mrs. Minton talks to them, tells them all she knows
from Mr. McBride. Mr. Coulter rushes into the kitchen to
make a telephone call to Joshua Shenton the estate hostler
to prepare Celandic and a pony for Miss Adams. No one
knows why everything is happening, except something to
do with Miss Annabell and the Squire’s ghost that Nelly
insists she has seen. Nelly is refusing to speak.
With gaping mouths they watch the horses as they come
galloping down the pathway: Mr. George, followed by Lady
Middleton, and then behind Mr. Hews.
Everyone at once tries to tell Mr. George of the arrival
of Mr. Coulter and Miss Adams. “Where are they?” he asks.
“I’m here, sir,” Edward shouts as Emi ly and he come
running through the stable gates. “We must go.”
George alarmed asks, “Do you know where Annabell
“Yes, sir.” Edward replies. “She has been seen, by
Æthelred. He and the two boys were out on the moors.
Bell mentioned some plants that grow around Leatherleaf
waters. She was not sure of the way.”
“Annabell is travelling towards Leatherleaf waters with
George looks down at Emily. “What made you return,
“It was as if someone came to me, spoke to me, a lady.”
Tears begin to crowd into Emily’s eyes. “She said that we
should be with Annie. That Annie would want us.”
“We will take the carriage to the estate, sir. The stables
are preparing my horse and a mare for Miss Adams.”
“I think we should bring some rope, George,” Arthur
says. “Anyone know where to find fine rope in the stables?”
“I do,” calls out Betty Enlem. Dismounting George and
Arthur follow her, Arthur telling Edward to bring some
rope with him.
With that, Edward and Emily rush to the Brougham
which has turned and waiting. They get into their carriage
and are gone.
Attaching the coils of rope to the saddles of their horses
and the saddle of Hasty, Constance’s horse, the two men
mount. Pressing his legs against the young stallion’s side,
George shouts to all watching, “We will be off.”
. . .
Annabell, after waving goodbye to Æthelred and the two boys, falls into a reverie of lightness. Air blows about her. Gulls above, dipping and gliding, seem to fly alongside. How breathtaking are the sunrays that shimmer through moisture rising from the fen.
She thinks she spies a badger. Now why would a badger
be sitting upon that rock, just sitting? Tapping her hand
along the side of Milly’s neck, she bends to kiss the rough
hair of Milly’s head.
A dragonfly comes to hover in front of her. Blue-brown,
delicate gossamer wings of bright yellow spotting, dancing
right before her eyes.
‘I have come to be with you.’
How inexplicable it all feels, the small creature speaking.
She begins to soar. All below now patches: purple,
red, yellow, white, flowers and heather spread as a blanket
A Wagtail, its long grey tail wagging, turns completely
around to stare at her.
Now she is playing her bansuri to a cowherd. His look
so solemn as he gazes at her robes.
Then far away from anything to do with the cowheard,
a young boy’s face stares back at her from pondwater. In
the distance much screaming. The boy that Annabell is,
cannot look. Eyes filled with tears, he feels the onion in his
And then a single, long, piercing sound.
‘My dear,’ the cheerful voice rings out.
‘Indeed, my dear.’ Annabell takes hold of the yellow
rattle, the toy her aunt holds out for her.
Suddenly the music of the flute returns.
‘How fine you play that onion. How perfect, how pure
you had it.’
‘Do I wander now under the waters, Aunt!’
‘And on this most lovely of days, my love!’
The words roll off her aunt so matter-of-fact, Annabell
cannot help laughing.
‘Aunt Henrietta! Can I come with you?’
‘Is that the purification you seek, my love!’
In the emptying moment of her soul, Annabell is not
Seated upon a raised patch of grass, an excellent view
of the Leatherleaf as they grow by the water, all around
her blueberry and lingonberry plants. Next to where she
sits fine white perfumed orchids in a cluster.
Bees and grasshoppers and dragonflies flitting by, then
a sudden rustling, a tiny lizard sliding away!
And now the butterflies, a Ringlet, a Green Hairstreak,
a Copper. ‘Be with us,’ they say. ‘Play.’
A beetle climbing up a sedge, turns and stops to look
up at her before it journeys onwards.
Again the flute weaving in its wonder.
“Bell! Bell! My God, Bell!”
“Bear! Bear,” she waves to the approaching horse.
Edward’s voice bores into her. “What are you doing,
Bell? Why are you here?”
Annabell laughs. “I came...” quickly she looks away. “I came for a ride.”
“To Leatherleaf.” Edward’s voice is so filled with anger
he is almost choking. “You were going to leave me! You
were going to leave me, Bell!”
Annabell’s face goes bright red.
“Say it!” Edward booms. “Say it! Say it!”
“I can leave you, Bell!” Edward dismounted, beside
himself, is now walking across the grassland to the water’s
edges. “I can leave you!”
Then a sudden toppling and his body seems to dip.
“Oh my God,” Annabell screams as she watches his
body completely submerge.
“George hurry!” George and Arthur riding up, Arthur
wasting not a moment already has tied one of the ropes
around his waist. Handing the end to George, “Tie it to
your rope and the end to Celandic. Edward’s horse is the
sturdiest. He’ll hold it.” As Arthur steps to where they
had last seen Edward, he calls, “When I tug thrice, pull us
George doing as he has been bid, Arthur disappears into
the Leatherleaf plants, into the floating deep bracken.
As a boy he had done this. There were five of them. One
had disappeared another boy following. There must have
been an angel looking out for somehow, all holding hands,
all pulling on the chain of hands, they forced themselves
back up through the plant roots.
He can see the boy below him thrashing about.
But now it is Edward. He has to dive. He has to go
lower, underneath him to push him up!
A strange light shines. Not a foot distant, the boy is
raising an arm. Arthur doesn’t have to get below, reaching
to give him the spare extent of rope, Edward grabs, slips
it under his arms, ties it. Long seconds pass as Arthur
watches, then he tugs, once, twice three times.
He feels the pull. Upwards they begin to move. Sliding
through the plants, Arthur’s head out of the water, then
Edward, they are grabbing them, Annabell, Constance, George.
Leaning upon George, Edward stumbles from the water.
Not more than five steps he falls flat, face down into the
He lies there. There is no movement.
Annabell screams, “He is dying!”
Turning him over, so his face is against the ground,
knees press into Edward’s back. Once, twice, Arthur raises
himself. Then he does it again.
By instinct, forcing his fingers into the back of Edward’s
mouth, a spasm, then a flood of water gushes forth.
Rolling Edward onto his back, coughing, spluttering,
the boy seems to push him off. But his eyes are still closed.
Annabell, her face flooding with tears, leans over him.
“Don’t leave me. I do love you! Never will I leave you!
Softly, gently, the young man’s eyes open into hers. “Will you kiss me then,” he croaks.
. . .
Young Jimmy Briggs hates being ordinary. He farms,
but he’s bound not to be any commonplace farmer. Jimmy
carries a sense for the land, for the growing of crop and for
rearing, and while his father doesn’t always do what Jimmy
would wish, he does keep the farm best he’s able. When
Jimmy gets farm, it’ll be better.
Jimmy Briggs has a stubborn streak. A mile long, his
father says. But common sense does prevail with Jimmy,
and Jimmy knows his father. Reason enough not yet to
announce all that Jimmy has in mind: chiefly his asking
Nelly for engagement.
Nelly and him meet on John Hopkins’ land. Late, due to
summer nights and all work that has to be done. A bough
of an oak they sit upon, private and comfortable where a
fellow and his girl can talk. Often they look at the stars,
make guesses as to how many. Jimmy says a million. But
you can’t count a million, that’s too many.
And you can’t see a million. Sometimes they’re out and
sometimes they’re not.
The two will go and visit Tom and Lucy at stables at Manor. Tom’s father now has a school lad that’s working
temporary Tom’s jobs on farm, so Tom has more time with
James Briggs says he is mighty pleased he doesn’t have
a one like that Tom. He’s told Jimmy that Jimmy and him
would come to blows if Jimmy did that which Tom is doing.
James Briggs is tough with it. Jimmy thinks he’d hold his
own, but he’s not about to try, not till something serious.
And so we come to the evening of the day of all the
hullabaloo about Miss Annabell. Miss Annabell is home
now, but Nelly is still a quivering.
Seated under the oak, gazing at the fiery firmament of
stars, Nelly is squeezing Jimmy’s hand for all her might as
she tells her tale.
“What am I going do, Jimmy. I can’t go on with ‘er
wailing at me. I can’t. It’s too much.”
“Squire ‘er’s a’wailin a lot then?”
This business with ghosts is not a speciality of Jimmy’s.
They might hang around churchyards and howl, but Jimmy
is more than happy to put any ghosts he sees to undigested
beef eaten too quick.
“Yor’n sure was t’old master?”
Nelly states as loud she dare without causing upset:
“You listn’t me, Jimmy Briggs!”
Jimmy leans over to where everything is what he wishes
it to be. Her tingle comes before even his lips touch.
As they reassemble, a long pause while both gaze up at
“I’ve been thinking over matters, Nelly girl.”
“Oh! What about?”
“Regarding we can’t ‘ave ‘er doing this.”
Nelly frowns. “No!”
“Ghosts can return t‘eaven, Nelly girl, ain’t that so?”
Jimmy who likes to be correct in his speech thinks twice
of the word he has in mind. “Then being pre’minent is to
get Squire t‘eaven.”
Nelly smiles. “I suppose, yes, Jimmy.” Every day she
has more respect for Jimmy.
“This woman, Mange Celaban, don’t ‘er speak to dead?”
“She tha’s with Tom’s dad.” Jimmy in spite of himself
can feel his face reddening.
“She sees the dead, Nelly girl!”
“Well, I do that, Jimmy!”
That knocks the beau back for a moment. After awhile, “Nelly girl,
you willing to send Squire t‘eaven then?”
“Me! Master a wail’n as ‘er does. Lord heavens, ‘ers
getting so bad I never knows where I might be a see’n ‘er.
How do I know to send ‘er t‘eaven?”
Jimmy breathes heavily. “So we need Mange Celaban,
Nelly. She speaks to dead. She can tell him to go.”
“Best place for ‘er Nelly girl. No more meetings with
’er. ‘Er’s gone.”
“Oh Jimmy!” Nelly repeats, clutching at his hand.
“You are a one.”
Jimmy puffs up. “Well, we can’t have all this. It ain’t
proper. Old master’s got to be put back in grave and sent
A long time they both stare up at the stars.
“How shall we do it then?”
“Let’s speak to Tom.”
“Lucy will be there.”
Arriving at the stables, Tom is not going to ask his
father, as a favour, to speak with this woman. Tom keeps
glowering at Jimmy Briggs. Lucy thinks it is a good idea.
“Ah! Luce,” Tom keeps repeating.
“What’s to think about, Tom,” Lucy asks.
“Let’s ask Lady Middleton!”
Now Tom, who fetches water for Lady Middleton’s bath
has developed a fondness for her ladyship, at least the little
of her soles of her feet she allows him to see. Lucy knows
“You’ll speak to her tomorrow morning as you fill her
“In her apartment, Luce?”
“She takes a bath some place else!”
But Tom does not speak to Lady Middleton. Lucy,
when she brings the breakfast tea, speaks to Miss Hooper.
Lucy asks to speak with Lady Middleton.
. . .
Emily had arrived at Leatherleaf waters after Edward
was already in the water. “Edward is in the water and we
are trying to get him out,” Lady Middleton shouts as she
Holding Celandic while Lady Middleton runs across to
where Annabell is helping her uncle by the water, Emily
considers it an opportuneness that animals sense calmness
within her. With the rope tugging and jerking, she had
worked her spell and the horse had stood firm.
She still has no idea why Edward and Mr. Hews had
been in the water. On the journey back, with the wet
clothes and everyone exhausted, she sensed it wasn’t the
time to ask.
Now constantly with Annabell, only leaving for a time
the apartment when Edward arrives, when she’ll go to the
garden or her own room to read, she still doesn’t know the
reason for Edward being in the water.
It is mid-morning and Edward not yet having made his presence, she
decides to ask. “What were Edward and Mr. Hews doing
in the water!”
“He loves me!” Annabell takes Emily hand.
“He was in the water because he loves you!” Emily’s face
makes Annabell burst out laughing.
“He fell in.” Annabell cannot stop giggling. “He was
mad at me! You know, foolish as foolish he can be!”
Emily, with the usual conflict of emotion, doesn’t know
how to proceed.
“Bear was angry because I was going to leave him.”
Tears well up in Emily. “And me!”
“And you!” Annabell hugs and kisses her. “I was selfish,
I know that now. Bear jumped in because he is a Bear. A
stupid Bear at times. A very ridiculous Bear.”
Jealousy, resentment, rage, every frustrating emotion
she has boils up at this moment. “I mind, Annie! I mind!”
Annabell hugs her to silence. “Hush! Hush, my love!
Bear is our protection.”
“Bear is our protection!” the tears pour from Emily’s
eyes. “You are telling me you are going to leave me!” Just
hearing her own words makes Emily cry more.
Annabell strokes Emily’s face. “No! I’m not! Do you
not know my heart?”
A sob, then “Yes!”
“Our love is too deep, too strong. Bear safeguards our
“He likes you. He wouldn’t have us part. He is a bear.
He has no jealousy within him. When you and I have had
a quarrel, and we will because our love is very strong, you
will go away sometimes very angry. Then you will return.
You will know I am with him and it will not bother you.
It will draw you because you will want to be with me and
you will be able to return. You will know I wait for you.”
“You want me to go?”
“I want you to be with me, always.” Annabell smothers
her in kisses. “Aunt Henrietta says that you and I, now
we can always be together.” They sit on the bed holding
“Who safeguards Edward!”
“We do! You and I. We are married and he will know
he is married, not just to me, but to you. Not like I am,
but he will love you more because he knows you love me,
and you protect me.”
As they sit there, their moment of ceremony, it breathes
to them now.
Breathes to them of the life they will have
in these many moments to come. The love and anger.
A time not always together, but always reunited. That
Annabell’s Bear will be, and is who keeps them not from
each other, but in his essence will keep them close.
. . .
The truth is Constance has been at her wits end since
the outburst of Hope Tempest at the funeral. The sound
of the coffin being hit, the shrieking of Hope Tempest, “Go
to hell, Ronald Bexfield! Go to hell!” Constance knows the
superstition. In her heart she knows Ronald is still here.
“You say Mange Celaban will speak to him, Lucy?” She
glances at Miss Hooper. “I am going to speak with Ronald’s
brother. If George agrees then I’ll ask him to accompany
me. She lives in Atherton, is that correct?”
“She has a cottage on the Stogg farm, your Ladyship.”
“Thank you so much for doing this. Please thank Nelly
for me. And the son of Farmer Briggs.”
It is the morning of June 9, 1900. Mange Celaban has
come earlier than expected, arriving while Constance, Meg,
George and Arthur are still at breakfast. Nelly brings her
Constance rises from her chair. Introductions quickly
done, Mange declines the invitation to have breakfast. She
accepts the offer of coffee, waits while McBride places the
setting before her.
“I ‘ave already spoken with Master,” Mange picks up
the cream jug, adds cream to the cup that McBride has
“You have spoken with Ronald!”
“Yes, your Ladyship. I came in by kitchen yard as that
is where letter you sent by carriage stated Nelly had her
meetings. I took it upon myself to come back way because
that was my instincts like. ‘Master over in coal shed,’ I says
Constance holds her hands to her head. “In the coal
“That’s where Master is now.”
“Where his lingering ghost body is drawn?” questions
George, deathly white.
“Don’t know ‘bout been drawn! Where ‘er’s placed ‘erself for moment.”
“Did you speak to him?”
“Mr. Hews, ain’t it? Squire’s friend?”
“I asked why Squire was in shed. Master believes ‘er is
“Damned!” George shudders.
Mange pauses, not knowing if she should speak what
she thinks she should say. She lowers her voice, “Damned
She decides it must all be brought out. “I was at funeral,
Mr. Bexfield. She should’n ‘ave done it, Hope Tempest. I
‘ave respect for old Squire. John and me, both. Been fair to John ‘as Magistrate. Knowledge of law that ‘er gave to John we both ‘preciate.
‘art in right place, John Hopkins,’ I says. ‘Hope Tempest
should’n done what ‘er did at funeral.’ ”
“Is that why he is still here?” Constance can barely get
the words out.
“Yes, your Ladyship. ‘Er should’n done that with ‘er
stick. No good talk’n to Squire. Damned! Damned, is
what Squire ’n dream believes.”
“So he cannot rest!” exclaims George.
“Tempest business, Mr. Bexfield, if you’ll excuse me
‘avin to say it. Tempest business is at root. Bad business.
Has to be cleared up, ‘n ‘er ‘motions. More so now. Won’t
go till cleared ‘motions, till mind clear.”
“Oh my God! Oh George!”
George stares at Constance, then at Mange. “What can
we do, Miss Celaban?”
“Well, Master won’t go ‘til this is cleared. We ‘ave to
get it cleared.
“I have a question if I may ask it, Miss Celaban,“ Meg
tries to get her voice steady. “Can we ask Hope Tempest
to withdraw the curse?”
Mange considers this for a moment: “Squire has taken
upon himself the guilt ’o Abby Tempest. Abby Tempest
must say she forgives him. I think you ‘ave to go to the
mother. ‘Er must do it, both better.”
“Abby Tempest! She can lift the curse!”
“Yes, your Ladyship. They ‘ave to confront each other.
Master’s spirit ‘as to be settled. Mother will do it.”
Constance wipes her eyes. “In the coal shed, oh dear!
oh dear. Ronny, how can you do this!”
“Abby Tempest lives in Weatherby, doesn’t she?” George
“She does, Mr. Bexfield. I know the Tempest shop, but I wasn’t sure. John says she lives with daughter Hope and ‘usband Bob Tempest. I can give you directions. John told me where they live.”
“Then we will go to see her. Will you come with us,
“I should be getting back to Stogg, Mr. Bexfield. I
works there Saturdays. It gets busy, you understand, when men come in. Besides I think it has to be you. I...”
Arthur interrupts, “Miss Celaban, is there someone at
Atherton that will replace your services for say late afternoon and the rest of the day? If we can persuade Abby
Tempest to come here to the manor. That is what you are
“Yes, Mr. Hews. I see it as only way for Squire.”
“Could you be here later this afternoon?”
“Yes. I think I could, sir. I must ask Lilly, owner of
Stogg, but I don’t see any objection. A woman in the village
who helps on occasions, she would be grateful for work.”
“Miss Celaban,” says Arthur. “I will see that she is paid
handsomely. You also for the time off that we are asking.”
“I don’t take any money for the speaking, sir,” answers
Mange. “But if you wish to recompense me for the time
“Yes! Of course!” both Arthur and George respond.
“Then I must get back right away and arrange it all.”
Mange turns to George. “John is waiting with trap. If you
do spend time with Hope Tempest and the mother...”
“Indeed, we will go right now,” answer George. “If Abby
Tempest agrees, I will come with a carriage for you.”
“I would prefer John bring me, sir. Saturdays he has
man working necessaries at farm. He’ll be with me.”
“What time will you be thinking of this afternoon, Mr.
Bexfield?” George looks at Constance who stares at Arthur.
“Five o’clock this afternoon, will that be a good time to
be here?” Arthur asks.
“Time fine if Abby Tempest agree. Send a message to
me at Stogg,” Mange smiles at George. “Mr. Bexfield! I
will do what I have to do at the time, but afterwards it can
shake me. I have to rise up to be where they talk. When
them’s at one end and me at t’other and speaking so Abby
and you all...it affects my body, you see. It gets me out of
sorts. Time is needed after. But I know John. I will be at
peace with him.”
As the carriage rumbles towards the Tempest house with
Constance and George, a discussion takes place about the
way they should approach Hope and her mother Abby.
Constance says they have to be forthcoming. “Abby held for five years at Exeter on Ronald's judgement must have brought great pain not only to Abby being imprisoned but her husband Bob and to Hope. Both had to live with the shame and had to live without Abby. Such pain doesn't easily go away. That is obvious with Hope at the church.”
“You believe Ronald was at fault,” asks George.
“I never believed it was Abby Tempest that began the
fire,” replies Constance.
“There was a fellow I met in Bombay. He came from
Weatherby. I mentioned the fire to him and he said a
woman, a friend of Rachel Keys, had been accused of doing
it. She had been put away. She had gone mad. I had no
idea Ronald was involved. He said a paper had been found
in the woman’s sowing basket with the words ‘Ezekiel Keys
is a harmin Bedlamite.’ Was that the reason for her to be
removed, to be imprisoned?”
“Abby did write those words. She was afraid of Ezekiel
Keys. It was just her way to quite herself. Caroline had told
her father she had a child. There had been a big eruption
while Abby was visiting. Ezekiel caused the fire, I said to
Ronny. He couldn’t face that his daughter had done such
“Why was Ronny so persistent in believing it was Abby
Tempest?” George gazes out the carriage window, shakes
“The key. Ronald spoke to two tradesman. The key
was hung at the side of the door, they said. A big iron key.
Ronald insisted something of it should have remained even
with a great fire. Ronald said whoever did it took the key
locking them inside. Only a mad person could do that. He
said Abby Tempest would have thrown the key away on her
“Abby was being withdrawn. She was in shock at the
deaths. Then at being accused. I implored Ronald not to
put her away but he said people go funny sometimes. She
admitted she’d been out there hours before the fire. The
note in the sowing basket, that with the key was enough
“I pleaded with him, George. I knew it was not her. All
he would say is that she could not be tried. If she was tried
she would be convicted and hung. He said she must be put
away. He said he was the person who had the responsibility
for seeing this was done.
“‘Then give up you role as Magistrate,’ I said.
“Ronald stared at me. I thought for a moment he would. When he did not answer me, I knew I could not bear to be
with him. Oh Ronald! Oh God! All that wasted time! You see how...”
“Hush! Hush now! We are here.”
The carriage has halted outside a large weather-beaten
cottage. Fred is opening the door.
. . .
A tall elderly man with a chinstrap beard comes to the
“Aye! That be me.”
“My name is George Bexfield. This is Lady Middleton.
“Constance Flarenton as I was, Mr. Tempest.
“I reckoned I know face. Lady now is it! I ‘erd som’tn.
Brought the devil’s brother did ye.”
“The Devil’s brother,” George draws a long breath.
“Magistrate devil incarnate ain’t ‘er. Dead now! Good
riddance. Us folk suffered under ‘er can be ‘a peace now.”
“Mr Tempest, we came to speak with your wife and your
daughter, if we could.” Constance speaks somewhat loudly
hoping her voice will carry. “We wish to speak regarding
It is very possible the door would have been slammed
at this moment except that an elderly woman in a blue and
white cotton gingham day gown moves her husband aside.
“Who is it, Robert?”
“The devil’s brother and his fancy piece. I’m tells ‘em
to go.” Abby stares at George and Constance.
“It is me, Constance Flarenton, Mrs. Tempest. We have
come to speak with you, if we can.”
“Why would you want to speak with me?” A look of
consternation, also fear, comes over the woman. George
half-turns towards the carriage then stops himself.
Constance answers: “We have come to ask of you what
we shouldn’t ask. For we do not deserve your kindness.”
Abby leans against the door. “I remember you. You
came with him once. You were the one who spoke for me.
You come to ask me a kindness?”
“Can we come inside, Mrs. Tempest?”
Abby looks at her husband. He scowls but steps back.
Leading them to a room, Abby Tempest says, “We are
expecting my daughter Hope to return any moment. I don’t
know if I should wait until she comes.” One of the chairs is
pulled from an oak pedestal table that takes up the middle
of the room. “Take a seat. Tell us what you ‘a to tell us.”
Constance taking the seat, “Ronald’s spirit is disturbed by what Hope did at the funeral.” She turns to George who
has pulled out a chair. “He cannot rest, Mrs. Tempest. We have spoken with someone who knows about these matters. His spirit is in the Manor House coal shed. He doesn’t know if he is alive or dead.”
“Better than asylum,” thunders Bob Tempest.
“Hush love!” says Abby, who stands by her husband.
Tears come to Constance’s eyes. She stares around her
trying to move her mind from the terribleness. The room has a dignity to it, and also warmth: the rattan sofa against one wall, the cherry-wood glass-fronted curio cabinet, inside China dragon tea
settings. A large painted music box. A silver embossed
steamer trunk with a quilt partially thrown over it.
“Magistrate doesn’t know if he is alive or dead, that
what you are saying?” asks Abby.
“So why have you come to me?”
“The person who we spoke to, Mange Celaban, we asked
her to speak to Ronald and she has told us Ronald will not
leave until this business with you is settled.”
“Mange Celaban who works at Stogg?”
“You know her!”
“It’s said she speaks with dead.” Abby is still standing, shaking while holding the remaining chair. “I didn’t do it, you know. I had nothing to do with what Hope did!”
Constance takes her hand. “We haven’t come... I know you had nothing to do with the fire. I always knew. I could do nothing. He wouldn’t listen to me.”
“The curse Hope put on ‘er,” says Abby’s husband Bob. “I told Hope. ‘Do it,’ I says.”
Abby stops him. “I said to Rachel plenty of times
that house on moors is a witches place. She wouldn’t
have it because Ezekiel wouldn’t have such talk. She loved
Ezekiel but she was afear o’ ‘er.
“When Caroline disappeared
I thought she’d gone into this other world, this Witches
world. There is powerful forces out there to take ‘er. Then
when she came and told what she had done, Ezekiel went
mad you know. He’d mutter all the time. As if he was
talking to someone.
“I was terrified when Magistrate came to house. I knew
Bexfield’s were part of them that Ezekiel came from.” Abby
looks at George. “You, his brother, Ezekiel said you were
part of them. When they sent me to asylum, I thought they
were sending me to be killed by them. I was praying that
if they took me they would leave Bob and Hope alone.”
While Abby has been speaking, Hope has come into the
cottage by the back door and has been standing outside the
open drawing room door listening.
“You’ll be asking ‘er next why ‘er wrote on that paper! As if my mother ‘as’n be’n ‘armed to ‘er vey ‘eart ‘n more.” They all turn towards Hope as she steps forward.
“They say Ronald Bexfield’s spirit is in coalshed at Manor!” Abby exclaims, sitting in the chair she’s holding. “It’s your curse! Mange Celaban from Atherton says it has to be dealt with. He won’t go away if it’s not dealt with.”
Hope laughs grimly. “Dealt with. I dealt with ‘er.
Struck ‘er coffin, serves ‘er right. I dealt with ‘er.”
Constance has no idea how she manages to keep calm
because the words cut right into her. “We would like your
mother to come and speak with Ronald. Mange Celaban
says she will be at the manor at five if your mother will be
there. I have no right to ask it. Will you come?”
Abby looks at Hope. “Will you come with me.” She
looks across at Bob. “With me an your dad.”
“No! Let ‘er stay in coal shed.”
“Come with me, Hope. This has to end. You know it
has to end, doesn’t it, love. If it don’t end we are still going
to have it! We are always going to have it!” Abby looks at
“I’ll see this devil again,” he says grimly. “I’ll see his
. . .
Hours later, Mange opens the coalshed door. “Come
out! Come on out!” Mange cries. “Out you come, Master
Squire. We is all wait’n out ‘ere ‘fer ’er.”
Nothing happens. Peering inside the darkness, Mange
steps back. “That who was in their life, Ronald Bexfield,
Biddiford Magistrate, show ‘er self!”
‘Who are you?’ she hears a faint tremulous voice speak
inside her head.
“Who am I? Why Mange Celaban who works at Stogg,”
Mange is speaking loudly all the words she is thinking so
that all standing around watching can hear. But to him
silently now in her mind she says, ‘I am John Hopkins’
‘What do you want with me?’
She repeats that to the crowd, then, “Want! We want
you out of coalshed, Magistrate Bexfield. Why, your brother
is here. He don’t want no more coalshed. Mr. Hews your
friend is here. He says he wants for your best. He wants
“Yes. Arthur, your friend, Magistrate. He is here wait’n.”
“Tell him it is me, also,” Constance cries in a choking
“I know you heard her, but Lady Middleton says to tell
you it’s she here waiting for you, Magistrate. Wait’n to
speak all proper and right!”
Mange beckons to Constance to come to her. “He just
called for you, Madame.”
“Knobs! Knobs my love. Can you hear me. Oh! Knobs
I do love you. Please... Please...”
“He does hear you, Lady Middleton,” answers Mange,
peering inside. Then she gets hold of Constance, begins
gently forcing her from the door. “Squire is mov’n. He is
mov’n. Give ‘er some room.”
As both Constance and Mange step back, suddenly a
scream comes from behind Jimmy Briggs. Nelly, clutching
for dear life Jimmy’s back, screams out, “Old Master! He
is coming out. Can you see him! There’s old Master, old
This unsettling everyone, those at the back shuffle inches
further backwards from where they had previously stood.
Nelly sees him clearly, dressed in walking clothes as she’s
seen him so often. Mange hears better than she sees, and
as the Squire steps through the coalshed door, it’s a wispy
half-formed image to her. “I’s as sharp at hear’n as anyone
who speaks through ears,” she’ll say after a few tankards of
stout behind her. Now thoughtful, she stares at the body
that is the Squire.
‘I am not dead!’
“Dead! If ‘er were dead, why am I do’n m’ best ‘ere,
Squire?” Mange laughs as her words resound across the
The Squire now fully outside the coalshed sees specks of
human shapes about him. Shapes that twinkle. Some he
can recognise, more knowing than seeing. He knows that’s
his brother out there at the front. Arthur next to him.
Then he stares at Constance. The love is pouring from her.
“Conny” Mange repeats.
‘Conny, can you see me.’
“He is asking if you can see him, Lady Middleton. “Can
you see him?”
Constance stares, lowers her head, “Tell him that I miss
‘I don’t have a body!’
“No, you don’t have old body,” Mange, also speaking to
the audience, answers in a matter-of-fact tone. “Don’t ‘ave
body, not like them no more.”
‘Then I must be damned!’ Mange sees the wispy image
begin to turn to move back into the shed.
“Hold Master!” She calls. “Hold now! You’re talking
to me, ain’t yer. You ain’t dead and you ain’t damned.”
‘I am damned.’
“Ah! Damned you are, then,” replies Mange. “Damned
for moment, Magistrate. Damned, for moment. That’s why
we’re here. Abby Tempest is here. She’s come to see you.”
A cry comes from Ronald, a pitiful wail that Mange
has heard so many times before from these half-beings.
“Stop now, Magistrate! We’re here to settle all so you ain’t damned. Not anywheres. That’s it! Out yer come. None can hide. Coalshed ain’t place and let me tell you why! Hope Tempest who damned you, she’s here. So is Bob Tempest
who damned you most, he’s here. All want to see this
settled. To see you on.”
‘Hope is here?’
“Hope is here. Hope certainly it is,” laughs Mange,
pointing to where the Tempests are standing.
“It is me, Magistrate Bexfield. Abby, the one you put
away.” All around her it seems to flow, the love she carries.
Nelly, who has let go of the back of Jimmy Briggs,
shouts: “Two of them. Look!,” she holds her up her hand,
points to a space some distance from where Mange stands. “I know ‘er. Caroline! And it’s young master.”
Mange stares where Nelly is pointing. They all stare to
where she points.
Mange can see two shapes inside the thin mist. “Identify
yourself,” she calls out. “Speak to who you are!”
In Mange’s mind, words are beginning but seem to have
no end. As she accustoms herself she hears: “My son wishes
you to have knowledge.” Mange hearing the words repeats
them. “That which is thought, is not.” Mange stops, waits.
A young man has taken over. She can sense the vibration
of masculinity. “Our world is of that we have created. Our
body both divided and joined will remain.”
Then there is a pause.
“They gathered bundles set to an alter to worship.” it
is difficult for her to repeat the next words for they are names, she is never good with names. “... gorse holding
bewitchment not spent till the stone itself is fire.”
Then the words stop.
George calls out, “Lawrence!”
Mange stares towards the mist. She waits but no words
come to her.
George calls again. “Lawrence, my son. Speak to me.”
Through the silence softly some flow of thoughts do
“It is me Caroline, Popum. He speaks through me.”
Hearing her special private name for him called out so shakes George. How through the years he has wished, prayed. “Caroline, I did not know I had a son.”
Mange continues to repeat the words: “Popum! Popum!
“Forgive me, Caroline,” George calls. “Lawrence,
Then suddenly from somewhere she has no idea where,
very strongly that it almost knocks her down: “All has
been as considered, know that, father. Guard my son well,
father. Guard him well.”
George listens, bows his head, answers, “I will.”
“They are going,” Nelly cries. “Look! Ohhhhhh. The
two that are one, look, now they’re a gone.”
Mange’s voice calls out. “Abby! Abby Tempest, speak
to me.” Mange searches among the shadows to where she
believes Abby Tempest is standing with her daughter and
husband, for all she sees now are shadows.
Abby Tempest fixes her own eyes deep into the eyes of
the unseeing Mange Celaban. “What do you want of me,
“I ask for your forgiveness, Abby.”
“Should I forgive you, Magistrate!”
“I ask it, Abby.”
There follows now a silence.
Abby calls out: “Answer me, Magistrate! Answer! You
wish not to be damned.”
Softly, “I ask it, Abby.”
“Then you have bought your own forgiveness.”
Abby Tempest turns towards her daughter, “My daughter, say that you remove your curse.”
“Aye, that I do, Magistrate.”
With that a light seems to arise flooding all with its
Through the waves that now mantle them, Ronald’s
thoughts flow into his beloved, Constance. She sees his
shining, his exquisite radiance. She hears his words: ‘Take
care of my lovely niece.’
Then in a moment that she will never surrender, the
light, and the softness, and him, his cry to her. ‘I do not
want to go. I will ask you again, my love.’