Then in this 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.’
Chapter Twenty Five
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elly’s outburst had been enough. Everyone is outside by the stables, Mrs. Minton and Lucy, Charlotte Appleton, Ruby and Beatrice, Betty Enlem, Mr. Entwistle who came to the kitchen for some tea. Now Mr. McBride and Nelly are back, Tom, Fred, Mr. McBride taking horses up the path.
Then arrives Mr. Coulter and Miss Adams.
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 is?”
“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 the pony?”
“Yes sir!”
George looks down at Emily.  “What made you return, my dear.”
“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 below.
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 pocket.
And then a single, long, piercing sound.
‘My dear,’ the cheerful voice rings out.
‘Aunt Henrietta?
‘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 sure.
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!”
“Oh!  Bear!”
“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 up.”
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 grass.
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! Never again!”
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 Lucy.
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.
“Yes, Jimmy!”
“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 the twinkles.
“I’ve been thinking over matters, Nelly girl.”
“Oh!  What about?”
“The Squire.”
“Oh Jimmy!”
“Regarding we can’t ‘ave ‘er doing this.”
Nelly frowns.  “No!”
“Ghosts can return t‘eaven, Nelly girl, ain’t that so?”
“Return t‘eaven!”
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?”
“Mange Celaban?”
“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.”
“Oh Jimmy!”
“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 off t‘eaven.”
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.
“Ah!  Luce!”
“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 it.
“You’ll speak to her tomorrow morning as you fill her bath?”
“In her apartment, Luce?”
“She takes a bath some place else!”
“Ah!  Luce!”
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 arrives.
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 love.”
“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 hands.
“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 through.
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 just poured.
“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 to cook.”
Constance holds her hands to her head.  “In the coal shed!”
“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.”
“Damned!”  George shudders.
Mange pauses, not knowing if she should speak what she thinks she should say.  She lowers her voice, “Damned for moment!”
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 asks.
“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, Miss Celaban!”
“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 suggesting?”
“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 off...”
“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 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 a thing.”
“Why was Ronny so persistent in believing it was Abby Tempest?”  George gazes out the carriage window, shakes his head.
“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 way home.
“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 for him.
“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 door.
“Mr.  Tempest?”
“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 Ronald.”
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.
Constance nods.
“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 her husband.
“I’ll see this devil again,” he says grimly.  “I’ll see his misery.”
. . .
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’ girl.’
‘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 you out!”
“Yes.  Arthur, your friend, Magistrate.  He is here wait’n.”
“Tell him it is me, also,” Constance cries in a choking voice.
“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 Master!”
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 servant’s courtyard.
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 him.”
‘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 come.
“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! Popum!”
“Forgive me, Caroline,” George calls.  “Lawrence, forgive me.”
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, Magistrate.”
“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 brightness.
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.’
© Kewe   All rights reserved.