Rebuilding/Monochrome #writephoto

timbered-building

Photo by Sue Vincent

It stood there, a monochrome structure, unusual in appearance as tourists and curiosity seekers descended upon its immaculate grounds like a swarm of locusts.  They came every year to see if it would cave in.  The owners of the property were determined that it never would.  As long as it remained standing, the money would keep coming in.   They made sure it was properly maintained and repaired.

They didn’t, however, imagine that their cash cow would one day go up in flames.  It turned out that the caretaker set the house on fire in an attempt to cover up the accidental death of his girlfriend.  Following a heated argument in his office, he struck her in a fit of rage and she fell, hitting her head against the concrete wall.

Panicking, he grabbed a can of kerosene and doused the place, set the flammable liquid on fire and then fled.  Riddled with guilt and remorse, he turned himself in a couple of days later.   He is serving time in jail for assault, involuntary manslaughter, destroying and concealing evidence and arson.

Tourists still flock to see the burnt remains of the house.  Donations are flooding in for its rebuilding.  The owners are raking in more money now than before.  They are hoping to have the new structure finished by the year 2021.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Monochrome at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

 

The Mystery Man/Spectral #writephoto

spectral

Photo by Sue Vincent

She didn’t know what it was about the shell of what was left of Haverley Manor that fascinated her.  This morning as mist covered it and the surrounding area, giving it a ghostly appearance.  Perhaps it was the figure of a man walking across the fields and appearing at the first window which drew her here on this grey and cold morning.  She adjusted the bonnet upon her head and drew her coat closer about her.

The man stood at the window still as a statue.  Who was he?  Was he real?  She shook her head impatiently.  Of course, he’s real, Hettie, she chided herself Ghosts don’t exist. They’re just figments of people’s imaginations.  She was getting closer to the structure when she heard a man call out to her.

She stopped and turned around.  He was stocky with long whiskers and carrying a rifle.  His face was ruddy and he looked to be middle-edged.  “What is your business here, Miss?” he asked.

“Are you the caretaker?” she asked.

He shook his head.  “No, Miss.  The name’s Finnegan and I was just passing by on my way to shoot some pheasant when I saw you going towards the remains of the old manor.  It isn’t safe.”

“The day before yesterday I saw a man go into the manor.  He’s there now.”

The man looked past her.  “I don’t see ‘im, Miss.”

She turned.  “But, he’s right there at the window on the second floor.”

“That’s impossible, Miss.  The structure is nothing but a shell.  There’s no way anyone can be up there.”

Frustrated, she turned and pointed.  “I’m telling you, he’s there.  I saw him go in just a few moments ago and he’s standing at the window now.  I can’t believe that you don’t see him.”

The man shook his head in bewilderment.  There wasn’t anyone at the window.  Perhaps, this young lady had a fanciful imagination.  “Miss, there’s only one way to settle this.”  He started toward the manor.

She followed him, her heart pounding with excitement as she looked up and saw the tall figure at the window.  Now, she was going to get a good look at this mystery man.

Finnegan walked around the back and watched the color drain from her face.  “You see, Miss.  It’s just a shell.  There’s no way that anyone could have been at the window like you said, unless he’s a ghost.  What did the man look like?”

It took several moments for her to gather her wits in order to speak.  “He appeared to be tall, pale with black hair and a slight limp.”

Finnegan looked startled.  “It can’t be,” he exclaimed.

“You know the man.  Who is he?”

“He was Abram Chaddesley, the late master of Haverley Manor–”

“The late master? You mean he’s dead?”

“Yes, Miss.  He died when lightning struck the manor.  It was reported that he was standing at the window on the second floor when it happened.  He was the only one who perished.”

“How-how long ago did this happen?”

“Thirty years ago, Miss.”  He stared at her.  She didn’t look a day over nineteen.  How could she have seen Master Chaddesley as he was before he died?  It just wasn’t possible.  “We best be leaving, Miss,” he suggested.  “You look a little peaked.”

“Yes, I feel a bit faint,” she gasped, clutching his arm for support.

“Do you live far?”

“No, no, I live at Ramstead Place.”

“I shall take you there, Miss.”

“Thank you.  You’re very kind.”

“It’s no trouble at all.”  He steadied her as they left the remains and started across the field.

She wanted to look back but was afraid to.   After that day, she never set foot near that place again.

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Spectral  for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Source:  Mental Floss

Mistress of Pembrook

She had walked through the gate at Pembrook Manor, stopping only for a moment to look back at the impressive mansion in the midst of the sprawling land that you could see for miles.  Somewhere in that imposing structure was the man she was running away from.  She knew he had returned from his business trip yesterday evening and she wanted to be out of the house before she risked running into him. He had sent Mrs.  Allen, the housekeeper to take her to the drawing-room to spend time with him but she told the kindly woman that she was not feeling well.  She knew that if she had accepted his invitation, her resolve to leave in the morning would have weakened.  After Mrs. Allen left, she packed her bags, her heart heavy.

She felt terrible about leaving Katie.  She had grown so fond of the little girl but she couldn’t stay another day at Pembrook, knowing that she must leave there soon any way when Mr. Middleton married Miss Young.  The thought of him and the beautiful daughter of Baron and Baroness Young filled her with such pain.  How foolish it was to fall in love with her employer, an man of nobility and whose station was so superior to hers, a mere governess.  And it had been even more foolish to think that he would have any regard for her even if Miss Young were  not in the picture.

It was beautiful, crisp morning.  The sun was just rising.  She felt no pleasure in it, though.  Countless of times she had walked this way with him and found great delight in doing so.  Tears stung her eyes as she hurried to the spot where she was to meet the coach.

“Going somewhere, Miss Evans?”

She stopped dead in her tracks, dropping her bags, her eyes large in her pale face, shocked to see her employer standing there.  “Mr. Middleton,” she gasped.  “What are you doing here?”

“I went for a walk.   And you haven’t answered my question.”

“I-I am going away.”

“That I can see but where are you going and for how long?”

She saw the carriage approaching and picked up her bags.  “I must leave Pembrook, Sir and return to my home from whence I shall not return.”

He came closer, his eyes troubled now.  “What do you mean?” he demanded.  “Why must you leave Pembrook and not return?”

With him so close, staring at her it was hard to remain resolute.  “You are to be married, Sir and I cannot remain at Pembrook when that happens.  So, the best thing for me to do is to leave.”

He grabbed her arms.  It was a firm grip but it did not hurt at all.  It was meant to secure her.  “You cannot leave,” he declared.  “I will not let you.”

“Sir, I must leave.  The coach is approaching.  I must catch it.”

He released her then but turned and strode toward the coach.  She hurried after him, desperate now to leave.  “The young lady will not be departing,” he told the driver.   Before she could say anything, the driver replied, “Very well, Sir,” turned around and drove off.

She was terribly upset now.  “Oh, Mr. Middleton, why did you send the coach away? My family is expecting to see me tomorrow afternoon.  I wrote and told them that I was coming home.”

“You can write and tell them that there has been a change of plans.”

Unable to hold it any longer, she dropped her bags, turned aside and ran into the woods, leaning heavily against the first tree she stumbled upon.  Mr. Middleton was immediately at her side. She pressed her hand against her mouth to prevent the sobs that rose in her throat but she couldn’t stop the tears.  “I cannot stay at Pembrook, Mr. Middleton,” she told him in a trembling voice.  “I cannot remain there when you are to be married to Miss Young.”

He looked puzzled.  “What the deuce are you talking about?  What is this talk of marriage between Miss Young and myself?”

She looked at him.  “Mrs. Allen intimated that there is soon to be an announcement of your nuptials.”

“Mrs. Allen is mistaken.  Miss Young and I have no plans to be wed.  It is the hope of my aunt that such a match should be forthcoming but alas for her, it is not to be. Miss Young’s affections are engaged elsewhere as are mine.”

She was relieved to hear that there was to be no marriage between Miss Young and him but who was the object of his affections?  “Mr. Middleton, nothing has changed. I am going to leave Pembrook as soon as other arrangements can be made.”

He took her by the shoulders and drew her to him.  “You are not going to leave Pembrook or me,” he insisted.  “You are going to stay there as my wife.”

She blinked at him, stunned.  “Your wife?” she repeated, dazed.

“Yes, my wife.  I love you, Miss Evans.  I fell in love with you the first moment I saw you but I hid my feelings because of convention.  Well, hang convention.  I want to marry you.”

“Oh, Mr. Middleton, I love you too.  I have loved you since the first time we met.  I never dreamed that you would harbor any romantic feelings toward me.  I am just an ordinary governess who has nothing to recommend her to you, except her deep love and fidelity.”

He held her face between his hands, his eyes shone with the love he had suppressed for so long.  “You have made me the happiest man in Hartfordshire Country.” He kissed her.  “Let us go home,” he said as he raised his head.  “Let us go back to Pembrook where you shall soon be Mistress.”

the-new-governess