An invitation to a haunting

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I invite you to the preliminary scenes of a haunting. It is one as traditional as that told about many houses in old England; ancestral mansions that gloomily cast their shadows upon the land. But unlike my peers, I do not cast ignorant doubt upon all such ghostly occupations for I have witnessed my own; and, in time I have come to listen to the stories of our haunted island with a much more receptive ear.

A carriage has driven its way forth across the Dales and now passes through the streets of Ilkley.

“It is just out of the town, madam,” said the driver of the coach to its occupant. “You will be there in less than half an hour.”

“You are quite sure,” asked the young lady, “you know Denton House?”

“Know the Hall? I should say so!” was the confident reply. “We’ll be there soon enough.”

Miss Barton said no more. She resumed her seat in the vehicle, reassured. Her drive had already lasted some hours; the road was not in first-rate condition. She was only eighteen years of age, and, though not inclined to be timid or nervous, was afraid that the coachman had lost his way.

She was about to visit her friends, relatives of the former owner of the Hall, named Montague.

Pondering upon her reception, and anticipating the ball that was to be given a day or two after her arrival, Miss Barton sat quietly in her coach, and before long was rewarded for her patience by the sight of the house.

It is an old Elizabethan mansion — for it exists still — standing on rising ground and solidly built. It possesses three gables, the walls being much overgrown with ivy. Many of the windows, Miss Barton remarked, looked like embrasures, while the massive appearance of the embattled chimneys seemed to impart to the house the character of a castle. There were and may still, be traces of the moat, the side of which forms the terrace and orchard. The venerable trees were inhabited by a colony of rooks. Continue reading