Chapter 1

Written by: Ray Stone

After helping Elliot to a chair, I am sure that of the two of us I felt more shocked at his outburst than he was excited at his discovery. 

I rarely thought of my mother, not because I was devoid of any love for her. It was more because her sudden disappearance followed by the imprisonment of father were the reasons for my traumatised state at the time. It took many months to overcome my deep depression, and I much preferred to dismiss any dark memories of that period to the back of my mind. Yet, despite this, I could not rid myself of the nightmare of Castle Green, but lived in hope it would slowly fade as I grew older.

As Mrs. Gribben poured our tea, I sat with impatience, my right heel tapping the floor. Elliot mopped his brow and waved his lace kerchief in the air. We were immediately engulfed in the scent of lavender.

“Come now, Elliot,” I encouraged as he accepted a cup,  “Take a sip and relax. Expand on your revelation, so I am able to start my story without preamble.”

Elliot sipped at the rim of the cup, his thick red lips making a loud sucking noise. “Well,” he said at length, “Did your mother have much to do with your daily upbringing?”

I shook my head at this unexpected question. My mother worked with my father most days, making tables and chairs, mostly for the working class. It was my grandmother who dressed and washed me and schooled me and offered comfort when I fell over or became ill.

“That answers a puzzle, dear Wilber.” He averted his eyes to the window, looking, I thought, a little shame-faced. “Before she disappeared, was your mother in good health or did she have any sores upon her skin?”

 “What on earth? No – she had no marks and was in good health although I do remember she had been suffering from a cold that returned several times that year. Why are you making such strange inquiries?”

Elliot picked up and examined my fountain pen, a new writing aid that was fast replacing the dip pen. “My first patient this morning has come from Yorkshire and is in London on business. He is the honourable Mr. Felton Kirkman esquire, head administrator of Harper Fields Hospital that stands outside the coast town of Whitby.” 

“So what is he to do with my mother?” I asked.

“He saw the photo I have on my mantle of you and your mother, and he recognised her. I recounted your tragic story, and he told me something that shook me to the core, Sir.”

The suspense was such that I held my breath. 

“A gravedigger that was in his employ recently moved down to his birthplace at Dunwich on the Suffolk coast.”

Both Mrs. Gribben and I paused, not unlike statues. Such was our expectation of a great surprise. 

“He buried your poor mother, not more than a year ago.”

 

 

 

 

Comments

I was immediately engaged. You take us through the interactions and the voices sound authentic when they speak. I love these stories of yours, Ray and look forward to reading the next chapter.