Chapter 4

Written by: Ray Stone

“Come and sit by my side,” whispered Vanessa. “I doubt Bella will make an appearance now. You have disturbed the electromagnetic fields that draw a spirit out of suspended darkness into the light.”

Damon crouched next to her, Angus snuggling between them.

“I’m sorry, Vanessa, but I saw what I thought was flickering light from a candle.” He paused before asking, “If Bella only appears to men then aren’t you wasting your time? I assume you want to record her image or voice.”

“Using the scientific method I am hoping that I can draw her out and relieve the pain she feels and has felt since her death. I have to let her know that Archie survived and lived a wonderful life. Then she can cross over to the other side in peace.”

“Archie? Who is Archie?”

“It is a sad story,” she answered. 

As they settled, wrapped in blankets against the chill of the tiny room, Damon listened to the haunting story of a love lost and the heartbreak of a young girl.

Bella, at the age of fourteen, worked as a scullery maid, raking and setting fires in the many grand rooms of Shadbrook Hall at daybreak. Her day was taken up with washing crockery and cooking utensils and helping prepare vegetables. It was a hard life, but with a roof over her head and three meals a day, she was grateful. 

“After a while, she fell in love with a young footman who was several years older,” explained Vanessa, her voice softening with emotion as she continued to recount the story that mysteriously meant a lot to her.

Bella and Archie had kept their love a secret as liaisons between members of staff were not allowed. Some months later, Lady Elizabeth McGonagh found out that Archie had proposed to Bella and ordered that Archie leave and join the army, giving both of the young lovers time to come to their senses. Unrepentant, the pair decided to elope. The plan was for Archie to leave on the coach to London with his belongings and travel to the recruitment centre. Instead of joining the army, he was to return in secret a day later with two tickets for Newcastle, where his parents lived. Bella was to leave the Hall mid-afternoon and walk across the fields to a pick-up point a mile from the Hall. 

“That day turned out to be the most heartrending time for Bella,” said Vanessa.

Bella had arrived but waited in vain for Archie. Tears flowed, and the following morning Elizabeth McGonagh called Bella into the drawing room. A newspaper lay on the morning table, its headline announcing that a coach traveling north from London had overturned near a railway crossing, and there had been fatalities.

“My great grandmother made a terrible decision,” Vanessa almost sobbed. “She knew Archie was a survivor but told Bella that he was dead. Two days later, that poor girl ended her life in this room. Within a month, Archie came back to work here for the rest of his life and slept in this room, his love never waning.”

Damon put an arm around Vanessa. “I think it’s about time we found Bella the peace she deserves. Her footsteps across the field must come to a rest.”

Comments

An intriguing backstory, Ray. I can't wait to find out why Bella is so important to Vanessa.
Now Bella has background. The house is full of shadows and darkness - perfect for a paranormal story. Nice one.