Fantasy Fiction posted June 19, 2017 Chapters: 3 4 -5- 6... 


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Another mystery to solve?

A chapter in the book This Time - That Time 2

Up at the Manor House

by sandramitchell


End of chapter four

“Indoor toilets! You ‘ave ‘em in yer ouses? Eyuk, that must stink rotten!” His face twisted into such a funny shape, I burst out laughing.
 
“It’s not at all like you’re imagining, Daveth. But, we’ll leave it at that for now, it would take too much to explain.”
 
He was giving me a look that told me he was still trying to work out if I was for real or not. I could see what I’d told him took a bit of digesting. I smiled and stepped closer to him. “It’s all real, Daveth, and I’m real, too, you know I am. Now, just in case I get spirited away, tell me your father’s name, and can you tell me what he looks like?”
 
“Me ma says I look jus’ like me da. I know ‘e’s got the same ‘air as me.” His free hand went up and raked through his own.  “An’ 'e’s got smiles in ‘is eyes,” he told me, with a smile in his eyes, too. Then the smile left and was replaced with painful desperation.  “Ya gotta get me da back, Missis, ya jus’ gotta!”

 
Part Five
 
“I can’t make any promises, Daveth, but as I keep saying, I wouldn’t have been sent here if it wasn’t possible.” I stopped when I realised we were back at the cottage. Daveth left the long branch outside and brought the rest of the wood into the house to stack beside the fireplace. “Now, tell me before your mother knows you’re back, what is your father’s full name?”
 
“Joe ‘Ammett.”
 
“Joe ... does your father have a middle name? If I remember rightly, men used to also be given their father's name in the 1800's.”
 
“Dunno. I’ll ‘ave t’ask me mam, I don't even know if I got a middle name...” Daveth tilted his head in thought. “What d’ya wanna know for?”
 
How could I explain all the technology available in my time, including the fast-developing internet James was becoming more and more dependent on at the hospital. Daveth probably wouldn't believe me if I tried, so I decided to keep my answer simple.
 
“It might make it easier for me to find him. The more I know, the easier it will be. It would also help if I knew his date of birth, and where he was born.”
 
Daveth looked momentarily relieved. “Well, that’s easy. 'E were born right here.” His face clouded over again. “I dunno what year he were born, but ‘e’s old.”
 
Kids don’t change regardless of what year they’re living in … I expect all adults seem old to Daveth.
 
I had to remind myself that Daveth's education was probably limited; in fact, I didn't even know if he went to school, so I decided on a different tactic to try and work out the year of his father’s birth. “How old are you, Daveth?”
 
He pulled himself up to his full height and proudly told me he was ten years old. “And do you know how old your father is?”
 
“Yeah, course I do! ‘E’s thirty, two years older than me ma.”
 
Mental arithmetic had never been my forte, but it only took me a couple of seconds to work it out. “That means he was born in 1816? Do you agree?”
 
The look of relief he shot me confirmed that I'd been right to assume that numbers weren't his strongest subject. “Yeah, that sounds 'bout right.”
 
Even if it wasn't, I now had enough information to make a start, if and when I got back to my own time. I was just about to ask Daveth if he could tell me anything else about what happened when his father disappeared, when a loud knock on the front door nearly made me jump out of my skin.

Seconds later, we heard his mother open it, followed by a man's loud, intimidating voice. Daveth gave me a puzzled look and went through to the small hallway to see who it was, with me hot on his heels.
 
“Well, if he aint here, where is he then?” the man demanded. The deep red veins in his blotched cheeks appeared to move like little snakes slithering around to meet across his nose. He glared angrily at Daveth’s mother, and I could see the distress on her face.
 
“I don’t know where ‘e is, and I don’t know when ‘e’s comin’ back. ‘E just went off without sayin’ a word,” she told him, her voice high pitched with nerves.
 
The man shook his head dismissively. “Then ya best be findin’ ‘im then. Sir John ‘as some questions ‘e wants answerin’, an’ ‘e’s not a patient man.” He saw Daveth and shot him a scathing look. “Who’re you lookin’ at?”
 
Daveth didn’t reply, but straightened up and squared his jaw resolutely, before going over to stand by his mother. She looked down at him and draped her arm around his shoulders. A smile played at the corner of her mouth, and I could see the pride in her eyes. “It’s alright, lad, he's lookin' for yeh da,” she told him. Then, turning back to the man at the door, she informed him stiffly that she’d let her husband know Sir John wanted to see him as soon as he came back.
 
The man snorted, then with a few muttered obscenities, he turned and stalked off.  “I’m going after him," I told Daveth. "Perhaps I can find out what that was all about. While I'm gone, can you try and find out if your father had a middle name—oh! And I want your mother’s name as well, okay?” Daveth gave me an imperceptible nod, and although I knew he didn't want to upset his mother again, I just had to hope he would have the answers to my questions by the time I returned.
 
When I followed the man down the path, I realised he was heading towards the manor house. How many times had I walked the exact same route when Lady Ann's granddaughter, Alice, had been taken to hospital, and I was marooned in the past with no way of getting back to my own time until she returned?
 
The manor house wasn’t that much different from how it would be in Lady Ann’s time, or when Alice and William come to live here in the future. The same imposing entrance hall, with a wide, sweeping, curved staircase, gave me a mental flashback of the time I had to hide the note I’d written behind the grandfather clock when the maids nearly saw it. I smiled as it all came flooding back. It had been such fun being with the ghost of Lady Ann.
 
I followed the man into Sir John's study after the maid had taken him through. The room was similar to the future Sir John's, but didn’t have any of the modern technology that the twentieth-century would bring, like a phone--that was a few years down the line. Unlike his grandson, this Sir John was an attractive man with none of the signs of debauchery. Thank goodness for that! Another bloated, disgusting member of the aristocracy who forced young girls to go down into cold, unlit cellars, would be too much to take. Sir John looked up from writing in a ledger and removed his glasses before he acknowledged the man's presence. “Well, where is he then?”
 
“I’m sorry, Sir John, but I reckon ‘e might ‘ave left ‘ome.  When I asked ‘is woman where ‘e was, she said she don’t know, leastways, that’s what she told me.” The man held his cap in his hand and twiddled it around in his fingers. “I’ll keep a man watching in case ‘e comes back.”

“Now, why do you think he left home?” Sir John asked as he distractedly placed his tipped quill pen back into the inkpot on the desk.  “I know he saw the boy.” He stopped talking and looked up at the man as he hovered close to the door as if he’d like to be anywhere but where he was. “You get out there and find him before he starts talking. I don’t want this getting out, do you hear me?”
  
“Yes, Sir. I’ll get right on it. Don’t you worry, I'll find 'im. There aint that many places to lay low ‘round ere.” The man stood there, bowing his head like a creepy 'yes' man.
 
“Well? What are you waiting for? Get on with it!” Sir John waved him away with a dismissive flick of his hand.
 
My curiosity was aroused. Who was the boy that Joe saw, and what was it Sir John didn’t want anyone to know about? I knew I had to find out because it might be important, so I decided to have a look around. It came in handy that I couldn’t be seen as it allowed me the freedom to go from room to room and investigate at my leisure. I decided to start my search in the bedrooms. If anything was going to be hidden away, it wouldn’t be downstairs in full view of the servants.
 
Most of the rooms were sparsely furnished with just a bed and dresser, and no bed linen or personal items. When I reached the door of the bedroom Lady Ann would occupy in years to come, I hesitated for a moment as more memories came flooding back. Get a grip, Veronica, it's 1846, and Lady Ann hasn't even been born yet! Pulling myself together, I passed through the closed door, but stopped dead in my tracks because someone was lying in the bed, and a woman was reading a book as she sat in a chair by the window. I walked over to the bed and looked down at the woman who was sleeping there. She was very beautiful but deathly pale, and I wondered if she was seriously ill. Perhaps the woman in the chair was a nurse.
 
Although I was intrigued and would love to know who she was, there was nothing I could learn by watching her sleep, so I decided to carry on looking through the other rooms. All were equally uncooperative in revealing clues regarding the boy Joe supposedly saw.  There was only one more area I could look, and that was in the attics. There were three of them, situated over the different wings of the manor.
 
When I eventually reached the third one, having found nothing of interest in the first two, I was in for quite a surprise….
 
Continued…
 
 
 


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