Peg and Hughie stood between the edge of the dell and the sloped gardens of Heyleigh Hall looking up towards the grand stone facade of the present day Georgian building.
“What does she want with me?” Peg whispered just in case there was anyone or anything loitering in the dell behind them.
“I’ve no idea Peg. I wouldn’t like to disappoint her, though -– she’s rather used to getting her own way,” replied Hughie, moving on in the direction of the hall.
Peg followed. “Is she now? Well we’ll just have to see about that! I’ve had enough of being pushed around all my life -– I’ll be damned if it’s going to continue now!”
Hughie threw his head back and let loose a great big belly laugh. “That’s the way to go, lass! Up and at ‘em! Mind you, she’s best handled with a bit of tact is our Lady Mabel. I’ve known her for years, ever since I knocked around in the grounds of the Hall as a kid. She’s frightened the living daylights out of me umpteen times. There’s far worse about than her, though!”
Peg shuddered. “Like the figure at the fire station?”
“Aye,” Hughie replied solemnly, looking behind her into the dell.
“What was it?”
“Hard to explain, lass. And if I’m honest, I don’t fully know m’self. You know how the Living shimmer to us?”
“Well them things are attracted to that light -– the energy of the Living -– whether it’s human or not. They preyed on us when we were alive too, only we didn’t know ought about it at the time. All those negative thoughts you had over the years and the wrong paths you went down? It were partly their doing. Some of it, mind you -– not all. Can’t blame them for all our own bad choices. They were there though, whispering and nagging -– I’ve watched ‘em at it while I’ve been hanging around like. Seen them at your Billy last night when you...er...”
“Delayed. Aye. That’s not all, either.”
“Those of the Living who have, what you might call, a foot in both camps -– thems that are familiar with both the Living and the Delayed?”
Peg gulped. “Go on,” she encouraged, though with a touch of apprehension.
“Well, you could say they’re a bit like a beef steak to a lion. Those things hang around them all the time -– never give up like.”
“Yer can say that again! Mind you...they look out for them at RoYds. Lady Mabel and her like. If she meant any harm, she wouldn’t have sent me along to meet you when you passed over would she? Shows how caring she can be at times.”
“But what about all those stories about her being a devil worshipper, selling her kids’ souls, and one from each generation of her descendants being...cursed? Why would people make up stories like that? There’s no smoke without fire, my mother always said.”
“Aye, mine too. I’m sure you’ll be able to see the good in her if anyone can, Peg. Perhaps that’s why we’re here? So, coming?” They had arrived at the grand entrance to the hall. Hughie placed his foot onto the first of three stone steps leading up to the front door and held out to his hand to her.
Peg laughed. “Just let anyone try and stop me!” she grinned, taking the offered hand and leaping into the hall beside him.
Labels: 1940s, Hughie, Peg, Refuge of Delayed Souls, Web Fiction