So here is a third sneak preview:
A long silence followed only punctuated by the sound of a grandfather clock, ticking away solemnly somewhere outside in a hallway.
“Are you with us, Lady Hortense? Will you be our guide?”
The candle flickered and I felt a cold draft pass over me. I glanced over my shoulder. The door and the curtains were still closed. I thought I detected the faintest of voices whispering “Yessss.”
“She’s here,” Charlotte said excitedly. “I knew she’d come. Lady Hortense, we’d first like you to find John Altringham for us. You remember your great great grandson who died so bravely in the war? His son is here with us now. Do you see him? He’d like to hear his father’s voice.”
Again we waited what seemed like an eternity. Then Irene said, “Listen. Someone is laughing.”
We strained to hear and it sounded indeed like distant laughter, very far away.
“It’s Ceddy, having a good laugh at our expense,” Julian whispered.
“That’s not Ceddy’s laugh,” Adrian said.
“That’s Johnnie,” Charlotte said. “Don’t you remember how he loved to laugh, Irene?”
“Yes,” Irene whispered. “Johnnie loved to laugh.”
“Is that you, John?” Charlotte said. “Can you show yourself to us? Can you say something to your son?”
Again we waited but the laugh faded into silence. “It’s no use. He’s choosing not to speak to us,” Charlotte said. “I can feel he’s here. Maybe what he has to say to Jack is private and he doesn’t wish us to overhear.”
“We could try the Ouija board,” Virginia suggested. “Perhaps he is a voiceless spirit. They are sometimes.”
“We could,” Charlotte picked up the planchette. “Jack put your hand on this with me. And Irene. You are both Johnnie’s relatives. He’ll feel comfortable communicating with you.”
Jack gave me a questioning glance before placing his finger on the little disk..Slowly it started to move across the table. B…. U… G…. G… E… R.” We repeated the letters as the planchette went to them. “O…. F… F..”
“He said ‘bugger off’” Jack said delightedly.
“That definitely sounds like Johnnie,” Irene said. “Always was rude.”
“Anything else you’d like to say, John?” Charlotte asked. But the planchette did not move again.“:Apparently not.”:She looked around the room. “Let us move along then. The problem of Marcel. Spirits from the other side we need your help. Tell us what will happen. Tell us what we should do to stop a stranger from taking over Kingsdowne.”
She looked at us as she pushed the Ouija board into the middle of the table. “Place one finger each on the planchette,” she said. We did as she commanded.
“We await you, oh spirits,” she said. Slowly the planchette began to move.
“D,” we said in unison.
It shot across the board. “E,” we chimed.
Suddenly there was a great gust of wind. The curtains billowed out. The candle was blown out and we were plunged into darkness. Irene and Virginia rose to their feet with a cry of fright. I think the Starlings screamed as well. My own heart was hammering in my chest.
“Death,” Charlotte whispered. “It was going to spell out death.”