The Haseley Hall Mystery
THE two girls crept along the long dark corridor, as quiet as mice, tip toeing along. They stopped beside the high arched window through which the moon shone brightly, casting eerie shadows across the dark corridor. The floorboards creaked. Hannah heard a noise and signaled to her sister to follow quietly. They crept up to a locked door with a sign on it saying KEEP OUT! in bold red lettering.
They could hear voices and it had turned icy cold. The girls shivered in their night-clothes as they pressed their ears to the door, trying to work out what was being said, and who was saying it?
Suddenly Hannah felt a cold hand on her shoulder. She screamed, and turned as Sarah said, 'BECKY!' crossly. Hannah was about to speak when the door opposite flew open. A tall man stood there, framed in the doorway by the light behind, casting an eerie shadow, hiding his face. The children shivered. 'What are you doing?' he demanded gruffly. They ran along the corridor, not daring to look back. They heard the dark figure shouting angrily after them.
Back at their room Hannah slammed the door shut. She and her twin sister Sarah were ten. 'Great, now what?' she grumbled
Sarah tutted before she replied, 'she spoils everything' and pointed at Rebecca, who was known as Becky, the youngest sister at eight.
They were on holiday with their parents at Haseley Hall, a Youth Hostel in Northumberland. It was an old Victorian mansion, with tall windows and long corridors, poorly lit and very draughty, it was nearly 120 years old, and very spooky.
Hannah lay down on her bed and sighed, 'I suppose we could do some more exploring tomorrow,'
'Yeah,' said Sarah, 'we might be able to find out what was behind that door.'
'Great idea, maybe there's a mystery for us to solve?' The next morning, at breakfast a young girl about the same age as the twins came to their table. 'Did you order *****d breakfasts?' she politely asked.
'Yes, please,' Dad, Hannah and Becky replied together. The girl walked over to the serving hatch, and came back with three *****d breakfasts, there was a delicious smell of eggs and bacon.
The Gilberts were arguing. Dad had just grounded them. 'It's not fair,' moaned Sarah and Hannah together.
'Yes, it is,' answered Dad, if you hadn't been running around last night, you wouldn't have been grounded.'
'But,' Hannah started to say.
'But nothing, you're all to stay here today, with me, while Mum does some shopping.' Dad looked very cross, so the children kept quiet. A short while later Mum set off for the shops. 'There's plenty of games and puzzles over there, now be quiet, I want to read.' Dad pointed to a cupboard in the corner of the recreation room as he spoke, then found himself a comfy chair to sit in.
After an hour of playing 'Snakes and Ladders', the children were bored. 'I think Dad's asleep,' whispered Sarah. 'Now's our chance.'
The three children hurried from the room, bumping into the girl they saw at breakfast. 'Hi, I'm Hannah, this is Sarah and that pain of a little sister is Becky.'
'My name's Eleanor,'
'See that door there?' asked Hannah; pointing to the locked door they had seen the night before. 'Why is it locked?'
'Mum say's that part of the mansion is unsafe, so she keeps it locked.'
'Do you reckon you could get the key?' asked Hannah.
'Easy, Mum's too busy, to miss me, at this time of day. I've always wanted to look in there anyway.' She ran off to get it.
Eleanor came back and held the key up triumphantly. 'There you go,' she said.
'Cool!' chorused the sisters. Eleanor put the key in the lock and tried to turn it, it was very stiff. Eventually it turned. Eleanor pushed the door open. Inside was eerily quiet, very dark and smelt dusty and damp. Cobwebs hung everywhere.
Becky tried to push past, saying, 'I'll go first.' 'We found the door, we should go first,' said Hannah, as she grasped Sarah's hand, blocking Becky's way. 'Stop arguing you three,' said Eleanor, 'I got the key, I'll go first.'
The children entered a small hallway, leading to a staircase. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust. A thin beam of light got in through a broken window half way up the stairs, making everything look eerie. Eleanor looked at the others, and then said, 'Shall we go up?' in a shaky voice.
'Yeah,' said Hannah eagerly.
'Cool,' said an excited Sarah.
'I'm frightened,' said Becky.
They climbed the rickety stairs and found a second door. 'Let's go in,' said Sarah. She opened the door. It creaked loudly, breaking the silence. The lights didn't work and it was hard to see. Holding Hannah's hand Eleanor had put one foot through the door. Then they heard Dad calling them.
They ran back downstairs before they got caught. Eleanor said, 'I'll see you at tea time,' and ran off.
After lunch Mum and Dad lifted the grounding and they all went for a walk, getting back in time for tea. While they were eating, Eleanor came over to their table and whispered to Hannah, 'meet me after tea by the door,' as she walked off. Hannah gave her a big grin and thumbs up.
'Who's that?' asked Mum.
'She's the manager's daughter, Eleanor, we were playing with her this morning, she wants to meet us after tea.' 'Can we?' asked Becky and Sarah together. 'Please!'
'I suppose so,' Dad said.
'Cool' said the children.
After tea they ran across the hall to the door to meet Eleanor. Making sure no one was watching, they quietly unlocked the door and tiptoed in. Eleanor had brought a torch this time, so she led the way. Reaching the top, she opened the door. They crept in and shone the torch around. There were loads of bits of old furniture in one corner and a rusty old iron bed, with a body, lying on it. The door blew shut with a load 'BANG!' Eleanor screamed dropping the torch. It went off plunging them into darkness. Sarah found it on the floor, and switched it back on. Sarah shone the torch on the body on the bed.
'Phew, it's only an old tailors dummy,' sighed Sarah.
'You were scared too,' retorted Hannah.
'Shut up you two, can you hear something?' asked Becky.
'I can,' said Eleanor. 'It came from in there,' she point to a cupboard door. 'It sounds like crying.'
'Open it then,' said Becky, hiding behind Sarah.
'No way,' said Sarah.
'Well I'm not,' said Hannah, taking a step backwards.
'I'll do it,' said Eleanor stepping forward. The others stood together, shivering. It had turned icy cold. Becky reached out a hand and turned the handle. As she did, the door to the room was flung open, banging against the wall. Once again, the children jumped out of their skins and screamed. Their hearts pounding with fright. Stood at the top of the stairs, were two dark figures.
'What do you think you're doing?' asked Eleanor's Mum. 'I've told you not to come into this part of the mansion.' She spoke sternly to Eleanor, 'Straight to bed with you,' and dragged her downstairs.
Mrs. Gilbert asked her children, 'What were you doing?'
'Nothing, just exploring' said Hannah.
'Don't tell Dad,' pleaded Sarah. 'Can we go to the fair in Newcastle tomorrow?'
' It won't happen again,' promised Becky.
'We'll see, now off to bed, we can talk about it tomorrow,' Said Mum.
The next morning at breakfast, Sarah and Hannah went into the kitchen with their dirty plates 'Good Morning Mrs. Jenkins, We're sorry about yesterday.' They said politely. 'Where's Eleanor?' asked Hannah, timidly.
'Gone out with her Dad, I thought it best to keep you lot apart for a while. You might see her tomorrow,' She said crossly.
Back in the dining area Dad said, 'Where to today?' as he opened out a map. 'Look, there are some ruins of a Roman Villa nearby, at Vindolanda, fancy that kids?'
There was a loud groan as the children said, 'Oh, Mum said we could go to the fair in Newcastle.'
'I said we'd talk about it,' said Mum.
'Please,' they begged.
'Go on Dad, we'll be good, honest.' Hannah added, trying to look angelic.
'Oh I suppose so.' Resigned to a day at the fair, Dad stood up. 'Come on then Mum.' Ten minutes later, they were on their way; they had a great time and got back really late.
The children didn't see Eleanor again until breakfast of the third day. The sisters were there by themselves. Mum and Dad had decided to have a lie in. The children were sat at their usual table, 'Hi,' said Eleanor as she came over to them, 'did you have a good time?'
'Yeah,' said the girls.
'I hope we didn't get you into trouble the other day,' added Hannah.
'Nah, Mum was cool by the morning, I just went to help my Dad down on the farm for a couple of days.'
'Reckon you can get the key again,' Becky asked hopefully, 'I want to see what's in that cupboard.'
'This afternoon, Mum goes shopping, we could try then,' Eleanor replied.
'Great, what time?' asked Hannah, looking at her watch.
'About three O'clock' replied Eleanor.
'O.K. see you then' said Hannah.
'Later' said Eleanor skipping back to the kitchen. After breakfast the girls bought their weekly magazines at the shop. They read them in the recreation room while watching telly. It was soon lunchtime and afterwards Mum suggested a walk.
'No thanks Mum, I'm a bit tired' answered Hannah. She kicked Sarah's shin as she spoke.
'Ow! Yeah, me too Mum.' Sarah yawned for effect.
'What about you Becky?' Dad asked.
'I'll stay here with those two, if that's O.K.?'
'You two will enjoy being out on your own anyway, and you can stop at that pub you like up the road Dad.' Said Hannah, winking at the other two. Mum and Dad set off and the girls raced upstairs to the recreation room.
'We've got an hour before Eleanor comes,' said Hannah looking at her watch for the hundredth time. 'Let's play something.'
They started to play a game, but no one was really interested. At last it was Three O'clock. 'Where is she?' Becky asked impatiently.
'Sorry, I got held up,' remarked Eleanor when she finally arrived.
'Got the key?' asked Hannah impatiently.
Eleanor took it out of her pocket. 'Course' she said proudly.
'Come on then,' said Becky snatching it out of Eleanor's hand, and running across to the door. It was much easier to turn the key in the lock this time. The children climbed the stairs. Eleanor had remembered the torch and passed it to Sarah who was leading. They opened the second door and walked slowly towards the cupboard. They stopped to listen before opening it. They could hear faint voices. As the door, slowly creaked open. The children held their breath, not knowing what to expect. A cloud of dust blew out and the voices stopped. To their surprise, it wasn't a cupboard at all. The door led to a second flight of stairs leading to a third door. Holding hands they started to climb. Sarah, was leading, she stopped suddenly. 'Did you hear that?' she whispered. The girls shook their heads. 'Listen,' she said. 'Someone's crying.'
When they reached the top, Sarah turned the handle, as she did everyone shivered, the air was icy cold. Sarah hesitated, 'Go on,' whispered Hannah, giving her a push. Sarah opened the door. The children crept inside and were astonished by what they saw. There on the floor sat a young girl, of about 14. Her face was very pale. She was dressed in a Victorian maid's outfit, a faded grey dress, and a starched white apron. A floppy white cap covered her long brown hair tied up in a bun. She was crying. The girls stared in amazement.
'H, Hello,' stammered Becky. There was no reply. Reaching out to tap the girl's shoulder, Hannah's hand passed straight through. With a hand over her face to muffle the sound, she gasped, and stepped back quickly. Eleanor was rooted to the spot, just staring blankly at the girl, with a look of horror on her face. The girl on the floor stopped crying and stood up. She passed straight through Eleanor as she walked towards Becky, ''ello Miss, are you the masters young daughter, up from Leeds?" Terrified Becky backed off.
She managed to mumble, "wha, what!"
The girl smiled, "I'm Victoria Miss, I'll be your chambermaid, 'spect. That's if the master lets me stay on, he thinks I stole his gold cufflink. I didn't though Miss, honest!" She spoke with a northern accent and started crying again.
"You talk funny," said Becky.
"Do I Miss?"
"If you can see me, why can't you see them?" asked Becky pointing at the others.
"There's no-one else here Miss." She laughed as she spoke. "The Master said you was a one for having a lark."
"Honestly Victoria, my twin sisters are here and Eleanor."
"I don't see no-one," Victoria replied, looking confused.
"Maybe it's because you're a ghost," said Becky.
"Me a ghost! Don't be silly Miss, 'ere feel me arm." She held her arm out towards Becky, who hesitated before slowly reaching out to touch Victoria's arm. Her hand passed straight through. "Queer!" remarked Victoria, "Appen you're right Miss. I thought you was dressed funny." Victoria started crying again.
"Don't cry," Becky tried to soothe the crying maid. Hannah was waving at Becky, "Come on," she hissed pointing to her watch. Becky spoke to Victoria, "It's been lovely to talking to you, but I've got to go now. I'll come and see you tomorrow."
"O.K. Miss, I'll wait in the nursery for you, downstairs. Becky and the others walked quickly downstairs.
"Wow!" said Hannah when they'd reached the safety of the recreation room.
"That was weird," said Sarah. "I wonder why she only saw Becky."
"Probably, because she's the youngest," said Hannah, shrugging her shoulders.
Mum came to get them for tea. Two and a half hours had gone by, without them realising. "Had a good time and behaved yourselves?" asked Dad.
"Yeah, really cool. I was talking to a, Ow!" Sarah had just punched her younger sister to stop her letting out their secret.
"We've been talking with Eleanor, haven't we Becky?" said Hannah
"Eh! Oh yeah. Eleanor".
Dad looked at them suspiciously, but decided not to say anything.
After tea, the children managed to speak to Eleanor again. Hannah said, "We're going for a walk tomorrow. We won't be back until teatime, we'll see you then."
"O.K." replied Eleanor. "See ya."
Later, in the recreation room, the sisters were talking about the ghost. "She was really upset about the cufflink," said Sarah. "She can't have stolen it."
"Why don't we try and find it," suggested Becky.
"Great idea," said Hannah. "Well have to think of some questions to ask." She rushed off to get pencil and some paper so she could write them down. Sitting importantly at the head of the table she asked, "What do we need to know?" and then answered her own question, "I know, where was the cufflink last seen?" She wrote the question down. "What else?" she demanded of the others.
"What did it look like?" shouted Sarah.
"Good one, anything else?" asked Hannah.
Becky scratched her head, "Dunno," was all she could say.
Dad came in and said to the girls, "come on, you three, bed." Reluctantly the three children went to bed.
The next day, they went on a walk as planned. They arrived back at the hostel in time for tea. "I can't wait for seven O'clock," Sarah said to Hannah excitedly. "Nor me," came the reply. Eleanor came over to them.
"So, all set then?" she asked.
"What are you lot up to this time?" asked Mum.
"Nothing," they hastily replied.
"Just a game, Eleanor wants us to play after tea," added Hannah.
After tea, the children set off to the recreation room. Once there, Hannah Showed Eleanor the list of questions. "Looks good," said Eleanor. "I must go and help my Mum clean up first, later," and she ran off in the direction of the kitchen.
At long last 7 O'clock came. The children gathered outside the door, Becky and Sarah had torches, Eleanor had the key and Hannah had her list. "O.K. lets go," said Eleanor unlocking the door. Strangely, Becky didn't feel frightened anymore and she went first. Up the first set of stairs they went and into the nursery. Victoria, who was sat on the floor, jumped up as she saw Becky.
"Hello Miss, I thought you weren't coming."
"Sorry," said Becky, "we had to go out with our parents and couldn't get here earlier."
"That's O.K. Miss, couldn't help it, could you."
Hannah nudged Becky, "tell her about us helping her," she whispered.
"Victoria; Me, Hannah, Sarah, they're my twin sisters, and Eleanor, she's a friend, want to help you."
"Help me Miss, how?" she asked.
"We're going to help you find the cufflink, so the Master won't sack you."
"Awww, God bless you Miss. ain't never had a friend before. Thank you Miss, and thank your friends too."
"They can see and hear you," said Becky "Tell them yourself."
"Can't Miss, I'll feel daft talking t' nothing."
"Oh get on with it," said Sarah snatching the list from Hannah and thrusting it at Becky. "Go on," she said impatiently.
So Becky looked at the list. "I'll need to ask you some questions though."
"O.K. Miss, I'm ready." Victoria sat down and patting the floor beside her added, "you can sit here Miss, besides me, nice an cosy."
Reluctantly, Becky sat down. It took about twenty minutes to ask all the questions. Hannah had been writing all the answers on a piece of paper. It was nearly eight O'clock when they left Victoria with a promise to find the missing cufflink.
For the next two days, the Gilbert family were busy walking and didn't have much time for searching. They were all sat in the Recreation room, watching cartoons on telly. Hannah leant over to Sarah and whispered, "We've only got three more days, we'd better get looking."
"O.K." said Sarah. "While we're out tomorrow, I'll pretend to twist my ankle and Dad will have to bring us back here."
"What are you two planning?" asked Mum.
The twins blushed and said, "Nothing Mum."
The following day, Sarah carried out her plan. She tripped over a stile and fell to the floor. "Ow!" she shouted and lay there moaning.
"Don't overdo it," whispered Hannah.
"I'm not, it really hurts." Replied Sarah, grimacing with pain.
"Looks nasty, we'd better get you back to the Hostel." Dad picked Sarah up and carried her on his back, they arrived back at the hostel, and Dad took Sarah up to their room. Sarah was sat in bed, with Hannah and Becky keeping her company, while Mum and Dad went for a short walk.
"Come on Sarah, you don't need to pretend in front of us," said Hannah.
"I'm not pretending I really twisted my ankle. It hurts."
"Ah, diddums," said Becky.
"Anyway, you two should be searching," Said Sarah. "Victoria said the cufflink was last seen in the Master's bedroom, which room is that?"
"It must be one of the rooms on the same floor as the recreation room. The bedrooms were usually on the first floor in those days, we did Victorian's at school, remember" Replied Hannah.
"Well, you'd better get looking then," Hannah and Becky searched for the rest of the day, looking in on Sarah occasionally. They had no luck. The next day, Mum, Dad, and an unwilling Becky, set off on a walk. Sarah had to stay in bed and Hannah had offered to stay with her. "Just in case she needs anything," she said.
Making sure Sarah was comfortably sat in the recreation room, Dad said, "we'll be home in time for tea. Mrs. Jenkins has my mobile number."
Mum said. "Look after her Hannah, here some sweets for you to share, and we'll see you later."
"Good luck," Said Becky. Mum and Dad thought she was talking about Sarah's ankle, but Hannah and Sarah knew she meant, good luck with the search. Finally, they set off.
"Thank goodness for that," said Sarah, "let's get busy." Hannah left Sarah searching the recreation room, and went in search of Eleanor. She met her on the stairs on her way down to reception. "There you are." She said, by way of greeting.
"Hi," said Eleanor, "ready then?" she asked as she continued up the stairs. "Where's Sarah?"
"She's in the recreation room, searching," said Hannah. The two girls ran the rest of the way up the stairs and were soon back at the recreation room.
"Hi Sarah," said Eleanor. "Feeling any better?"
"Fine thanks," said Sarah limping across the room. "Still a bit sore, but I'm O.K."
They continued with the search, only stopping for some lunch. "There's only this room left to do," said Eleanor. "We had better do it after eating." The others agreed and as soon as they finished, they set to work. It took all afternoon to go through the room and by teatime they hadn't found any more than a mouldy crust of bread, wedged behind the serving trolley. When Mum Dad and Becky got back, they found them in the recreation room playing happy families.
"What have you two been up to all day?" Dad asked.
"Not much," they replied, and were saved from further questioning by the bell ringing, announcing teatime.
After tea, the four friends were gathered round a table in the recreation room, "Well, we've searched everywhere and found nothing," said a grumpy Hannah. As she spoke, she tried to open a bag of marbles for the marble run game. The bag split, sending marbles everywhere. One rolled off the table, across the floor and disappeared down a hole in the skirting board. "Blast," she said as she went down on her knees to try and retrieve it. "I can see something else in there, can you get me the torch," she asked. Using the torch Hannah could see the object was the missing cufflink. She managed to get it out using a pencil and said, "Quick go and get the key," looking at Eleanor.
"Already got it," she replied pulling it from her pocket. Eleanor unlocked the door.
As it swung open Becky raced ahead, switching on the torch as she went. "Victoria," she shouted as she got to the top of the second flight of stairs. "We've found it."
Victoria was stood in the middle of the room talking to someone. "I didn't take it Sir, honest." She started crying again and turned to walk away. Stopping when she saw Becky. "'Hello Miss, what did you say?" she sniffed back tears.
"We found it, Victoria. The cufflink. You won't have to go now. Look," she held the cufflink out in the palm of her hand.
Victoria carefully picked it up and turned to give it to someone. She spoke to them quietly, so no one heard what was said. Victoria turned back to Becky, "thank you Miss, thank you." Victoria leant forward and kissed Becky's cheek. It felt like a warm, soft butterfly, tickling her skin. "This is the happiest day of my life, Miss." Then she started to fade from view. The children heard her say, "thanks Miss," very faintly, before she disappeared altogether.