Tuesday, 14 July 2009

MULTIPLY Pictures and Words - Week 7: The Book Room

Smith and Smith

Dear Mr. Cartwright
We thank you for your letter concerning inheritance of the Cartwright estate. After a long search the rightful heirs have been found to the property belonging to Jason Cartwright, deceased. We have noted that you and your family will be arriving to take possession of the keys to the property on Saturday, 11th July, 2009 at midday. Mr. Julian Smith Jnr. will await you at the entrance to the said property.

As informed, since the demise of Jason Cartwright ten years ago, no rightful heirs had been found and due to this fact the property has not been inhabited. However, funds were supplied in the departed’s testament for upkeep of the manor and surrounding grounds and you will find the house in an inhabitable state. Furniture and private possessions of the said Jason Cartwright are also preserved in the property in question.

Awaiting your arrival with keen interest

Yours faithfully
Julian Smith Snr.


“Hey mum, dad what’s in that letter from those solicitors? Is it about that house we have inherited from that relation we never knew?”

and Christine was quite excited about moving into a manor. She had just finished school, and had a nice long holiday until she started her English literature studies at the university.

“Yes, it is dear” answered Emily Cartwright, “it seems we can move in on Saturday.

“What do I hear there Emily? Let me see that letter, after all it was my long lost third cousin that left the whole property to us” and Christine’s father Michael joined in the conversation.

The family were quite surprised to find that they had inherited a complete manor house with furnishings and were keen to see how it was. They decided to keep their own house for the meanwhile and move to the manor during the summer holidays. Afterwards they would make the decision whether to keep the property or sell it. Emily was glad that it was furnished as it meant they only had to take some clothes for the time being. If they needed more they could always buy something in the near bye village.

Saturday arrived quickly and they arrived at the manor. Julian Smith Jnr. was waiting for them at the gate. Emily and Michael were surprised at the size of the house. The roof had many gables and windows indicating that it probably had many rooms. The entrance hall showed a large staircase leading to the upper rooms. It was completely furnished.

“Mum, can I have this room as my bedroom. It has a nice comfortable bed and a balcony overlooking the garden.”

“Looks all right to me, what do you think dear?” she asked her husband.

“No problem ladies, but what about our room Emily.”

“I was thinking that the room opposite Christine’s would be just right for us. It even has an old fashioned fire place.”

“Yes, and my room has one of those walk in clothes cupboards, come and have a look.”

Christine was almost right, it looked like a walk-in dressing room, but when they opened the door they were all astonished. Instead of empty clothing racks it was piled from top to bottom with books. All three walls had fitted book shelves.

“Now that’s strange” said Michael “I have never seen a bedroom with its own library before.”

“Neither have I” answered Emily

“Who cares” said Christine. “Just look at the works of literature stacked on the shelves. All the classics you can think of, just what I will need for my studies when I start at the uni. I will just have to clear it up a bit. It seems that the books on the back shelf don’t fit properly, especially those in the middle. They have already fallen out of the shelves onto the floor.”

“You are right Christine, something for you to tidy up after you have made your bed.”

“Yes mum” Christine answered, although she was already looking at the books in detail. Her parents left her to get on with organising her room.

Christine was amazed at the books; there was everything she could wish for. Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Jayne Austin and poetry from William Wordsworth, Robert Browning and many others. She noticed that there were no modern authors but she was sure she had a complete collection of the classics. She started to tidy the shelves up, putting the books on the floor back to their original place. Suddenly her mother called her to the evening meal and she descended the stair case to the dining room. This was another surprise. The dining room table had enough room for at least ten people, so she imagined that Jason Cartwright must have had a large family.

“No, Christine” said her father. It seems that he never married and had no heirs. The house was built by his grandfather. There is a painting of the grandfather and his family over the fireplace.”

“Well, he seemed to have a few children. The two boys must have been his sons, and I suppose one of them was Jason’s father. He also had a daughter and look; in the painting she is holding a book. I bet it is one of those books I found in my room.”

The discussions went on about who the mysterious Jason Cartwright and his ancestors were, and soon Christine decided it was time to go to bed. Actually she had decided to have a read of one of the books. She was surprised when she entered her room and opened the door to the room with the books. The books she had tidied and put back on the shelves were spread on the floor again. “Strange” she thought, but perhaps she had not returned all of them to their place and so she fitted them into the spaces left. She found that Jayne Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was one of the books and decided to read it. She had read it some time ago, but found it was always worth a re-read. She noticed it was a very old book, the publishing year being at the turn of the century. Not a first edition, she thought, but all the same very old.

She made herself comfortable in her bed and began to read, but soon felt tired, put the book on the side table next to her bed and decided to sleep. Unfortunately sleep was not as good as she would have liked it to be. She suddenly awoke to hear the sound of crying. She decided to see where it was coming from and hoped nothing had happened to her parents. You never know being in a strange house. She opened the door to the bedroom and stepped out into the corridor, but the sound of crying had stopped. She went back to bed and as soon as she crept under the covers, the noise started again. This time she decided to take a closer look and realised it was coming from the room where the books were. She noticed a faint flickering yellow light was showing at the bottom of the door. She opened the door and immediately the cries stopped, although she noticed that there was a smell in the air, the sort of smell you get when a candle is extinguished. She decided it was her imagination playing tricks on her and decided to go back to bed, however, something startled her. The books she had replaced on the bookshelf were lying on the floor again.

“I don’t believe it” she thought and decided to replace them, finding that Jayne Eyre was amongst them. “It gets more mysterious all the time” and looked at the bedside table where she had put the book. No, it was not there; somehow it had had been returned to the room with the books. Another thing she noticed was that when she replaced the books there seemed to be an icy atmosphere surround the empty book shelf.

The next day was Sunday and the family were all at home. She decided not to mention to her parents what happened during the night, or what she thought happened during the night. Christine, herself, was not sure whether she had dreamt it or whether it was real. However, the next night she discovered it was real. She had decided to spend the night in the book room. She took a sleeping bag with her and a torch and made herself as comfortable as she could.

“This is stupid” she thought when she awoke after a couple of hours and nothing had happened. It was then that she felt very cold. She decided to get an extra blanket to cover herself when she was shocked by a noise and the books on that special shelf fell onto the floor, although no, they did not fall, it seemed they were pushed.

“Ridiculous, there are no such things as ghosts”, but it was then that the room was illuminated by a candle, just one candle and Christine saw the figure of a young lady move out of the space where the books had fallen. It was the same girl shown in the family portrait in the dining room.

“Please help me”

Christine could not believe her ears.

“Please help me, I want peace, I want to sleep.”

“Who-who-who are you” Christine asked with a shaky voice

“Sally Cartwright. Please release me, I must leave this place.”

Christine had decided no, this was enough, and left the room as fast as her legs could take her.”

The next morning she decided to take a walk to the village and visit the library to see if they had any records of the Cartwright family from the last century. The librarian told her for the information she needed she should visit Jack Rhodes. He grew up in the village and knew just about everything about everyone. She told Christine where he lived so Christine decided to see what she could find out.

Jack Rhodes lived on his own in a little cottage at the end of the village. She found Jack Rhodes was very helpful and she had the feeling that he was only too glad to be asked about his memories from the day’s gone bye. Of course, he did not remember Jason Senior, (it seemed that all the heads of the Cartwright family in the village were called Jason) but his mother had told him about the family. They had two sons and a daughter. The sons moved away after being married, but the daughter just sort of disappeared. She worked in the local books shop and it was rumoured that she had found a lover, a young author that often visited the shop where she worked. Her father did not approve of the relationship. Then one day she just disappeared, oh yes, he said, he remembers her name was Sally. They said she had run off with her boyfriend and the father had disowned her.

Now Christine was sure that Sally was still in the house, somewhere behind the bookshelf. She went home and told her parents what had happened, with the mysterious crying at night and the ghostly figure she saw and that the books kept disappearing from the middle shelves at the end of the book room.

“You must be joking” said her father

“No dad, come and have a look”

and as sure as she said it Michael Cartwright saw that his daughter was telling the truth. The books were on the floor once again. That night Michael and Emily decided to stay with their daughter in the book room. They needed no persuasion after that night and the next morning Michael took a hammer and knocked the book shelves down at the end of the room and they found a sealed door behind the shelves.

Two weeks later the bones of Sally Cartwright were buried in the local churchyard. It seemed that Jason Cartwright Senior took one secret with him to his grave.


Dear Mr. Catwright

It is with disappointment that I have read your family wishes to sell Cartwright manor. According to your instructions we have now put the complete estate on the market.

As soon as we find a client willing to buy the property, you will be informed.

yours faithfully,
Julian Smith Senior.

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