22 May, 2018 by katelaity
‘Not ghosts!’ I said with some trepidation over the marmalade.
‘Who can say? That’s why we must investigate.’ Tansy helped herself to a few more roasted parsnips. ‘We should not like to have come all this way and miss our true aim.’
I looked down at the plate of beef before me, my appetite suddenly diminished. ‘But ghosts? I don’t mind hearing about ghosts, but I don’t think I should like to meet one.’
‘They cannot harm one,’ Chambers insisted, dabbing a bit of gravy from his chin. ‘In all ghost stories, the spirits do not cause harm, it is the fright they provoke in those they encounter.’
I piled more potatoes onto my plate as if in some sort of defence. ‘That seems like the worst sort of hair splitting. If one winds up dead I suspect the cause of it may be of little concern.’
Tansy laughed. ‘We shall not be surprised nor frightened because we expect the unexpected.’
‘Speak for yourself. I may well become hysterical.’
‘You wouldn’t though. You’ll feel obliged to protect me.’ Tansy gave a very unladylike laugh.
‘This is that bloody spiritism, isn’t it?’ I considered whether my stomach could hold another serving of beef. Perhaps not if we were to face spectres.
‘Now, language!’ Tansy said. Her expression looked far more amused than her tone suggested so I knew she was not much scandalised, but it was really quite provoking to not be able to enjoy my feast without hearing so much folderol about spiritism and whatnot. ‘Spiritism is a science.’
‘How can it be a science when you can’t even touch one? Or measure them?’ I felt triumphant enough to have a little more roast beef. And why not add a couple more potatoes because they were small and browned just right with little crispy bits the way I liked. Gravy finished the tableau to perfection.
‘As Monsieur Kardec has affirmed, spirits are part of Nature, can communicate with the living and even intervene in their lives. Surely we can figure out a way to measure that.’ Tansy looked thoughtful. ‘We each work through our tasks toward attaining perfection. A single spirit, many forms.’
My fork paused halfway to my mouth. Much as it might pain me to think it, there seemed to be some logic in that though I hesitated to say so. Perhaps a last mouthful of beef would clear my brain. But no; as I chewed the delicious dinner I found myself thinking instead how lovely gravy was and how it perfected a meal.
Fortunately Chambers picked up the slack in the conversation. ‘I happened to receive the latest issue of the Revue Spirite and there was much of interest in its pages. I found fascinating overlaps with the folklore of the low lands as far as prophecy and ghostly encounters were regarded.’
‘Well, if our friend her can tear himself away from the board, we will take a look for ourselves at the haunted place.’
I can take a hint. We pushed ourselves away from the groaning table (I was groaning myself by then) and the concierge arranged a cab for us, a good fellow who was willing to put himself and his horses at our disposal for the day so that we might take as long as we like and stop where we would. He seemed cheerful enough though it was difficult to understand his northern patois. Away we rattled along the busy streets of the port city.
We arrived at the church of St Hilda and were greeted by the abbess, who much to my relief looked to be a cheery cherub sort of woman with a bright smile. You never can tell. Some of these religious women look as if the whole of humanity has let them down, especially the male half. Mind you, it’s not without reason.