25 September, 2018 by katelaity
Chambers looked at me with surprise in the flickering light. ‘The Laughing Man?’
‘Oh yes,’ I said, warming to my topic quickly. ‘He was a notorious criminal boss in the North. Just think of a nefarious scheme and his gang were in the thick of it.’
‘And how are you so knowledgeable about criminal exploits?’ Chambers asked with a little laugh.
I’m sure my face flushed a little but I determined to press on. ‘Because I try to keep up with current events of both the high and low of life.’
‘You do not keep up with current events!’ Tansy said, astonishment evident on her face which looked rather pretty even in this ghastly place. The ghost had disappeared entirely from her countenance and she was back to earth again.
‘I do! Well, I read The Illustrated Police News,’ I corrected myself.
‘Well, they do probably cover parliamentary activities from time to time,’ Tansy said with a little snort.
‘You may laugh—’
‘I believe I already had.’
‘All right, go on.’ Tansy shook herself a little, surprised to be free from the spirit so abruptly.
‘The notorious Laughing Man, better known to the constables as James Sydd ran a criminal syndicate across the North including most of Yorkshire for years. He covered betting establishments, transfer of stolen goods and erm, procurement.’
‘Procurement of what?’ the abbess asked.
‘Ah, procurement of…people.’
‘You mean women,’ the abbess said with a blaze of anger. ‘It’s not bad enough that men do their best to control every part of life, they have to manage to make everything uglier and more unjust.’
I was unaccustomed to religious ladies being quite so vehement. ‘I beg your pardon, madam Abbess. I do not myself procure ladies.’ One felt so put upon, tarred with the same brush as criminal types.
‘Possibly only because you have not had the opportunity.’ Her frown filled my very being with ice.
Perhaps she too had become possessed by a spirit. Before I could protest further, Tansy grabbed my hand.
‘We must let the spirit continue her story before it’s too late.’
‘Too late?’ I looked around. ‘Whatever would make it too late?’
Tansy gestured toward the torches. ‘They will not last forever. We must get back up to the surface and make plans to restore the bones to sanctity. Do you want to make your way in the dark?’
I shuddered. ‘You are right, of course. Do let’s go on then.’
Tansy closed her eyes and made herself receptive again.
It was strange, but I could no longer see the ghost anywhere. Was she really near? Or had she disappeared? I worried that perhaps the trick would not work a second time, but with a kind of shiver I knew the departed spirit had returned and once more possessed my friend.
Her eyes flew open and she emitted a scream that chilled my already cold bones even further.