2 October, 2018 by katelaity
‘Whatever is the matter?’ the abbess asked Tansy with all manner of sympathy. I was too shocked by the piercing scream she uttered to have anything to say, but when one’s friend is possessed I suppose one must tolerate odd behaviour, however hard it is on the eardrums.
Once more my friend floated an inch or two above the stony floor. Once more Tansy’s voice had changed to the ghostly Northern tones. ‘A moment’s respite from our dreadful limbo restored my sense of hope. To be thrust back into that unending darkness was a horror beyond my reckoning.’
‘We shall retrieve your bones and bury them properly,’ the abbess promised. ‘Your souls shall be freed to eternity after that, I am certain. You have suffered far too long.’
‘There is one other thing we must do,’ said the ghost through Tansy, ‘I must show you the great secret we conceal.’
Just like that Tansy floated away toward a dark corner of the corridor. Stalactites and stalagmites gaped around a deeper blackness. It looked like nothing so much as a medieval hellmouth. I shuddered. I was not one given to fancy but somehow, wandering in these rough caverns the mind found it easier to believe all the scary stories my nurse told when we were bad about damnation and the sufferings we would be due.
Tansy, however, possessed by the poor woman’s spirit, floated into the devilish mouth and we followed with some trepidation. Chambers thrust his lamp inside the little cave and gasped.
Curious now, I stuck my head through the hellmouth to look.
It was like the old tale of whosiwotsit and his thieves: the chamber was full of gold. The torchlights were reflected a hundred-fold, as if a small sun had taken up residence deep in the earth. I could not have been more astonished if it were full of chickens but gold was of course much more useful than chickens unless of course you were in search of eggs.
‘What on earth…?’ Chambers said. Plainly dumbfounded, his words trailed off into nothingness.
‘This was our work,’ the ghost said through Tansy. ‘Gold for our cruel master. His treasure to plunder and our lives to loot. Let the gold go forth and do some good instead. Let it help the poor and the suffering to be relieved.’
‘We certainly will!’ the abbess said with a cry of surprise. ‘The sick will be healed, the poor fed and children educated. This I promise you.’
‘Where could such gold have come from?’ Chambers said shaking his head with wonder.
‘The Laughing Man,’ I said, certain of my answer. ‘If his ganga captured these women, then it was his gold. I recall now that he was never tried but transported out of the country. Legends of his gold abounded but everyone assumed he found some way to take the gold with him.
‘Who could have guessed the truth of its secrets?’
‘Remove the gold, bury our bones, and we will be free,’ the ghost said and with that she apparently departed for Tansy dropped to the floor of the cave and a sort of shudder went through her. My friend gave a little shake with her head and then seemed quite normal again.
Well, as normal as Tansy ever was.