The Reeve's Tale

Permit me to introduce myself. I am the resident ghost of Hadleigh Manor. Please be reassured, you won't run into me carrying my head under my arm, or anything vulgar like that. In fact I don't normally show my rather bony persona. Today I'm making an exception, in order to tell you my story.

I was the reeve of the estate, and its warden while Milord was away at the wars. The Crusades, that was. The reason I'm still here is that something is unfinished, and I can't rest until I put things right. Let us say, I Lost Something. What I lost - though it seems a little indelicate to mention it - was Milady's honour.

I was responsible for everything on the estate in Milord's absence, so, of course, one has to include that.

I should never have let that troubadour in. Particularly not since I knew he was the younger brother of the Estate Smith. The one person - why didn't it occur to me? - who might have access to the making of a new key to the Chastity Belt.

I must say in my defence that I did try. As soon as I saw what was going on - he was a handsome devil, and Milady of course was very beautiful - I attempted to rectify the situation. Let's see, what was first? Oh yes, a large stone ball from the top of the battlements. He moved at the wrong moment and it was a serving-wench who got squashed. Then I tried poison in his food - but the cook, unfortunately, chose to taste the dish first. Then there was the Magic Infection from the wise-woman in the woods - but although a rather large number of the estate workers died of it, the troubadour remained outrageously healthy. Finally I tried to trap him in the secret chamber - but by sheer mischance, I was the one who ended up walled up in there. When Milord finally returned, he was given to believe that I had disappeared with all the gold and jewels he had left in the strong-room.

My skeleton wasn't found until generations later - quite recently, in fact - when the present heir had the manor rebuilt and refurbished. He could afford to, having become extremely successful, both rich and famous. He bears a remarkable resemblance to that damned troubadour. It would appear that Milord never noticed a rather striking discrepancy in dates, but then he always was rather absent-minded, and not at all good at mathematics. The present incumbent of the manor - officially great-great-great-great- grandson to my lord - has even had the temerity to develop musical talents, and is what they nowadays call a "rock star". Personally I'd call it a dreadful noise.

But I am still going to put things right, now that my spirit is free to roam again. It's my responsibility, and a matter of duty and conscience. So please, as a visitor, would you take particular care, especially with electrical circuits? I have hopes of those, considering all the equipment he uses. Oh, and keep your eyes open for anything slippery left on the stairs. And don't on any account accept a lift in any of his fast cars.

Aside from that, you're as safe as houses, and very welcome at the manor. Please don't be concerned if you hear rattling bones or spectral shrieks: it's only me, trying out possibilities.

But you'll understand now, it isn't you I'm after.

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