The story Below is derived partially from actual occurrences experienced ( sadly,not by me) with- in the house pictured above
The final Chapter
Before I start, I should say that the reader may get the full impact of this if one were too read it under the same circumstances I wrote it in. In a darkened house, alone , past midnight.
Trust me, it will add a whole scary dimension to the story…
October 10 – 11, 19__ Sunday and Monday morning :
That night we slept pretty soundly, all things considered. Nothing happened out of the ordinary that night, except waking up briefly in the middle of the night and thinking I heard the piano keys being hit upon in the mourning parlour, but as I finally forced me self into wakefulness, I heard nothing more and so went back to sleep.
But the next morning I found out that indeed, something had been busy during the night, and I am not referring to piano music.
I was the first up, light was just starting to peep through the windows. I grabbed me robe and headed into the bathroom ( a little too much brandy the night before)
I started to push the button to turn on the bathroom light, when I caught a glimpse of me in the mirror as I stood in the door way, the hallway letting in a stream of light into the room. Something was smudged on the mirror. Without turning on the light, I went up to it, trying to see what it was. Then I saw it all too clearly… and almost peed me pants.
It looked like something had been writing on the mirror on it in red crayon, wobbly words in a child’s scrawl..
Then under that
CO___ the rest of the letters not quite discernible
Pondering it over, I heard Jesse moving about.. not sure why, but I didn’t want to talk about the subject of ghosts and haunts anymore that day, not on the Lords Day! ( almost made me sound overly religious, but I am not, though after that weekend I have contemplated a lot more on the subject!)
I quickly wipe it off, before Jesse can see it, then turning on the lights I quietly shut the door..
Rest of Sunday was spent preparing the house for three of Jesse’s cousins( on his dad’s side) who were spending the night with us before the funeral service the next day
We quickly put away and straighten up so there was no evidence of what we had been up to the evening before. I made Jesse carry up the dress sewing form, and the bloody doll, preferring not to touch neither.
Jesse called the home and confirmed indeed, that Joseph was still amongst the living, though his condition had not changed in the least.
Jesse’s Cousins( all girls) arrived in the early afternoon. With the house all lit up and with people and related activity filling up our time, the house took on an entirely different atmosphere.
At one point I did remember the open attic door, and envisioned a shadowy figure sitting on the top step listening in on the gaiety and happy activity now in the hose, probably quite a foreign feeling to one used to a sombre, joyless air . But I quickly put such images out of mind and went merrily about my way.
So nothing was said to anyone, and we had almost forgot about the whole affair, although we decided to let the guest have the upstairs bedrooms and Jesse and I camped ourselves again in the living room.
Monday morning came up, rather gloomy and foggy one, a perfect day for a funeral, Jesse remarked. We roused the cousins, who all apparently had slept quite well. No one said anything about strange noises or voices. So it made me believe that whatever it was, was no longer around.
With some misgivings ( oh all right then, a boatload of misgivings) I again put on the black dress that had vanished from me the closet and found its way somehow onto the nursery dress form and…) so any way I placed on the dress, and felt no oddness in wearing it, thankfully.
Jesse’s father ( me uncle) showed up early and we all had a quite delightful breakfast.
We left and headed over to the chapel. Where soon we all became caught up in getting things prepared for the expected guests. It was rather a sparse gathering, Francis having outlived all of the few friends and close relatives they had known. A few people from the church family, our little group, and two more distant cousins ( Adelaide’s side) who probably only came with hopes of being in the will. But it was no secret all of the money not needed for Josephs up- keep would be going to the church, almost a million miserly collected pounds of it! It was a sore point for me! For my dear uncle, for all the work he had done for the three, (never receiving anything other than a begrudged thanks), did not receive so much as a pence form the will. The Church, who in my opinion had done nothing outside being a spiritual haven for Frances Froes, was given everything. Sorry for the rant, but I truly felt bad for Jesse’s dad, although he would never admit anything over the episode, me Uncle being of a quite kindly and no worries kind of soul!
So, anyhow, back to the story:
It was a brief sermon, no one gave an eulogy, the priests sermon was pretty non-descript, especially in view of the windfall his church was getting from the estate!
After the service we all gathered in the church basement for a wake of sorts ( no alcohol of course) while Francis body was taken to the family crypt. We were there probably about 3 hours when the party broke up and all the guests went on their way home.
Jesse, Uncle and I stayed behind and helped the parishioner’s clean up afterwards. Then the three of us decided to visit the family crypt to pay one last respect, and to make sure there had been no problems encountered during the interment.
The Parish cemetery that was home to the Froes family crypt, lay almost dead centre between the church and Jacobs house. It was all deep woods around the cemetery. There was a rather well-trodden path leading from the side gate to Jacob’s house, nearly 2 miles away. The path had been walked almost every Saturday by Francis and Mary to take care of the crypt where their Parents corpses lay, and their two brothers were interred in spirit.
I thought of that path now, and remembered the quote form Shirley Jackson’s Ghost Novel “ for whatever walks there walked alone… I shivered at the thought, deciding the I would not be walking that particular path anytime soon!
Francis had already been interred in one of the vaults by the time we reached the crypt. The small stone building had been built up on a small hill in a corner of the parish cemetery.
We stopped just at the foot of the stairs leading up to the Froes crypt. It was as we were standing there that Jesse and I began telling Uncle our story about the strange occurrences that had gone on up at the house. Uncle listened quietly, his normally smiling face grew sombre as he listened, his usually laughing grey eyes, soon had lost all their life! He did not say a word until Jesse asked him a question…
But Joseph is still alive dad, Jesse said, it doesn’t make any sense how a child could be haunting the place, does it dad?
Me uncle’s face grew grim, and he looked up at the stoned stairs to the opened doors of the crypt. Step inside the two of you he told us solemnly. We went up the stairs and entered . It was dark inside, aside from the door, the only light was from a back window, the lower portion had been opened a crack by a vine that had been growing up from the outside. Half to have that fixed, Uncle said behind us as Jesse and I looked around, being the first time either of us had ever been inside.
Along the walls on either side were lined the vaults, six to a side, 12 vaults total, 9 of them with names and birthdates chiselled in. Two of those nine that had birth dates, were without death dates ( Joseph and the missing Stephen) . The remaining seven vaults had with dates of death chiselled in.
It hit Jesse and I at the same time, there were 9 vaults carrying names of the deceased, but the family had had only 8 members, right?! My Uncle said nothing as we gave our find some voice, and we began to read the names. Jacob, Adelaide, Jacob JR, Frank, Francis, Stephen, Mary, Joseph, and…….Joseph
I froze, There it was Joseph Froes with a birth date, and a date of death some nine years later, I looked across the room, there was the other vault, with a Joseph Froes and a birth date 2 years later than the first Joseph, and no bloody date of death!
I looked questioningly up at my Uncle.
He started to explain, his voice sombre and hushed.
Adelaide had had twins, Mary had had a twin brother, who was named Joseph.
Poor Joseph was born with what today we call Down syndrome. Despite custom, Joseph was kept home, where others like him may have been sent away to institutions. Though Joseph needed constant care, he was the heart and soul of poor Adelaide. But his special needs, along with those his 5 other young siblings required, was too much. And Adelaide finally had to be committed to a county asylum to rest and attempt to preserve her sanity.
Poor Francis tried her best to raise the others, but Joseph was a handful. Then one nigh,t in the dead of winter, Joseph slipped away from the house through the cellar door in his father’s workshop. The door locked behind him. His small lifeless body was found the next day, laying frozen neath a stone bench by the garden. It had been the eve of his tenth birthday, and it was believed he had about gone looking for presents!
Adelaide was beside herself when she learned of this, though she was not told until after he had been laid out in the vault…., and she slipped a bit deeper into insanity, but she insisted on having another child, I think she wanted to replace joseph. Jacob, fearing for his wife’s health, agreed, against the doctor’s advice.
Then, when a male child was born, Adelaide insisted that that Joseph would be his name! But after the boy’s birth, she discovered it was not the same, the void left in her soul with the loss of her sweet innocent Joseph could not be filled by this smiling, happy youth.
Adelaide began to slip out of reason, talking to an unseen, answering child ! Walking room to room looking for her dead son ,Joseph. She took to visiting the cellar and attic visiting for hours on end.
Then one night Jacob woke to find his wife gone from the bed. He searched the house fruitlessly, then he went outside where it was raining cats and dogs. He found Adelaide siting on the same stone bench where they had found the boy. She was clad only in her nightgown, chilled to the bone, totally out of her mind. She was admitted back into the asylum, where she perished some months later, a victim of a broken heart….
Wow I said, not being able to come up with anything else to say, Jesse just stared. I could see it in his eyes that his mind was working overtime.
Uncle finished…So no-one ever mention the first Joseph, and his memory was a secret, a burden everyone carried, and kept to themselves.
No wonder everyone was so unhappy, I thought, what had it been like to grow up with that hanging over ye?
We asked a few questions, but me uncle really had no answers other than what he had told us. Though It certainly filled in a few pieces of the puzzling mystery, it left us with many more unanswered questions!
I became silent, thinking some very deep thoughts as Jesse tried to ask a few more random questions, but receiving no satisfactory answers to em… Soon me uncle turned the conversation to matters of the house, and what they were going to do next to get it ready for the church to take over. He obviously felt the matter was closed, the problem would soon become someone else…
As they talked they moved off a little ways. I stayed behind, my mind still abuzz with it all. I really believed that what transpired over the weekend was a more than a little “ problem” . But I could see uncles point, what could we rationally do about it. Especially since it wasn’t like we were selling the house to someone, it was actually already owned by the Church now, so they could deal with it. Considering how I felt about the issues of Frances’s will, I made meself agree to let the sleeping dog just lie!
I looked slowly around, the cemetery, as all of em would now , had taken on a quite different perspective for me.
Now, I had always been pulled to old churchyards and their cold silent headstones. Wondering what the stories were behind the names, trying to figure out their lives by the brief clues given. Now I would also wonder if any of their spirits stayed still, or were prone to wandering, interfering in with mortal lives?
I started to walk around the crypt, looking at the familiar stones that lay around it.
I had not visited this cemetery since a much younger child.
Off a ways in one of the very back rows I knew there was a gravestone upon which had been carved a rather morbid and ( for me) startling epitaph….
Stranger stop and cast an eye….
As you are now so once was I..
As I am now, so you must be..
Prepare ye for death, and so follow me….
That epitaph always reminded me of a story..
A lady had been visiting the grave of her mother and was one her way out as dusk fell. As she walked she noticed an old man in a suit kneeling in front of a grave two rows up. He was mutterin loudly as his fingers traced the words carved in the stone. As she passed it sounded like he was uttering that the “date was wrong”. She reached the road, and thinking that someone should help the old man out since it was getting dark, turned to go to him, but when she did, he had vanished into thin aire..
I shuddered a bit, spooky thoughts in a cemetery did not go well together, especially now!
I thought of the older two Froes boys, the ones who had died in war, and of the picture of Frank Froes and the young girl. What had happened to her, was she buried somewhere near, had she ever visited this crypt in mourning, crying over a lost love? Had ever any of the Froes’s ever felt love?
Speaking of Love….
I walked on, soon reaching the backside of the crypt. Directly across from the back of the Froes crypt was a large granite headstone stone, well weathered by these many years. Ever since I had first seen it, it has always drawn me to it the every time I visited this dreary place. I walked up to it again, the old carvings still quite visible.
Born 18_ _ Died 19 _ _
It contained the body of a 25 year old pilot who had been killed during world war 1
I read the words underneath his name:
Beloved Husband , Father , Son…
Neath This inscription name was the name of poor Reginald’s wife,
Elisabeth Johns –Beckett
Neath hers was another quite haunting inscription
Life’s Greatest loss isn’t Death…It’s Greatest Loss is what dies inside us while we live.
Then underneath that was
Until we me again, love of my life, ,my greatest loss.
I looked up again at her name
Elisabeth Johns -Beckett
Born 18_ _ Died
There had been no death date the last time I had been there, and there still wasn’t now!
I always wondered why? For the Elisabeth’s birth date was now some 125 years ago, so she was now decidedly no longer among the living.
Was she buried there, and no one ever inscribed the date, or had she met another love of her life, and moved on, leaving poor Reginald, forgotten? On either side were empty plots, and no other graves nearby held the name of Elisabeth, or Beckett, so not even Reginald’s child(ren?) were buried near.
Poor Reginald had fallen from the sky, had he also fallen out of Love?
Prepare ye for death, and so follow me…. But none apparently was following poor Reginald Beckett.
So the question would now be, dose Reginald come out searching for his lost love….?
As I said, I always was wondering what the stories were if the graves could talk…and now I was starting to freak out that some, on certain dark nights, may!
I turned sadly away.
I looked Back over me shoulder. Jess and Uncle were still talking.
I than walked the few steps to the back of the Froe’s crypt….
There was the barred back window, , with the lower section opened. I could see the vine was running along it, so it had been opened for some time, probably the vine entering a crack and wedging open the lower section.
I went up to the open widow, looking at the stained glass. I stepped on a twig, hearing it snap as I moved closer. It sure was quite silent in that place this dreary morning.
The glass was a pattern of the Froes crest, an old moss rose vine. Its green thorny leaves curling up and around a white marble column, open roses laying on top. No idea what its meanings were. I found it interesting that another vine, wisteria I believe, had grown up and around the crypt, was forcing open the window a crack.
I stepped back, feeling the twig crack again underfoot, I look down.. It wasn’t a twig atoll, but an old. Weathered crayon, red!
What an odd thing to be laying here I remembered thinking, my mind at the time not making any connection.
I meandered back towards the front of the crypt, walking on the opposite side this time. There were no gravestone on this side of it, just green grass falling down the hill to the old wrought iron fencing with its wicked looking, nastily sharp, top spikes!
I again stood at the bottom of the steps, looking up at the crypt with the Froes name etched on the doors mantle. The door still was open ,Uncle had not closed and locked it yet.
I stood. Looking up at the blackness with in the crypt, with its 5 bodies waiting for the day of judgment, unless they decided not to wait?.
Only one Froes left alive, Joseph the second.
My mind went to the mysteriously vanished Stephen; I imagined a very old man, in a suit, crawling up the moonlit path to the Froes crypt, reaching it, knocking to be let in….
Again I shivered, enough of that Girl I scolded meself as I walked again up the 3 stoned stops leading to the Froes crypt’s opened door.
I looked over again at Jesse and me Uncle, now walking off a bit as they talked.. Had they forgotten that I was even there I wondered?
I shivered, looking inside the vaults murky depths, thinking of that old broken crayon….
I looked inside, the rows of crypts visible.. I could see the name of poor young Joseph, and wondered what it had all been about, the happenings over the weekend at the dreary old Froes house.
And then I sensed movement in the shadows..
Before I could properly react, I distinctly heard it , from the back recesses, the doll like child’s singsong voice coming from the darkness deep within…
“Time to sleep….”
I didn’t move, could it be here?
Then, closer this time, it spoke again, a little sharper, no less spooky. The utterance of a single word..
(Fini) The end
Since the séance I have been told how terribly crackers we both were to have attempted what we did, and how horribly wrong the whole thing could have turned out. But at the time we did not consider all of the possibilities, nor all of the possible consequences. It is something I am not sure I would ever do again, and I would never suggest anyone else to rush in and try it either.
Requiesce in pace – “Rest is not always Peaceful amongst the Dead!”
“Wearye Traveller do not long linger here,
Tarry not lest ye disturbs what sleeps neare,
Deathe eternal carries no feare to Treade,
Rest is not always peaceful, among the Dead”
By Unknow Author (MSL)
Circa 1866 crypt engraving
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