The Ghost and the Rose

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Barnet, 1980

“Are you sure this is the right way?”

The woman with red, curly hair simply shrugged. “Yes, you are going the right way. I would have told you if you’d turned off the wrong way.” She looked around from her position in the passenger’s seat to look upon the sleeping toddler firmly strapped into her car seat.

The man continued to push the car forward as it began to struggle slightly on the thick piles of gravel. “But if you remember, the last time you gave directions, we ended up in the middle of a farmer’s field.”

“You didn’t marry me for my navigation skills, I’m certain of that.”

The woman leaned forward when she saw the house. “That’s it, Bryan” she breathed. “Just pull up there.” She pointed to where the driveway rounded back to meet itself.

Getting out of the car, Bryan was left to lift the sleeping child out of the car seat as his wife stared in wonder at the house.

There was more crunching on the gravel. “Excuse me,” said a strong male voice. She saw a man approaching, his blue eyes were piercing, and his bright blond hair was being swept by the wind. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

“I’m sorry, we were in the area and I came here as a teenager. I was just wondering if we could have a look around?”

The man nodded. “You’re a little early for the tourist season but you sound like you’ve come a long way. If you like I can give you a quick tour.”

“That would be nice, wouldn’t it?” Bryan said, clutching the baby to his side. “If you don’t mind.”

The man smiled. “Not at all. Please, come this way.” He gestured to the door.

He showed them the main rooms of the house including the original library, kitchens and bedrooms that were arranged inside the aging walls. Then they came to the solar that just like the rest of the house was littered with grand furniture but what caught the woman’s eye the most, was a huge portrait hanging above the fireplace. It was of a young woman with the same startling blue eyes and golden hair that the man had. She could not take her eyes away.

“Who is this?” Bryan asked.

“This is Kathryn Anne Farthing. She was the youngest sister of the Lord of the house Henry Farthing at the time of the Wars of the Roses. In fact, she disappeared the very same day of the Battle of Barnet and was never seen again by her family. It is said she was in love with John Neville, brother of the Earl of Warwick. Local legend says that they arranged to meet once the battle was over but when John was slain, his spirit came to take her with him so that they could be together just as they had wanted in life. Her brother dedicated this room to her and in the chapel built a magnificent effigy on top of her empty tomb in remembrance.”

“What a coincidence,” Bryan said. “This is our daughter Anne Kathryn and I think my wife is descended from the Farthing family. That’s right, isn’t it Phoebe? Lady Eleanor?”

But Phoebe wasn’t listening. She continued to smile on the face that she had not seen for nine years. “Anne.”

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