Nicholas sat at his desk in the study penning out a letter to the undertaker in the village to have a coffin brought out to Hillcrest Manor tomorrow. He wanted to give his grandmother a decent burial that she deserved. As he left his study he gave it to a servant to take it immediately to the village, and then headed out to the terrace where he hoped Elizabeth would be waiting for him. But no such luck. The terrace was empty. “That’s just like a woman. Never on time for anything.”
Louise came out with a pot of tea and two cups when she saw him sit down at the table.
“Have the grounds keeper report to me at once, Louise.” He asked, the longtime servant.
“Yes sir, your lordship.” And sped off to do his bidding.
In the meantime, Elizabeth finally made her appearance and took the seat opposite him.They were sipping their tea when the young man came up to them.
“You wanted to see me, sir?” He asked.
“Yes. I want you to dig up my grandmother’s grave ….”
The horrified expression on his face made Nicholas, let out a slight chuckle.
“You want me to … dig up … a grave?” He asked, incredibly not sure that he had heard him right.
“Yes, but don’t look so devastated, my grandmother isn’t in the grave. That’s why I want you to dig it up.” The poor boy still wasn’t grasping what his lordship was saying and continued staring at him with his mouth open in shock.“My grandmother’s body is still on the third floor of the house. She wasn’t ever buried. That’s why I want you to dig a grave for her. So we can finally lay her to rest.”
“Yes, sir…. He answered, shaking his head, and then turned to do his bidding.
“You probably should have told him first that your grandmother is still upstairs, and then ask him to dig the grave. I was afraid the poor boy was going to think you’ve gone mad.”
“Yes, you’re probably right.” He said, as he told another sip of tea.
“It’s almost dinner time so if you’re ready, then shall we head to the dining room? I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”
“Absolutely!”Once they sat down at the dining table, Louise brought their meal. They ate as if there was no tomorrow.
“I guess you would say crossing spirits over builds up quite an appetite.” He teased, smiling at Elizabeth who had already finished everything on her plate.
She just looked back at him with a smile. Not sure on how to answer that.
“You know tonight will be the first time in my life that I can go to bed without locking doors and being afraid of what was going to happen next.”
“It had to be really hard for you, and your family to be living under these horrible circumstances. I don’t know how you could have endured it.”
“That’s why I stayed away from here for so long. The only reason I came back was after my father passed away, I had to claim my inheritance. And to do that, I had to stay here for at least a few months. But tragedy struck before my family and I even entered the house.” Remembering that horrible day of the carriage accident. Killing his wife instantly, and leaving his daughter an invalid as well as mute.
Elizabeth’s heart went out to him. “You couldn’t have foreseen any of that happening, Nicholas. It wasn’t your fault.”
“I know that but … I still feel responsible.”
“It’s starting to get late now and we’ve had quite an eventful day, Nicholas. I’m really tired. Maybe we should retire for the evening, I know we’ll have a busy day tomorrow.”
“Yes, I agree with you. I don’t think I could ever go through what we did today, ever again.”
“Well … I hope not!”They headed up the staircase to the second floor. He walked her to her bedroom, opened the door for her as they both went inside. Elizabeth turned to Nicholas moments before he took her in his arms and kissed her deeply. She molded herself to him, unconsciously. She didn’t want their kiss to ever end. “I love you so much, I don’t want to ever let you go. “She gazed into his eyes, seeing such tenderness there.
“Will you marry, me, Elizabeth?” He put his fingers across her lips so she couldn’t answer him. “I just want you to think about it tonight, before you give me your answer.”She nodded her head. He pulled her to him again, and kissed her even more deeply than before. This time when he released her, he walked over to the door and turned to face her.“I think I should take my leave of you now, Elizabeth, so we both can get some much needed sleep.” With that being said, he turned and left the room, leaving her staring after him until he disappeared into his own bedroom.
He wants to marry me? She thought wildly. Is this feeling she has for him really love? She changed into her night dress and climbed into bed. His words kept coming back to her, over and over again until she finally was able to fall asleep.
The following morning the sun was shining brightly through the window when Elizabeth woke. She didn’t ever remember it being this bright since she came here. Could it be because she had helped the evil spirit crossover? That didn’t really make sense, how could the spirit change the weather. She laughed at herself for thinking such thoughts. She quickly got up, changed and made her way downstairs for breakfast. Nicholas had already eaten so Louise was waiting for her to come down and eat hers.
“Good morning, mum. If you would have a seat at the dining table I’ll fetch your breakfast.
“Yes, I’ll do that.” Elizabeth responded back to her.
“Louise … did Nicholas tell you about what happened yesterday?” She asked, watching for signs that the servant had already been told.
“Yes, mum he did … and I’m so glad that you were able to make things right around here, again.”
Elizabeth hoped that was true. This family had been through enough. She finished her breakfast and went in search of Nicholas. She found him in the parlor. As she entered Nicholas stopped what he was doing and bid her good morning.
“I think we should put my grandmother in here. Her coffin will be delivered sometime today and I want to hold a small service for her, before we bury her.” Elizabeth stayed quiet, letting Nicholas make the final arrangements for his grandmother. He was such a caring man. “After the service, we can lay her body to rest in the cemetery where it belongs.” With that said, Nicholas escorted Elizabeth out of the parlor. “Have you had breakfast yet, my dear?”
“Yes, yes I have. Louise served it to me as soon as I came downstairs. “There is something I need to speak with you about.” She said, while walking out on the terrace, which now had become their favorite meeting place. He pulled the chair out for her to sit and then sat across from her, eyeing her closely. “We need to go out into the woods today. Both of us. There is something I have to do there.”
“Why on earth do we need to do that for?” He asked, incredibly, not understanding her reasoning at all. “You know that’s forbidden. What’s out there that is so damn important to you?” He asked, his anger was now starting to rise. He wanted to concentrate on the funeral service and then the burial of his beloved grandmother today, not go out into that damn forest for who knows what.
“There is a … spirit out there that I must help crossover.”
“Another one?” He yelled, not wanting to believe what he was hearing.
“Who pray tell is this … spirit?”
Elizabeth took in her breathe before she spoke. She knew it would upset Nicholas, tremendously. “It’s … your dead wife, Nicholas.” She replied, softly.
“Margaret?” He asked, not wanting to believe it. “Why is she out there? So … you’re telling me that … when my wife died, she didn’t go to heaven? How can that be? We had a proper funeral for her … and I kissed her good-bye just before closing the lid on her coffin. I can understand my grandmother’s spirit remained here because her body was never laid to rest. But Margaret?”
“A person’s spirit can remain here on earth even if their body was properly buried, Nicholas.”
“I was just starting to understand all of this … but now? How do you know it’s my wife and not some other spirit?”
“Nicholas, you remember when I spent the night out in the woods … Margaret came to me for help. The evil spirit was keeping her there for whatever reason.”
“Well, if what you say is true, then once the evil spirit crossed over, wouldn’t Margaret be released from its grips and crossover by herself?”
“It doesn’t always work out like that.” Elizabeth said, seeing the anguish on Nicholas’s face. It had to be very upsetting for him to hear his wife never had gone to heaven. But was trapped here on this earthbound plane. They sat now in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Once they had finished their tea they rose and headed out to the path that went into the forest, to help his dead wife crossover and finally have peace. They stood at the entrance now, hesitating before entering. “Have you ever gone in the woods, Nicholas?” She asked, curiously.
“No. It’s always been forbidden.”
“Haven’t you ever wondered what it was like there? It’s just hard to believe that you lived here and have never entered, or haven’t you ever been curious about them?”
“Well … whenever anyone went into the woods, they never came out. They would just disappear. Never to be heard from again. Except for you that is.” They followed the path that Elizabeth had been on before, until they came to the small stream. Now there were multiple paths they could go.
“I think we should wait here,” she said, looking for a place to sit down. She could see several large rocks by the stream. “Here Nicholas, these rocks are perfect,” she said, sitting down on one. They could hear the water trickling down the stream giving them both a feeling of serenity just listening to it.
“I don’t understand why this place was forbidden. I rather like being out here. It’s so peaceful.”
“My thoughts exactly. But … after dark, it came alive. But we don’t have to worry about that anymore with the evil spirit gone. It would be truly wonderful to pack a picnic lunch and bring it out here by the stream, don’t you think?”
“That does sound really nice.” He replied.
“I guess I better try and contact … Margaret, now.” She stood up, closed her eyes and starting calling to her in her mind. After a few minutes, she could she a white figure materializing in front of her.
“Margaret …? Is that you?” Nicholas said, staring at the white figure.
“She says, yes.” Elizabeth related to him.
“Oh my god, I just can’t believe this! It’s just too incredible.”
“She can hear you … now is the time to tell her anything you want to before she crosses over.”
“Margaret, I’m so sorry for what happened to you. I wouldn’t have let you come to Hillcrest Manor …” He couldn’t finish his sentence.
“She doesn’t blame you, Nicholas. She wants you to know that you were a good husband and father.”
A bright light came down from the sky, just as it had done on the third floor and encircled Margaret. “I can’t leave without Sarah.” Margaret said, to Elizabeth. “My baby girl will be lost … I can’t leave her here, alone.”
Elizabeth looked at the Sarah’s mother with compassion.
“Margaret, don’t worry. I will take good care of Sarah. It’s time now, the light has come for you.”
Margaret shook her head in agreement. “I know you will look after Nicholas for me. I sense that he truly loves you and you … him. We were always just best friends. I’m so happy for him to have finally found true love and I believe you will make him very happy for the rest of his life.”
Elizabeth didn’t know exactly how to respond to what she just heard. Especially from his dead wife. “Thank you, Margaret, from the bottom of my heart. I will take good care of him and look after him, like you said, for the rest of my life.”
“I know you will.”
“She wishes you well, Nicholas and bids you goodbye.”
Nicholas watched in fascination as his wife’s spirit slowly faded and then disappeared completely. He looked at Elizabeth who had turned now to face him.
“I can’t believe what … I just witnessed. To think that Margaret’s spirit has been trapped out here is almost … impossible to imagine.”
“I know that was quite a shock for you, Nicholas. I didn’t tell you when I first was contacted by Margaret. I didn’t think you were … ready to hear that. Also at that time there wasn’t any way I could help her. She was being held here by the evil spirit. Now that he is gone, I could now help her to crossover.”
Nicholas listened intensely to Elizabeth. If he hadn’t brought her to his home, then his wife and grandmother would still be trapped here, for all eternity. “Thank you … Elizabeth,” he whispered, before taking her in his arms. Holding her tightly to his chest. “All of this seems so … impossible to comprehend. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it…. No one would.”
They sat back down on the rocks for a few minutes. Trying to compose themselves before heading back to the Manor House. “I never knew how beautiful these woods are,” he said, as they made their way back. The birds were now chirping as they flew past them, anxious to feed their young that were waiting impatiently in their nests. New blossoms of flowers were popping up on both sides of the path, producing the sweetest fragrances as they passed by them. They finally came to the opening at the edge of the forest. They took one final look back and then headed directly to the Manor House.
Louise already had lunch made for them and was waiting for their return. She knew they would be starving after spending so many hours in the woods. “About time you two were getting back.” She said, when she saw them enter. “I would assume everything … went well?”
“Yes, indeed, Louise. It did.” Elizabeth said, as she sat down at the table. The old servant was the only one here that really understood what has been truly happening here. They ate their lunch quietly as they both thought about what they had to do next. The coffin was here now. It had been delivered while they were out in the forest. As soon as they finished eating, they would take it upstairs to the third floor and lay his grandmother’s remains to rest in it. Then they would bring it back downstairs to the parlor, where they would hold a small service for her.