Author Topic: The Lord of Blackshot Hall  (Read 2657 times)

Offline *Lorraine*

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The Lord of Blackshot Hall
« on: October 07, 2008, 06:55:49 AM »
Hi folks!  :)

Here is something I wrote last week in response to a sort of 'inspirational nudge' from a online friend who suggested having a go at a Gothic story that was set in the month of October.  I'm ashamed to say that I had to google the topic as it's outside my usual subjects for reading and definitely for writing.  I hope I've managed to keep the melodrama aspect under control - I certainly tried to!  :-[

Anyhoo, I had a go and this is the result.  I hope it provides a little bit of autumnal entertainment.  ;D



The Lord of Blackshot Hall


It is said that the best of things come in threes, but what about the worst of things?  This was the question that filled my thoughts as I fought drowsiness, my forehead resting against the window of the railway carriage as the steam engine slowed its fevered pace in order to cross the viaduct that stretched over the mouth of the river.  The tide was out and I was able to see the narrow channel of water snaking between the banks of glistening mud, a stranded boat lay on its side, helpless, waiting for the return of the water - then the white flash of a little egret in flight brought me back to full consciousness and to sharper thoughts: things that you see cannot be unseen, just as voices may fade but knowledge lingers on.  I willed the train to gather speed once more and move onwards, across the river, past fields and villages, over the county border, putting as much distance as possible between me and Blackshot Hall.

It was a mere five days ago that I set eyes on the Hall for the first time and it had been totally unplanned.  Being on an autumn walking holiday and in unfamiliar surroundings I had alighted from the omnibus at the wrong stop and so my ramble in the countryside had been extended to include an extra section of the coastal path.  The late October sea sparkled on my left as I enjoyed the bracing breeze along the cliff top path until it descended sharply down some roughly hewn steps that were braced with uneven pieces of wood.  I was taking great care and watching my feet rather than the way ahead so at the bottom of the combe I was surprised to find ornate wrought iron gates flanked by a huge specimen of Gunnera, or giant rhubarb, and beyond it the impressive facade of a limestone house built in the Gothic revival style.  A sign on the gate informed me that the grounds of Blackshot Hall were open to the public every Tuesday in aid of the Gardeners’ Benevolent Fund.  I lingered for a moment on the two wooden planks that acted as a bridge over the small stream, watching a dragonfly hover effortlessly, making me wish I’d brought my sketchbook and then I gathered my skirt for the steep climb up the opposite side of the valley and continued on my coastal walk.

When the last full day of my holiday, Tuesday the thirty-first, dawned and the weather seemed to be promising a mixture of sunshine and showers, I was reminded of the gardens so I packed a notepad and sketchbook in my knapsack and pledged to follow in the footsteps of my naturalist father, the Reverend Smith.  I requested a sandwich and flask from the boarding house landlady before setting off.

The grounds of the Hall were not a disappointment.  They were filled with a combination of formal and informal planting, a charming walled garden and a woodland walk.  In all directions my eyes fell on rare and exotic specimens from around the world.  After some hours my feet grew weary and I was in need of refreshment so I made my way to the stable yard where I’d noticed a long bench hugging a wall of the main house.  It was while I was relaxing with my flask and notepad that an ancient looking lady dressed from head to foot in black approached me rather hesitantly.
   “Good day to you, Miss.  I’m collecting for the Fund and I was wondering if you’d like to buy a copy of the guide book.  It contains a listing of the Camellia and Magnolia varieties as well as a brief history of the family and the house.”  I bought a copy and she appeared unduly happy to have made a sale.  She hobbled off and I flicked through the pamphlet, taking particular interest in the botanical illustrations executed in pen and ink.  The brief history of the Blackshot family contained typical references to fortunes won and lost, political ambitions, a family curse and the inevitable black sheep.  I was interested to read that there was a private chapel with a small but ornately sculpted cloister which my father would have been keen to learn about, so I left the stable yard and took a shortcut across the grass adjacent to the main building.  At that moment the sun came out from behind an ominous-looking cloud and when I shielded my eyes against the sudden glare I was aware of a movement behind one of the many windows on the first floor.  A smartly dressed man with an angular profile and a mass of very dark hair raised his arm and placed a hand on the window frame.  I could sense the intensity of his gaze, someone or something inside the room was holding his full attention.  I knew I should move on but just then a woman in a cerise gown appeared face to face with him.  She was equal to his height, a strikingly handsome woman with a cascade of coal-black hair.  They were as similar as bookends.  Something profound seemed to be passing between them, they were oblivious to everything except each other and I was mesmerised by it.  In a swift movement the man’s hand left the window frame and grabbed a handful of the woman’s hair, close to her scalp.  I thought I was going to witness an attack but as he tugged her head back she flung her bare arms around his neck and pulled his mouth down on to hers.  With that, I closed my own gaping mouth, gathered my wits and scurried towards the chapel.

I could see the bent figure of the old lady in black standing in the lych gate ahead of me.  She was tying white ribbons to the woodwork and she smiled ruefully as I approached.
   “Ah, I’m afraid the chapel is closed today, Miss.  Lord Blackshot is getting married here tomorrow and the flower arrangers are busy inside.”
   “A wedding, how lovely,” I said, adding with a slight blush, “I think I may have just glimpsed the happy couple.  She’ll make a stunning bride with that beautiful dark hair.”
   “Oh no, dear,” the old woman frowned, “Lady Lucinda is as fair as the day is long - anyway she won’t be arriving at the Hall until tomorrow, her wedding day.  Maybe you saw his Lordship’s sister Consuelo...”

Purple-edged storm clouds were gathering by the time I arrived back at the boarding house and no sooner had I gone to bed when I heard the loudest crack of thunder I have ever witnessed.  I’m sure I felt the bed frame leave the floorboards.  The electric storm raged until the early hours when I was eventually able to get some sleep.  The holiday was over and I packed my suitcase before breakfast in readiness for the trip to the railway station.  The landlady greeted me in the doorway of the dining room and immediately commented on the overnight storm.
   “Terrible wasn’t it?  One of the worst we’ve had in these parts.  My brother was called out some time before midnight to fight a massive fire at Blackshot Hall.  It was struck by the fiercest bolt of lightning you could possibly imagine.  They tried to save it but they couldn’t and worst of all his Lordship’s body has yet to be found.”  I was listening to the landlady’s voice but what I heard can best be described as a rushing sound in my ears and my vision began to shrink into a narrow tunnel of light.  The next thing I knew I was sitting in an armchair and the landlady was holding a glass of water to my lips.
   “Feeling better dear?  You gave us a fright, so you did.”  The world was still spinning but my mind was racing back to the curse mentioned in the pamphlet – the curse of the Three Eves – when the Blackshot bloodline would end and the house would be destroyed by the anger of the heavens.

And so it was that I came to be seated in a second class carriage, silently urging the train onwards and all because I believed I was the third and final element that the curse had brought together on the eve of the wedding, on the Eve of All Hallows.  Me, the spinster daughter of a country vicar: Miss Eve Smith.
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Offline davidleejones13

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Re: The Lord of Blackshot Hall
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2008, 09:57:17 AM »
Hey Fellow Challenge Winner! ;D
There you go channeling again...this was written in wonderful detail. I found this piece very intelligent and brooding in the most delightfully way. You just knew there was some sort of mischief afoot and the end did not dissappoint! Great work.

THere was one...oh yes....Steve08's "Salvador House" had this same brooding and descriptive feel. If you have not read that series on this site I would highly suggest searching the GALLERY for it. It, like this story, is well worth the read.

Your Goth assignment is a success. I enjoyed this very much! ;D
It was almost as if I were reading an Enlish master piece! ;)

Your friend,
Lee

PS>Where is CONFESSIONS? :o YOu really should post it out here.

Offline davidleejones13

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Re: The Lord of Blackshot Hall
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2008, 10:12:20 AM »
...Still waiting
(Lee is tapping his foot)
for CONFESSIONS...

 ;) :) ;D

Offline *Lorraine*

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Re: The Lord of Blackshot Hall
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2008, 01:11:51 PM »
Ok Lee, ok - I give in!  :D

Will post it, just for you.

All the best, Lorraine.  :)
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Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: The Lord of Blackshot Hall
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2008, 02:39:44 PM »
Lorraine, your words flow like the purest honey - thick and sweet to read.

If you have to go through numerous edits and rewrites to achieve something like The Lord of Blackshot Hall, don't tell me so. Leave me with the illusion of you sitting quill in hand, pinning your words to rolls of parchment.

I like such dreams even when not based in reality.

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