I wondered if Joshua had smoked a pipe during his lifetime for the familiar aroma would often drift around my senses. I found it a pleasant smell, some days stronger than others. It was nice to think another resident of Rosehill wandered the halls and swept the staircase, brushing ghostly hands on ancient wooden panels and clicking their heels against antique floorboards. Some of the tapestries that hung in the West Wing depicted land workers from, I suspected, the nineteenth century, brandishing ploughs and holding reigns precariously attached to shire horses. I would sometimes stand and stare at the images as they almost moved before me. But I couldn’t be sure if any were local villagers, and I had no idea if one of the faces belonged to Joshua.
Someone stood before me now, as I trawled the book shelves in the library. His pipe almost choked me, giving me an indication he was quite close. I was deciding on a fiction to read, something to divert my attention from missing Marcus. With my eyes resting on a thriller I had yet to devour, a faint whisper emitted behind me; a man’s voice. I turned around expecting to see someone in the room but in Rosehill style, there was no one there. Turning back to the shelves I continued browsing the books, so many I had not read due to time never being on my side.
There it was again, this time a little more distinct. I quickly turned, my eyes now scanning the library filled with ancient hardbacks and many of my own novels that I’d collected over the years. A white mist rose from the floor near the winding staircase which led to the upper level of shelves, swirling around the steps as though making its ascent. It was a spirit wishing to manifest, trying hard, though perhaps only to get my attention rather than give me a message. But the mist continued to rise, taking each step in turn. And then the footsteps; clear, concise, a sign that spirit wanted me to follow. Of course, being of naturally inquisitive nature, I did just that, assuming I was being taken to a book I had yet to read, one belonging to the old Rosehill, before I took residence. Many of the books in the library had been there for decades and even though I had dusted them and cared for them since moving into the house, I had never moved them or felt a need to read what their authors had written. It was a room in the house that I had been determined to restore to its former splendour; I felt it wasn’t my place to rearrange books that had belonged to someone else, books that would perhaps fall apart should I start turning their pages and creasing back spines.
I followed the mist to the upper level and watched as it moved slowly towards an area of hardbacks. As it hovered alongside a row of brown leather-bound books, it became obvious to me that I was meant to consider one of them. I felt the excitement rise within me as spirit seemed to be indicating one book in particular. My eyes rested on the spine which read: My Journey – Arthur Stanfordham.
I touched the book and a surge of electricity shot through me, almost forcing me to stand back against the railing that would stop me falling to the ground. Regaining my composure, I carefully lifted the book from its place, blew away the dust and wiped the cover gently with my hand. I made a mental note to return to the library in the near future with a few dusters. Thank goodness no one else came in here, I thought, as little white particles came to rest around me.
Gently opening the book, I glanced at the inside page noticing the ornate scrolling font, typical of calligraphic script from long ago. I flicked through some of the pages made from thick and creamy paper of good quality, much better than our books of today. There was a date inside: 1874, and the acknowledgement read:
For my dearest sister, Emily, who sits by my bed each day and reads to me with such elegance. Your patience has been formidable and I thank you with all my heart.
My love to you always, Arthur.
I looked at the mist that still hovered by the book shelves and watched it dance now, seeming satisfied at fulfilling its mission. I smiled. Once more I had been guided to seek something that would one day be of interest to me, and this book, I was quite sure, was no exception. As I watched the ball of mist move away and disperse, I nodded, holding the book carefully in my hand as I gripped the rail whilst walking back down the spiral staircase to the lower level. My grandmother had been so right four years ago when she had brought me to Rosehill and told me I had a future to discover.
It had become clear that Rosehill was indeed my future, particularly after learning of my true identity through my father, Harold. But this was now taking me on a new pilgrimage, one I was certain would unveil more background to my beautiful home. And as I laid Arthur Stanfordham’s book on the ancient bureau, I once more brushed the cover, feeling a rush of what can only be described as exciting anticipation soar through my veins. “My Journey” would be my next book to read.
If you haven't read the first in this series, "Discovery at Rosehill", you can download it on Kindle or buy the paperback at a very reasonable cost.