Within The Cas­tle Walls

This at­mo­spheric com­plete story by El­iz­a­beth A. Gille­spie has a twist in the tale.

The People's Friend Special - - FAMILY STORY -

CAN hair re­ally stand on end?” Morag mut­tered. She felt as though some­one was draw­ing a feather from the top of her fore­head down to the back of her neck. A chill breeze swirled like an in­vis­i­ble mist around her an­kles.

She glanced at the other vis­i­tors in the hall of the his­toric cas­tle, hop­ing none of them heard her talk­ing to her­self.

More peo­ple were ex­pected to join the tour of the an­cient build­ing, and while they waited some strolled along the stone floor of the long cor­ri­dor, ad­mir­ing the oil paint­ings of past own­ers.

Morag stud­ied the por­trait near­est to her. He was se­ri­ous, red-haired, aris­to­cratic, his head tilted back as though he were look­ing down his nose at her.

The brass plaque below the paint­ing iden­tif ied him as Alis­tair MacPher­son, brother of Ca­tri­ona MacPher­son. But there was no ob­vi­ous oil paint­ing of his sis­ter.

As a cold breeze swept through the re­cep­tion area, Morag shiv­ered. She’d spent hours re­search­ing the his­tory of the cas­tle and the clan MacPher­son, and now she was on a de­ter­mined mis­sion to f ind out what had hap­pened all those years ago.

“It’s much warmer than I thought it would be in here!” she heard a neatly dressed vis­i­tor ex­claim to her com­pan­ion.

“Es­pe­cially when you re­alise that the walls are two feet thick,” her friend replied.

Morag was con­fused. Was she in the same place as the two ladies? She was wish­ing she’d brought in her thick jacket from the car.

The other guests were talk­ing an­i­mat­edly. No-one seemed to no­tice any­thing un­usual.

“Hello, ev­ery­one. We can start our tour now.” A pleas­ant-faced young woman smiled at the group. “My name is Lil­ias and I’ll be show­ing you around this won­der­ful cas­tle to­day. Feel free to ask any ques­tions as we go round. I don’t mind be­ing in­ter­rupted.”

Morag lis­tened at­ten­tively as the guide gave plenty of de­tailed in­for­ma­tion of the cas­tle’s past and present own­ers. The group then fol­lowed Lil­ias into a room to ad­mire a wall cov­ered in ta­pes­tries sewn by young girls of the MacPher­son fam­ily. It was the cus­tom in the past to show off the sewing ex­per­tise of well-brought-up young ladies.

There was a hint of laven­der in the air and Morag felt a chill. Was she do­ing the right thing?

The ta­pes­tries con­tained let­ters of the al­pha­bet, num­bers zero to nine and, in some, the ini­tials of grand­par­ents and their off­spring had been care­fully ex­e­cuted.

At the foot of one, cir­cled with small flow­ers, was the name C. MacPher­son, 1861. Ca­tri­ona must have been thir­teen years of age.

Morag stud­ied the del­i­cate stitches for so long that she had to

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