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Authors: Camille Oster

Tags: #victorian, #ghost, #haunted, #moors, #gothic and romance

The Haunting at Hawke's Moor

BOOK: The Haunting at Hawke's Moor
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The Haunting at Hawke’s
Moor

 

By Camille Oster

Copyright Camille Oster 2016

Published at Smashwords

 

 

Copyright 2016 Camille Oster

All rights reserved.

 

This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are the work of the
author's imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance
to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments,
locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This
ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you
would like to share this book with another person, please purchase
an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book
and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only,
then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy.
Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

Camille Oster – Author

www.camilleoster.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Camille-Oster/489718877729579

[email protected]

@Camille_Oster

Chapter 1:

 

London, 1873

Anne Kinelly stood on the raised
platform next to the judge's podium—or was it a pulpit. No surely,
it wasn't called that. Whispered noises sounded throughout the
courtroom as she stood there, trying to keep herself strong. Maybe
her surname wasn't Kinelly anymore. Her husband sat on the other
side of the courtroom avoiding her eyes. His mouth was drawn and
tight, his hair neatly combed.

All eyes were on her, judging her as
inadequate and defective. Stanford was living with his mistress,
but she was the one accused of adultery. Never had she committed
adultery, but a man she barely knew was complicit with Stanford's
accusations, declaring to the world how welcoming she had been of
his advances.

Her ruination was complete.

She had taken lodgings in a boarding
house, but her meager provisions were running out. Her husband had
cut her off and she had no means to support herself in the
future.

Finely dressed ladies and gentlemen
were whispering amongst themselves, some of them amused by her
devastation, others looking sorrowful. There was no coming back
from this. She was as welcome in her society as a leper, feared in
case the contagiousness of whatever deviousness, character fault or
other unsuitability had forced her husband to take this drastic
step.

In truth, he wanted to marry again,
his mistress having grown tired of being hidden, not when his
wealth and position could be enjoyed around London. Anne would be
swept away with the dust of years past, to be forgotten and
ignored. A solitary maid was her only company now, a surly girl who
was less than happy at the reduced circumstances which extended to
her as well.

Perhaps if she wasn't named Kinelly
anymore, she could go back to her maiden name, Sands. At least her
parents were not alive to be devastated by this fate. She could
spare them that, at least.

The judge pounded the gavel,
finalizing the divorce. It was done. The murmur grew louder and
Anne could feel the disapproval emanating from the audience,
burning her skin. People started leaving, but there were still
questions unanswered. Stanford was the first to go, ignoring the
question on her lips. He didn't care; he hadn't for many years,
only viewed her as a nuisance that blighted his house. Harry, her
son, had been the only thing they had in common, but his
disapproval was as deep as his father's. She hadn't seen him for
months, since he returned to Oxford for his education. Thinking of
the tall, gangly young man sent a warm feeling through her frozen
and battered heart. But her letters were now returning unopened,
and that had probably hurt her more than anything else in this
madness.

No one spoke to her as she slowly
stepped down and walked toward the large doors in the back of the
courtroom. She was no one now, a person of no consequence. Men
weren't polite, one of them even bumping into her without
apologizing. Rubbing her aching arm, she walked through the large,
cavernous hall and out onto the streets, feeling
stunned.

Unrelenting poverty loomed before her.
Not even a small annuity had been provided for her. Tears stung her
eyes as she watched the costermongers along the street shouting at
passersby, pushing their goods. She needed to establish some means
of supporting herself or she would end up in the workhouse. The
world as she knew it had fallen apart, but the city around her went
about their business without noticing.

Stanford had likely convinced himself
she was guilty, because he wanted it to be true, alleviating
himself from responsibility and guilt. He had never been a generous
man, but she had tried her best to love him during the years, the
latter of which he wanted very little from her but her
absence.

Holding her reticule close, she walked
down the streets that were getting increasingly rougher and darker.
She hated living in this part of the city, but she could afford
little else. Better to stretch the few pennies she had than to
spend them at once in Mayfair. Distraught washed over her again,
but Harry's desertion still hurt the most.

Divorcees tended to not live long and
she understood why. A mountain of uncertainty faced her now and she
had few skills to deal with this. She'd only ever been expected to
be a wife, and she would never be that again. She had no useful
skills, but could perhaps manage some sewing. It was dismally
paying work and it probably wouldn't support her. Her disgrace kept
her from any honorable profession, such as companion or governess.
It all seemed impossible.

"You're looking lost there, love," a grimy
man said, smiling, his rotten teeth black and the stench of him
assaulted her. She was smart enough to know that help was not
forthcoming in this city and this man was probably looking to steal
the few coins she had left.

"I am not," she said as harshly as she
could.

"You sure I can't assist you now?"

"Go away. There is a constable around the
corner I just came from."

The man's eyes narrowed and for a moment he
looked uncertain what to do, but the fear of the law finally won
and he slunk away.

She would have to watch for him so he
didn't follow and accost her in some dark alley, having picked her
as a victim for his devious deeds. Perhaps she shouldn't be showing
how despondent she felt, thereby attracting anyone willing to pick
on the weak and lost. Straightening herself, she walked at a
brisker pace, but it was still so very far to her horrid little
rooms, which smelled of boiled cabbage.

 

Anne sat in the small parlor of her
new lodgings, where Lisle slept at night, adjoining the one
bedroom. There was no kitchen so all their provisions had to be
purchased down on the street below. Each day, her small stash of
coins shrunk and the day would come when she couldn't afford to pay
for her lodgings.

What options did she have? She would
have to send a letter to Stanford, or maybe even Harry, asking for
assistance. Feeling the prickling of tears and distress in her
nose, she pinched its bridge to stop herself from weeping yet
again.

The door opened behind her, the hinges
years since seeing any oil. "There is a letter for you, Miss." Even
Lisle was complicit in pointing out her reduced stature. No doubt
she would lose Lisle soon, preferring a grand house to live and
work in, instead of here with the colicky baby upstairs and
constant pounding as people walked up and down the stairs just
outside their rooms.

But there was a letter, the first
communication she'd had since the divorce. She noticed the seal of
Mr. Charterham, her solicitor, a reproachful and disapproving man
her husband had hired to represent her through the divorce. No
doubt to Stanford's disappointment, a woman could not divorce
without some form of representation.

Cracking the seal, she saw a request
for her to come see him. It said nothing more. Traversing the city
to the Charterham offices seemed such an onerous task, it almost
seemed insurmountable, but she had nothing else to do, other than
to spend another day staring at the damaged and faded wallpaper.
Maybe this missive even came with some hope. Perhaps Stanford was
on the deepest level admitting he orchestrated her demise and
finally felt some guilt, enough to perhaps keep her out of the
dreaded workhouse.

"I will need my coat," Anne
stated.

"You're leaving the house today?"
Lisle said in a manner too forward for a servant. Her regard had
changed with the respectability of their address and now barely
kept the derision out of her voice.

"It appears so," Anne said, more for the
sake of talking than any real interest in discussing her affairs
with Lisle.

Anne pinned her hat in the broken
mirror by the door and accepted the coat Lisle assisted her with.
She buttoned it and noticed the coat was larger on her frame than a
few weeks ago. The uncertainty and distress had chased her appetite
away, not helped by the tasteless and dubious food they purchased
on the street.

As sad as it was, this missive from her
solicitor was the only faint hope she had on her horizon. Surely he
wouldn't call her to his office for no reason whatsoever. Perhaps
Stanford had decided to forward some of her personal effects, which
she could in turn sell. Anything was needed right now, if only to
stop her from sinking into the dark abyss that threatened to engulf
her unless she steeled herself.

The streets were a jumble of activity,
carriages and hacks, carts and people. Costermongers were on every
available space, touting their goods, while the black smoke of coal
lingered.

Anne walked past a coffee house and
the smell made her insides clench with craving, but she refused to
divert any coins to such pleasures. Would she ever have a cup
again? Were all small pleasures in life lost to her? At thirty four
years of age, she would perhaps never taste the sweetness of
pastries or the taste of good wine.

She walked down Fleet Street, barely being
missed by a cart, which tore a rip in her coat. On the whole, she
was lucky to be alive, but a rip didn't help. These clothes would
likely have to last her a long time. Again, she felt like turning
around and slinking back to her rooms to barricade herself inside,
but hope was at the end of this journey and she needed that more
than she needed to hide.

BOOK: The Haunting at Hawke's Moor
6.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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