Friday, 6 January 2012

In Scarlet Town...........

The hotel was as I remembered it. All I had requested when booking was that we had a room with a cathedral view in this city where I had spent my formative years. I was not disappointed. The West front of the cathedral filled the window of our room, the creaking floorboards gave away the age of the hotel and the smells from the kitchen promised an exquisite meal to come.

We didn't use the lift. I have a fear of enclosed spaces and prefer to use stairs. The stairs were old with many landings, each holding a piece of antique furniture. One landing held a particularly nice windsor chair, its seat gleaming with polish. On our way down we admired it and speculated how lovely it would look in our house.

Dinner surpassed expectations and we ended it with a drink at the bar before turning in early. We wanted a full day tomorrow to explore my childhood haunts. This time the chair was occupied. She was neatly dressed and sat crocheting, her work and a ball of brown wool on her knee as she worked. She didn't look up as we passed and I noticed she was humming a familiar tune - although I couldn't remember what it was.

The next evening she was there again. Her work was growing and the ball of wool was getting smaller. I almost spoke but as she was humming I thought it rude to interrupt.

It was one of the best holidays of our lives - seeing my old school, the cathedral with its nooks and crannies and the excellent hotel. She was there again on our last night and the wool ball was now very small. She was still humming and although I murmured
"Good evening,"
she didn't look up.

When we paid the bill I mentioned her at reception but they could throw no light on who she was, suggesting it might be one of the other guests taking advantage of the lovely chair and the shaft of late evening sun which fell on it at about that time of day.

My mother died a few years later. My sister and I were cleaning out the drawers in a sideboard and came across a piece of brown crochetwork and a tail end of brown wool.

I picked it up.
"Know anything about this?"

My sister is considerably older than me and she knew all about it. My mother's mother had been doing it the night before she died. She had complained that she was running out of wool and asked my mother to get her another ball.

My sister reminisced about old times:
"She was a lovely woman. Her favourite song was 'Barbara Allen' and she used to hum it all the time as she worked.

24 comments:

Toffeeapple said...

Gosh, that was good! I applaud you for being able to do that.

John Gray said...

I enjoyed that!

Everything Changes said...

Nice!

steven said...

wow!!!! that was good weaver! steven

Rachel said...

Yes, I think it is all right.

Heather said...

Wonderful Pat - I could almost believe it actually happened.

Chris said...

Wow, this gave me chills! Very good.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Excellent.

Elizabeth said...

MR James watch out....!
Actually, as I grow older, I think I'm more likely to
believe in ghosts.

word verification:

Modhooke

a name for someone in a story ?

MorningAJ said...

That's good!Well done.

Penny said...

Sent a few shivvers down my spine.

Dartford Warbler said...

Ooh yes. I had shivers too. Very good Weaver.

Mary said...

I love a good ghost story - and you wrote an excellent one! Is it true? No matter, it was great either way.

Mary

Pondside said...

I loved it!

angryparsnip said...

Fabulous....
As I was first reading it I thought you were on vacation and then when the knitting lady appeared I thought ....yes you pulled me right in.
Perfect !

cheers, parsnip

Hildred and Charles said...

I tried to think what city you might be visiting, - completely drawn in. A delightful story, Weaver, - comforting somehow...

Bovey Belle said...

Hah! I thought you had gone away for a few days to celebrate an anniversary or something too! Well done.

Titus said...

Weaver! I thought it was real until the final section. Well done.

Gerry Snape said...

Shivers up and down my back....great!!

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

How wonderful! I choose to thing that your Great Grandmother was watching over you while she worked. I very much enjoyed this post.

BTW, the photo you have as your masthead, how old is the bridge? When was it erected? It has a Roman appearance to me and I know that they moved across much of your area on their conquests.

ArtPropelled said...

Well you had my attention, Weaver. Great story!

mumasu said...

Like angryparsnip I thought you had maybe gone away for a few days as I was reading it. Then I read the previous post. This was so very, very engaging. I loved it.

Eryl said...

I thought you were telling us about a trip to your home city, and I was trying to picture a Cathedral in Lincolnshire and wondering why you called it Scarlet Town. Not until I read the tag 'Ghost Story' did I realise this was fiction, even though I was thinking "how peculiar!"

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for your comments - they always help on things like this. Now that I have had a think about it I shall rewrite it some time in the coming week and repost it for you to read. There has to be a limit of 500 words, which is always a good discipline.