-oxford bookworms library-
More than shadows
Minty cane had known she was a witch, or something like it, since she was small. She had woken at night to see shadowy people moving silently across the floor of her room, or heard invisible feet. She did not talk about these things because she did not think them strange. She had once spoken of a dark visitor to her mother, kate, but kate had talked about lights from cars in the street making shadows. In the past year, minty sometimes heard her father´s voice. And she knew that was strange, because he was dead.
Kate worked all day at the hospital, so for the summer holidays she decided that minty should go to the village of belton and stay with an old friend of kate's family.
Aunt mary lived in a little stone house opposite belton house, which was large and once belonged to lord brownlow. None of the brownlow family lived there now and the house was open to visitors from april to october.
`i always think of belton as a place where things happen' said kate. `when i was small and stayed with aunt mary , i had the front bedroom. I could see the top of the churc, and bits of the garden at belton house.'
`were there ghosts?' said Minty
`perhaps. But i never actually saw anything'
they drove to belton the day after school finished, and aunt mary was waiting at her front door.
`you've grown', she told minty, then said to kate, `she´ll have the same room that you always had.'
They went upstairs and kate helped minty to unpack her suitcase. Then they came down for the lunch that aunt mary had cooked for them. After lunch kate and minty went to look at the church, which was only a short walk away. The july afternoon was hot and still, and they walked slowly through the chuchyard, stopping to read gravestones as they passed.
Suddenly minty felt cold air pass over her face and arms.
She was near a corner of the church and she looked up at the trees, but there was no wind in them. She took a few steps forward, and the coldness came with her. And then the air was warm again, and quiet.
`now that', thought minty, `is very strange'.
She stepped back to the corner and felt the invisible icy wind again - and her sixth sense told her there was something more. The ice cold air was only a message, and she stood still, listening, waiting.
Then kate came up beside minty `do you feel cold?'
Minty asked her. `just here , in this place?'
`mmmm' kate did suddenly put her arms around herself. ` it's the shadows, i suppose'.
`more tahn shadows' , thought minty.
They went into the church and it was cool and dark after the brightness outside. After looking round, they came out into the sun and looked across at a high gate. Behind it were the gardens of belton house. The air smelled hundreds of years old and minty suddenly felt that time was standing still. `if time has stopped,' she thought, `here among the gravestones is the right place. They're all dead and it doesn't matter if you died yesterday o r a hundred years ago. Dead is dead.'
Later, kate drove away in her litle car, then minty went to her room to listen to some music on her cassette player.
Kate didn't think aunt nary would like pop music so she had bought minty some headphonesto use.
Minty was still listening when aunt mary called her for tea. Tjey went downstairs, and the telephone rang. `you start your tea' said aunt mary, and went to answer it.
Minty was eating her second egg sandwich when aunt mary came back. Her face was very white and her eyes looked wild and shocked. `i don't know how to-' she stopped, then went on, `it's kate - your mother! There's been an accident. Her head...'
It was then that minty began to scream.
It had been a bad crash on a busy road. Kate's car had been between two others cars, and now she was in hospital. Minty was back in her room when the telephone rang again. She was feeling cold and sick, and several minutes later aunt mary brought in a cup of hot, sweet tea.
`That was sopmeone called john,' she said. `Mr benson. From your mother's office'.
Minty kneww him. He came to the house sometimes and played computer games with her, and made her laugh.
`He`s going to the hospital now,' said aunt may.
`i want to go!' said minty. `can i?'
`tomorrow,' said aunt mary. `perphaps she'll be awake by then. It's her head, you see...it was badly hurt.'
Minty knew that if her mother was in a coma, it could last a long time. She did not believe kate would be awake in the morning. `can i go outside?' she asked.'i must do something!'
`go over to the house, then. See if world is there, at the lodge. He likes children.'
`world? Said minty.
Mr world to you, i suppose', said aunt mary.
So minty went out. A bus full of school - children was leaving the house. Some of them smiled at her through the bus windows, and minty automatically smiled back.
An old man was sitting in the doorway of a stone building near the entrance. `this must be world,' minty thought.
`hello,' he said. `did you miss the bus?'.
`no, i'm staying with aunt mary, over the road.'
`oh, yes, i heard,' he said. `what's your name?'
minty told him. `it's short for araminta.'
`an unusual name for an unusual person,' he said. ` am i right? You've come to meet children living in the house? She said surprised.
`i didn't say anything about living,' he spoke quietly and watched her carefully.
`you mean.... ghosts? She said.
`i didn't say that. But when i saw you, i thought, “that's the one to let those children free!” i hear their voices in the wind. They're asking me to help them, but i can't do anything. But now you've come.'
`yes,' said minty. `i've come'
she did not really undestand what the old man was saying, but she knew for sure that something strange, and perhaps dangerous, was waiting for her.
“Someone walking over my grave...”
´so there you are` said aunt mary.
´am I late ´ said minty. “sorry.”
“i wondered where you were” said aunt mary. She and miss raven had already started breakfast.
“perhaps you`ve been out alll night”, miss raven then after moment added, “have you?”
“no!” said minty. I just got up early.
She escaped to her room after breakfast to tell her most recent adventure to the cassette for her mother.
When she came down, miss raven had gone to the house - to investigate, aunt mary said. Minty went tp see world, and found him sitting in the doorway of his lodge.
How's your mother?'he asked her
Oh , she getting better, thank you, said minty. But ... but invisibly. She went on quickly, i wanted to ask you, do you know anything about that moon - sundial?
The one with the man and the boy.
Chronos and eros, said world. That's their greek names. Chronos is time.
Time! Said minty, suddenly excited.
Yes. And eros - the small boy with the wings - he's love.
Of course! Said minty
And love will win its fight with time and the battle to make tom and sarah free, she thought .
World looked at her. Those children .... he said quietly.
They are in trouble. I can still hear them crying.
I know, minty said. But not for much longer, i promise.
Mr benson phoned, aunt mary told her when she got back. He says he'll come for you at two o'clock.
Later, when minty heard mr benson's car, she pushed the cassette into her pocket and ran outside.
Is mum...? began minty.
Do you want me to tell you, or do you want to wait and see? He said.
Oh, wait and see, i suppose! But hurry!
Her mother was still asleep in the hospital bed. On the table , minty saw her cassette player with the first cassette in it, and the headphones next to it.
Say hello to her, said the nurse. I'll be black in a minute, and she left the two of them togheter.
Minty touched her mother's arm. Mum, it's me, minty, she said. Did you listen to mky story? There's lots more to tell you. I went again , and-'
She stopped. Her mother's eyes were opening. She was looking straight into , minty's own eyes.
Minty...' she whispered. Minty!
Oh mum .... mum... you've come back! Cried minty.
Was it my story that brought her back ? asked minty, when she and mr Benson were driving back to belton.
Kate had not spoken again during the visit, but she was on the way back to the real world and would come a little more each day, the doctor had said.
I'm sure it was, said mr benson.
Aunt mary was plased, too. Well, that is lovely news, sha said. Did she have much to say?
No, just my name, said minty
There's a long way to go yet then, sadi miss raven, looking at them with cold eyes. Then she said to aunt mary. There's an interisting sundial in the house gardens, with two stone figures. Eros and chronos, i'm told
She knows theirs names, too ! thought minty.
She went out, not because she had anywhere to go, but to escape from her aunt and miss raven.
I'll go to the churchyard, she thought. I'll sit in that cold place. It must mean something, and perphaps i'll find out what it is if i sit and wait.
She sat on the grass, looking up at the top of the church, and the wind was cold on her face and arms. Then she began to feel another kind of cold.
Someone walking over my grave, she thought, or - something!
Minty! Minty! Came a whisper.
Tom was standing a few metres away, just inside the high gates, and his face was white and afraid.
Tom! She cried. She jumped up and went to him, and he looked at her without speaking. Come on , tom. Over here. She took him to the far side of the churchyard, and he lay down and began to cry. What is it, tom ? tell me, please.
After a long time, he said, dorrie.... my sister ... she `s coughing blood!
Oh- tom ! minty could find no other words to say.
He pushed a hand across his eyes. Crying won't help, he said. Dorrie doesn't cry. Do you know what she does? Screams! You should hear her!
I feel like screaming, too, said minty. She felt angry inside. What terrible lives children like tom and dorrie had! Ill, no friends or family to care fot them, and never a kind word from anyone.
Tom looked at her, we've got to get sarah out, haven't we? He said.
Yes, agreed minty. And we' ve got to get you out'
Me? How will i get out? And where?
Into moontime, said minty. But i don't know how yet.
They where all in this game thogether - kate, herself, tom sarah. She looked at tom. He was her friend but he was also a kitchen boy from a hundred years ago, here with her now. He was not a ghost , he was real - a boy with a dirty face and untidy hair. And she knew that if this moment was real, all things were possible.
We're all real! She laughed.
He jumped up from the grass. And i'll grow tall and be a footman or my name's not teddy larkin!
What did you say your name was? She said.
Teddy larkin, of course.
But- you said it was tom! Tom short for edward, he said, but kitchen boys here are always called tom.
All kitchen boys? She said?
That's right. There's three of us, all toms.
Then he started coughing. It was painful to hear.
Tom! Minty said, we'll meet by the moondial.
Midnight, tonight. Will you do it?
I'll try, he said when he could speak again, I' came to tell you about Dorrie. I- had to tell you.
You needed me, and i needed you when we first met.
And sarah - she needs us both, said tom.
It was as easy as that, minty thought. Nothing difficult about moontim. It was the most natural thing in the world.
The end of the game
Miss raven is going to the house to look for ghost tonight, minty, said aunt mary that evening .
Make sure you don't look in a mirror! Minty was shocked to hear her own voice say the words.
What? Miss raven's voice was sharp.
It's - just something i heard, said minty. If you see a ghost in a mirror - the devil gets you!
Minty! She heard her aunt's shocked voice.
I - i've never heard anything so stupid! Said miss raven. She turned quickly and went out of the room.
At half- past eleven that night, minty looked out of her bedroom window and saw miss raven going down the path wearing a long black cloak with a hood.
Minty waited until she had gone, then went softly out of her room, down the stairs and out of the house.
Tom was waiting for her in the garden, beside the moondial. They loooked at the statue of the man and the boy, white in the moonlight.
It's the boy that will help us, said minty. And she put her hand on the boy's head. Now you, tom!
Very slowly, he put his hand next to hers.
The next moment their ears were filled with whispers and voices, and the wind blew clean and cold as they went back... back in time...
When the wind and the voices stopped, minty knew that they were under a different moon at a different time of year. The air was sharp and cold, and the moon shone over trees that had lost most of their leaves.
Look! Whispered tom.
And she saw the small cloacked figure coming down the steps and into the garden. Sarah!
Where's she going? Said tom.
They watched her walk between the yew trees and across the grass, away from them.
She's going to the pool! Said minty
They followed, staying in the shadows until they saw her by the round pool, silver in the moonlight.
One more try, they heard her say. The magic night of all the year....halloween!
Halloween! The word filled minty with fear and excitement. Halloween when all the ghost in the world went free! Tom was holding her arm and she knew that he ¡, who half - believed in the devil, was a thousand times more frightened than she was.
Sarah began to wash her face in the pool. Minty and tom were watching her and did not notice the strange shapes coming out of the shadows of the trees.
Sarah lifted her face up to the moon.
Amd them minty and tom saw the shapes move round her in a half - circle. They wore cloaks, and frightening masks with holes for eyes. They carried lamps made from pumpkins, like lighted heads without bodies.
Then the whispering began:
Devil's child, devil's child devil's child!
Sarah looked round wildly and screamed. She ran straight throught the circle, and tom and minty went with her. The circle broke with screams and shouts.
After her! Get her!
Sarah ran to stone wall and fell against ai as tom and minty reached her. No1 oh no ! she cried.
Sarah! We're here! Minty held her, but sarah pulled her hand away and put it up to her face.
The children with their hallowe'en en masks were only a metre or two away now. Minty turned to them.
Do you know who i am? Her voice was a whisper. We have met before! I am araminta cane, and i am ghost!.
One small figure ran from the crowd, dropping his lamp as he went. I'am going! He said.
The others did not move.
She `s not a ghost, said one voice.
Who's that other one ? said another
Do as i say, Minty went on , and you will not be hurt! Soon it will be midnight - midnight on hallowe'en ! the magic hour! Go back to the pool and drop your lamps into the water. When the clock begins to sound the twelve hours of midnight, shut your eyes. If you open them before the clock finishes, then ... she stopped.
The devil will get you! Tom sadi suddenly.
They ran, screaming, down to the pool and dropped their lamps into the water. As the light died, the clock on the house began to sound the hours
The children stood unmoving by the pool, and minty knew that their eyes were shut against the coming of the devil.
Quick! Now! She said to tom and sarah.
Hand in hand, the three of them ran across the moonlit grass and hid in the trees ....ten ....eleven....twelve! then the clock was silent. A second later came a shout.
They' ve gone! Find them!
And the search began. Dark shapes moved among the trees, and minty saw a masked face only a metre away.
Then voice a whispered, sam! i'm going!
And me ! before the devil gets us, too!
Feet began to run, and voices shouted.
Come on! Run!
The devil's after us!
And then there was silence.
They've gone, said tom.
Minty took sarah over to the moondial, and tom followed. Sarah, minty said softly. You can put your hood down now. It's safe. Please, sarah. Please!
Slowly, very slowly, a hand came up and pulled the hood away. Sarah, her purple birthmark clear in the moonlight, looked first at minty and then at tom.
Minty moved towards her - and kissed the bithmark. Sarah ñlooked at her, unable to believe it. Then minty took something from her pocket. It shone in the moonlight, and sarah's hands flew up to cover her eyes.
A mirror! She cried.
Open your eyes, said minty. Don't be afraid.
Tom took sarah's hand and held it. Go on! He said.
Sarah looked, and her hand touched the mirror, very gently. That's - me?' she said . i'm - beautiful!'
Oh, you are, you are!said minty.
And the mirror didn't break! Said sarah
Of course it didn't ! said tom.
Another voice came across the garden - sharp and cold.
Sarah! sarah! And the tall black figure of a woman came towards them.
Oh, i must go! Cried sarah
But tom pulled her against him and held her. Come with me, sarah! He kissed her face. I've come a long way to fetch you. Come with me!
The woman came quickly. Devil's child! Come here! Minty stepped in front of sarah and tom and help up the mirror to that wild white face. The devil's here! She cried. Take care! There was a scream, the sharp sound of breaking glass - and then a silence.
Afterwards, what happened next seemed like a dream to minty. She remembered a black circle on the ground, like a dead fire, where the woman had stood, and a great wind blowing through the garden. Ay the far end of the path, a white bird flew into the air. Minty watched it until someone called her name, and then the saw tom and sarah, hand in hand, running away, their feet in a kind of cloud. They smiled at her and for a moment she wanted to go after them, to run free for ever in moontime, in a world that never changed. But the moondial was pilling her back...back...
And she thought afterwards that she remembered another child running in the cloud. A little figure calling,
Teddy!, teddy! Then tom shouting, `dorrie!' then the three figures met and ran on... and on, until disappered.
Minty did not remember touching the moondial, or the last ñong jump forward in the time, or the winds and the lost voices in the tunnel.
But she knew that the strangegame was over.
next morning she found the broken mirror in the pocket of her grey coat. And when she went downstairs for breakfast, miss raven had gone.
Did she disappear into thin air ? asked minty
Of course not, dear. She took mr jone's taxi to the station, said aunt mary
The telephone rang and she went to answer it.
It's the hospital! She called to minty after a moment.
It's your mother -she's askin for you ! mr benson will be here in an hour to take you to her.
During that hour minty went to tell world what dad happened, but she saw at once that he already knew.
I was right , he said, you were the one
Yes, said minty. They're free, and my mother is awake
-she`s asking for me!
He laughed. I'm so pleased. So the work is done.
Yes each seemed to know what the other mean. There was no need to put it into words.
She walked on to the garden, but it was calm and quiet now. The moondial looked the same - two winged figures locked together in a battle that would never end. Minty touched the cold head of the boy, but nothing happened.
Then she went on to the churchyard, to the corner of the church - and the icy wind was still there.
It's mistery she said.
And then she saw the small gravestone: E. L. 1871-
She thought of tom. He seemed so real, so near.
Of course! Teddy... edward! E. L. - Edward larkin!
-Introduccion (Pagina 1)-
It is midnight in that most dark and secret place. You can hear the cry of a bird from the top of the church, and smell the old yew trees. You put out a hand - and touch cold stone. The shock brings a fear that you can almost taste. Now a slow silver light comes over the garden. Statues appear. You notice the shadow that the moon has made at your feet, and you stand very still.
You can see, hear, taste, smell, touch... and perhaps something more. And if you have that sixth sense, what then? First a cold feeling, like a finger down your back; then a sudden shaking, all through you. You look up at a statue- a bis stone man, and small boy. Suddenly you are sure that there are eyes watching you.
You turn slowly and look at the empty windows of the great moonlit house. Then the moon goes back behind the clouds - and you run! And as you run , you hear strange, frightened voices. What you also hear - and will remember always - is the lonely crying of child.
|Enviado por:||Pansho Francisco Terrible B|