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Bosvenegh Manor

by Rebecca A Hyde Gonzales about a month ago in Horror · updated 26 days ago
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Campfire Ghost Story

Bosvenegh Manor
Photo by Filip Zrnzević on Unsplash

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window...

The soft illumination revealed a single set of footprints leading to the ivy-covered wrap-around porch where a cherry-wood rocking chair softly creaked in the stillness of the night. The halo of the candle obscured the figure staring out at the gnarled trunks of ancient Sitka spruce, laburnum, and ash dripping with English ivy and Spanish moss. Fireflies danced and blinked to the pulsing rhythm of summer cicadas and crickets lulling even the most restless of creatures.

Lurking in the shadows of the massive trees, a set of luminous crystalline blue eyes peered in through the window while taking in low deep breaths and exhaling warm billows through a set of sharpened fangs bathed in flesh and sinew. Approaching footfalls and rustling leaves drew the creature's attention toward the south where a cloaked figure, carrying a staff, emerged from the darkness, stepping into the moonlit clearing. Recognizing its master, the great beast bounded into the light. The white fur glistened like newly fallen snow.

Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash

"So you have tracked her here to Cardinham Woods and to the place where it all began," the cloaked stranger purred as he reached down to pat his companion's furry brow. "Now we wait," the cloaked figure added as he turned back onto shrouded paths, missing the single puff that extinguished the flame, but not before another observer had seen her face in the window. Suddenly a cold wind rushed through the woods, carrying leaves and dust up into the air, trailing a dashing figure heading northeast passed Dozmary Pool towards Bosvenegh Manor.

As quickly as it had arrived, the wind died, leaving the occupant and the cabin alone with the midnight serenade. The moon following its arcing path crossed over, shedding light on the eaves and the edge of the porch connected to the wooden steps. Strolling from around the back of the cabin a dark form approached the landing. Its black tail, curled up into a cane, twitched sporadically as its white-yellow eyes peered through the dense foliage of Cardinham Woods in the direction that the master and beast had gone. A familiar scent wisped through on a passing breeze, sending the great panther bounding off in the opposite direction towards Bodmin Moor.

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Breathing heavily and nearly doubled over from extreme exertion, Dylan stumbled into his uncle's study "Uncle! Uncle! I saw her. She's back." Dylan frantically looked about the room until he discovered where his uncle had settled for the night. Grasping a nearby chair, Dylan repeated breathlessly: "I saw her in Cardinham Woods... in the old cabin..."

Lord Cedric Arthur Hughes looked up from The Phantom Ship, then raising a Glencairn of Laphroaig, and taking a sip before responding, asked: "Who?"

The Phantom Ship, 1837

Dylan looked at his uncle, took in a deep breath, and then exhaled slowly: "Lady Amelia."

Laughing at his nephew, "That's not possible. She has been missing for years and presumed dead."

"But Uncle, I saw her and she looked exactly as she did when she disappeared." Dylan, straightening, stretched his arms behind him, opening his chest cavity to allow for more air.

"Nephew, I'm sure you saw something, but it was not Lady Amelia. If she had returned, she would have come here, to the manor, to her home." Lord Hughes stood up from his leather-covered Windsor, setting aside Marryat's novel and placing the scotch on the mahogany sideboard. Walking up to his nephew he placed a hand on the young man's shoulder and said: "It has been difficult these past years without her and, I too, long for her return. It's just not possible."

Dropping his hand to his side he walked towards the fireplace looking up at the portrait of his beautiful wife. Known for her striking, enchanting features, raven hair, and pale green eyes, Lady Amelia, was often the object of desire and the subject of jealousy, however, her kindness and compassion outweighed those feelings, allowing others to truly adore her. Turning slightly towards Dylan, Lord Hughes added: "It is late, we should both retire for the night. We will talk again in the morning. You might want to design an explanation for why you were out in Cardinham Woods."

Dylan wished his uncle a good night as he left the study. When he made it to his room on the second floor of the west wing he opened the windows and looked out in the direction of the cabin. He was unaware that he was being watched from beneath the dense canopy and how close he came to dying that night. A heavy sigh escaped his lips. He turned from the window, leaving it open as he climbed into bed, quickly falling asleep to the nocturnal melody rising up from the woods.

Still standing at the foot of her portrait, Cedric wondered if in fact his beloved had returned. "Oh, how I miss you," he thought as he reached up to touch the gilded frame. Leaving the warmth of the fire and the comfort of his study, he climbed the grand staircase towards the east wing to his chambers. As he opened the door a chill left its mark down his spine, causing him to shudder. The purple and lavender shadows of midnight intensified the ominous shroud that felt heavy upon his soul. Approaching the northeast facing balcony, Cedric threw open the doors, stepping out into the night air. A flicker of light on the slopes of Cardinham Moor drew his attention to the silhouette of a cloaked figure melting and merging into the terrain. The moonlight pushed the shadows into distorted shapes of wild beasts and crippled shrubs - he thought that he saw a large dog prowling around the boulders and monoliths of Colvannick Tor. Like the other shapes, it spilled and flowed into deeper shadows, disappearing into the landscape. A mist rose up, covering the ground - washing away the shadows.

Cedric re-entered his room, closing the doors behind him. Stripping and climbing into bed he thought of his wife once more. Drifting off to sleep, entering distant dreams, his mind registered the howl of the great beast.

Photo by Ron Whitaker on Unsplash

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Bounding into the sun-drenched dining room, dressed and ready for a new day, Dylan joined his uncle at the table for breakfast: "Good morning, Uncle!"

"Good morning, Dylan. How did you sleep?" Lord Hughes rolled up and placed the morning paper on the table.

"Great," was Dylan's reply. "I was thinking about going back out to the cabin this morning to inspect the place. I might even find out who was there." Though presented as a statement, the tone in Dylan's voice reflected a query - seeking approval.

"Well, we have other plans today," his uncle began. "We need to go into town to take care of some business and I have a meeting with our lawyer."

"But uncle, I don't need to go," Dylan protested. "I just sit there during your meetings."

"This is different Dylan. The business has to do with you."

"May I ask?"

"You will know soon enough. Once you have had your breakfast we will be leaving."

Dylan stared at his plate and then looked up and asked: "What about the cabin? I know that I saw someone last night."

"I will send Patrick to go investigate. And if he finds anything, we will discuss further." Lord Hughes clapped his hands as he stood up and he straightened his jacket before leaving the room. Dylan knew that this was his uncle's way of ending the conversation and all decisions were final.

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The steady pace of the horse-drawn carriage got Dylan and his uncle to St. Neot in about an hour. When the carriage stopped in front of the London Inn, they could hear a great commotion. As they stepped out of the carriage and onto the cobblestone they could see villagers frantically carrying large parcels and loading supplies and packages into the beds of wagons and trunks of carriages. One woman rushed by, repeating Best Goon Brenn, with her children in tow.

"Lord Hughes, have you heard the news?" A stately gentleman questioned as Dylan and his uncle approached the doors of the establishment.

"No, Counselor LaRoche. We only came into town to meet with you."

Morgan LaRoche took a long look at his best friend and client, "The villagers are in a panic. They say the Beast of Bodmin Moor has returned. I tried to calm them down to let them know that the beast is merely a legend and nothing more..."

Interrupting, Lord Hughes began: "What has happened that has caused them to believe this?"

"Martin Rowe's daughter went out to milk their cow, "Betsy," only to discover that it had been slaughtered by a wild animal. Similarly, the Bennet's found half their flock of sheep gutted, out on the east slope."

"Morgan, there hasn't been any type of predatory animal in these parts for centuries. There must be another explanation." Lord Hughes glanced over at his nephew and then continued: "How has the constable been handling the situation? Does he have any theories?"

"Not sure. I did see him speaking with Martin Rowe and Jonathan Bennet earlier this morning. I believe they are still inside." Morgan tilted his head towards the inn.

"Then I am sure things will get sorted out before too long. Shall we get to business?" Lord Hughes extended his hand towards the door of the London Inn, directing both his nephew and friend inside.

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The meeting with Morgan LaRoche was short compared to the extended socialization between him and his uncle. Dylan rocked gently in the carriage as he contemplated his situation and standing. The silence permeated the carriage, as neither Dylan nor his uncle had chosen to break it. But for Dylan, the silence was becoming unbearable.

"Uncle, why didn't you tell me about my inheritance and my claim to Bosvenegh Manor?" Dylan began. "Don't you think that I should have known? I have always felt that it was your home. Not mine. I don't want it." the tone reminiscent of his petulance and temperament from his youth. A ploy that used to work, but it would not work now that he was of age.

"Dylan, your father left the manor and the surrounding land to you when he died." Lord Hughes paused and then continued: "Your Aunt Amelia, your father's sister, would have wanted you to have all of it whether she was alive or not."

Photo by Dimitri Kolpakov on Unsplash

The clapping of horse hooves and the humming iron-framed wheels, filled the void of silence, while the two travelers stared out the windows onto the rugged landscape of Bodmin Moor. The sinking sun signaled the end of another day and the approach of night. The gentle rocking of the carriage and the rhythmic gallop began to pull Dylan towards twilight sleep.

"Wo!" The driver yelled out, and the carriage abruptly stopped.

Lord Hughes banged his fist on the ceiling asking: "Why have we stopped?"

"Stay in the carriage sir. There is something on the road. I am going to inspect it." The carriage seemed to float up about an inch as the driver descended. The dirt and gravel crunched with each step, and then nothing.

"Gibbs, is everything alright?" Lord Hughes queried as he reached for the handle. Before he could push the door open a large beast slammed it shut with the force and weight of its body. The claws of its two front paws curled over the window frames, piercing the padded leather. Two green eyes stared into the startled brown ones of Lord Hughes. Dylan, now wide awake and not daring to move or breathe, whispered: "Where is Gibbs?"

The massive black beast moved away as approaching footfalls signaled the return of Gibbs: "It's strange, sir. Whatever was in the road is gone now."

"Thanks, Gibbs. Shall we move on?"

As Gibbs climbed back up, the carriage sunk low. The quick whip of the reins moved the horses towards home and the same lulling hum and rhythm continued. But neither Lord Hughes nor Dylan was inclined to sleep.

"Uncle, how is it that Gibbs didn't see what attacked the carriage?"

"I don't think we were attacked. I think we were merely prevented from leaving the carriage," Lord Hughes replied. He watched the midnight purple terrain pass by as he thought about the eyes of the creature that had stared back at him. Though the eyes were of a predator, they appeared to be filled with compassion as well as a need to protect. "I wonder?"

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The next morning while Dylan and his uncle were eating poached eggs and ham steaks, Patrick, the groundskeeper entered, apologizing for interrupting. Lord Hughes, pardoned the intrusion and asked: "What news do you have for us?"

"Well sir, first I need to let you know that there have been more reports of slaughtered cattle and sheep throughout the region. There is going to be a Town Hall meeting this evening at the London Inn." Patrick paused briefly, "Many of us are hoping that you and your nephew will attend."

"And is there a second?"

"Yes, sir," Patrick began. "I went out to the old cabin, as you requested, and there was definitely someone there."

"Anything left behind, indicating identity?"

"No, sir. However, something happened there... there was a pool of blood near the back door with bloody footprints leading away towards Bodmin Moor." Patrick stopped and waited for a response from Lord Hughes.

Rather than addressing Patrick, Lord Hughes turned to his nephew: "From this moment on, you will steer clear of Cardinham Woods, the moors, and that cabin." Before Dylan could protest, he added: "You will keep to the manor and the gardens after nightfall."

Then turning to Patrick, "Please inform the staff that they should not travel after dusk and if they need to end their shifts early to get home before dark they have my blessing. Dylan and I can manage."

"Yes, sir." Patrick bowed and left the room.

"Uncle, are we going to the meeting this evening?"

"Yes, we are. You will not leave my side. We will also remain at the inn for the night. Pack a bag and meet me in the foyer in about an hour."

Before Dylan could ask any more questions, his uncle raised a hand before exiting the room. Dylan stood alone in the room wondering what was going on. He thought about their encounter with the biggest panther he had ever seen. "This must be the creature that has been killing livestock," he thought to himself. Adding out loud: "I am certain there is a connection... and Uncle is hiding something from me... "

He continued thinking about the cabin, Lady Amelia, the panther, and the evidence discovered by Patrick. He knew they were all connected and somehow, so was he - why else would his uncle demand that he stay away from the moors and the woods, aside from the obvious danger.

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It seemed that everyone within a ten-mile radius was packed into the main room of the London Inn. While it was hot and stuffy inside, the air outside cooled as a light rain fell. A steady stream followed the tracks left behind by the carts, wagons, and carriages of Cardinham's residents. Morgan LaRoche stood at the front of the room at a high table, waiting for the myriad conversations to die down before calling the meeting to order.

"Good evening," he began. "This emergency meeting has been called to address the recent loss of cattle and livestock in the region."

"We know why we're here," a farmer shouted across the room. "What are we going to do about it?"

Another: "It is the Beast of Bodmin Moor, that has returned."

"We should hunt it down and kill it." The shouting continued for about another minute before LaRoche raised his hand to silence the crowd.

"Yes, yes. There is a great concern. However, we don't know what has been killing our animals. So we don't even know what we would be tracking down."

Dylan leaned in and whispered to his uncle: "Don't we know? We were attacked the other night..." Lord Hughes stopped his nephew with the simple gesture of a raised index finger and shook his head. "But, Unc..." This interruption included a stern look and a forced whisper: "Not now."

The meeting continued with the villagers expressing their concerns. Wondering if their children would be next. Some stated that they were going to pack up and leave. Many stated that they would stay and hunt down the beast. Without a consensus, each family group left with their own plans in mind.

Lord Hughes, Morgan LaRoche, and Dylan retired to the lounge for a nightcap. The conversation meandered around the issues, not really addressing what should happen next. Another meeting without resolution. Dylan excused himself early, leaving his uncle and LaRoche. After climbing the stairs to his room and entering through the door, he went straight to the window and looked out. There on the other side of the road, looking up at him was a cloaked figure and a great wolf. Startled, Dylan stumbled back towards the door. And then to get a better look he slowly returned to the window, remaining in the shadows. But when he looked out, the man and the wolf were gone.

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Weak and exhausted, a woman collapsed onto the stone steps of Bosvenegh Manor. Patrick came running up from the stables as he watched her slump to the ground. He carefully lifted her into his arms, cradling her as he struggled to carry her across the threshold through the doors. Calling for help, a few of the staff appeared in the foyer, gasping at the sight.

After instructing each of them, Patrick carried the limp lifeless body into the adjoining parlor, laying her on a floral patterned chaise. One of the young women came back with a warm blanket and a few towels to help dry and warm up the nearly frozen woman. While another woman started rubbing down her legs and feet, Patrick started a fire. He turned back to gaze at the distinctive features camouflaged beneath the dirt, bruises, and disheveled hair. He couldn't believe what he was seeing, but it was her. The same as he remembered, just a little thinner and paler. He must get word to Lord Hughes.

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After three days, Lady Amelia opened her eyes to the bright rays of a new day. Cedric, seated next to the bed, was asleep. Amelia, trying to sit up, pushed a pillow onto the floor, knocking over a tumbler containing an amber-colored liquid. Cedric raised his head and smiled as his eyes met Amelia's. Struggling still to sit up, Cedric stood, leaning over his wife, and helped her to a seated position. In a raspy voice, Amelia got out three words: "Krantz is here."

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"What danger there can be to you, which I am not equally exposed to, I cannot conceive," replied Philip; "however—"

Hardly had he said these words, when there was a tremendous roar—a rush like a mighty wind through the air—a blow which threw him on his back—a loud cry—and a contention. Philip recovered himself, and perceived the naked form of Krantz carried off with the speed of an arrow by an enormous tiger through the jungle. He watched with distended eyeballs; in a few seconds the animal and Krantz had disappeared!

"God of Heaven! would that Thou hadst spared me this," cried Philip, throwing himself down in agony on his face. "Oh! Krantz, my friend—my brother—too sure was your presentiment. Merciful God! have pity—but Thy will be done;" and Philip burst into a flood of tears.

Lord Hughes re-read this passage about a dozen times before he returned to his beloved. How could Krantz be alive? His close friend, Captain Frederick Marryat, had confirmed to him that the tales in The Phantom Ship were true and that Krantz had died a tragic death. Amelia must be mistaken.

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Upon entering the room, he could see that Amelia was feeling much better. She was sitting up, taking in the sun's warm rays as they streamed through the open doors. A gentle summer breeze brushed along the linens causing them to dance and sway around the mahogany bed posts. Amelia turned and smiled at Cedric and as if she knew what he was about to ask she answered:

"Krantz is alive."

"How?" Cedric was in shock - still believing that Amelia was mistaken.

"He was close to death when he was found by the natives who performed rituals, restoring his health. These natives practice the same mystical magic that the spirits of Hartz Mountains perform to trap mortals. In this case, they made Krantz immortal and he has been bonded to Christina - an extension of the curse his father unleashed upon the family."

"What is he doing here?"

Amelia hesitated, "He is here for Dylan."

"What does he want with Dylan?"

"He wants to get his hands on Bosvenegh Manor and he knows that the only way is through familial bonds. He wants Dylan to marry Christina."

"That is not going to happen."

"I came back to Cardinham to protect Dylan and to warn you."

"How do you know any of this Amelia?"

"It is a very long story, one that began before Krantz took off to the sea and before I met and married you." Amelia paused briefly and then continued, "Krantz used to work for my father and had developed an attachment towards me. I brushed off his advances and even told him that I had no interest in him. One night he became aggressive; insisting that he was the best thing that could ever happen to me."

Amelia struggled to continue, causing Cedric to reach for her hand. He shook his head and stated: "You don't need to continue. I can only imagine what happened."

"That night, a new monster was born out of the grief and tragedy. You need to know that the beast that carried off Krantz was not a tiger, but another. A black panther, known by the villagers of Cardinham as Best Goon Brenn, the Beast of Bodmin Moor." Amelia continued, "You need to know that the Beast of Bodmin Moor is not a murderer, nor is it the cause of all the slaughter and mutilation in the region. The murderer is Christina, the White Wolf of Hartz Mountains. The Beast of Bodmin Moor is a guardian and a protector."

"Oh, Amelia." Cedric moved to her side, embracing her tightly. He held her close as they both wept.

"Cedric, we need to kill the White Wolf. Her death will release Krantz from his curse and allow us to kill him," her tone firm and resolute. Keeping her eyes locked on his until he responded.

"Yes. I understand."

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Bosvenegh Manor no longer stands, looking out on the moors and the woods. Cedric and Dylan have long since left Cardinham. From time to time the panther is seen prowling Bodmin Moor and it has been said that the White Wolf and Krantz still roam the moors every full moon.

Stay off the moors and out of Cardinham Woods. But if you find yourself in either place and you see a flicker of candlelight coming from a cabin window, know that you have entered the realm of spirits and ghosts.

Horror

About the author

Rebecca A Hyde Gonzales

I started writing when I was about eight years old. I love to read and I also love to create. As a writer and an artist, I want to share the things that I have learned and experienced. Genres: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and history.

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Outstanding

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (1)

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  • Asher Sund26 days ago

    I'm always a sucker for a good ghost story, but wow, what an opening... was hooked from the start. Such a rick world you've built here, too, with lush descriptions of the setting/scenery. The arrival of Dylan was a nice surprise, too. Adds some levity. Haha: Lord Cedric Arthur Hughes looked up from The Phantom Ship, then raising a Glencairn of Laphroaig, and taking a sip before responding, asked: "Who?" Ooh, and nice turn (Story B): "This is different Dylan. The business has to do with you. So well said: The meeting with Morgan LaRoche was short compared to the extended socialization between him and his uncle. So glad, too, that Lady Amelia makes an 'appearance'--ha--no, but really. Love it!

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