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Paperback Book ISBN 1843752417

198 Pages

The Velvet Marionette: from Chapter Ten

'They stopped short of the beach and rested against a wire mesh fence that had seen many better days. Everyone looked towards the sea. At first Thomasine saw nothing but beach and calm sea; she heard nothing but the soothing wash of the waves and felt the cool air pass through the few patches of stringy grass that inhabited this place. Then through the gloom the strangest thing came into sight and Thomasine found herself gripping the fence fiercely as she struggled to understand.

Maybe it was just the way that her eyes had now become adjusted to the gloom, maybe something more, for now she could see the strangest items upon the beach. There was a tall wardrobe, a decorative iron four-poster bed, various items from a kitchen, including the sink and a washboard. Across the wooden breakwaters various furnishings were draped. There looked to be silks and velvets, lace and linen, all once fine and bright items now made tardy and old by time and the forces of nature. She looked to the others for explanations, but they simply shushed her and told her not to disturb him as suddenly he appeared from within the wardrobe and they listened for a while to Mr Morphus's thoughts.

"Stupid pine cones, always hiding in the most obscene places…wouldn't have had it happened if old George had never died, could never get a thing right. Stupid women couldn't run a brothel in a brewery that one," he strutted to the sea and loudly broke wind "stupid foreigner…he was always the one to turn too, smelt like chicken, which is strange because I was sure that it said salmon on the wall of the butcher's, though he would not know, that one…bloody foreigner, Nancy…Nancy… coming here from the land of the Jocks, fiends, sell moose to the goose and turn his mothers grave to Cook if he thought it would make a farthing. Nancy, Nancy…where the bloody hell are you?" He spent a moment spinning on the spot, digging himself a small hole, Thomasine knew he would get dizzy and fall over just before it happened. "Ah there you," but no one had come to him "I was taking the dog for a walk but got lost for a while, what's for supper?" Suddenly he thundered back across the beach in their direction but stopped ten yards short and instead diverted his attention to a partially sinking chaise-lounge, which was now little more than kindling; he tripped over it, breaking one of the legs. He did not notice. "Those pesky kids always leaving their toys about the house, I'll send them to Timbuktu for a shilling a shot; that should settle their lots."

He was busy emptying the contents of a chest of draws onto the beach when as she watched it seemed to Thomasine that despite his insane ramblings his main issue was with his furniture, he really could not decide where to put it all. Cara moved from the far side of Bea to stand next to Thomasine and in hushed tones she started to weave his tale.

"In the mid-nineteenth century this man, Mr Morphus, had been the wealthiest banker in London and this had bought him a large estate with a magnificent mansion." She pointed along the beach and Thomasine stood in awe at the massive ruins that now dominated the skyline to her right.

"Where did that come from?" She asked, looking to Cara for an answer.

"That was definitely not there a minute ago…was it?"

"It was," Cara assured her "and it has been for sometime, but people no longer remember the tragedy, so no longer see the house." She returned her attention to Mr Morphus. "Such a vain man, so rich not only in monetary terms but also spiritually with a fine wife and nine blessed children and so many servants…but when tragedy came he alone escaped and rescued the few items that remained in the ruins."

"All his family and servants died," Thomasine looked to the madman wandering on the beach and felt pangs of sorrow for him "life can be so cruel." She muttered. Bea joined in the conversation.

"But so can humans, it was his penny-pinching over substandard materials and bullying hatred for the workers that led to the poor standard of work in the house."
"And his choice to watch from the shore as the building blew, a ball of flame so violent the screams of the dying barely escaped, "Cara added "such was the hatred for him it was two weeks before anyone would dare venture up here. They believed that he had simply returned to London with his retinue, he always bought everything with him from London and had very little to do with the people nearby."

"Sounds familiar." Thomasine muttered.

"But the sons and daughters of locals who were employed here were eventually missed but all they found was ruins of building and man." Cara pointed to a series of graves now illuminated by the moonlight. "They buried their own dead then left him to his own devices, he barely noticed, instead he continued to rearrange his so precious furniture…and so here he remains."

They all fell silent for a moment and watched as he moved about his furniture, each lost in their own thoughts. Thomasine's mind was in turmoil. At first she had felt such sorrow for him, but now she thought that this may have been misplaced. Why where they showing her this place? Bea cleared her throat audibly and she to Cara as Mr Morphus was beginning to remove his clothing and heading for a large safe which had been placed on its back and filled with seawater like a bath; quickly they returned to the car.

"So what do you think?" Cara asked Thomasine.
"I'm not sure," she replied "why is he still here, I mean how can he still be after so much time has passed?"

"Why, you mean, does he still exist here and no one notices?" Thomasine nodded and stopped walking; Cara turned to her. "I do not think I ever believed in god or heaven and hell, in anything really apart from the reality of death; but even in this there are exceptions."

"Vampyre's, like yourself you mean?" Cara nodded.

"But apart from the few of us who can never die, there are thousands of these little bubbles of the past interacting with the present."Thomasine just considered this for a moment, but it still did not explain why he continued to exist. "When I first saw his madness and you told me his tale of loss I felt great sadness for him, but then when you say he caused his own downfall and so much pain for those about him…I felt that like, maybe he deserves everything he gets."

"And you think that being judgemental makes you a bad person?" Cara asked watching her closely.

"Does it? Is it for me to judge?" Cara shrugged and placed her arm through Thomasine's

"We all do, but it is important to remember that although we are privileged to see the past, we cannot change it; though we might have had a part to play in it." She paused for a moment. "Maybe he does not really exist here at all, maybe he and the others that are like him are just memories kept alive by the few of us who see."

"Like ghosts?" Thomasine wondered.

"Some might say." Cara replied.'