The Lantern, a poem written by James Walmsley at Spillwords.com
Zune Koo

The Lantern

The Lantern

written by: James Walmsley

 

The rain lashed the face of the young girl as she walked up the long lane. It wound up the hill past the Old Chapel and Quarry to the big house where the Quarry owner lived. Her shawl clutched tightly around her head, she stared into the night for a glimpse of lamplight, ‘too far away,’ she thought. The road had become a track and the track had become a gushing stream, forcing her to walk at the side of the track. She was wet and cold but she was happy and in love.
Alain Deschamps lived in the house at the top of the lane. His father had been a prisoner of war, captured at the battle of Trafalgar.
Francois Deschamps was the master of the French Frigate Bucentaure, a French ship of the line. Whilst being held prisoner under his own recognisance he met and fell in love with Elizabeth Charnley. Elizabeth was the only daughter of Viscount Charnley, the major land owner in Caverdale in the East Ridings of England. After his release he returned to France to put his affairs in order. On his return to Caverdale he married Elizabeth. After the union Viscount Charnley bestowed upon the couple the house and lands at the top of Killians Hill including the Quarry and the Old Chapel. It was from here they ran the estate and raised a family. Alain was first born, two years on Arrianna arrived and finally five later Sophia. It was some time after the birth of Sophia that Matthew Worsley successfully applied for the position of Quarry Engineer/ Manager. He took possession of a house in a quiet area of Caverdale with his daughter Angelina who was fourteen, the same age as Arrianna, and they soon became inseparable friends.
As the children grew Arrianna noticed that Angelina would stare at Alain and he would stare at her then blush, turn away and look at something else. Arrianna knew that Angelina loved Alain and was sure Alain loved Angelina. Arrianna knew all about love, she was in love too. She was right the couple fell madly in love and would meet wherever and whenever they could.
On a wet and windy October day they arranged to meet that evening at the Old Chapel near the Quarry.
“Stay in the Chapel,” said Alain to Angelina, “until you see my lantern light.”
That evening Alain entered the tool shed reached up and took the lantern off the hook. He checked the wick and the catch on the side, he didn’t want the lantern to open once lit. He topped up the oil and lit the lantern. As he left the tool shed he saw Arriana hurrying back to the house, he shouted but she didn’t hear him, the wind was howling, he heard the door slam shut and wondered why she would be abroad on such a filthy night. There was only one thing that would bring him out on such a night. He opened the gate and walked on to the lane and headed towards the Old Chapel to meet his love.

Wilhilmina Carrington Black although she had an exotic name came from a humble beginning. Her mother was a Teaching Assistant and her father worked on the Railways, good god fearing working class her dad was always proud of saying. Wilhilmina was not a common name in Macclesfield where she hailed from. It could lend itself to some not very flattering interpretations. Being quite savvy from a tender age Wilhilmina took the name Billie. After finishing her Degree at Umbria University she set out to pursue a career in journalism.
Some five years later Billie sat in the bar of the Quarryman’s Inn, Caverdale’s best hotel in conversation with local historian Alfred Marginson, who was trying to persuade Billie not to go up Killian hill that night, he said,
“No one goes up to that Quarry in weather like this especially on the night of Halloween.”
“Mr. Marginson, as you know I am a feature writer for the Herald, to write a convincing story about Killian Hill, the people that live there and how it became haunted, I have to experience Killian Hill on a dark nasty Halloween night and tonight is that night. If you would be so kind as to meet me here for lunch tomorrow afternoon say twelve thirty, you can tell me the story of Killian Hill fact and legend.”
“Just be careful, if you see anything odd and I mean anything turn around and get off that hill. You will have to park in the layby and walk the rest of the way. The old lane takes you to the Chapel and Quarry, it’s just a track and rejoins the lane proper about a mile and a half past the Chapel. Keep to the righthand side of the track if visibility is bad, remember twenty yards past the Chapel the track narrows to just a footpath again stay to the righthand side, to the left is a two hundred yard drop to your death”.
On that note they shook hands, Mr. Marginson left and Billie went to her room to change and prepare for the night’s adventures. Neither of them noticed the man in black leathers sat at the back of the bar watching them intently.
Billie finished packing her rucksack, picked up her phone and pressed ‘three’, waited a few seconds, the voice on the other end said
“Hi Billie.”
“Hi Joey, be up here for noon tomorrow, we’ll meet the local historian then go up the hill and do the shoot. Don’t be late. Oh Joey, I’m staying in the Quarrymans Inn, got that?”
“Yep.”
“Right bye.” She ended the call, picked up her rucksack walked through the Inn to the carpark. The rain was intensifying, the wind was howling, “it’s the right kind of weather,” she muttered to herself putting the rucksack in the boot. The man in the black leathers watched her for a second or two, then sped off on his motorcycle. Billie pulled out of the carpark and headed for the lane and Killian Hill.

He saw headlights about a mile down the hill, he knew it was her, who else could it be on a filthy night like this. Madness he thought, a pretty young girl coming up here on her own, you have to be careful you don’t reap what you sow. His thoughts were interrupted as the car pulled in to the layby.
Billie got out of the car, adjusted the hood on her kagool and retrieved her rucksack from the boot. She crossed the road, took the fork on to the old lane. The rain was almost horizontal and the wind was gusting, it was mostly coming from behind but when she turned the corner about two hundred yards further up the track the weather will come at her from the front and side. Billie was conscious of that and was careful to stay as far right as she could. As Billie approached the corner she was unaware that fifty yards behind her the man in black leathers was stealthy following her. She turned the corner and suddenly stopped, she saw something well, she thought she seen something, a light, it disappeared as soon as she saw it. The man in black leathers stopped too, he thought nothing of it and waited until she moved off again. After the corner there was a sharp incline which rose about thirty yards up the hill. When Billie approached the crest of the incline she stopped. She saw the light again, this time she saw the light clearly, an odd light, not torch light, not electric light, something else it fascinated her. It was a deep yellow light with an orange aurora, she felt the need to look at it, so she did, and the more she looked at it further away it seemed to be, so she followed it. The man in the black leathers watched but now he was much closer.
The rain was torrential and the track had become a torrent. Billie was oblivious to the ferocity of the weather, she was fixated on the light, she felt warm and safe and was going to meet her love. As she approached the Chapel the light stopped moving and she became more aware of the weather. She could still see the light, as her mind cleared she could just about make out the Chapel. The man in black leathers was almost in touching distance hidden by the darkness. The closer to the Chapel she got, the light became less intense, she reached the Chapel doorway and the light disappeared. She remembered the light, could have been someone going over the hill on their way home. Billie entered the Chapel put the rucksack on the ledge under what had once been a window of some kind. The man in black leathers stood silently at the side of the Chapel and waited.
Billie poured the hot liquid into a plastic mug then sipped, the hit of black coffee was just what she needed. She had decided to set her tent up in the Chapel, the opening facing the doorway. That way she could see any comings and goings, any ghosts or ghoulies, she chuckled to herself and took another sip of coffee. Billie had been in the Chapel for about twenty minutes. The man in the black leathers was thinking he might have to go into the Chapel, that was something he didn’t want to do, he wanted to get off the hill without being seen, he didn’t want to get caught.
Coffee cup in hand she walked towards the window ledge, looked up and saw hanging from the rafters a woman, a rope tight around her neck. The woman’s livid tongue was hanging out of the side of her mouth, her black dead eyes searing into Billie’s soul and a grin on her face so ferel and hateful that she was numb with fear. Billie could not take her eyes of the rotting grinning corpse swinging slowly from a rope. Unaware that she had backed out of the Chapel she became conscious of the light on her left past the Chapel. She turned and was immediately transfixed by the light and felt warm and contented and followed the light. The man in the black leathers was freezing wet, he could hardly hear himself think in the howling wind. He saw her back out of the Chapel and walk on to where the track narrowed to a footpath. He followed her he was barely a yard behind her. Billie followed the light, the beautiful warm light, the light of her love, another few steps and she would be in his arms. The man in black leathers could have touched her he was that close. He wondered were she was going, suddenly she crossed to the other side of the path and stood at the edge of the Quarry, one more step was certain death. The light was still, she could see her love, she put her arms out and took one last step, the light disappeared.
The man in the black leathers was only inches away, he saw her hold out her arms, in that split second his arms shot out and dragged her back from certain death. She started to scream a scream that came from the depths of hell, she had lost all sense, she was trembling, terrified, everything replaying in her mind. Then she heard a voice, the voice was saying “it’s okay Billie it’s okay,” she looked up and saw Joey, he held her in his arms and she cried and she cried.
“You’re not supposed to be here until tomorrow”, she said between sobs, Joey said,
“There is no way I was ever going to let you come up this god forsaken hill on your own”.

The following day having been up most of the night with Billie telling the story over and over again, they met Mr. Marginson as arranged. Mr. Marginson listened with the occasional nod and the occasional shake of the head. After Billie had finished her account of the previous night’s happenings Mr. Marginson just said
“Poor girl, poor girl, this is what I know, fact and legend.
That fateful night Alain Deschamps lit a lantern and set off to meet his love Angelina Worsley. Five minutes later Arrianna Deschamps left the house and followed Alain Deschamps, we know this is true, she said so the morning Alain’s body was found, she said
“I did go out and follow Alain, it was just a prank I wanted to catch them kissing but the weather was so bad I turned back”.
The following morning Alain was found dead having slipped over the Quarry edge on his way to meet Angelina. One week later Angelina went back to the Old Chapel and hanged herself with her shawl. In her grief, she blamed herself and couldn’t live without him. That was the end of the story until twenty two years later Arrianna Deschamps was hanged for murder.
In nineteen thirty when a young girl called Evlyn Forshaw was found at the bottom of the Quarry on the morning after Halloween it rekindled interest in the old ghost story about Angelina Worsley enticing young girls over the Quarry side to comfort her love Alain Deschamps, who had fallen to his death nearly a century earlier.
In nineteen thirty my father was a reporter on the old Caverdale Currier, he covered the story. He researched Killian Hill and the Deschamps, he managed to locate Sophia Deschamp’s daughter who was a formidable woman in her seventies. She had in her possession her Aunt Arrianna’s diary for that year. Although Sophie did not keep a diary she recounted the episode to her daughter. Sophia was in bed for eight that night, she was thinking about Alain and Angelina, wondering why Arrianna had gone out in such inclement weather. She fell asleep and slept until her mother woke her with the tragic news that her brother had fallen to his death. Later Arrianna came to see her and said she was going to see poor Angelina she must be devastated, she didn’t mention Alain, and was quite jolly, it seemed to Sophia. She went on to say the friendship between Angelina and Arrianna was just that as far as Angelina was concerned but for Arrianna it was much more than that, she loved her, Arrianna was in love with Angelina and was jealous of anyone who got close to her. This is Arrianna’s diary entry for the thirty first of October, the night of the death of Alain Deschamps.” Mr. Marginson read it out “‘My one true love has left me to be with another this night, such hatred I will struggle to control,’ Arrianna never married, she did have infatuations with other young women, she was ashamed of the feelings she couldn’t contain or control and began to blame the girls for making her love them. Twenty two years later unable to contain and control her feelings she walked into the parlour and stabbed the housemaid to death. The pretty eighteen year old housemaid had made Arrianna fall in love with her.
Sophia believed to her dying day that Arrianna murdered Alain Deschamps out of plain jealousy, when Angelina hanged herself it drove Arrianna slowly insane.”
No one spoke for a minute or two, Mr. Marginson took out of his inside pocket a copy of an article from the Caverdale Currier. It covered the trial and execution of Arrianna Deschamps, he passed it over, Billie passed to Joey, he read it out.
Miss Arrianna Deschamps was hanged at midnight for the murder of Rebecca Blake. From the day she was arrested she never spoke until she reached the top of the scaffold, she turned and said “On this night such hatred I will struggle to control.” She grinned the most ferel, evil, ugly grin it made the hangman balk. Two minutes later she was dead.
Mr. Marginson said, “if it wasn’t for your friend here it is highly likely you would have been Arrianna Deschamps ninth victim. A cold shiver ran down Billie’s back, she just said, “my husband, Joey is my husband” then she cried.

James Walmsley

James Walmsley

I am a retired Engineer, I now spend my time writing and playing guitar.
James Walmsley

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