Lady Cardbridge is sitting very upright in an armchair in her Catskill residence. It doesn’t seem that the news provided by Michael and Jacob have left her satisfied.
“Gentlemen, you promised to evict that ghost from my house. What does it mean that it’s not evictable? “
“If I remember correctly, Mrs. Cardbridge, you told us that house was built by one of the first settlers who arrived to New York three centuries ago.”
“One of my ancestors”
“I suggest that house has too many years behind it. Maybe it would be better to tear it down and build a new one in its place “
“No way. That house is a familiar memory and not a single object is going to be taken out of it “
“And then why do you want to take out the ghost? It should also enter the pack. Maybe it’s as old as the house”
“Not so old. You mentioned the names of Benjamin and Robert … “
“Do you have any idea who they are?”
“Benjamin was the fiancé of Sarah Cardbridge. He died in the Civil War, but not at the hands of the enemy but killed treacherously by his own cousin Robert Sinclair, who also aspired to marry Sarah. Robert was hanged for his crime and Sarah committed suicide.”
“Wow! What a tragedy!”
“A tragedy that is not much more than a century old.”
“A century is long enough for a tragedy to take root in a house”
“Well, your mission is to uproot it. You committed yourself to it. I’ll tell you what we’ll do: you will settle in the house and not abandon it until you fulfill your promise. “
“Settle in that house? Not for all the money in the world!”
The next day, Michael and Jacob, loaded with suitcases, contemplate the somber aspect of the facade of the two-story house inherited by Lady Cardbridge from her ancestors.
“How could you let yourself be convinced?” Jacob reproaches Michael.
“You already heard her offer. It’s a lot of money.”
“But you have said ‘Not for all the money in the world’”
“After thinking a lot, I changed my mind.”
“You said it just one second before!”
“I can think a lot in a second. That’s quick thinking.”
Michael opens the screeching front door. There is no electric light in the house, so each one is provided with a kerosene lantern, which they light as soon as they enter.
“The first thing to do (Michael says) is choose the room where we will settle”
“This one is perfect!”
“This is not a room. This is the lobby”
“Yes, but it’s next to the front door, which makes it the safest room. In fact I call dibs on the bed closest to the door for when I have to run away “
“That sounds a little coward, Jacob.”
“You refer to my cowardice as if it were a defect when it’s one of my main virtues. It allows me to stay alive. “
“Besides, there are no beds here.”
“I don’t mind sleeping on the floor whenever the emergency exit is within my reach”
“Let’s go upstairs. There are the bedrooms. “
“There’s the ghost, too”
“That’s not accurate” they suddenly hear behind them. They turn around and see the ghost of Sarah Cardbridge shrouded in a luminous haze. They both run up the stairs, enter the first room they find and lock the door by moving a heavy chest of drawers. Panting, they study the room: an old dormitory with two beds and a window that overlooks a sinister alley. “Well, it seems that the room has chosen us and not the other way around,” says Michael.
Two hours later, the bedroom does not seem the same after an arduous task of cleaning. The dark layer of soot and dust that covered everything has disappeared and a comforting fire burns in the fireplace.
“How are we going to provide ourselves with food?” Jacob asks.
“Are we going to eat the curtains?!”
“With them we are going to make a rope that allows us to go down into the alley and go back up whenever we need something.”
“And what about our bodily functions?”
Michael takes a look under one of the beds and pulls out a chamber pot: “And there’s a sewer in the alley”, he adds.
It is night, and both lie in their respective beds, with their eyes wide open watching anxiously the dancing shadows that the dying fire of the fireplace projects on the wall and the wooden floor.
“I’m afraid I won’t sleep a wink.”
Suddenly a lullaby, sung in a low voice, begins to be heard.
“Don’t strain yourself. I don’t think a lullaby helps.”
“That’s what I was going to tell you”
“But that means there’s someone else in the room!” Jacob exclaims scared.
“Does a voice necessarily imply the presence of someone?”
“In any case, it doesn’t imply his absence”
“Let’s not become paranoid. No one can cross the door. The lullaby must come from outside the room. Here we are safe, Jacob. Try to sleep. Tomorrow we’ll go out to investigate the house “
“And if we run into the ghost?”
“We’ll try to reason with her”
The next morning, both advance cautiously through the labyrinthine house lighting the way with their yellow-light lanterns.
“Maybe she’s gone”
Michael starts shouting: “Hey, is there anyone here?!”
Jacob gets the panic: “What do you do? She could hear you! You’ve gone mad?”
“The sooner we get in touch with her, the sooner we can return home”
Hence, as they move through the corridors, Michel goes screaming: “Mrs. Cardbridge!” Suddenly, at the top of a stairway, they perceive a luminous mist that takes the shape of a woman.
“There she is!”
“Why are you back?” the ghost asks.
“We come on behalf of your descendant, Mrs. Cardbridge alive. She is worried about you. She wants you to rest in peace. “
“I’ll not rest in peace until I find out who killed me!”
“You killed yourself! Don’t you remember?”
“That’s been so long ago …”
“You committed suicide! You were sad because someone had killed your suitor Benjamin.
“Then I’ll not rest in peace until I find out who killed my suitor.”
“The killer of your suitor was already executed. His name was Robert.”
“Then I will not rest in peace until I find out who executed Robert. After all, Robert was my suitor too”
“You must have been a great woman, Mrs. Cardbridge, with so many suitors.”
“And you? Has any girl already pleaded her love-suit to you?
“Well, there are a couple of girls … But I’m afraid we’re just their cover”
“What does that mean?”
Jacob intervenes: “They go out with us only to save appearances. Actually, they are lovers one of another.”
Suddenly the ghost seems astounded: “That … that’s very humiliating…”
“Listen (Michael says), let’s not turn this into an agony column. What you have to do is head towards the Light. Isn’t there a light nearby? “
“There is a light that follows me everywhere. At first I feared it was the police “
“The police? And why would the police follow you? “
“Weeeell, when Benjamin died poisoned …”
“Did he die poisoned?”
“Yes, with death caps, a very effective mushroom that I used to pick on the Catskills”
Michael and Jacob look at each other with stupor.
“I thought he had died in the Civil War …”
“He was at home spending a few days’ leave. Now I remember everything. I also arranged for Robert to be charged with the crime. “
“And why-why did you do that? Why did you get rid of your two suitors? “
“As you said before, I was nothing more than their cover.”
“Do you mean that Benjamin and Robert …?”
“They were lovers, yes. I was a naive young girl and they deceived me. They just wanted me to save appearances. But I avenged myself. Ha, ha, ha! And then I took my life out of spite… And that’s why I thought the light was the Hereafter’s police. “
“It’s not the police, Mrs. Cardbridge. It is the place where souls go when they die. You have been in pain for a long time in this world. Surely you’ll have already paid for your crimes. It’s time for you to return home. “
Then Mrs. Cardbridge’s ghost turn around and a bright white light that doesn’t hurt the eyes appears before her. She stretches her arms towards the Light and is absorbed by It, so to speak. Mrs. Cardbridge’s ghost become smaller and smaller, as if advancing at high speed through a dark tunnel at the end of which shines the loving Light that waits for her.