The Castle and Stumps

Joe said he could however do with a walk before the night watchman returned again. I ask Joe why he called it the night watchman. Joe had noticed that the sounds happened every fifteen minutes as regular as clockwork.

I ask him if he was positive. Positive he could not be more positive, he had been counting second by terrified second up in the bedroom. Hearing that odd fact I perked up somewhat.

In that case I said pouring out the last of the beer, lets get up those stairs. Joe did not think he had heard me properly for he thought we had agreed it was to be plan B, out the door and across the green as fast as out legs could carry us.

That would not be necessary I informed Joe, if what I was thinking is right I told him we were going to kill a ghost, if I was wrong however I would be at Fogget's before the next bang has time to settle.

Before we went back up the stairs I got the small tool kit from the saddlebag of our bicycle, the next ten minutes were spent examining the panelling around the room. It is about time said Joe who had been keeping a check on the time with his watch.

Sure enough. Brrrrr, brrrrr, brrrrrrrrr, Scrape... Thud..... "Over here." I shouted, I pressed my ear against one of the panels near the small windows, Joe came across to my side of the room and pressed his ear to the panel next to mine.

Scrape... Thud..... Near this one whispered Joe. We both listened. Scrape... Thud.....

It was very loud, very solid. Joe ask me what I was thinking. I told him I was thinking that this is no ghostly ghost. After the noises had stopped I started examining the panelling on the wall where the sound had come from.

As I expected I found three small brass hinges on the edge of one of the panels. We started to look on the other side of the panel where I expected we should find some sort of catch. The catch was not easy to find, the whole length of a wooden strip covering the edge of the panel had to be pushed upward and it was very stiff.

To help move it I pushed the end of one of our tire leavers under the edge of the wooden strip and levered it upward, the panel it was attached to moved, it was a door.

As I started pulling open the secret door Joe put his hand on my shoulder and declared that he was not sure he wanted to know what was behind it. I ask him where his curiosity was, running down the stairs and across the field to Fogget's cottage said Joe. I continued to pull the panel open, it creaked and groaned. it had obviously not been opened in a very long time.

When it was half open I shone the torch into the darkness behind the panel. What is it, ask Joe as I looked into the dark cavity behind the panel. The torch beam flickered on a hundred years of cobwebs, these were covering a series of wheels chains pulleys rods and gears along with one large metal fan.

Well that's is our ghost I declared and Joe poked his head around the edge of the panel looking into the space lit by my torch beam.

Joe naturally jumped to the wrong conclusion deciding it was all some kind of eighteenth century joke ghost machine designed specifically to scare people. I had to disappoint Joe and tell him it was nothing more than an old clock. Joe liked his idea best.

I reminded Hoe that the last thing Fogget did before leaving the pub, apart from snigger alot, was go over to a handle in the wall near the door and wound it, he was winding the clock. We could remember seeing it on the outside over the main door. He must have been doing it for years with out even thinking about it, but what had not occurred him or anyone else was that it not only wound the clock it also wound the chiming mechanism.

Joe pointed out that we had not heard any chimes. Precisely I declared in triumph and pointed to three large hammers. I pulled back each of the large leather covered hammers and let them go in turn. Thud, Thud, Thud, went each hammer as its metal arm hit against a heavy wooden strut.

I shone the torch on the large metal fan and spun it around Berrrr, Berrrrr it went. The governor I pointed out. The scraping ask Joe. The falling weights I said shining the torch around in the darkness behind the panel until it came to rest on three large rusty iron weights.

Following the line of the chains attached to the weights we could see a bracket holding two pulleys at the top of the tower. This bracket had bent slightly causing the weights to scrape down the side of the panelling as the clock tries to strike each quarter of the hour. Fans hammers weights why no bells ask Joe.

There was no answer to that although it looked as if there should have been some, you could see hooks where they would have hang from. It was clear there should have been three long tubular bells you could see the holes in the floor where they must have once hung down through.

It was all most odd declared Joe.

" I wonder what happened to the bells? " I said.

" Perhaps they made too much noise and they were taken out so long ago no body can remember it." said Joe.

" Unless they were set up wrong hence they only start working at night when they should be working during the day." I said. " So they just took the bells out."

" And never managed to get the clock makers back to fix it." said Joe.

" Possibly." I said. " Anyhow there's a lever here on the governor that may switch them off." the lever it was very stiff.

" Don't break it." said Joe.

By tapping it with the spanner I managed to push it to the off position.

" Now perhaps we can get some sleep." I said.

" I'm all for that." said Joe.

We put the light out and got back into bed.

Werrrbeeeeee... Werrrbreeeeee...

" What was that? " shouted Joe.

" The wind blowing through the rope on the roof flagpole." I said. " Now go to sleep."

" How do you know its that. " said Joe.

" There's a flagpole outside my flat, that's one noise I can recognise in my sleep." I said

" Thank goodness for that." said Joe. " I thought we'd got another ghost."

Short Story Series - Abridged from the book - The Tatty Nickers Tony on the Moon