Moving Day: Part Nineteen

This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 1260 words.

Cathy looked around as her daughter walked into the room. Nodding at the papers under her arm, she smiled. “What have you got there, Becks? Is it your school project you talked about?” Becky sat on the sofa, dropping everything onto the rug. “Come away from the computer and sit down, Mum, I need to talk to you”. She rose slowly from the chair and came over, her face all concern and worry. “Of course, love. You can always talk to me, you know that”. Not about to let Mum take charge of the conversation, Becky started as she meant to go on. “Please listen to what I have to say, and don’t interrupt me. Alright?” Cathy sat down, a half-smile on her face. She nodded her acceptance.

Becky kept her temper, and her nerve. She spoke with a maturity that belied her eleven years.

“First, I know that you are an Oliphant. The girl I told you I saw is a ghost, and her name is Charity Oliphant. Or at least it was. She was drowned as a witch in the old days, and her father was hanged for something he didn’t do. Now they haunt this mill, and even dragged Sara into the river to stop her talking. Sara was an Oliphant, but I think you know that. I have found out about the good and bad Oliphants, and the Vospers and Wrights. In fact I know everything from the time of the English Civil War, right up to now. I know that you designed this mill for Mr Vosper, and bought the flats, as well as this house. I know that you made the split with Dad happen, and came here for a reason that has nothing to do with house prices. And I think that you have seen Charity, or Thomas, which is why your hair turned white”. Mum was swallowing a lot, and her face had turned as pale as her new hair colour. Becky continued.

“But what I don’t know is why, and what I have to do with it”. You need to tell me. You need to stop lying to me”.

Cathy sat quiet for what seemed like a long time. To say she was shocked by how much her daughter had found out was an understatement. As she opened her mouth to say something, Becky spoke first. “And don’t even think about lying to me, or I will go and ask the tree. I have the power, Charity showed me”. Cathy took a deep breath, and reached out to hold both of her daughter’s hands.

“When I was quite young, both my parents drowned in a boating accident. It happened near here, between the village and the mill. Nobody could understand what they were doing out in a boat at the time, and I was too young to know anything about the family rivalries in this village. I was taken in by Reginald Vosper, Samuel’s father, and he arranged to foster me until I was old enough to leave school. Over the years, he told me about the curse, but I never believed anything like that could be real.
Just a minute, I need a drink”.

She went into the kitchen, returning with a glass of white wine, full to the brim. After sipping some, she carried on. “I was descended from Christian Oliphant, they told me. And so was Sara, who was a cousin. But we had nothing to do with her part of the family. Apparently, Christian was a weak man. He gambled, liked to drink too much, and borrowed money from many people. Eventually, he lost the mill and the land, having to sell it to pay his debts. After that he did odd jobs, and the family lived in little more than a shack, on the outskirts of the village.

The Vospers were kind to me, especially Marjorie, Reginald’s wife. She couldn’t have any more children after Samuel, so treated me like her own daughter. When I was old enough to leave and go to university, they talked to me again about the curse. This time, it didn’t sound so much like a fairy tale. Reginald was really concerned that one day his name would die out, and everything would be inherited by a girl child. He told me that I could help, and that one day I would be told what to do. In return for that future help, I was given the money for my education, and everything I ever needed. I would also be successful in my chosen career, as Reginald or his son would see that I always had work as an architect. I went off to Exeter, and more or less forgot about the old legend. I met your Dad, and did well with my business too. Then I had you, and life was going beautifully, just as I had always hoped.

Some time later, I was contacted by Samuel Vosper. He told me that ‘the time had come’. I had to repay the debt I owed the family. He had no sons, just a daughter, Matilda. She was a wayward girl, but he had put her promiscuity to good use, and now controlled more or less everything in this area. I told your Dad I had to travel for business, and stayed the weekend at the Vosper house. Samuel really scared me. He had been in touch with Sara, and she had told him how to reverse the curse. His wife Andrea was still young enough to have more children, and he yearned for a son to leave everything to. But it had to be done soon, while Andrea could still bear children. I was to create a situation where your Dad would leave me, or I would leave him. They would give me this mill house and the apartments, and also pay for the hunting lodge in Scotland I have been designing. I would never want for anything again, he assured me.

But if I didn’t agree, he would make it his business to ruin me, and get involved in your life too. He said he was prepared to go to any lengths.

So I pretended to go along with his plan. I split with your Dad, moved here, and started to design the hunting lodge. Oliphant is an old Scottish name, and we have distant relatives up there. Once everything had been concluded here, I could live up there away from it all, and be comfortable for the rest of my life. I managed to convince Samuel that I was seriously going to go ahead with it, and that is what I have been arranging since we moved here. And yes, I did see Charity. She stopped my car, and then shouted at me. She was terrifying. But you have to know that I was never going to see it through. I had no intention of doing what Samuel had demanded of me. I never would. I have just been trying to buy time, to find another way”.

Cathy sat back, and swallowed a huge gulp of the wine.

Becky had listened intently. But even though Mum had sounded sincere, all the lies and deceit had made her distrustful of her mother now. She thought long and hard before asking her next question. “But Mum, how does that involve me?” Cathy hesitated, as if unsure how to reply.

“You are to be drowned in the river by the mill, to lift the curse.
It will be made to look like an accident”.

31 thoughts on “Moving Day: Part Nineteen

  1. โ€œI curse you, all you here. You shall have no son to carry on your name as long as an Oliphant lives.” (Charity, Part 18)

    Seems to me that Charity figured there would always be an Oliphantโ€”at least one descended from Oliver, the good Oliphant. I don’t think she envisioned that the curse would ever be broken.

    Charity clapped her filthy hands together with glee. โ€œI knew it. I knew you had the gift. You are a good Oliphant indeedโ€. (Part 18)

    Cathy may be a descendant of the bad branch of the Oliphants, the ones in bed with the Vospers, but Charity, who initiated the curse, sees Becky as a good Oliphant. So, assuming Charity is being honest, it doesn’t seem likely she’d allow Becky to be drowned. It seems more likely that Charity would protect Becky. Especially because Becky has the gift. Also, even if Becky were to be drowned, Cathy would still be aliveโ€”so there would still be a living Oliphant. Cathy (who, lineage aside, is not necessarily a bad Oliphant despite the Vospers’ attempt to take her into their fold) would also have to die for the curse to be broken.

    It would be interesting if Cathy had a try at the willow tree. Maybe she has the gift, too? Or, if she is lying to Becky, and she is actually ready to drown her own innocent daughter, maybe Thomas would drag “bad” Cathy into the river…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, GP. But Becky and Matilda are the last two children involved, at least as far as Samuel Vosper is concerned. He has been ‘worked on’ by Sara, and more of that will be revealed tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Loved it! However, I wonder how killing a girl would lift the curse that started by killing another. And there are other Oliphants out there too–Cathy, Oliver’s entire line and Oliphant is a common surname, so until a single Oliphant lives…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is more about how Samuel Vosper perceives it, egged on by the late Sara. Of course what you say is correct, but Samuel is obsessed with revenge, and ready to believe anything. I doubt he has bothered to investigate Cathy’s family any further than he has been told by Sara.
      Some of Sara’s actions and motives will be explained soon. The conversation continues tomorrow, and may answer some of your questions. In fact, you have already guessed at some of the questions Becky will be asking her mother. ๐Ÿ™‚
      (Oliphant is a clan name in Scotland, but is quite rare in the rest of the UK)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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