saying that goes, 'An Englishman's Summer has three fine days and a
thunderstorm'. When those summer months pass and the cold spells of autumn
weather blast across the English countryside, drenching rain showers
plague the land, bringing a misery to the soul. Such was the evening when
Nigel Cuttlefish left for work.
miserable out there, Nigel. Do you want to take an umbrella with you?”
Ella, his wife, stood by the door. “I've packed you some bread and cheese
as usual and tonight I added a few pieces of gingerbread. It's still warm
slipped his raincoat on. “Thank you, Ella. I don't like nights like this.
Strange things happen in the cathedral.”
worked there most of your adult life, Nigel. Surely you aren't afraid of
ghosts. Now, bundle up and I'll see you in the morning.” Ella kissed her
husband's cheek and shut the door behind him.
“Angelsbury Cathedral.” Nigel opened his umbrella and looked up at the
ancient building. “To think of the thousands of times I've stood in this
same spot and looked up at you. I never did like rainy autumn nights.”
Without saying another word, he rushed across the grass, down the path and
stopped at the door. “You'd think I'd have had the sense to have my keys
ready.” Digging through his pocket, he grasped the ring of keys and opened
the creaking door. Once inside, he closed the umbrella and stood it in the
corner to dry. His nose twitched. “There's a foul stench in here tonight.
I hope we don't have a leak in the roof.”
sigh, Nigel headed down the lengthy hallway toward his cubby. He opened
the door and dropped the bag of food on the table. His nose twitched
again. “What is that horrid smell? It smells as though something died in
here.” A surging tide of fear rushed through his body and he gulped. “I
don't like this at all.” He turned and looked out in the hallway. “I
suppose I'd better go and find out what's going on.”
walked down the hall, the solid walls of stone seemed to move in closer,
cocooning him in darkness. “The last time I felt this way I found a
hobgoblin. Heaven help me what it'll be this time.”
of splintering wood, shattering with explosions of noise, echoed down the
halls. “What's Periwinkle Longtoes up to tonight? It sounds as though he's
destroying the place.” Nigel rushed into the nave, glancing from side to
side. “The place is clean. Periwinkle's been busy. “What in heaven's
pew stood on its end, split open. The broken pieces hung to the side like
overloaded branches of a fruit tree.
dashed up to it and stood, gaping. “How did this happen? Surely Periwinkle
wouldn't do such a thing. There's that smell again.”
head, the sound of cracking glass attracted his gaze. Nigel watched in
horror as one of the huge stained glass windows fell apart. Bits and
pieces of colored glass, held for centuries by lead frames, crashed to the
cathedral floor followed by a blast of frigid air. The night wind, finding
a way inside, swooped and soared throughout the nave, roaring like a lion
as its icy fingers searched for a target.
appeared, a floating vaporous specter; its demonic shrieks filling the air
with heinous howls.
heard a whimper. His eyes searched the colonnaded room. There, in a
corner, wedged behind one of the Norwegian oak stalls near the organ, the
cowering hobgoblin hid. Nigel saw Periwinkle's body shivering with fear.
“The ghost must have caught him at the organ and has been tormenting him.”
He looked up. “It is a ghost, isn't it? If not, what sort of ethereal
being is it?” With his back against the wall, Nigel inched his way up the
nave towards the choir area. “Now I know what the stench was.”
reached Periwinkle, he squatted next to him, whispering. “I know you are
Periwinkle Longtoes. I won't hurt you. I'm the one who...”
mumbled the hobgoblin.
that?” Nigel nodded in the direction of the shrieking creature.
wraith, a shadowy ghost of a dead person. It belongs to one of the
deceased people in a tomb inside this cathedral,” Periwinkle said.
sure? If that's the case there's only one person it could be, Sir Ranulf
Biggington of Marshdale. I always had a feeling his ghost would some day
wreak havoc. The man was pure evil when he was alive and a curse to all
those he came in contact with. Do you know about Sir Ranulf?” Nigel nodded
know there were many a bad knight in the medieval days. I'd like to know
more about him, but what about that wraith? It'll find us sooner or later.
I was playing the organ when I felt the bench rise and I was flung through
the air. I landed here and haven't left, hoping it wouldn't find me.” The
hobgoblin glanced toward the ghost.
have it destroying the cathedral. How am I going to explain that broken
window to the priests? And that pew? Some of those pews have been here
since the cathedral was built. We must stop this wraith, or whatever you
call it, from doing any more damage.” Nigel stood. The wraith chose that
moment to give one more spine-tingling howl, vaporized and filtered its
way back into the stone tomb. “Ah hah! It was Sir Ranulf.” The lid to the
tomb rattled as it fell into place.
Periwinkle stood and brushed the dust off his clothes. “We'd better clean
this mess up and then I have something to show you. It's a ghost trap.”
raised his eyebrows. “Interesting.”
what I can do about the window. You may have to tell the priests that the
wind did it. You take care of the pew.” The hobgoblin headed for the pile
of broken glass.
watched the small creature waddling away. With a sigh of frustration, he
lowered the pew onto its legs and gathered the broken pieces, forcing them
against the larger intact piece.
When the tasks were completed, Nigel
joined Periwinkle under the partially fixed stained glass window. “Good
job, Mr. Longtoes. Now, how will we rid this fine cathedral of Sir
Ranulf's ghost. Obviously there is a reason he's decided to pay us a
visit. Do you happen to know what that reason is?” He glanced down at
“I would suggest that we both spend
some time researching the history of this man. I've got a delightful book
in my room.” Periwinkle stopped. “You'd know that already, considering
that you are the one who gave it to me.”
“What book might that be?” Nigel had
taken so many that he no longer could remember.
“Knights and Ladies of 13th
Century England. I found it delightful and I'm sure it mentions Sir
Ranulf in it. I recall his name.” The hobgoblin sat on a square stone.
“Since it is almost sunrise and
neither of us has had any sleep, why don't we part ways for the time
being. I shall go home and see what I can find out and you study your
books. I shall join you at 9 P.M tonight. I'll simply tell my wife, Ella
that I need to do some extra work. I'll bring some supper for us both and
we'll discuss our wraith.” Nigel nodded and turned to leave.
Periwinkle looked around and once
satisfied the mess had been superficially cleaned, he went to his room.
“Ella, I'm home.” Nigel called to
his wife as he stepped in the back door.
“There you are, luv. Nigel, you look
exhausted. Rough night?” Ella kissed him on the cheek.
“I was up all night cleaning. We had
a bit of a problem with the wind. One of the larger stained glass windows
blew out and crashed into one of the pews. What a mess. In fact, I shall
be going into work early tonight to finish the job. At least we got all
the glass cleaned up.”
“We, Nigel? Who else was there?”
Ella picked up Mr. Banbury and handed the cat to her husband.
He stroked the cat. “How's Mr.
Banbury this morning? You've not been bothering Brambles and Lily have
you?” Nigel glanced at the budgies. “You leave the girls alone.” He turned
his attention back to his wife. “I meant I cleaned up the glass. I'm
tired, Ella, that's all.” A few drops of sweat ran down Nigel's neck,
dripping into his collar.
“Well, you go and wash up while I
fix you something to eat. What would you like this morning? I've got
kippers, bacon, sausages, eggs, tomato, toast, oat meal with sweet cream,
grilled kidneys, fried mushrooms, fresh strawberries, and an assortment of
marmalade and jam.” Ella caught her breath.
“Ella, are you trying to make me
fat? I couldn't possibly eat all of that.” Nigel took off his boots and
put them by the back door.
“I didn't ask you if you wanted all
of them. Good heavens, Nigel, I haven't got time for that. Which of those
would you like?” Ella grabbed a frying pan.
“I think I'd enjoy some oatmeal and
an egg and fried mushrooms.” Nigel went upstairs to shower while his wife
fixed breakfast. When he came down he found a plate sitting on the table
holding everything he had requested.
“I'll be off shortly, Nigel. Once
again I'm running into town. There's a sale on mattresses down at the
SuperCenter. It's about time we had a new one. I'll stop by the grocers
and pick up some milk. Is there anything in particular you'd enjoy this
evening while you work?” Ella put her arms through the coat sleeves,
pulling it over her shoulders.
“Some extra cheese and a few
pastries. Pick up some pickled onions. I've been craving some for days.”
Nigel carried his dishes over to the sink. “I'll go and have a sleep then
and see you when you get home this evening.” He lay down and slept for a
few hours. When he got up he dressed and went into town, stopping at the
library. He picked up several books on the history of Angelsbury and its
cathedral and carried them home, surprised that he didn't run into Ella.
She stood waiting for him at the
door. “Nigel, you should have left me a note. I was worried sick about
you. You've been to the library then?”
“I should have left a note. I'm
sorry, luv. I wanted to study up on the history of this area.” He put the
books on the table. “Have you ever heard much about a Sir Ranulf
Biggington? He was a knight and quite a nasty man, of what I hear. Lived
around these parts and frequented the cathedral with his sword in hand. I
wanted to learn more about him.”
“Isn't his tomb in the cathedral?
You see it every night, don't you?” Ella chopped some carrots as she
spoke. “I think most of those noblemen were ruthless. Why don't you go and
read while I fix supper. We'll eat early tonight seeing as you have to go
into work in an hour or two. Oh, by the way, I bought a new mattress for
us. It'll be delivered next week. We can give the old one to a homeless
Nigel heard what his wife said, but
wasn't really listening. He carried the books into the living room. He put
them down on the settee. The first book he reached for was, Legends of
Angelsbury Cathedral. “This should be interesting.” He skimmed through
the first chapters, paying particular attention to the pictures. “Ah ha!
Here you are, Sir Ranulf.” His gaze wandered up and down the page. “Well,
I've got a bit of information about our ghost for Periwinkle. Very
After Ella fed him, she packed a bag
of cheese, pickled onions, fresh hot bread, a flaky pastry and some
chocolate-covered biscuits. She handed him the bag. “This should do you.
Don't work too hard tonight and take your umbrella. We're supposed to have
more of that miserable rain tonight.”
“You're too good to me, Ella. Thank
you for all you do.” A squeeze and a peck on the cheek came her way and
then Nigel left.
After he'd unlocked the door, he
headed straight for his cubby. He dropped his coat and umbrella on the cot
and then carried the bag to Periwinkle's room. Three claps and the stone
slab creaked open. “Periwinkle, it's me, Nigel Cuttlefish. I've brought us
The hobgoblin stood at the end of
the hallway. “Come in.”
Nigel glanced around the room. He'd
not been back since the time he'd left the blankets and pillow. The room
was quite tidy. A few rats scampered under the bed, but other than that,
everything looked tip top. The stained glass window shone with polish.
“Nice window, Mr. Longtoes.”
“Yes, I'm partial to it. Please sit
down.” Periwinkle pointed to the bed. He sat on the floor. “What did you
find out about Sir Ranulf? I came across a few interesting things. I also
remembered I had this.” The hobgoblin held out his hand. In it sat a shiny
gold octagonal box.
“That's very curious,” Nigel said,
staring at it. “May I?” He reached for it and Periwinkle placed it in the
man's hand. “Most remarkable. Intricate carvings. What is it?”
“It's called an auroral box. It's
used to catch demons and ghosts. I've had it for many years, but never put
it to use. This is my first experience with wraiths.” Periwinkle moved
closer to Nigel.
“Extraordinary. What do these
designs mean? Are they written in hobgoblin?”
Periwinkle looked up at Nigel.
“Hobgoblin's don't have their own language. This is written in Latin.”
“Pardon me, Mr. Longtoes. The
writing is so small, it's difficult to see. Yes, well, I see that now.
Perhaps you could interpret for me.” Nigel handed the auroral box back to
“It says 'Spirits of the past
beware. Power comes to those who hold this box to imprison those who are
dead', and then it has a spell.
“I'm sure you know how to use it. I
did some reading up on our ghost. It seems our Sir Ranulf was quite a
scoundrel. In 1294 he and a few of his followers were confronted by a
group of Scotsmen. Sir Ranulf laughed at the Scots, insulted them to the
highest degree and then massacred them with his sword. He cut off their
heads and impaled them on a spear. That night he and his men feasted on
the rest of the men's bodies. He's responsible for many a castle raid and
slaughter. It is said that he was friends with the priests of Angelsbury
Cathedral and offered them large amounts of money if they let him store
his wealth in the dungeons.” Nigel took a deep breath.
“Dungeons? I had no idea there were
dungeons in this cathedral,” Periwinkle said.
“I didn't either. Perhaps we should
do a bit exploring tonight. Let me finish the story first.” Nigel
continued, “It seems the priests had other ideas. They allowed Sir Ranulf
to hide his gold and jewels here in the cathedral, but when they felt
there was sufficient to keep them in comfort for the rest of their lives,
they sent a messenger to the king and had Sir Ranulf arrested for all his
heinous crimes. As he was being dragged away, he swore that on the
anniversary of his death, he would come in search of his treasure and seek
“And it is the anniversary this
week?” Periwinkle sat on the floor. His shoes lay to the side.
“Precisely. His spirit has come for
the gold. I'm guessing that he's forgotten where he put it so he's on a
rampage to destroy the cathedral. Our job is to find the treasure and then
capture Sir Ranulf in your auroral box. By the way,” Nigel sighed, “what
do you do with that box once you've captured him in it?”
A sly grin spread across the
hobgoblin's face. “We have to wait for the aurora borealis to appear. You
see, the magnetic field of the lights will absorb the ghost. The aurora
borealis is made up of ghostly spirits; that's why it glows.”
“That's poppycock. It has to do with
the sun and yes, a magnetic field, but made of spirits? Hah!” Nigel waved
his hands up and down. “Nonsense.”
“It's not nonsense. It's true. I've
got a book back in my room. In fact you brought it for me one day.
Spiritual Beings and the Heavens is the title. The entire book is
about ghosts and the stars and goings on in the universe. Have you ever
heard of the Elysian Fields? It's supposed to be a beautiful meadow where
the favored of Zeus enjoy perfect happiness. It's actually the name of a
star system in another galaxy.” Periwinkle gasped with frustration. “I see
you don't believe me on that either. You'll just have to take my word for
it. The aurora borealis is made up of spirits. There's a place for Sir
Ranulf Biggington up there. Are you going to help me, or not?”
“Very well. Grab a torch. We're
going into the dungeon.” Nigel turned on his torch and showed Periwinkle
how to turn his on. “May I suggest you put on your shoes.”
The hobgoblin turned red with
embarrassment and slipped the shoes on his feet. He followed Nigel down
the hall. “I remember seeing a few steps that led to nowhere. Maybe
there's a secret trapdoor or something. It's not far.” Nigel led the way.
“Ah, here we are. These six steps must have gone somewhere at sometime.”
Periwinkle patted the wall at the
bottom. He put his ear to the stone.
“What are you doing?” Nigel
whispered, looking behind him in fear.
“I'm listening to the echo of the
taps. There is an open room or cave behind this wall. That must mean that
if I push this brick,” the hobgoblin said, “the wall will open.”
The stones under their feet vibrated
as a wall of stone opened in front of them. Nigel shined his torch inside.
“More steps and they lead down. I think we've found our dungeon, Mr.
Longtoes.” He stepped down. “I have one more small question.”
Periwinkle coughed. “Yes?”
“How do we get him in the box? After
all, he's a rather large ghost and that box is, well, rather small.” Nigel
took another step down.
“May I suggest we find the treasure
first and then we'll worry about that.”
Two dozen steps later, the two found
themselves standing in a dark hallway. Nigel's torch shone on the bricks.
“Looks like a lot of doors. I wonder which one holds the treasure.”
“I wonder what is behind the doors
that don't.” Periwinkle clapped his hands and tossed some sort of dust
into the air. Flames burst forth from old wooden torches set in holders
down the walls of the hall. “That's better. At least we can see what we're
“How did you...Oh, never mind.”
Nigel stood in front of the first door. He turned the knob and pushed it
open. The smell of dank mustiness floated out into the hall. Oh dear. I
think we've found some sort of torture chamber.” He aimed his torch at the
walls. “The skeletons of the men still hang there.” Chain-held skulls and
ribs dangled against the moldy stones. “Obviously there's no treasure in
here.” Leaving the door ajar, he moved to the next.
Periwinkle stopped. “This is going
to take all night. I doubt if our ghost is going to wait that long between
his haunting attacks. I expect his rampage of destruction will begin
shortly. We must hurry. The sun's been down for hours.”
“All right. You open the doors on
the left side and I'll do the right side.” Nigel watched as the hobgoblin
ran to the door opposite from where he stood.
Periwinkle opened the door and
peeked inside. “Just another torture chamber.”
Nigel nodded and the two of them
moved on, slamming doors shut when they saw the remains of poor
unfortunate souls stretched out or hanging in what must have been horrible
extremes of pain.
They met up at the last door. “This
must be it,” Nigel said. “It's the last chance we have. Would you like to
do the honors?” He stood back and allowed Periwinkle to open the door.
“This is it. We've found the
treasure.” Periwinkle dashed inside the room.
A hesitant Nigel followed, flashing
his torch across the room. “So this is what Sir Ranulf killed, tortured
and plundered for.”
“Look at these books. Alone they are
a treasure.” The hobgoblin picked one up and blew a thick layer of dust
off. “13th Century Magicians. How interesting. I think
I'll take this one back to my room.”
The door slammed behind them. “You
will put that book down, hobgoblin. This treasure belongs to me.”
Periwinkle and Nigel turned to see
the ghost of Sir Ranulf Biggington hovering a few feet off the ground.
“I knew if I left the two of you
alone, you'd lead me right to it. What fools you are. Did you really think
I'd gone back into my tomb for good? This is the only night I have the
chance to find my gold and I am not giving it up for the likes of you
two.” The apparition glared at them, its ethereal form suspended in the
air, blocking their escape route.
Nigel had to think quickly. He
winked at Periwinkle, who slipped the auroral box out of his pocket. Nigel
rushed over to a pile of gold, distracting Sir Ranulf long enough for
Periwinkle to set the box on the ground.
“Leave that gold alone. If you so
much as touch a piece of it, I will slash your soul, along with your
cadaverous body.” Sir Ranulf moved closer to Nigel.
“Excuse me, Sir Ranulf,” the
The wraith immediately turned to
“I would like your permission to
keep this book. It's only one book. I'll return it to you...”
“Quiet.” Sir Ranulf charged at the
“Now!” Nigel shouted.
The confused spirit looked from side
Periwinkle used this moment of
confusion to open the box. A shaft of light shot to the ceiling, wrapping
its luminous fingers around Sir Ranulf. Periwinkle mumbled the Latin words
and the light pulled the trapped ghost towards the box.
Screams of anger, wails of terror
and howls of loss echoed through the small room. Nigel covered his ears
with his hands, trying to block out the maelstrom of noise.
Suddenly the room went quiet. A
small puff of smoke filtered out the sides of the box. “It's done. That is
the end of Sir Ranulf!” Periwinkle grinned and picked it up.
“That's it? Marvelous! I suppose the
job is only half done though. We must release it to the aurora borealis,
as you suggest.” Nigel, no longer disbelieving, shrugged his shoulders in
embarrassed acceptance. “What about all this gold?”
Periwinkle looked around him. “I
will be happy with the books. I don't need gold and jewels for happiness.
I would suggest that this treasure be given to the cathedral. Perhaps a
room could be turned into a museum. They could have showcases of glass to
display these pieces of antiquity. Of course, that would mean more dusting
for me, but....”
Nigel Cuttlefish laughed out loud.
“That is a great suggestion, Mr. Longtoes. That is what we shall do. Help
yourself to the books. I will carry them to your room for you.”
They shut the door behind them and
with arms bulging with heavy, gold and leather bound books, they left the
dungeon area. Nigel set the texts down on Periwinkle's bed. “That should
keep you busy for a while.” He exhaled a loud sigh. “You need a new
mattress. I'll bring one over in a week or so and you can toss this old
“Thank you, Nigel Cuttlefish. I'm
glad I know your name now.” The hobgoblin started putting the books on the
“Well, it is time that I go.” Nigel
moved to the stained glass window. “Wait! I can't believe this. The
northern lights are ablaze tonight. We can rid ourselves of that cursed
ghost once are for all. Come, Periwinkle. Bring the auroral box.”
The two of them hurried outside. The
sky shimmered with greens and aqua blues. Nigel glanced over at the
hobgoblin. “Are you sure about this?”
Periwinkle smiled as he took the box
out of his coat. He gazed up at the heavenly dancers, swaying across the
midnight sky in a cadence of color. The lid turned in his hand.
Nigel's mouth, agape with surprise,
watched as the lights from above devoured Sir Ranulf Biggington's ghost,
swirling in a whirlpool of radiant phosphorescence back into the cosmic
space. He stood in silence for a few moments. “There's something I've
never seen before and I hope never to witness again.”
Periwinkle stretched forth this
Nigel took it in his, noting the
cold clamminess of the grip. “I suppose we should finish cleaning up.”
“For all you have done for me, I
will clean tonight. You go home to your wife and enjoy her company.”
Periwinkle beamed with amusement and went inside the cathedral.
Nigel watched the hobgoblin as it
disappeared through the wooden door. He gazed up at the northern lights
once again and then headed home.
Ella heard him come in and slipped
on her bathrobe and slippers. She went downstairs and found her husband
gazing out at the sky through the window. “Nigel? What are you doing home?
It's not even 1 A.M.”
“Ella, I came home early because I
finished my work and there's something I want you to see.” He took her
hand and opened the back door. “Look up at the sky.”
“It's the northern lights, Nigel.
I've seen them a hundred times. Is there something special about them
tonight?” Ella squeezed his hand.
“Yes. Did you know the lights are
alive? There is a spectral supernaturalness about them.” Nigel couldn't
take his eyes off the heavens.
“A what? What is all this gibberish
about spectral things and lights being alive. Come on inside, Nigel and go
to bed. You've been working too hard lately and are losing your mind.”
Ella pulled him inside and closed the door.
Nigel followed quietly. A tender
smile parted his lips. “You're right, Ella. Let's get to bed.”