This was written during 8th - 12th of May, 2003. It's a horror story I wrote as a school composition. I planned it would take place on Victorian Age but there are some signs of older times. (I've never been good at history.) The only limitation was to use at least 20 phrasal verbs but there was no word limit so I wrote on both sides of eight A4 sheets. (Our usual assignments are just 150-200 words long.) Amazingly, the teacher had the energy to proofread it, though I happened to find some spelling errors afterwards. Shh! but don't mention that to her. I counted 19 mistakes I'd made, but I've fixed them for this version though there was one case of a word that I found in the dictionary from the Finnish to English side but not from the other. That word is 'scritching' and it means a scratching or rustling sound caused by a mouse. It is a real word, isn't it? At least it sounds like it could be.

The Mystery of the Mansion

    Being the second son of the family I wasn't bound to the land like my older brother Henry, who was to inherit the house and the fields after our father would have passed away. All the people looked on me as a poor little boy with a lousy future but in spite of that I kept looking forward to the day when my parents would finally allow me to go seek my fortune. And at the age of sixteen I was able to bring my mother round into letting go of me. That summer I took up the merry life of a vagabond. Three months I spent rather carelessly doing away with the money father had given me but then I realized I couldn't carry on doing that for much longer. I just wouldn't be able to do over the winter without a proper place to stay.
    Then one day I spotted a large mansion which really stood out in the middle of the otherwise desolate landscape. Thinking they would probably do with a hired hand in a house the size of that I made for the peddlers' door and rang the bell. The maid who came to open said that they really couldn't take in any penniless tramps, but when I told her I was looking for a job she directed me to the butler at once. After a short interview I was taken on to stand in for a gardener who had fallen down from a ladder and broken his ankle. The wages weren't too bad plus I was entitled to have three square meals a day (in the kitchen of course, they'd never let a guy like me get into the dining room) and I could sleep in the gatekeeper's cottage. The butler failed to mention that I was to share a room with the old gardener, Mr Potts, but after getting over the shock I got used to my new roommate. The first time I entered my new home was quite creepy, though. Imagine this, I was standing in the doorway thinking that place would really need to be done out when suddenly I made out two eyes gleaming in the shadows, looking at me. I was about to make off screaming when "the demon" sat up in his bed and muttered something. I couldn't make of his words but I came to the conclusion that he was but a mortal man who wished me no harm. When I came to know him better I found out he was feeling sorry he had been forced to stand down after the accident since he looked down on living on charity. In the beginning he kept following me all around with this cane, obviously not standing for the idea of a punk like me doing in his precious roses but after living and working there for nearly a week without bringing on anything terrible I was allowed to look after the garden alone.
    You might have thought that from that day on everything would have been all sunny and nice and so did I, for a while. I got to know the people of the mansion, both upstairs and downstairs. First I made friends with the cook, Mrs Clarke, who granted me some valuable information about the others. Our master was called Mr Hayworth and he also had a wife, and daughter whose name was Alexandra. If any of these three would approach me for some reason I was to address him or her formally and to be polite. The same goes with the butler, said Mrs Clarke but I didn't quite buy the tone of her voice. Yet I didn't dare to inquire what she really thought of him. About Mr Potts she revealed that the man was half deaf and was often just pretending to understand. Last of all Mrs Clarke mentioned that the maid's name was Helen and she had been hired only a few days before me, and that was all. I finished my tea and thanked Mrs Clarke for everything. It wasn't until the following night that I started to wonder what had happened to the previous maid, or could a house this big have been run with no maid at all before Helen's arrival. I didn't know then what had made me worry about a little thing like that, but nevertheless it kept me awake for a long time. In the morning I asked Mrs Clarke about that thing and she told me there had indeed been someone else: a lass named Jane who'd been caught red-handed stealing silver spoons and had of course been discharged at once. Mrs Clarke seemed to be wondering why I was bothering my head with that, so I left it be and later in the afternoon I had forgotten the whole thing. The reason for that was the beautiful Ms Alexandra whom I saw from a close distance for the first time. I took to her at once, thinking that she was simply perfect. She must have been a year or a couple older than me but she was still frail as a fairy, unlike my cousins who were the only people I could compare her with. I must reveal to you that in spite of her otherwise girlish frame the breasts of Ms Alexandra were indeed those of woman and I was forced to keep staring at my shoes any time she was around to prevent certain embarrassing thing from happening. But I assure you, there were also many other magnificent features in her, for example the hair that was like golden honey. The thing I loved the most in her were her slender hands, always clad in silky gloves.
    When Mrs Clarke found out about my crush she cruelly told me to quit dreaming of something I could never have and forced me back to reality by reminding me that if I were to do something thoughtless then Mr Hayworth would beat the tar out of me. After hearing that I came to my senses and quickly started assuring her that I was in no way going to hurt Ms Alexandra. Only then did the cook tell me that the beautiful maiden was in fact a real pain in the neck and she didn't want me to suffer because or the girl. I thanked her for the warning thinking that she was only trying to make me feel better but a bit later I came to notice the girl's bitter character with my own ears. I can't quite remember what she said but something nasty it was. After that incident I started spending more time with Helen the maid. Compared to Ms Alexandra she looked childish with her braids and freckles, and somehow dull and colourless, but she was a sweet girl and I enjoyed her company very much.     Life went on and nothing special happened until one morning when Mrs Clarke told me a pack of rats had taken over our basement. I was my duty to set the traps and do away with the vermin since everyone else was too afraid to go down there. I dressed myself in thick winter clothes and long leather boots, which I did up with two pieces of string from under my knees so that the hairy bastards couldn't get in. Then, with a bag of supplies hanging from my shoulder and grasping the handle of a lantern tight in my left had I descended the narrow stairs to the basement. They were so steep I had to go backwards and brace myself on them. I could hear the rats squeaking on the floor behind me but I couldn't turn around and see them. The thought of stepping on one of them made me shiver and my sweating wasn't caused merely by the warm clothing. You can imagine my relief when I landed on a steady stone floor instead of something soft and screaming. The rodents had fled from me but as I walked around the basement I saw dozens of tiny eyes staring at me from the shadows. Ignoring their gaze I started setting the traps. What a fine last meal these wretched creatures would have, sausage and cheese! I started whistling to cover the nerve-wracking scritching which seemed to be coming from every direction. As I walked further away from the stairs I heard the rats running around my circle of light. The place was huge and filled with shelves and boxes. Hundreds of jars and bottles glittered in the candlelight. No wonder the rats and thought they had found a paradise - there was enough food to feed and army! I heard a loud snap from the other side of the room, followed by agonized squeaking. The noise made me jump but then I smiled. Before I reached the end of the room had two more rats already got caught. They must have been really hungry. I was about to go back and find the traps which had gone off to reset them when I suddenly spotted a small door in the back, hidden behind a shelf. That aroused my curiosity and I went round the shelf to get a better look at the door. There was more space back there than it had seemed from the other side and the door could be opened with ease. The room behind was empty except for a huge wooden cross in the back. It was no support structure though it went all the way up to the ceiling, but a replica of the crucifix of our Redeemer. As I examined it more closely I even notices holed made by nails in the dark wood. It seemed the one who had made them hadn't been able to decide where to put the marks since there was a whole bunch of them. I spread my arms to measure the correctness but the cross-beam was too high for that. The walls were limewashed though the ones in other parts of the basement were of bare stone and I thought it indicated the significance of this place. Suddenly I felt I wasn't welcome in there and I backed out of the chapel making the sign of the cross. I shoved the door close, wiped the sweat from my forehead a
nd crashed against the shelf of which presence I had completely forgotten about. The jars clinked against each other but luckily none fell to the floor. I heaved a sigh and stumbled along to the center of the cellar. Then I remembered the traps and I had to circle around the whole basement to check what I'd caught earlier. I found four dead rats and a couple of severed tails which I gathered in my bag. Finally I was ready to return. Mrs Clarke called me a brave hunter and said I looked pale as a ghost but her smirk froze as I asked about the hidden room. Stuttering she explained that it was a private chapel for the gentlefolks which was not to be discussed. I considered that rather weird but I didn't ask why, just nodded fearing I might be kicked out for being too nosy. Mrs Clarke tried to act like nothing had happened but I could sense she was on her toes. The next time I was sent down to the basement I noticed the chapel had been locked up. What on earth was so secret about a plain cross?
    When I'd been living in the cottage for a little over three weeks the butler announced it was time for the monthly night of card games. I had never head of a tradition like that and I was a bit amazed but the butler assured me it was going to be fun. He said that he and Mr Potts had been missing company since the previous boy had run away for some reason. I couldn't say no, so at dusk we gathered around a wobbly table in the cramped gatekeeper's cottage. The game was new to me and I kept losing all the time at first but as the contents of the wine bottle Mrs Clarke had given us dwindled I started doing better and better. I sipped from my glass every once in a while but there came no need to refill it. At midnight I excused myself from the table and went out to empty my bladder but when I returned I found my opponents snoring happily on their seats. I didn't dare to wake them up but went back to the garden for a walk. The night air felt very refreshing after the long hours in the body-odored, candle-heated cottage. The only sound was a slight breeze waving the branches. But suddenly I heard someone talking. The voice seemed to be coming from a small tower-shaped statue near the wall. I thought first it was a gnome but as I went closed I recognized the voice of Mrs Hayworth. I realized that the tower had to be over the chapel. I listened on found out that Ms Alexandra and Mrs Clarke were also down there. Their words confused and frightened me for the ritual they were performing was certainly no church service. Mrs Hayworth asked if they could bring the new candidate in on the mystery of the moon. Then she called the others to sacrifice some of their blood to save the blood of their sister. It had to be Helen they were talking about but I couldn't believe a reasonable girl like her taking part in some cult. I peaked inside the tower since the roof had been folded open and I saw her down there, on the cross. The others were rubbing the blood from their wrists on her naked body. As my head blocked the light of the full moon Mrs Hayworth looked up and spotted me. Sacrilege, she cried and everyone else, including Helen, turned their heads my way. When I saw the look in the eyes of my little friend I became certain she wasn't there of her own free will. I shouted to her I'd go get help from the village and backed away from the tower. Then I realized that while I would be trying to convince someone to believe in my story those women would kill their victim and get rid of the corpse after which it would be impossible for me to prove any crime had happened. There would be a three-against-one situation and even if there had been only one of them performing that terrible rite the people would still believe the witch since any of the women was in a higher position compared to mine. Muttering curses I marched to the kitchen and grabbed the longest knife I could find. Then I went to the cellar door and started waiting. They wouldn't be stupid enough to slay her in the basement because then they would have to carry the corpse up the stairs. Why bother when Helen could walk out with her own two feet instead? Looking back on that night I'm amazed how I managed to stay that calm. I stood perfectly still as the witches hurried past me dragging their prisoner and without noticing my presence before it was too late. I stabbed Ms Alexandra in the back and she fell down at once. Next I finished Mrs Hayworth, but I couldn't hurt the cook when she cried she'd been forced to take part in the cult. She even showed me the old stigmata on her arms. I let her take care of the others while I searched for some clothes for Helen who wasn't badly hurt but still very shocked. When I took her to see a doctor I was arrested because people thought I had abducted her, but eventually the truth was revealed.


I should have made the end longer but I run out of paper. I'm not going to change it because that might lead to mistakes. The family Hayworth was named after the actor Rita Hayworth, but I did this subconsciously. I only realized the thing afterwards when reading a book about Orson Welles, and the name popped up.