I never intended to write a sequel, let alone a series, but now it seems I am! My Radwinter stories stated off as a single story of someone searching for his family history, but has grown into something else. On my writing course this week, the last session, we were taken over to a particular pair of rooms in the American Museum Bath, where the course was being run. One was a small bedroom, a child’s bedroom, and the other was a drawing-room, which to me (no doubt in my heightened writer’s awareness) seemed really creepy and almost uncomfortable. It was a very attractive room, but somehow I didn’t like it, and strangely, others said the same!
When I started writing about it, somehow I slipped into a Thomas Radwinter story – this was just an exercise, but maybe it will develop into something? As they say – you read it here first!!
“Do come in,” she had a deep voice and her invitation was more of a command.
I followed her across the hall, past a rather dark staircase, and she flung open a door. She stood back and I went in front of her which was rather uncomfortable for some reason.
It was a square room with a strange smell i couldn’t quite identify, sort of musty herbs, old thyme… old time… literally time as in T I M E… The wall paper was a pale green with darker patterns on it, descending tear drop shapes. It was utterly silent – was it sound-proofed in some way? It had a feel as if the air was dead.
I had stopped expecting her to come past me and into the room. I spun round for some reason thinking she hadn’t followed me but silently shut the door on me. But no, she was standing behind me.
“Do sit down,” she commanded and indicated a high-backed chair. It was almost the same colour as the wall paper. I sat down and glanced around. There was another chair, the twin of mine, and she sat down so we were facing each other across the hearthrug. She had her back to the net-curtained window, so her face was shadowed.
I shivered, even though there was a fire, it seemed to cast no heat and I looked at it more closely to see it was an actual fire and not a clever gas one.
“Do you have an open fire?” she asked in her gloomy way.
“Er – no – unfortunately – er – no…” I somehow wanted to apologise.
I had noticed card table with hands of cards on the green baize as if a game had been played and interrupted. It was behind me , out of my line of vision, and I had a creepy sense that the players had returned and were silently playing.
I know I have a vivid imagination, but really this place was so spooky… who knew I was here? I’d said i was visiting a client but had the address and details on my phone which was in my pocket.
“So Miss Herbert, how can I help you?”
She was sitting quite upright and I couldn’t really make out her features even though surely my eyes should have got used to the low light by now. She linked her large hands and stared at me for a moment before turning her head and looking up at the picture above the fireplace.
A man with a severe expression stared at me. He had a black coat and a white cravat thing – is it called a stock? I don’t know… I pondered on this to take my mind off how uncomfortable I was feeling in this creepy room.
“Andrew Herbert,” Miss Herbert answered in her deep voice.
“An ancestor of yours I take it, Miss Herbert?”
I was about to ask more but then thought ‘no, she has to tell me.’ I was really quite cold now; the room had a high ceiling and the fire was doing nothing. I wanted to look for a radiator to see if there was central heating, but I stayed still.
“I wish to engage you, Mr Radwinter, to research his life and work… If you have enough material maybe you could produce a slim volume.”
She actually said ‘a slim volume‘ – she was obviously very wealthy, she would pay me well, and this could bring in a lot of much-needed income.
©Lois Elsden 2016
Here is a link to the American Museum:
… and here is a link to my Thomas Radwinter stories, and other e-books: