MY ENGLISH GHOST

BY GWEN CURRAN

Lord Archibald Benjamin Charles Merriweather is dead. So dead that he is but a ghost of his former self. Lonely, he had prowled the halls and grounds of the Old Crown House since the 1800s lamenting his ghostly existence. For two centuries he has existed as an exoplasm in this cold and ephemeral world. He remembers the bodies that are buried behind the brewery. The disturbed souls who wandered the nearby Fens in fevered dreams until they were taken to that awful house near the church and chained to the walls like prisoners. Bedlam. Most died there, but they did not have an afterlife like me, although their moans can be heard when the moon is full. He remembers the kind and efficient owners of the inn, but that is little company now. Lord Nelson was a young lad when Archie knew him, for he stayed at the Old Crown on his way to his first ship as a cabin boy, eager to begin his life on the sea. Little did he know that he would become a great British hero.

“I wish Ella, my fairy woman, could have died with me when the carriage crashed on the bridge over the river Wissey. She was my rock, my salvation, my one and only love. She gave me four beautiful daughters. I miss Aethelu, Rhoslyn, Trea, and Margery. Three lovely ginger haired like their mother, and one black like mine. When I first became a ghost, I could look in on them here in the Old Crown, but no more. No more. No more. There is not even a soft bed to lie on, not that I sleep. I am like a vampire, sleeping during the day, and prowling the high street at night. Except on Sundays, when I attend church servises across the street. No one sees me, but can listen to the sermon and remember what used to be. I long to speak to the vicar and share my thoughts about life and life after death, but he has no hearing of me.

******************

“I’m in England!” shouted Patricia. My gay neighbor, teacher, and friend, David came with me from Wiesbaden to the Netherlands where we boarded an overnight ferry to Newcastle England. Driving off the ferry I had to keep reminding myself to stay on the left, stay on the left, stay on the left. My car was loaded with stuff I would need until the movers brought my furniture to wherever I found a place to live. Anything else I could pick up at the BX on base. The boarder agent was concerned because I had a cat in the front seat. Not a real cat, but a life-sized toy tabby that looked alive. My daughter had given it to me to keep me company. Once he realized it was not real we were okay to go. Pet are quarantined when you bring them into England.

“Here we go on our first roundabout, David,” I said while turning the wheel. Missed the sign south, but the good thing about roundabouts is you can go around an around until you find the right exit. Did you know roundabouts came from the old days when horse drawn carriages traveled the country roads. apparently, it was easier with horses to make a circle then turn onto a connecting road. Some practical English trivia.

We arrived at the Lakenheath American air base and checked into the officer’s quarters. Nice rooms. Ate at the Officers club, unpacked and went to find David, who was also a teacher at the American school in Wiesbaden. Five years teaching in Wiesbaden had been great, but I was excited about my new assignment teaching fifth grade at Feltwell elementary school and being in England. Slept well, had a quick breakfast and went to check in at the base office to see about a place to rent. David and I had no idea of the area, so after getting the names of possible rentals we drove around the area. We were In East Anglia on the edge of Fens, a swampy area that had been filled in over a hundred years ago. we drove to York, a beautiful city, and visited the stunning cathedra. We were in luck for the organist was practicing for the next service. Such spiritual sounds. Uplifting. We sat in a church pue and listened for about 20 minutes. Magic. Walked around and through the Shambles, an ancient street with shops and cafes.

Driving back to the air base we passed a classic windmill. It looked interesting and was open to tourists. The gentleman who gave us a tour was filled with the knowledgeable about the history of the area and shared several stories about the Fens.

“The Fenlands in East Anglia are a marshy region supporting a rich ecology and numerous species”, he started. “Most of the Fens, or the Holy Land of the English because of the former monasteries, now churches and cathedrals of Ely, which is close by. Other towns include Boston, home to your Adams family, Sam and John. The largest of the Fen islands is the 23 square mile Kummeridge Clay island on which the city of Ely was built. The Fens were transformed by drainage in the early 19th and 20th centuries. Today farming produces crops including grains, vegetables, rapeseed and canola. Some call it the vegetable basket of England. Early Christians sought the isolation of the Fens, also known as the Broads. You would be interested in the story of Etheldreda.”

“Yes,” I answered. Thank you for your history knowledge. I knew nothing about this part of England before arriving here. Thanks again, and goodbye,” I said as I waved my hand!

Leaving the windmill and the historian, we traveled to the village of Stoke Ferry, where there was a possible house for rent. We had an appointment to meet the owners.

Wow is all I could say when we drove up the the Old Crown House, which turned out to be a former inn, parked in the yard and went into our meeting through the back garden which was surrounded a flintstone wall. They turned out to be a lovely couple with tow energetic children. Moving to the west of England, they planned to keep this building to rent. It was convenient to my school and the base. A plaque on the house declared that it was at least 500 years old.

“What an interesting place to live,” I thought.

“Welcome” said the husband as he opened the door and invited us into the house.

Once inside we met his wife, a stunning former model we discovered during the introductions, and their two children, a boy and a girl.

We drank some elderberry wine, sitting at the table in front of the Inglenood fireplace, large enough for me to almost stand upright in.

After some small talk, the wife offered me a tour.

“One the ground floor,” she began with a smile, “is this kitchen-dining area, a sitting room that looks our to the garden, a snug, a dining room, and a laundry room.”

As we stepped onto the stone winding staircase to the first floor (second floor in the US) she explained that there was a lounge with a large and comfortable looking sofa that would stay with the house, as well as a well-worn oriental rug on the floor.

“You can have a TV in this room, as there is a connection” she explained. “There are also two bedrooms, a bath, a large closet, and a small room in the front for storage. There is also a priest hole there left over from the Cromwell era when priests were hunted down.”

I was fascinated by the history of the house and the organic architecture. The Crown House was connected to the building next door that used to be part of the inn.

“The neighbors are interesting and friendly. He is a publisher, and she a writer.”

We climbed another wooden staircase to the master bedroom with a full bath and then returned to the kitchen area and went over the dos and don’ts of the house.

“Besides leaving the sofa and rug upstairs we are also leaving the dining table, chairs and sideboard in the dining room,” she explained. “We would have to take out the window and take it out that ways if we moved it. the antique Italian dining set was a wedding present from my father, but we will not have room for it in our new house.”

“Wonderful,” I said.

After a cup of tea and more talk about the house I said, “I would love to rent it/”

We discussed the rent and how to send the money to their new address, set up my move in time, had some biscuits and more tea, and then we left. I was walking on cloud nine! What a find! I could not believe my luck. I felt like I was really in England now.

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Lord Archibald had good hearing (for a ghost), so he became curious about the new humans in the house. Floating dwn the stairs he was greeted with a lovely woman who had a delightful accent.

“From the colonies,” he thought. “Is the man her husband?” After listening to the conversation, he was delighted to find out No! She would be living at the Old Crown by herself. “I won’t be lonely anymore. I can keep her company and sleep in her bed. What an incredible strock of luck,” he thought.She is shorter than I by nearly a head with a form nicely curved and lushly rounded in all the appropriate places. Her voice is mellifluous like velvet felt on skin.” Her captivating smile turned him hard in all the wrong places.

“Will she be aware of me? I do not really care although it would be nice to snuggle with a female again, even if she is from the new world beyond the pond.”

Archie was sitting at the table in the great room and listening carefully to what was being said. Ah, the woman’s name was Patricia and she will move in the middle of August and is signing a lease for two years. “I am pleased.”

The family had been nice, but the children were very aware of his presence and told their parents about him at every turn. Of course, they did not believe it, explaining that it was an old house with many creaks and groans. “I will be glad when they are gone.”

************************************

David and I chatted as we left Stoke Ferry in my new red Nissan sedan driving through the lovely countryside back to the Officer’s Quarters at Lakenheath.

We found a restaurant in Brandon and ordered a traditional Sunday meal of tasty roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, boiled potatoes, and locally grown parsnips served with a tasty glass of red wine. Every building seemed hundreds of years old and probably was. A roaring fire in the fireplace near our table kept us warm for it felt cold for August. Something I would get used to.

After our meal we decided to drive around my new neighborhood. Ely sounded interesting with its cathedral on the edge of the fens, so we headed there. We were not disappointed.

A volunteer guide gave us the story of Ely. John was his name and he explained, “the cathedral is built on an island, at 85 feet the highest land in the Fens. Until the Fens were drained in the 18th and 19th centuries, Ely was an island. Eel fishing was an important activity from which Ely got its name plus the city has been the center of local pottery for more than700 years. Henry II granted the first annual faire, Saint Etheldreda’s, in 1189. the word ‘tawdry’ originates from cheap lace sold at this fair. the city’s origins lay in the foundation of an abbey in 673, under the protection f Etheldreda, but was destroyed by Danish invaders in 870 and rededicated to Etheldreda in 970. It was the second richest monastery in England. Ely cathedral’s octagon is considered one of the wonders of the medieval world, earning it the Ship of the Fens.”

Later I discovered that Lakenheath American High School held their graduation there. How wonderful!

We found the cathedral and city to be lovely and I told myself to always take my visitors there, although I was not brave enough to sample eel in the several restaurants that served them. Seemed too slimy. Yuck!

David returned to Germany, and I was glad because he flirted with every young man we met! Not a flirt myself, I was embarrassed. Oh well, to each his own. I moved into the Old Crown House, having secured a refrigerator, washer, dryer and double bed from the air force. My household goods arrived about two weeks later in a truck with the name Theatrical Moving Company! Appropriate, as I am a dancer and teacher of dance in addition to the classroom.

School was beginning and I was busy with meetings and planning, coming home each evening tired and read for bed. One night I was sure I felt the mattress dip but fell right asleep.

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Archie was delighted to share the bed with Patricia, even if she was unaware of his presence. It seemed like eons since he had felt and smelt the warm perfume of a lady. No more wandering around the house and grounds. He slept the sleep of the dead (pun intended).

As Patricia drifted off to sleep, she thought how she missed being touched and caressed by strong capable hands and kissed by a soft warm male mouth. She loved the feel of a man’s hard body moving against hers, enjoyed the friction and slow climb to a powerful orgasm that drove him equally wild.

*******************************

Archie was surprised that he could read her thoughts. This was a new development in his world. There were finer details he saw that he had mised earlier like the length of her sooty lashes, the charming laugh lines at the edge of her eyes, which were he saw now not simply blue but a merging of sky and sea. His cock (long unused) twitched. “How can that be?” he thought. “Interesting.”

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“This place is going to be difficult to keep clean,” Patricia mentioned to her neighbor, also an American teacher but at Lakenheath Elementary.

“True,” said Sally, as we sat in her Georgian house up the street from the old Crown. “However, I have a house cleaner. She is the English wife of an airman. I could ask her if she would consider taking on your house. She is excellent and not expensive.”

“That sounds perfect” I replied. “Let me know when she can come to look at the house, and thanks for the lovely tea. What kind is it and where did you buy it?”

“There is a tea shop in Brandon that sells their own mixtures. It’s on the High Street. You can’t miss it. You would love their scones also.”

“Thanks, I’ll check it out this weekend.”

That night, exhausted from unpacking and settling in, she swore there was someone in bed with her, but how could that be? “It’s my imagination, “she though as she drifted off, little knowing that Archie was beside her.

The weekend came and she decided to check out the Brandon tea shop and an antique store she had noticed that had some nice furniture displayed on the sidewalk. After a delightful pot of tea and an orange scone right out of the oven, the antique store was next.

Walking in as man and woman greeted her, “Welcome to our shop. Is there anything special you are looking for?”

“You have some nice pieces I see. I’m looking for a chest of drawers and a bookcase,” I replied.

“I am Margaret, and my husband is Tony. We have more items in storage, so I think we can help. Look around. Would you like a tea or coffee?” she said with a smile in her voice.

“Thank you. Coffee if you please. Do you deliver?”

“Yes, where do you live?”

“In Stoke Ferry.”

“I believe we can do that.”

I looked around and saw a couple of pieces I liked and was surprised at the low prices. I decided on an oak chest of drawers and a wonderful dark oak dressing table with a cloud shaped mirror. We drank coffee, ate some biscuits (cookies in America) and chatted about this and that. they were very friendly and seemed trustworthy. We settled on a price, and I gave them directions to my house. They would deliver the two pieces on Monday, which was a school holiday. Little did I realize they would become my best English friends.

Pleased with myself I decided to drive to Lakenheath air base to check on my mail, buy some gas or petrol here in England, and have a hamburger for lunch, then go to my classroom and spend time doing some paperwork.

Returning to Stoke Ferry that evening after going to the commissary to stock up on food, I unpacked the rest of the dish boxes, pots and pans and put them in the pantry. What a good day, I thought.

Pleasantly sleepy, I took a bath, put on my lavender flannel nightgown and crawled into bed. As I drifted off to sleep I knew someone was in bed with me, so I turned on the bedside lamp and looked, but didn’t see anyone. Turning off the light I was sure there was someone next to me, but that was crazy!

The next morning, I awoke and remembered a sliver of a vivid dream. A handsome man with coal black hair was spooning me with his strong arm around my waist and his nose in my neck. It had to be a dream.

*************************

Archie awoke after having slept better than he had in 200 years! “What a delight”, he thought, “to cuddle with a warm woman.” His cock agreed, although he couldn’t do anything about it. “Sdeath!”

************************

I decided to talk to my neighbors about the house the ghost. She was working in her beautiful garden trimming the roses that clung to the stonework of the old brewery.

“Good morning,” I called. “My name is Patricia and I’m your new neighbor.”

“Hello”, she replied. “I am Rebecca. My husband and I are happy to have you in the house. Would you like to come inside? These two building were connected when it was a working inn and ours was the carriage house.”

“Yes, very much,” I said smiling.

She climbed down the ladder, and we entered the house where I was greeted by a LARGE dog. A great Dane, I think. More the size of a pony than a dog.

“Don’t worry about Tiny. He is big, but thinks he is a lap dog!” she laughed. “He’s a Lurch, an ancient breed here in England. He is sniffing you. I think you have a friend!”

There were also two cats that purred and rubbed against my legs. The room was rectangular with a ceiling about fifty feet above me because this was where the carriages entered the yard. Large windows looked out on the garden. Believe it or not it seemed very cozy with a large sofa, on which Tiny was lolling taking up the whole thing. Soft occasional chairs beckoned me to sit, which I did. An oriental rug on the floor appeared to have lain there for centuries. Might be true.

Rebecca asked, “Would you like some iced tea? It seems worm today, so I made some sun tea.”

“Thanks,” I said.

Sipping the cool tea, Rebecca asked, “How are you finding the Old Crown?”

“To tell the truth, I am a little overwhelmed, but I love it.”

“Have you found anything interesting in it?” Rebecca asked.

“Yes, I wanted to talk to you about that. I think I have a ghost. Is that possible?”

“Very much so. These ancient piles have lots of ghosts, but we have never had one in our house. They are certainly in the space in front of the old brewery. Apparently, several people are buried there.”

“Oh my! I think I will avoid that area!”

“Good choice. Tell me about your ghost.”

“The only time I am aware of him is when I go to bed at night, and I would swear he sleeps beside me. I can feel the bed dip as if someone were lying down.”

“Are you afraid?”

“Not really, but I’ve never dealt with a ghost. Homes in the western United States are not as old as the Crown.”

“If you decide you want to exorcise the ghost, get a cat.”

“Oh, that’s a cure?”

“So I’m told. We have two and have never been videte by any ghosts.”

“Thanks for the advice.”

Rebecca asked, “would you like a tour of our house? This used to be the carriage house for thee inn. We only have two floors, but it has been fun decorating it.”

“Very much.”

They had taken the entryway for the carriages and turned it into a dining room. The front door was also there. It was cozy and welcoming. The kitchen was small but had electric burners and an aga stove. I’d never seen one before but knew about them. Not only could you cook and bake, but it provided warmth for the kitchen. Something I could appreciate. The Crown was always cool.

There were three small bedrooms, a bath, and a stunning sitting room on the second floor. The sitting room was a long rectangle the length of the front of the house. Gorgeous silk rugs dotted the floor with two gilded setees covered in pink silk and three pink silk armchairs, also gilded. Potted plants, antique lamps and painting added to the ambiance. Floor to ceiling windows filled the room with light. Across the back wall was a floor to ceiling bookcase! I felt I was with royalty. There were also two fireplaces at each end of the room.

“This is where we spend much of our time. The light is wonderful for reading.” stated Rebecca.

“I can see why. It is beyond lovely. Do you have a TV? I was told I could have one the lounge on the second floor.”

“Yes. Ours is in our bedroom, but we don’t watch it very much.”

“Thank you for the tour. I need to get back to my place, as I am expecting a long distance call from my sister in California. She and my daughter are thinking of visiting.”

“Wonderful”

I left her home and went back to unpacking and thinking about my ghost.

*****************************

Archie was overjoyed to hear the garden door open and close. Patricia was home. She was opening boxes and putting things away. “I wish I could help. She is very industrious.”

*****************************

“What am I going to do about my ghost,” thought Patricia. “I’m not sure I want a cat, although I love them. Guess I’ll wait and see.”

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“No cat!” said Archie to himself. He new ghost and kitties did not get along and he would have to leave Patrricia. It made him sad that she might want to exorcise him. He spent the rest of day hovering near Patricia and looking at all the wondrous things she had. Several items looked like torture, but there were also dishes, a fancy broom, and tons of books. Perhaps he could read the. He certainly had the time.

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School days were busy, and Patrika spent Saturdays going to antique Faires to find goodies to put in the house.

One Saturday she was in Newcastle at a huge fair at the racetrack. Walking through the hall, she spotted a Georgian Silver Punch bowl with cups and two silver candlesticks. “These are lovely,” she said the seller.

“Thank you,” said the seller, a beautiful dark-haired woman. “I just had them professionally cleaned and I think the price is right.”

“How much?”

“The silverplated punch bowl with cups and a dipper is 75 pounds and the candlesticks 50 pounds.”

“Thank you. I just came in. I will look around some more and get back to you.” I said.

“If you are really interested and because it is late in the day, I could let you have all for 100 pounds.”

“Thank you. I will think on it. Do you take credit cards?”

“Yes”, she replied. “If you have a driver’s license and or a passport.”

“Thanks. I will browse some more and talk to you before I leave.”

Walking through the rest of the hall she didn’t see anything she like as well as the silver, and she seemed to beuying a lot of good silverplate cutlery. ” I really want those pieces,” she thought. It was 3:30 and the faire closed at 4. “What the hell, I will kick myself if I don’t buy them. Christmas is coming the punch bowl would be perfect for the party I am planning for the school staff and friends. Walking back to the woman’s table she said, taking a deep breath, “I think I have 100 pounds cash. I’ll take the punch bowl and the candlesticks.”

“Wonderful! I will wrap them carefully and put them in a box for you. I’m sure you will be pleased.”

And she was.

******************************

Lord Archibald was lonely when Patricia was away at school or shopping, so when she stayed on Sunday, he was best pleased. Not going to church, he spent the day floating behind her as she went about her day. He loved seeing her naked in the bathtub, especially when she lit candles and poured some kind of oil perfume inro the water. The smell waw divine! what he would give to be able to wash that silky skin or even get into the tub with her. Sigh…

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The days and weeks passed. School was going well. She had bought several pieces of furniture from Margaret and tony and the Old Crown was feeling like home. She was even getting used to the idea of the ghost. He 9 for she knew it had to be male) although how she knew was a conundrum. One night when she sensed him getting inro bed with her, she spoke aloud. “I welcome you to my bed. I just wish you were a real man that I could converse with. Maybe we would become friendly, and we could make love. I am sure it would be brilliant. (A new English phrase she had picked up.)

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Lord Archibald was delighted to hear her thoughts, for he too would like to make love to her. He had never understood why he had become a ghost after the accident all those years ago. His daughters and his wife were not ghosts with him. A tear, or the feeling of a tear, fell from his eyes as he thought of his beautiful sisters. Was he under some kind of spell? And if so, how was he to break it?

*****************************

Setting up her computer she decided to do some research about Etheldreda. She found the woman extremely interesting.

Reading she found, “She was born near Newmarket in 636. One of four daughters, all of whom retired from secular life and and founded abbeys. She married early at 16 to a chief or prince and managed to persuade her husband to respect her vow of perpetual virginity she had made prior to their marriage. When he died in 653, she retired to Ely, which she received as a gift from her husband. She remarried for plitical reasons in 660 to Eegfrith of Northumbia who was 15 at the time. (!) In 670 Etheldreda decided to become a nun, which didn’t sit well with her husband who petitioned the Bishop of York for the enforcement of his marital rights. He was not successful. There is a tale that after her death Etheldreda’s bones were disinterred and her uncorrupted body was buried in a marble coffin. Her coffin and clothes were said to possess miraculous powers. The common version of her name was St. Audrey, which is the origin of the word ‘tawdry’, derived from the fact that her admirers bought modestly made lace goods at an annual fair in Ely. by the 17th century this lacework became old-fashioned and cheap at a time when the Puritans of eastern England disdained ornamental dress.”

“Wow”, thought Patricia, “this is someone my students need to know about. The principal said all the 5th grades will be taking a field trip to Ely so in preparation I will discuss her life.”

The weeks flew by for Patricia.

Looking at the calendar as she sat at the kitchen table drinking a glass of Nouveau Beaujolais she had bought in King’s Lynn, she realized October was coming and Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve, as the English called it. “What a perfect time for a school party at the Old Crown House! And I even have a resident ghost! I will buy some Halloween cards at the BX and give the invites to all the teachers, the principal and vice principal, and my neighbors. Costumes of course, and it will be fun!”

She ran upstairs to get and paper and pen to compose the invitations.

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Archie was eavesdropping, as was his want. Samhain! “My favorite night of the year when all the ghostly spirits leave their crypts and dance in the streets and gardens and along the river. This is the one night of the year when I can leave the shadows and appear in my human form. Patricia will finally know that I exist! We can see and feel each other, and I can pleasure her” A smile took over his face, as if the sun was shining on his soul.

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Returning home from school at the end of a hectic week that included the trip to Ely which went well, some standardized testing, which she didn’t like, and a chorale concert, Patricia opened the garden door and smelled the clean and tidy rooms. “What a gift to have a housekeeper, even if she only comes every fortnight. Tonight, the fish and chip van will be in the square and I am hungry.” Walking the winding staircase, she felt something brush her arm. “My ghost?”

In her bedroom she changed into warm sweatpants and sweatshirt and hung up her school clothes. With a sigh she though, “I am so glad to have the weekend to myself. Staying up late all week doing report cards wore me out, but at least it is done. No antique fairs this weekend so I think I will tackle the snug. It’s smelling moldy.”

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As the days grew closer to Samhain, Lord Archibald felt his ephemeral shadow beginning to solidify little by little. One day he saw his face in the mirror, which was disturbing, for he had not aged one day in the past 200 years! As he starred at his image it began to fade.

“Amazing,” he thought. “At least when Patricia sees me, I will not look like a dried prune.”

But it was also unnerving. He had been 42 years when he died. The prime of his life. “Will she find me handsome? I hope so. My wife praised by strong feature and deep set blue eyes. Even my hair has not grown. Strange.”

A shiver passed through his incorporeal shadow. Fear? Delight? Anticipation? Or maybe all three.

His cock twitched.

********************************

“Today is the day,” declared Patricia on rising from her warm bed. The floor was cold on her bare feet as she walked to the bathroom to fill the bathtub. Turning on the hot water and putting the plug in the drain, she decided to go downstairs and put the kettle on for tea. She had learned it took about 10 minutes to fill the tub. Putting on her wristwatch to keep track of the time she brewed a pot of Lady Grey tea, grabbed one of her new Blue Room Spode mugs with a gothic castle design in blue and white. “What a bargain that was,” she thought. Six mugs for $12 at the BX. that reminded her that she had a tour of the potteries in Stoke on Trent the next weekend. Something unique to look forward to.

Returning to her bath, she drew up a stook to place the tea and some toast on while she reclined luxuriously in the water which was the perfect temperature for relaxing.

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Archie loved her baths, for he could admire her nude body at leisure. And what a sight. She had the most plump and delicious looking breasts. A man could enjoy the soft, smooth flesh for minutes and hours and even days. Her burnished brown hair floating in the water as did her bosoms. He remembered how feasting on rosy nipples felt. Heaven. His wife had not been so well endowed, but he hyad lain with a woman his youth who was, and the memory had stayed with him. What pleasure they had both received. He lounged against the doorway and stared.

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Having bathed, had her tea and toast and soft boiled egg, Patricia took the vacuum and some cleaning cloths into the snug. What an odd name for a room. My neighbor will know why. She went into the garden and found Becky tending to her roses again. Lovely.

“Hello Becky,” she called. “Beautiful sunny day.”

“I agree,” replied Becky, trying not to fall off the ladder she had leaning against the Brewery so she could reach the climbing roses. “One moment and I will come down. Are you in the mood for a cool glass of wine?

“That sounds grand.”

“Come and sit in my garden please.”

“Thanks.”

Patricia opened the gate and walked across the gravel driveway to Becky’s garden table, admiring the multiple potted plants next to garden wall. Such a quiet space to contemplate life. Becky came out of her house and put a cold bottle the chardonnay and two wine glasses on the table along with some nibblies. Olives, nuts, cheese and crackers looked scrumptious, and Patricia realized she had not eaten lunch.

After Becky had poured both glosses os wine she sat at the table and asked, “What is your questions? Is it about your ghost?”

“No, but I am contemplating getting a kitty. I was wondering what the snug was for the inn. It seems a strange name.”

“That’s easy. the snug was a place in a tavern public house, or inn where women could have a libation without being troubled by men. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I have one and was curious. It’s a small room that I haven’t cleaned or decided how to decorate. That’s all.” replied Patricia.

“I see. Speaking of your ghost, have you seen or felt him lately?”

“Not really. It is just a sensation of someone in the room or watching me, but my logical brain does not want to accept it.”

“When you live in an ancient house as we do, logic has nothing to do with it.We had a ghost when we first moved in, but she wasn’t quiet and kept us up at night with her moans. After we go Tiny and cats, we never heard her again.” Lifting her glass, Becky said, “Cheers to the illogical.” And they clinked glasses, laughing.

Returning to the Old Crown, a little tipsy, Patricia decided to make a pot of coffee if she was going to tackle the snug. While waiting she sat in the white leather recliner and put her feet on the ottoman and fell asleep.

**************************

Even her snores were ladylike mused Archie as he stood in the doorway of the snug and watched his love, for that is what she had become he realized. It was refreshing to care about someone again. It had been so long. Samhain would come in a fortnight, and he would be able to dance with Lady Patricia. He sighed with delight.

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The weeks went by in a whirlwind of activity at school and at home. She had finally unpacked all the boxes and put everything in its proper place now that she had vintage storage pieces delivered by Margaret and Tony. What a wonderful couple they were, and she enjoyed good dinner for them and sitting in front of the Inglenook and chatting about family, antiques, and the Norfolk dialect that she was getting used to, although there were still some phrases she had to ask about.

Suddenly it was October. “I must have a Halloween party here at the Crown. Costumes, punch, wine and minestrone. I will invite the whole staff and neighbors. It will be a good old American potluck!”

Patricia did invite the whole faculty and her neighbors, asking them to please bring a side dish to share. She would make her San Francisco recipe of minestrone in the huge pot she had bought.

****************************

Archie could feel the excitement in the air as Samhain grew closer. He would be able to join Patricia’s party. His costume would be the garments he wore every day. “I wonder if Patricia will recognize me. Probably not, but one can always hope.”

****************************

“Tomorrow is Halloween, or all Hallows Eve, or Samhain and I must set up tables and chairs for the party and get my minestrone started and decide on my costume. Perhaps the gallabiyah I bought in Egypt would be good and I have a red wig I can wear,” thought Patricia as she sat at the kitchen table making a list. “Luckily it falls on a Saturday, so I will have all day to prepare. I’m excited!”

***************************

“So am I” thought Archie. “So am I.”

***************************

Halloween night came. The house and Patricia were ready. Soup made, bowls and cutlery set on the kitchen table. Lighted pumpkin in the window. Logs lite in the fireplace. Tables set up in the snug and the lounge. Between the dining room, the kitchen, the lounge and the snug she thought she had enough places for everyone to sit. She got dressed and just in time. The first guests knocked on the door.

Soon the house was filled with laughter and conversation and the smell of good food.

“I think everyone came,” thought Patricia happily. “What joy!”

As she mingled with her guests, she noticed a strikingly handsome man with black hair and dressed in the style of the 1800s. How appropriate. He seemed familiar. Perhaps he had come with one of her other guests.

*****************************

Archie was giddy as he moved around the house, talking to one and another of invited guests. Little did they know he was a ghost enjoying his annual night of appearance in human form. The food was delicious, although strange to his palate, and the punch and wine divine. But the best thing of all was watching and listening to Patricia, knowing that he would have time alone with her after all the people left.

****************************

As Paticia said goodbye to the last guest, she let out a sigh of relief. Her first party in the Crown and it had been a huge success. The German grandfather clock struck midnight.

“Yes, now time to clean up. I think I will leave the dishes for Betty, the house cleaner. I told her I was having a party and she comes tomorrow. I’ll just rinse and stack them on the table. It is definitely time to go to bed.” As she turned to start turning off the lights, she noticed she still had one person left.

His shoulders were impressively broad, his jaw square, his nose noble and his lips a shade fuller than one would have thought attractive on a man. He was tall with brown hair so deep it was nearly black and eyes almost as dark. His eyes were blue, the deep unrelenting shade of a winter night. He reminded her of a character in one of her favorite regency romance novels.

“I’m sorry sir. I thought all the guests had gone I don’t think we were introduced.”

“True,” he said in a deep baritone. “My name is Lord Archibald Benjamin Charles Merriweather, and I have been living in the Crown House for many many years as the resident ghost.”

Patricia’s mouth fell open, but no sound came out as she fainted toward the antique rug and the brick floor.

Archie caught her before she hit her head and clasped her closely to his chest. This wasn’t a dream, for he could feel her heart beating quickly. He carried her upstairs to her bedroom and laid her on the bed. Filling a glass of water from her bathroom sink, he returned to the bed, set the glass on the bedside table and lay down beside her. He was torn between the joy of seeing and feeling her body and the worry of what the shock of his words had done.

“I’m dreaming,” Patricia thought as she fell into a deep slumber.

Archie knew he only had until dawn before his human body would again become a ghost. Samhain magic only lasted that long. Years of longing made his cock hard, and his body trembled with desire. If only he could speak with her and make her understand He went back into the bathroom, grabbed a flannel, wet it with cool water and returned to place it on her forehead and held her in his arms. He hummed a nursery tune and stroked the soft skin on her arms. She was so delicate and velvety, like silk. Several hours passed before she stirred. Archie took advantage of her stirring to place a gentle kiss upon her sweet lips. Gods’ sooth, she kissed him back. What glory! The kiss became more passionate, and he added his tongue as he wanted to add his cock. Heaven!

Patricia was in that waking phase when she realized she was being kissed. How she had longed for a lover this past year. How she had missed the feel of a male body moving against her in passion. What bliss!

Archie moved her under his body and continued the kissing and caressing until he had to release the fall on his britches or die. Patricia moved her hands over his chest and on his back as Archie lifted her nightclothes and placed his burning prick against the wet folds of her flower and slid into her warm and welcoming heat. Then he began to move, slowly at first, for he did not want to frighten her, but she arched into him and responded in kind. It had been so long, and Archie did not want it to end, but knew at the rate they were coupling, it would be over too soon. Patricia called out in rapture and Archie was not not far behind. It was real and it was nirvana.

This was only the beginning for they made love until Archie heard the rooster crow in the yard, heralding the coming of the dawan and his return to his ghostly shadow existence.

Patricia opened her eyes, and whispered, “Archie?”

Archie replied, “Sleep my beautiful one. Same time next year?”

She nodded.

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