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“A Shadowy Affair” ( Part 1)

Castle Beaumont La Ronce

“This is my best friend’s parents’ castle,” my lovely little niece, Adelaide, told me, “It is haunted by a great lady who was murdered over questions of money. Those who were arrested and executed for the crime were, however, innocent and the true assassins were allowed to escape for they had been protected by the King. Since that time, she has been hounding everyone in order that justice be done. ”

I found, in this brief account, there held a certain enticement for me; and so it was that I found myself, on a February morning, at the castle of Beaumont la Ronce, north of Tours. A number of additional wings were added to the dungeon of this old castle over the last century.

While the marquis was receiving some electors, the Marquise, with great kindness and patience, escorted us up the nine stories of the tower adjoining the dungeon. The width of the stairs came as a surprise as I had imagined that a far narrower staircase would await me. And yet, even if the distance to the dungeon had been shortened, it would surely never be located a top of these nine floors. What was the use of this staircase? I wondered.

I thought I had found my answer on reaching the top of the staircase as I was led into a room open to all winds, that is to say, having – through its many windows – a commanding view far and wide in all directions; it was no doubt a military observation post. So far, nothing seemed in the least haunted: neither living room on the ground floor nor the dungeon rooms; nowhere did I smell a ghost.

I arbitrarily chose, as a place in which to settle down to my “work”, one of of the dungeon’s vast halls with its vaulted roof. Beams of light penetrated through two very large windows, and formed patterns on the white stone.

I sat on a bench to the left of the very tall Renaissance fireplace. I closed my eyes and started to wait. […] Soon, I felt something, someone. Curiously, I sensed the presence of this being pass through the door on the right of the fireplace that the marquise had indicated as leading to a hallway. It was a woman. A feeling of disquiet came upon me. A long dress, probably in velvet bronze, with broken folds. And then the hairstyle: a scaffolding of brown curls on which was posed a starched lace headdress, quite fashionable at the end of the 17th century. This corroborates with what I believed to be certainly true; that the ghost had lived under Louis XIV. And then the blood. I could see it perfectly well, on the chest, which had been left left slightly open by the cleavage to reveal the bodice on which could be seen the blood of several wounds. Her eyes were round, brown, and sparkling. She was very young so why is it that I saw the horrible smile of an old woman: yellow, rotten teeth and a hideous kind of grin? Do this mouth and those eyes belong to the same face? What does it mean?

I was more surprised than afraid; this did not seem to fit with received accounts of appearances. I felt sure that she was about to speak and turned on the tape recorder to record what she said. The words which immediately followed I heard as if shouted in my ear.

“I am here to proclaim my desire for revenge. I will not rest until I have avenged myself of those who have made attempts on my life, my honour, my fortune, my beauty. It has been my sole thought since my death, my only thought. […] The contrast between my eyes and my mouth surprises you. Eyes, that’s what I had been; mouth, that’s what they did to me: an ugly, decaying corpse, a toothless black hole where there had once been a lovely little red mouth. […] I was young, I was pretty, I was loved. I died violently. The marks of blood you see on my bodice, on my bust, are those left by the dagger of my killers. […] Henceforth, I shall appear far more clearly. It was said that I resembled your ancestor, Mademoiselle de Blois.

I find it curious that this is the portrait you have in your mind while thinking of me. I was slimmer than Mademoiselle de Blois but I wore the same cornet wimple on my head. I was quite small, my legs were very short, I had a long bust. I was married, I was happy, I was carefree, and I wanted to pick all the flowers life had to offer. I smiled when I thought of my life. […] And yet, from time to time, a cloud came down to settle in my heart; you know those very black clouds, those harbingers of terrible storms. I felt the presence of just such a cloud and I wondered whence it came and why it came. Furthermore I received a warning, “watch out, watch out for we blame you, we are preparing something for you”. Blame me? I had never hurt anyone. Prepare what? I was surrounded solely by those who loved me. My husband loved me, my people loved me. What did this voice from the inside mean?

I had had my future foretold, you see, by a gypsy. She took my hand, looked at it; I remember, she had grabbed my fingers and closed them against my palm. She shook her head. She looked at me with infinite sadness and told me, “I cannot do anything for you, ma’am, there is nothing to see.” I was moved at hearing this and, although she had not seen anything, I wanted to give her a coin yet she refused. “Keep it for the poor, madame,” and off she went. Was it she who introduced into my mind that voice of warning? In truth, I do not know […]

 


by Prince Michael of Greece

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