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ghost stories
Scary and exciting Ghost Stories from around the World . . .
 

Ghost Story Title : The Haunting of Itchells Manor Part-2 by Ronald Seth

 

Ghost Story:

But what Mrs. Bathurst called 'these times of poverty' were not the main reason, though
they were a tributary one, for her son's attitude towards his friends' family circumstances. It was
the whole atmosphere of comfort and well-being which enveloped the Bushnells. There was, for
example, a large army of servants who were always on hand whenever one needed them. The
furnishings were not shabby through generations of use and lack of funds to keep them in good
shape, as were those at Itchells. The food was always exciting-the Bushnells' Swiss chef,
brought back by Sir George on his return from a diplomatic mission to Berne, saw to that-and its
service was impeccable. Finally, there was the ever-full purse of Robert himself, who at sixteen
received an allowance of fifty pounds, which his mother privately doubled. Whatever his friend
had a whim for, he could buy without humiliating application to his father.
The effect of all this on any perceptive boy must have been marked. On a boy brought up
as the Marchesa had brought up her son, to believe his home surroundings to be unworthy of his
aesthetic needs, they had an impact that was never to be eradicated. He learned the lesson that
money not only spells power, but makes possible the kind of comfort he found he required not
merely for his physical but for his mental well-being also. It was now that he determined that he
would employ every means to avoid the cheese-paring which differentiated the Bathurst way of
life from the way of life of the real aristocracy.
As the years went by the boys grew into young men, and when they were twenty, as the
Bushnell dower-house was unoccupied, with Sir George's consent they moved into it and set up
their own establishment, the bill for which was entirely footed by Robert. Through Alexander
had to accept it-or part with his friend-he did so; but how much it irked him not to be able to pay
his way, only he knew. It was no use Robert trying to persuade him that since they were more
than friends, mundane considerations should never be allowed to enter their relationship;
Alexander felt the indignity of living on Bushnell wealth more than he cared to admit to himself,
and became all the more determined to put an end to this false position in which his comparative
poverty confined him. Once he became squire of Itchells there would be changes.
Through his rank was not superior, the Bushnell wealth made Robert, at twenty-one, one
of the most eligible bachelors in the county. To the chagrin of mothers of eligible daughters, he
kept himself aloof from all female company. Balls and receptions were seldom honored by his
presence, he declined invitations to stay and he made it quite clear, if he did appear, that it was
useless for mothers to hope that their daughters might find favor with him. Had they asked him
why, he would have told them, 'So long as Alex and I have one another, we have no need of
anyone else!' But mothers of daughters are particularly obstinate, and despite the warnings of
their wiser husbands that they were tilting at a windmill, they continued to hope.
Their hopes, however, were destined to be short-lived. A year after they had moved into
the dower-house, the two young men decided to embark on the Grand Tour. They went, they
saw, they were conquered, particularly by Italy, and especially by Florence; and there they
decided to stay until the spirit moved them.
Unfortunately, after they had been there for several months, Robert Bushnell was
accidentally drowned in a boating accident. Devastated by the loss of his friend, for a time it
seemed that Alexander Bathurst was in danger of going out of his mind. He was preserved from
this fate, however, but was faced not only with loneliness, but returning to Itchells and to the state
of penury from which he had been protected fro the last ten years. But there was nothing else he
could do; it was a prospect which would have daunted many a more normal young man.
On his return to Itchells he found his sisters married, and the squire and Mrs. Bathurst
existing in a state of fragile armistice which inevitably infected the whole atmosphere of the
manor. The chief cause of their estrangement was Mrs. Bathurst's insistence on keeping up with
the aristocratic Joneses and running into debt to do so. The death of Robert Bushnell exacerbated
this unhappy situation, for the Marchesa foresaw that with her son's usefulness to the Bushnells
terminated, her own relationship with the family might be changed, and she increased her social
efforts to prevent this.
The reappearance of his son also affected the squire, who, robust countryman that he was,
found exceptionally distasteful the wide-spread reputation Alexander had acquired as a result of
his friendship with Robert Bushnell. While they had been boys, it could be ignored; while they
were abroad and out of sight, it could be successfully put out of mind; but to have the dark,
handsome young man in his foppish clothes sulking about the place, his white hands a constant
reminder that he was not fitted to be a country squire who had the practical oversight of his
estates, produced in him a profound irritation and incipient feelings of hatred, which he was too
constitutionally ingenuous to be able to dissimulate. To comfort himself he increased his
drinking.
Since this bibulousness can be traced directly to the man his heir had become, it can be
said that Alexander Bathurst was responsible for the deaths of his father and mother. For, a little
less than a year and a half after Alexander's return to Itchells, one night the drunkard squire
insisted on driving home from dinner with a nearby neighbor. He could hold his liquor as befits a
gentleman, and though his companions knew that he had imbibed unwisely, they made no
attempts to dissuade him from getting up on to the box himself, since he was only slightly
uncertain in speech and gait. But as soon as he laid hold on the reins a devil seemed to possess
him, and he whipped up the horses, which, surprised and frightened, leapt down the drive at
tremendous pace. The groom beside the squire tried to seize the reins from his master's hands,
and for his pains was flung from the box, broke his back and died. As the swaying carriage
charged through the ornamental gateway guarding the exit to the drive a wheel struck a pillar, the
squire was catapulted from the box and broke his neck in his fall, while Mrs. Bathurst, inside the
carriage, received head injuries which led to a hemorrhage of the brain, and after lying in a coma
for several weeks she also died.
As soon as he had recovered from the shock, not of his parents' deaths, but from his
unexpected elevation to the lordship of the manor of Itchells, Alexander Bathurst immediately set
about implementing the plans which he had formulated secretly over the years against the time
when he would be in control of whatever revenue the estates brought in. His main object was to
increase his personal income until it would provide him with the standard of living which his
friendship with Robert Bushnell had made possible for him. He realized that this he could never
achieve by the working of the estates alone. He would have to invest, and for this he would need
capitol.
To raise the capitol, he sold several hundred acres, raised the rents of his tenants, bought
inferior grain and stock, and by this means acquired some thousands of pounds. With them he
went to London and, to begin with, invested them in the East India Company. These investments
secured him very reasonable returns, but even so he realized that it would take him a long time to
acquire the fortune he needed.




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