The Red Cloak of a Bennet

When a long-awaited guest arrives at Pemeberly, a horrific curse comes back to haunt the Bennet family...

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1. Chapter 1

 

The ticks of the clock sliced the silence. No one spoke or exchanged glances. The fall board had devoured the keys of Pemberley's grand piano for almost a month now. It had been a long time since Pemberley had seen so many guests in the one room. 

"That's a fine clock, Darcy. I have never seen one so finely carved on this side of the world!"

Wickham spoke first. Darcy sat up straight and took a fleeting glance at the large clock that stood in the corner of the room. He took a moment to devise an answer suitable for the present gloom that hung over the Bennet family. 

"Yes. It was a gift from a friend. He was a soldier; he had to retire due to injury. The old chap came over to England not that long ago to visit family and sent this over once he returned home to  Philadelphia … made in Philadelphia I assume.”

"Poor fellow" Wickham replied "Those wars take a lot from you.  I remember a man I fought with..."

Wickham could not finish the sentence before Lydia interjected. 

"Would you please stop all this discussion of war and soldiers and injuries and clocks from Philadelphia? Oh, how it bores my weary soul."

She let out a long sigh and left her chair on Elizabeth's left side to find a book from Pemberley’s extensive collection of books. 

"But my dearest Lydia, do recall the days when you spoke of nothing but soldiers and their heroic deeds in war and their most terrible battle wounds!" Mrs Bennet said. 

Lydia stared at her mother for a moment, and then continued her hunt for a book. Silence had once more captured the company. 

Minutes passed and this homely assembly now seemed unwelcoming. It was short lived however; with a loud bang the front doors and the front hall burst into a babble of noise. Servants were calling to one another, dogs were running in rings around the footmen and the coach driver decided to dispute the fare for the journey. 

The party leapt to their feet and raced to the front hall; then to be greeted by this chaos. Everyone pushed their way through the crowd in search of their long-awaited guest. 

So the Pemberley household had exploded. Within no time, the hall had cleared. The family had returned to the drawing room except Elizabeth, who stood alone in the now empty hall searching for sign of her guest. Then she saw it. 

A red cloak lying on the stairs. Curiosity grabbed her by the ear and she walked towards the garment. She picked it up and felt the rich blood-red coloured silk. 

"Do you need assistance, m'lady?"

Lizzie's shriek pierced the air and the men of the company were in the hall like a dart.

"Oh sorry, Gregory! You startled me! Nothing to be worrying about Darcy!"

The men - even though dismissed - still remained in the hall. Lizzie sensed the unusual atmosphere among them.

"What are you all staring at?" She surveyed all aspects of the hall again.

The four men looked to each. Eventually, her father spoke up. 

"It's the cloak, my dear"

"What about it?"

" You see a red cloak is said to be an emblem of the Bennet family. But since the terrible death of the last owner, no Bennet has worn a red cloak since."

"Why father, you don't suppose it's a ghost?"

"Of course not! Perhaps it is your mothers."

"But mother never wears red!"

"Lizzie! It was merely an old family story! Now I suggest you go and look for your guest."

Gregory (the butler) came and brought it away.


"Father? How did the last owner die?"

All colour fled from her father’s face. 

"She was... in the woods, on her own. And, well, died there but her death was never investigated."

"She?"

 

She didn't give her Father time to reply before she had scampered up the stairs. 

Elizabeth scanned the bedroom doors; all of them were locked. Then she saw the slither of light at the end of the hall. 

She started to reconsider.

 

Is she too fragile to talk?

 
Every footstep was silent.

 

Breathe deep.


Her hand hovered above the door handle. 

She knocked. 

 

“Jane!”

 

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