Halloween is big in Cornwall, as you’ll see from the Eden Project web site.
Cornwall also has its share of haunted houses. Check out the Cornwall Guide’s listing of the most haunted places in Cornwall.
A number of UK organizations investigate haunted houses, such as Paranormal Research UK.
“Unchained Melody” (1955), music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret, has been recorded by more than 500 artists, but the July 1965 recording by the Righteous Brothers blew away the competition. In 1990, their version became the soundtrack of the blockbuster film, “Ghost.”
“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen. . .” (Dexter Kozen)
“The Legend of Arabella”
by Karen Gilleland © 2014
High-spirited ghosts and goblins scampered along to the community center, the harvest moon casting an enchanting backdrop for spook-night festivities.
Louisa, breathtaking as Irene Adler — “the woman,” as Sherlock Holmes called her — in pink satin dress, fitted bodice, and flowing skirt, walked into the hall with Martin, clad in suit and tie, but sporting a pair of sunglasses, insisting to Louisa that his attire characterized “Men in Black’s” Agent K. Martin had Al to thank for the idea.
“My pleasure, Doctor Ellingham,” answered the lilting voice of Mrs. Tischell. “May I say you make a dashing Agent K,” she added, clutching at her low neckline, as she stooped to put the bag under the counter.
Despite feeling vindicated about his costume, Martin turned swiftly away and walked back to Louisa. She took his arm, and the two strolled around, eyeing the scene: youngsters painting faces, creating pirate hats from newspapers, sprawled on the floor decorating Room on a Broom critters.
“Martin, isn’t it fun seeing all the clever costumes,” said Louisa, nodding at the wiggling Mars Bar, Egyptian pharaoh, and two-headed Elvis Presley.
Louisa smiled up at Martin. “Thank you for coming,” she said, as a rocket ship blasted past them.
“You owe me,” Martin whispered back.
Former plumber, Bert Large, a model toilet hanging on his chest with a sign declaring “Royal Flush,” approached Martin and said, “‘Doc,’ it’s time for the ghost story session up at Miss Jerome’s. Earlier tonight, a youngster skinned a knee there. I told Shirley you’d be on hand next session to sort out any new crises.”
Louisa spoke into Martin’s ear. “Go ahead. I’ll relieve Pippa at the cider stall while you’re gone.”
“Fine,” Martin shrugged and retrieved his bag. Outside, he took off his sunglasses and traipsed up a path lit with solar-powered pumpkins. Rounding a bend, he jerked to a stop at sight of the creepy, tower-topped building.
Martin entered the house and took a seat in the back. Miss Jerome raised her hands to quiet the talking and said the legend she was about to share was true and had been handed down through her family for generations. She opened a large, handmade storybook and began reading in a soft voice:
“Once upon a time, long, long ago, a beautiful, fair-haired maiden, named Arabella, was betrothed to a handsome soldier, whose name was Caddaham. Unfortunately, the young woman had unwittingly captured the heart of a powerful duke, named Bainbrydge, who was determined to marry her.
“Arabella confided to her trusted maidservant, Ilsa, her intention of eloping that very night. Arabella gave Ilsa a letter to deliver to Caddaham.
“The assignation was set for midnight. Arabella would lock herself in the tower until Caddaham came. His signal would be three quick taps on the door.
“All was arranged, and the fair maiden waited in the tower throughout the evening. At last the church bells tolled the witching hour, and Arabella, in white silk and lace, waited eagerly to flee with Caddaham. She waited, and waited, and waited.
“Finally, she heard a knock on the door, not three taps, but a pounding that chilled her heart. She stood by the door, breathless and fearful.
“’Come out, Arabella,’ commanded the gravelly voice of Bainbrydge. “’Young Caddaham has fled. You will marry me on the morrow.’
“In the morning, Bainbrydge approached the tower, but the Duke found the door fastened, and he could not enter.
Angry, he announced that if Arabella would not marry him, she would marry no one. He ordered the door sealed, so that she could never escape.
“The young maiden lay down on the cot, and her life force gradually seeped away. Arabella was never to know that Ilsa had betrayed her and that the Duke had ambushed her betrothed and killed him.
“The tower room has never been opened since that day. Arabella’s spirit waits restively for Caddaham to return and free her.”
Clearing her throat, Miss Jerome crossed her arms over her chest and said in a stage whisper, “At midnight, I hear Arabella’s footsteps and her anguished voice calling the name of her lover.”
Miss Jerome glanced around at the suspenseful faces and said, “A few years ago, a paranormal witness team spent three nights in this room and certified the presence of Arabella. The investigators believe Arabella’s spirit will remain locked in the tower until a fearless rescuer releases it.”
Martin raised his eyebrows, thinking, Some people will believe anything.
Closing the book with a sigh, Miss Jerome said, “Thank you for coming. Please, take an apple as you leave.” People applauded, but their eyes flashed fright as they looked toward the ceiling and scurried out of the room.
Remaining seated until the other visitors had departed, Martin walked up to Miss Jerome. “Doctor Ellingham,” he said, introducing himself. “Your face is very pale.”
“The talks do drain my energy,” she admitted. “My heart is heavy because I worry whether Arabella’s soul will ever find peace.”
Martin took Miss Jerome’s wrist, registering her pulse. At his touch, she straightened her shoulders and looked at him with surprise showing in her eyes.
She pulled her hand free and said, “I’d like to show you something, Doctor Ellingham.” She opened the storybook and took out a time-worn letter.
“This letter was written by Arabella. One of my ancestors discovered it in a secret drawer. This is the letter intended for Caddaham that Ilsa handed over to Bainbrydge.”
Unfolding the letter by the edges, Miss Jerome set it down reverently on the table. Martin took a chair and leaned over the document. It read:
“My Dearest Caddaham, my heart flutters wildly when I think that tonight we will be together. I await your signal in the tower. I will not leave until you come for me. Your true love, Arabella.”
As Martin finished reading the note, the letters scrambled and floated before his eyes, spinning out the mandate, “Set me free.”
Rubbing his temples, Martin tried to erase the image, but the vaporous message flitted stubbornly before his eyes.
Martin struggled with a decision he feared would haunt him the rest of his life. He gritted his teeth and stood up, resolute. “Where is the tower room?” he asked.
Gesturing for him to follow, Miss Jerome led him along a dark hallway, ending in a stone stairwell that wound up several stories.
Miss Jerome stepped aside and said, “I’ll wait here.”
Martin picked his way up the pitch-black staircase, holding onto the rope handrail.
At the top, moonlight blazoned through a window, flooding the small space. Blinded by the glare, Martin closed his eyes, considering what to do. After several seconds, he drew a deep breath, opened his eyes, and tapped three times lightly on the door. He felt a stab of surprise as the ancient door swung silently open.
Glancing inside the enclosure, Martin saw a small cot against the wall. On it rested a young woman with golden hair in a filmy white dress. Martin stood frozen in place, eyes glued on the cot.
From the window, a streak of light shot into the room, touching upon the delicate figure and transforming the girl’s shape into a fiery ball. The ball separated, and two streaks of pure white light flashed past Martin. He felt a lick of heat brushing his cheek, a mystical thought invading his psyche: Two souls united for eternity.
Martin’s shoulders shuddered. He breathed deeply to quiet his nerves, but his hand shook as he clutched at the rope and stepped hesitantly down the stairs.
His knees still felt shaky when he reached Miss Jerome. She took his arm and led him back to the table. Martin dropped into the chair, and Miss Jerome poured a small measure of brandy. Tipping back the glass, Martin savored the warmth of the elixir. His breathing eased, and the feeling of shakiness dissolved.
Miss Jerome folded her hands and said, “Arabella’s gone. Caddaham came for her. I know because I feel a lightness that I have never before felt.”
“Thank you, Doctor Ellingham,” Miss Jerome said, a tear slipping from her eye. “Arabella will be at rest, finally, on the morrow, All Saints Day.”
After several minutes of silence, a look of understanding passed between Martin and Miss Jerome, a shared code of secrecy about the evening’s singular events.
Martin stood, picked up his case and moved toward the door, unsure what to believe. He still felt a sense of awe as he followed the path back to the center, where lights had been dimmed for dancing.
Setting down his case near the door, Martin found Louisa at the cider stall. He touched her arm, and she smiled at him, but let out a startled gasp. “Martin, you look as though you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I’m fine,” he said, relieved that his voice sounded normal.
“Our next Halloween favorite,” announced the DJ, “is ‘Unchained Melody,’ the theme from ‘Ghost.’”
Martin tightened his hand on Louisa’s arm, feeling a rush of gratitude that she was part of his life. “Let’s dance,” he said softly, putting his arms around her, pressing her close, thinking, I need to hold onto what is real.
Despite his resolve, Martin felt a tremor as the image of the golden-haired maiden blended with the haunted sounds of the Righteous Brothers–
“Oh my love, my darling,
I’ve hungered for your touch,
A long, lonely time.”
— THE END –
“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.
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