THE HAUNTED HOUSE Lucy groaned and switched off the alarm clock.

When she became fully conscious, she became aware of a most frightful storm outside. The silvery streaks of electric lightning illuminated a darkened sky. Ominous thunder rolled. The savage wind howled angrily. Heavy sheets of freezing rain lashed against the fragile windows. Her mother knocked on the door. “Lucy! Do get up – you’ll be late for school. with you downstairs.” Besides, your father wants a word

The eleven-year old girl washed, dressed into her school uniform, packed her satchel with the necessary books and equipment, and hurried down the stairs. Mr. Johnstone sat at the breakfast table, reading an important-looking letter. seemed pleased to see his daughter. He

“Ah, there you are, Lucy! Sit down – I have something important to tell you. I meant to speak to you last night, but by the time I came home, you were asleep. As you know, I am a Chief Government Engineer. As per the terms of my contract, I have been promoted. I have been granted a substantial rise in salary, as well as a substantial subsidy towards the acquisition of an historic seventeenth-century mansion. We shall be moving to Buckinghamshire next week. I want you to bid a farewell to all your friends and teachers.” When she heard this, Lucy was horrified. “But, father! I don’t want to move! I’m very happy here in Cheshire. I have many friends and am well settled at school! If we move, things can only get worse!” Her father looked sympathetic, but he slowly shook his head. “I’m sorry, Lucy! I can understand how you feel but this is too good an opportunity to miss. Besides, the interests of the family as a whole must come first!” “Don’t worry, Lucy!” comforted her mother. “I’m sure you’ll get used to the new area and make new friends! I’m sure you’ll settle down there and be happy!” “Besides” said Mr. Johnstone, “this is a letter which I received from my solicitor this morning. It confirms that all signatures have been witnessed, and that the terms of the contract are legally binding, so it’s too late to turn back now!” Lucy was well mannered and did not argue. But, in her heart of hearts, she felt a sense of trepidation whenever she thought of the new house. It was as if the house was talking to her whenever she thought of it. It was saying, “Don't come here – there is danger!” The removal lorry arrived after a few days! All the furniture and possessions of the Johnstone family were loaded. Then the vehicles set off for Buckinghamshire – the Johnstone’s dark Bentley being followed by the lorry. As the vehicles set off, Lucy’s yes welled with tears. That house held such special memories for her – birthday parties, Christmas parties, friends, uncles and aunties coming to visit, receiving books, toys and games, and many happy

summer barbecues in the back garden. again!

Now, she would never see her beloved home

The journey was intensive. Lucy felt drowsy. They passed farm after farm, village after village, and town after town. Lucy fell fast asleep. She did not hear the vehicles arrive at ‘Buckingham Lodge’. She did not hear the slamming of doors or the “knocks and bangs of furniture being transferred”. She did not even wake up when her father carried her to her new bedroom! Lucy woke in the depths of the night! At first, Lucy wondered where she was. Ah, yes! They had been moving! This must be her new room! Lucy shuddered as she looked around. This room was not at all like her old room! She felt that she was not alone. She felt as if she was being watched by something invisible. The portraits seemed to stare at her. The statues seemed to move! To comfort herself, she went to look out of the window, expecting to see traffic, passers-by and lights, as in the city. But, to her dismay, all she could see was the pitch darkness! In fact, the trees’ branches cast eerie silhouettes in the silent moonlight! She decided to waken her parents. When she tried to open the door, it would not open! She pulled with all her might! The door opened a little, but then slammed shut. In the intervening gap, she caught the glimpse of a female hand – a gnarled hand with long fingernails! Lucy began to panic! She began to thump on the strong, wooden door with her fists and to shout and scream. “Mother! Father! Come quickly! Oh help me! I’m trapped!” The door suddenly opened, and an astonished Mrs. Johnstone looked very concerned. “Lucy! Whatever is the matter? Why are you causing such a commotion at four o’clock in the night?” “M-Mother! The d-door! I just saw a h-hand! Someone was outside my r-room!” “No, that's not possible. There’s only the three of us here. You’ve just had a nightmare! Now, come into the kitchen and have a very late supper!” Lucy felt embarrassed, but she could have sworn that she had seen the hand. how could she explain this and who would believe her? But

The next day, the resplendent rays of the dazzling sun bathed the mansion in splendour. Lucy felt more confident, so she decided to explore the mansion. The rooms were luxuriously furnished and the furniture was carved of solid mahogany. She came to a study in which stood a vast library. She noticed a dusty volume entitled, “Buckingham Lodge: A Comprehensive History.” The more Lucy read, the more terrified she became. “Buckingham Lodge. Founded in 1633 with a grant from the King of England. Tragic history. First owner the Duke of Buckingham, murdered by jealous relatives. Third owner, the Lord Wycombe, committed suicide whilst under the influence of evil spirits. Apparitions frequently manifest themselves, especially fifth owner, Lady Helen, who was burnt to death in a mysterious fire. Wears black clothes. Has evil, red eyes. Has long fingernails. Will curse present residents ……..” Lucy quickly put the book away. Then she looked around, bleary-eyed. Just as she was about to run away, she saw a letter on the bookshelf. It had been written by the previous owner of the mansion.

“In God’s name, leave this place! Strange incidents occur here, phenomena for which there is no logical explanation. Go, before it is too late! May God bless you!” Lucy quickly folded the letter and ran to show it to her parents. “Mother, Father, look! We must move from this evil place!” “Is this a joke, Lucy?” The

Mr. Johnstone looked at the letter and spoke angrily.

Lucy gasped. When she looked at the letter she felt extremely puzzled. writing had vanished! “B-but, but …….”

“I’m getting sick and tired of your behaviour, Lucy!” warned Mr. Johnstone. “You used to be such a sensible girl! Last night you thought someone was outside your bedroom door! Now you bring a blank piece of paper, claiming that it is a letter of some kind! We are definitely not moving. Is that clear?” Lucy felt humiliated. She had seen the letter – it was written in black Parker fountain pen ink, in a cursive, old-fashioned style of handwriting. If there had been no letter, how could she describe the handwriting? That night there was a full moon. Lucy could hear the wild dogs howling in the distance. She could not sleep. She kept on tossing and turning. Then, just before dawn, she heard footsteps in her room in the darkness. The footsteps came to her bed. Lucy dived under her quilt. Someone sat on her bed! She felt the springs of the bed being pressed down! Then she heard a strange whisper. “Child! Child!” A strange, hypnotic force made her look up from her quilt! There sat Lady Helen! The apparition had deep, red eyes, long nails and a frightening face. She pointed a sharp nail at Lucy’s tender throat. “Ye shalt depart henceforth from ye abode. mine wrath befall ye!” ‘Tis mine domain! Depart ye nigh lest

With that, Lady Helen began to dig the nail into her flesh, and began to draw near. Lucy screamed with all her might and then fainted! Before Lucy’s parents could enter the room, Lady Helen had disappeared. Lucy regained consciousness and her mother asked her, “What happened?” After Lucy told her, the mother decided to call the doctor. He was an elderly, bespectacled gentleman who wore a stethoscope and carried a large leather briefcase. He examined Lucy thoroughly and then gave her an injection in her arm. Lucy went into a daze and began to mutter: “No, please, don’t! We’ll go! No! Aaarggh!”

“Hmm”, said Professor Robertson. “It seems that your daughter has suffered a trauma of some kind. What it is, I cannot say. But it seems to me that there is some paranormal – let’s say, supernatural – factor. I’ll leave these tablets. Please do call me again if you require my services”.

That night, Mrs. Johnstone decided to keep vigil over Lucy. She pulled up a comfortable armchair and sat right next to Lucy’s bed. At first Lucy slept peacefully and her breathing was regular, but, after midnight, she began to toss and turn. She screamed in her sleep. Mrs. Johnstone stroked her hair lovingly and looked very worried. wrong with Lucy? Lucy had never behaved like this before! What could be

Mrs. Johnstone herself almost fell asleep several times, but she managed to jerk herself back to wakefulness. Then, just before dawn, she heard a rustling sound from the bushes outside. “Whatever can that be?” she wondered. When she looked out of the window, Lucy’s mother saw the back of an old woman dressed in black clothes! “Whoever can that be?” wondered Lucy’s mother. She decided to waken her husband. “Do get up – there’s somebody in the grounds of our house!” “Mmmm … eh?” Mr. Johnstone quickly donned his dressing gown and slippers and went to investigate. He stood at the threshold, absolutely still, hoping to detect the slightest sound. Then, just as he was about to go back indoors, he heard the snapping of a twig! Then he saw Lady Helen from afar! The ghost decided to play a macabre game of hide and seek with Lucy’s father. By appearing and disappearing, she took him further and further away from the mansion. At last, he found himself in the midst of a very gloomy forest. There, Lady Helen manifested herself! Lucy’s father was an adult, but even he was terrified of Lady Helen! She pointed a finger at him. “Thou hast ignored mine tidings! heeded not ye consequences!” Now shalt ye suffer ye penalty of doom! You

With that Lady Helen looked up to the sky and began to mutter a satanic prayer. “Oh ye forces of darkness! Come hither and wreak thine vengeance ……”

Suddenly, there was a most vicious storm. Thunder, lightening, wind and rain all took their toll. Lady Helen pointed to a sturdy oak tree with her nail and, with one motion of her finger, uprooted it. Then it fell on the hapless Mr. Johnstone, crushing him to death! Lady Helen walked to the dead body of Lucy’s father and smiled a very evil smile. Then she vanished. Back at the mansion, Mrs. Johnstone waited and waited. After several hours there was a knock at the door and a policeman stood at the threshold. “Excuse me, are you Mrs. Johnstone? “No!” screamed Mrs. Johnstone. Her scream woke up Lucy. “Mother! Guess what! I had a most frightful dream. A ghost called Lady Helen told me to leave or she would kill father first, then you, then me! We simply must leave this house!” Her mother believed her at once. She immediately made arrangements for the funeral of her husband and the move back to Cheshire the same day. I’m afraid I have tragic news …….”

As they were driving along a motorway near the mansion, they saw an old woman dressed in black at one side of the road. She beckoned to them to stop. But Lucy’s mother did not stop! The old woman was crying! Her other two victims had escaped!

THE HAUNTED HOUSE – QUESTIONS 1 How is the scene describing the storm effective? 2 Why did Lucy have to quickly get dressed and go down stairs? 3 Why was her father pleased to see her? 4 Which news did Lucy’s father have to give her? 5 Why did Lucy object? 6 Which reason did her father give her for not being able to change his mind? 7 How did Lucy’s mother try to comfort her? 8 How did Lucy feel when it was time to leave her beloved home? 9 How is the scene describing the journey to Buckinghamshire effective? 10 What do you find surprising about Lucy sleeping in the car even after they reached Buckinghamshire? 11 How did Lucy feel when she woke up in her new room? 12 Why did she look out of the window? 13 How was she disappointed? 14 Explain the door incident. 15 Why didn’t Lucy’s mother believe that someone had been outside Lucy’s room? 16 Why did Lucy decide to explore the mansion the next day? 17 What did she find out from the book? 18 Explain the message of the letter which Lucy found on the bookshelf. 19 Which mysterious incident occurred with the letter? 20 Why was Lucy’s father cross with her? 21 How could Lucy be sure that she had seen the letter? 22 What is the significance of the full moon in the late night? 23 Why was Lucy terrified just before dawn? 24 What message did Lady Helen have for Lucy? 25 Why did Lucy faint? 26 Describe the doctor. 27 How was the doctor really wise? 28 Why did Mrs. Johnstone keep watch over Lucy that night?

29 How was Mrs. Johnstone worried about Lucy? 30 Did Lucy’s mother fall asleep? 31 What did Lucy’s mother see, out of the window, in the darkness? 32 Do you think it was foolish to involve Mr. Johnstone? 33 How did Lady Helen play an evil game with Lucy’s father? 34 What happened in the forest? 35 Which news had the policeman come to break to Lucy’s mother? 36 Which evil dream had Lucy had? 37 Why did her mother believe her dream? 38 Why is Lady Helen weeping at the end of the story? 39 Why do you think Lady Helen wouldn’t follow Lucy and her mother back to Cheshire?

ANSWERS 1. The scene describing the storm is effective because it makes the reader glad to be indoors when the weather outside is inclement. The way the lightning lights up the dark night, the frightening rolls of thunder, the angry wind and the powerful rain rattling against the glass of the windows, all convey the power of the storm. 2. Lucy had to dress quickly and rush downstairs because she was running late for school and also because her father needed to talk to her urgently. 3. Her father was pleased to see her because he had intended to tell her something important the night before, but hadn’t managed to do so. By the time he had arrived home from work, Lucy had fallen asleep. 4. Lucy’s father had to inform her that he had been promoted at work, would be getting a rise in salary, and had been given a generous subsidy to purchase an historic mansion. The family would have to relocate to Buckinghamshire and Lucy had to bid farewell to her friends and teachers. 5. Lucy objected to the relocation because she was happy at her school. She was popular with her peers and teachers. She felt that, because she was so content, any move could only be detrimental to her happiness. 6. Her father told her that the family would have to relocate because this career opportunity would not be offered again and he thought that the move would be beneficial to the family as a whole, after all, they would be benefiting from a luxurious stately home, and more income. 7. Lucy’s mother tried to comfort her by saying that the new environment would be just as happy for Lucy when she made new friends and became accustomed to the unfamiliar area.

8. Lucy felt tearful when it was time to leave her old home because the house held such precious memories for her. She could vividly remember relatives’ visits, gifts of toys and games and happy family occasions. She could not bear to leave the house for ever. 9. The scene describing the Johnstone family’s move to Buckinghamshire is effective because it vividly conveys how the passing scenery made Lucy drowsy and the journey’s intensity caused her to fall fast asleep. 10. It is surprising that Lucy did not wake up from her deep sleep even after the vehicles reached Buckinghamshire because loud noises such as the slamming doors, the various thuds of furniture being moved, and even the sensation of motion of being carried did not disturb Lucy. 11. When she woke up in her new room, Lucy felt perturbed. She felt that something invisible was in the room with her, that the faces in paintings were staring at her and that the statues were moving when seen from the corner of her eye. 12. She looked out of the window because she had probably come from a more urbanised area and was accustomed to seeing passing traffic, passers-by and the comforting light of lampposts. 13. She was disappointed because this was a typical, rural area and the grounds of the mansion were pitch dark; in that darkness she imagined eerie shapes made by trees’ branches in the enchanting moonlight. 14. Lucy felt so terrified that she needed to talk to her parents. When she tried to leave her room, the door wouldn’t open. As she struggled with the door, it opened a little and it was for a brief moment that she saw a gnarled, female, claw-like hand. 15. Lucy’s mother didn’t believe that Lucy had seen the hand because only the three of them – Lucy and her parents – occupied the mansion, so there was no possibility of any other person wondering about at night. 16. Lucy decided to explore the mansion the next day because the bright light of day made her confident enough to find out more about this house. 17. From the book, Lucy discovered that this stately house had a distinguished but tragic history, and that ghosts frequently manifested themselves here. A particularly terrifying apparition was Lady Helen, who looked really evil in her black clothes. Her evil, red eyes and long nails made her a particularly disturbing ghost. 18. The letter which Lucy found on the bookshelf had been written by the rather compassionate former owner of the mansion. It informed the subsequent owner that the house was affected by ghostly incidents and other unnatural happenings. It advised the family residing to leave the house as soon as possible, without giving apparitions the chance to cause any harm. 19. Lucy folded the letter and ran to show it to her parents. period, the writing vanished, leaving a blank piece of paper. In the interim

20. Lucy’s father was cross with her because her normally sensible and reliable character was now being tainted by what he thought was foolishness. The night before she had believed that someone had been outside her room. Now she brought a

blank piece of paper, believing that it was an important message. 21. Lucy would be sure that the she had seen the letter because if anyone asked her to describe the writing and ink of the words she would be able to do so. She would not be able to give such a description if there had been no letter. 22. The full moon represents a ghostly time when evil spirits are free to come on to the earth. Now whatever was haunting the mansion was free to come. 23. Just before dawn, Lucy was terrified to hear footsteps in the darkness of her bedroom. Her fear reached a climax when someone actually walked to her bed and sat down, causing the springs of the mattress to be pressed down. 24. Lady Helen claimed that the mansion was hers. She told Lucy to make sure that the Johnstone family left as soon as possible or she would deal with all three of them. 25. Lucy fainted because, as well as digging a sharp fingernail in Lucy’s throat, the ghost began to come closer to her face. 26. The doctor was an elderly, bespectacled professional carrying a leather briefcase and stereotyped by his dangling stethoscope. 27. The doctor’s wisdom is evident from the fact that he realised that Lucy was suffering from no ordinary ailment. Her trauma had been brought about by something paranormal or supernatural. 28. Mrs. Johnstone kept watch over Lucy that night because the doctor had worried her by telling her that something ghostly was going on. Lucy’s mother thought, therefore, that Lucy needed protection in case some apparition came in the night. 29. Mrs. Johnstone was worried by Lucy’s unfamiliar behaviour. Normally, Lucy was capable and reliable. The fact that she had been behaving strangely recently and was now ill meant that something paranormal certainly had been happening and that Lucy had consequently been affected adversely. 30. No, Lucy’s mother did not fall asleep during her nightlong vigil over the daughter. Being human, Mrs. Johnstone did almost fall asleep but managed to bravely jerk herself back to wakefulness. 31. Out of the window, in the darkness, Lucy’s mother saw the back of an old woman clad in black. 32. Either: Yes, I think it was foolish to involve Mr. Johnstone because asking him to go out of the house and investigate during the darkness was akin to putting him in certain danger. Or: No, Lucy was ill and being threatened by some dangerous intruder. As father, Mr. Johnstone had to deal with the danger as soon as possible. The intruder, whoever she was, would not obviously be about during the day. 33. Lady Helen played an evil game of hide-and-seek with Lucy’s father by manifesting herself at different locations at intermittent intervals, thereby drawing him further and further away from the mansion. 34. In the forest, lady Helen manifested herself and her features horrified Mr. Johnstone, even though he was an adult. The apparition took a gruesome pleasure

in informing Lucy’s father that the deadline for their leaving had passed and that justice would now be done. She read some evil prayer, summoning the forces of evil. A violent storm ensued and the unfortunate Mr. Johnstone was rushed under the colossal weight of a sturdy oak tree. 35. The policeman had come to inform Lucy’s mother that her husband had been sleepwalking, had been ‘caught up’ in an ominous storm, and had been crushed to death by a falling tree in a freak accident. 36. Lucy had suffered the evil Lady Helen coming to her in her dream and warning the family to leave the mansion or she would make sure there were casualties. She intended to deal first with Lucy’s father, followed by Lucy’s mother – and then Lucy herself! 37. Lucy’s mother believed this dream because the first of Lady Helen’s targets – Mr. Johnstone – had already been ‘dealt with’, eliminated. 38. At the end of the story, Lady Helen is weeping because she has been deprived of her quarry – she wanted three victims but could only eliminate one! 39. I think Lady Helen couldn’t follow Lucy and her mother back to Cheshire because she was bound to the house in Buckinghamshire. She was unable to traverse the boundaries of her ‘domain’.

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