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Crime Historical Fiction Sad

Burleigh House 2021

Mike Calloway looked in to the hole in the flowerbed in the middle of the main lawn. He had recently purchased the derelict Georgian manner for a knock down price. The magnificent facade belayed the sad interior, neglected for the last 50 years as the previous owner had let the building decay. Damp and mould had overtaken most of the building, and as yet he had not ventured up the stairs as the once magnificent oak stair case appeared to have rotted most of the way up. The former staff cottage was currently home. The longest remaining inhabited building, the damage had been superficial and a few weeks of building and decorating created a more than adequate home, which would bring a decent rental income one the main house was inhabitable.

He had left work early on the Friday and headed to the house. It had been a week from hell and by lunchtime Friday he was ready to kill someone. Before he did something he would later regret he left and made his way to the house. Initially he had every intention of doing a good amount of the work himself. He had seen several home renovation shows, whilst laid up with a broken leg and it looked quite straight forward. However, he had soon learned that the building work was best left for the builders. Instead he had turned his focus to the grounds. 

Taking his bad week out on a particularly weed filled flower bed had been just the tonic he needed. He intended to put a water fountain and fish pond in here so as well as removing the weeds he was digging the ground quite deep. He had assumed he would find old bits of pottery, roots and stones. He had not expected to find an expensive brooch and bones.

Burleigh House 1899

It was early September and the end of the century was drawing near. The summer had been clinging on but today had brought a heavy afternoon rain fall. Alexandra opened the doors to the patio and took a deep breath of the rain soaked air. The rain had stopped and she decided that she wanted to go for a walk around the grounds. George was due back from the city later in the evening and the children were already tucked up in bed. She was due to give birth in a couple of months and sleep had been hard to come by. She had also been particularly uncomfortable for the last few days. Her previous pregnancies had not been quite so difficult and still with a good few weeks to go she was larger than she had been with both Bertie and Victoria. She had also been suffering from contractions for most of the day. It was nothing to worry about as it had happened with both of the other children.

She left the house and went out in to the garden. She loved the view over the hills to the west. The cloud had cleared to leave a beautiful red evening sky. The groundskeepers were in the process of removing a dead tree from the garden and there was a large hole in the ground in the centre of the lawn where it had once been. 

There had been workmen in the stables and she knew George would want to know what the state of the repairs was. She decided she would go down herself and look. Making her way along the path she found herself distracted by a little black puppy. She decided to follow it to see if it had a mother near by and made her way in to the tree line leading to the woods.

The light had faded significantly and was worse in the woods so she struggled to see the uneven ground properly. Deciding to turn round and head in she missed her footing and slipped, awkwardly. She tried to pull herself up but was struck by a sudden pain. It was a pain she had felt before and she realised that, despite not being due for some time, the latest member of the family was on his or her way.

Burleigh House 2021

DI Mike Calloway took a deep breath before explaining to the constable, who had turned up how he had come to find the body. He knew that his colleagues would eventually see the house and he would deal with the snide comments when they arose. He had been dealing with them since the first day at training school. His family, had been making them since he first announced his intention to become a police officer at the age of 11 after witnessing a murder himself. He was a Calloway and a life of public service was not what they did. His father would have been less bothered if he had turned to drugs and led a scandal filled life and wound up in prison or rehab.

Before too long the forensics team was on site. Mike was explaining yet again what happened this time to his detectives who had turned up. They estimated the remains to be around 100 years old. The bones had been wrapped in a ladies cloak and there was a glove near the body. The clothing appeared to date the body to the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. Mike was shaken for more reasons than one.  

When he had seen the mansion for sale he knew that he had to buy it. The house had once been owned by his Great Great Grandfather, and given the potential age of remains, it would have been in his families hands at the time of the death.

Burleigh House 1899

George Calloway arrived home at dusk. As the carriage had already pulled Mr. Barber the butler greeted him at the door and took his coat. “I am going to get changed, have the cook prepare something for dinner. Where is my wife? Why has she not come to greet me?”

“I am unsure sir. I will have the ladies maid find her.” 

“Good.”

George headed up the oak staircase and made his way to his room, he was joined shortly after by Mr. Barber who had already laid out his dinner clothes in case he returned wanting dinner. Mrs. Beatty the housekeeper had grumbled that a late dinner would put everyone behind schedule. However, she had soon got the kitchen staff preparing an evening meal. 

As George headed downstairs, he realised that his wife had still not made an appearance. He was too tired for an argument but with her recent links to the Suffragette movement she was becoming far too outspoken and a little petulant. People were already talking about her. Besides she was pregnant and should be putting her feet up. 

George entered the dining room expecting to see her there. Instead the table was empty except for two place settings. As he took his seat and dinner was served he received word that Alexandra was nowhere to be found. She had not asked for a carriage and had last been seen in the library. Concerned, he ordered all staff to search the grounds.

Burleigh House 2021

Two weeks had passed since the skeleton had been found. Mike had been waiting impatiently for DNA results to come back. Finally, just before he left for the weekend, he had received the call and the DNA had shown a familial match. There was no sign of trauma but the fact that the girl had been found in a flower bed suggested foul play.

Burleigh House 1899

The search had found nothing. The constabulary had been called and they were currently conducting a further search. However it was dark and the torches they had brought were not of much use. George was tired there was mud throughout the house he had concrete on his best shoes and he still had not eaten. Staff had confirmed no carriages had been ordered and her ladies maid confirmed that there were no clothes missing and she had not discussed a trip.

Telegrams had been sent to her family and to the other houses, to see if perhaps she had decided to travel although this was unlikely. 

Alexandra was in labour and she was a lot closer to giving birth than she thought. She had tried calling out but no one had come. It was now completely dark and she knew that trying to walk through the trees at the moment would not be a good idea. As she felt another contraction coming she got the overwhelming urge to push and she knew that the baby was coming whether she wanted it or not. 

A few minutes later she delivered a baby boy. Taking her cloak off she wrapped the baby in it and tried to stand.However, she was unable to stand and instead stayed where she was. George was going to be furious when he found out that she had put her baby at risk for a puppy. About 15 minutes after she gave birth she got another urge to push. This had never happened before and she was already exhausted. 

It dawned on her that she was having a second baby. She was not sure that she could summon up the strength for a second birth but she realised there was no choice and no help coming.

Burleigh House 2021

Mike had become determined to find out more about this body he had found in his garden that was showing a genetic link to his family. Who was she and more importantly, why was she buried in the garden. The builders had tested the strength of the stairs and with some careful footsteps he had ventured up them. He had taken some time off work, to look in to the case as his superiors were more worried about 21st Century Crime and had spent the last couple of weeks searching the house.

There had been no clues in any of the bedrooms then he did not expect that there would be. He did still have the former nursery and staff quarters to search but the house had been through other owners. He had asked his father to send any old family records. The picture of his Great Great Grandparents and their children by a newly planted Cherry tree, confirmed that the body had been buried whilst they lived at the house. 

Having researched on line, and on ancestry sites, he had discovered an article from a local paper about a girl who had worked at the house being sacked for relations with a local builder whilst they were carrying out works on the stables. This made him think. What if a maid had become pregnant and had hidden the baby? Maybe the baby was his Great Great Grandfather’s. An affair and scandal would have ruined him. Could he be a murderer? 

Burleigh House 1899.

The second baby was coming out all wrong. Alexandra could feel it. Alone, scared and tired she tried to grab the legs, and pull the baby out, but the blood was making it too difficult. She knew from talking to local farmers at the village fair that when an animal was breech it needed to be dealt with quickly. She had barely any energy left but she pushed with everything she had. The cries of the new baby were drowned out by her own screams. She pleaded for someone to hear her and come to her rescue but no one came, other than the black puppy who had caused her these problems.

Cursing the animal she gave another push and the baby came out a bit further. She grabbed hold of the babies ankles and pulled as hard as she could and finally the baby was freed. Lifting it up she realised that it was not breathing. She tried doing what the doctors had done with her first two but nothing seemed to bring the baby round. After half an hour of trying she realised it was no use. The child was not alive. Placing the body on the ground she looked at it for the first time and realised it was a girl. 

Alexandra sat back against a tree and wept. Exhaustion, grief and joy overwhelmed her. She picked up the baby boy and took the time to feed him. She could see the light starting to peer through the trees and realised that it was already morning. George would be worried sick.

Hurriedly she rose to her feet. Carefully, cradling her new born son, she attempted to gather her daughter but she was unable to bare the weight. She realised it did not matter at this time. The child was not alive, but her son was and he needed to be warm. She made her way unsteadily through the wood, followed by the cursed black puppy. 

As she emerged on to the path she was spotted by Mr. Cartwright the stable manager. He called for one of the grooms to fetch George. Before long she found herself being hurried to her bed. Bloodied and tired, dazed and exhausted, she fell on to the mattress and slept for the next day.

When she woke, she was surrounded by people. Dr. Rogers, George, her ladies maid, one of the new members of staff whose name eluded her. She tried to speak but was hushed by George who demanded an explanation for what she was doing out by herself. He in turn was hushed by his mother who Alexandra had just noted was in the room. Everyone, congratulating her on the new arrival. George had decided to name him George William Calloway after himself. 

Alexandra realised that she could not tell her husband about their daughter. He would never forgive her. A few days later the fuss had died down and she was able to take a walk. She had decided to name the Girl Blossom Rose. As she made her way to the woods she noted that the hole was still in the ground. Spotting the head gardener, she said that she had changed her mind and she wanted a Cherry Blossom planted there, with spring flowers all around. He said he knew of a tree that could fetch and plant tomorrow and that he would partly fill in the hole now as there was no need for it to be quite so big.

Alexandra smiled but her eyes did not follow. Changing her plans she headed back inside. After dark she left the house and made her way to the woods, followed by the black puppy who had seemingly been adopted by the children. She made her way to where she had left Blossom and gently picked her up. Carrying her carefully to the garden, wrapped in her now blood stained and ruined cloak, she placed the tiny parcel on the ground whilst she dug the now partially filled hole once more. Making sure she was deep enough, she took the baby and placed her in the ground. She did not notice her glove fall out of her pocket. Carefully she packed dirt on top of the body and left the hole more or less as she had found it.

Burleigh House 2021

Mike had reached the old nursery. May be it would be a nursery again sometime. That would at least make his mother happy. As he walked in he pictured His Great Great Grandparents in the garden with the three children one of whom looked about 9 months old. He knew there were at least three more children and that there has also been a boy who had died in infancy which was not uncommon. None of them could have been the baby girl he had found.

Again the room was damp and bare. However as he walked across the floor he hit a loose floor board. This was not unusual in this house, however, on closer inspection he saw marks around it that gave it the look of having been removed and replaced. Bending down he lifted the board and reached in. There was a small note book and an embroidered cloth with the initials BRC embroidered in pink.

He carefully opened the notebook only one page was written on.

Burleigh House 1915

As I write this Albert, has been at sea since September fighting. I pray this war ends quickly and with little blood shed. I have held my secret for so long now and I know if I ever tell I may be taken to the gallows. Not a day goes by when I do not think of that night. Whilst shadow went on to become a loved pet, I could never look at the dog without thinking of my beautiful girl. I was not able to mourn then and it was not until we lost Leo that I was able to show grief and even then no one knew the true extent.

I can stay silent no longer and so I write my story or confession in this diary. It may not help the guilt but to be able to let it out is a relief. I look out and see the Blossom on the Cherry Tree and see how beautiful it looks. Only I know that the true beauty of that tree lies in the ground beneath it.

My precious Blossom.

Burleigh House 2021

Mike shut the diary and wiped a tear from his eye. He knew the story that of Albert, his great grandfather and the war. He came back a hero and now he knew the story of the body in the garden. 

Mike walked over to open the window and could see the hole. Although the original Cherry Blossom had died prior to him digging it up he realised in that moment that the only thing for that spot was a new Cherry Blossom.

March 18, 2021 23:38

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