Neuaddllwyd

by Aurora

Copyright© 2019 by Aurora

Mystery Story: A man loses his family and when he recovers he takes his sister away to find somwhere else to live. Strange things happen, but just how much should he worry about them? Mystery may be debatable and there are only references to sex

Tags: Ma/Fa   Romantic   Heterosexual   Fiction   Extra Sensory Perception   Ghost  

We end up in West Wales in this tale (because that is where I live) and the problem is that although everyone speaks English, all the true locals, nearly 50%, speak Welsh (I don’t). This affects almost all of the place names – some of them have English alternatives, but in most cases the connection isn’t obvious (Cardigan, for instance, is Aber Teifi [Tavy]) The biggest problem is that there are letters, letter pairs and double letters which don’t sound as they do in English. Where the pronunciation isn’t obvious I have indicated what it is. Apart from the few main roads most of roads are narrow and twisting, that applies to many of the main roads too, and getting lost isn’t difficult.

So let’s get started:

Neuaddllwyd

It was the day before Christmas Eve, as indeed it is today, sitting here in an attempt to record the events of the last few years. That day my wife, Sarah, was out with our two children Timmy and Tansy, doing all those last minute things that just have to be done to make everything ‘just right’ for the holiday. She had a great zest for life, but she particularly loved Christmas, everything about it she really enjoyed, although I don’t really know whether she was that much in to the religious aspects of the festival, but then how many people are? She was very private about her personal beliefs and although I made no secret of my own atheism it was something which we had a tacit agreement not to discuss; it wasn’t sufficiently important to bother about. The children hadn’t been inducted into any religion because that was one thing we both agreed upon, when they were old enough to choose then they could sign up to whichever one the fancied. Or not.

Now that may seem an odd way to start off this tale, but it is relevant because on her way home the traffic on the by-pass came to a halt some distance from the roundabout at the end. She pulled up behind a supermarket delivery wagon. Unfortunately a poorly maintained truck from the local quarry, working late and in the charge of a driver who was in a hurry to get rid of his load and get home, I guess some builder or other wanted to be able to make a start immediately after the Christmas/New Year holiday, was behind her. He was texting his girl friend to tell her that he was late when he failed to notice that the traffic in front had stopped, with the result that about twenty-eight tonnes of truck and load travelling a fifty miles an hour ended up embedded in the back of the supermarket wagon. Somewhere in between them was my wife’s car, my wife and my children. If, as was pointed out to me later, there was anything about this that you could claim was a blessing, it was that they knew nothing about it. Their lives ended in the time it takes you to flick off a light switch. I can’t tell you how comforting that is. I mean, I really can’t tell you that.

I’d spent the day in my office at home working on the plans and specifications for a job that was to start in the new year, so that I would be able to enjoy the holiday with my family. I had been concentrating on the work and really had no idea what the time was when I had a sudden feeling that something dreadful had happened. It was over in a moment, but left me feeling that something was ... missing. I looked down at the time, ten past three.

I shook my head and went back to work until some time later when the door bell rang. I saved the work which was all but complete and went to answer the door. I, for some reason, assumed that it was my wife with her arms full of shopping wanting to be let in, rather than use her key, so I was stepping back as I opened the door to allow her to enter, when I realised that on the doorstep were two police constables. I had a sinking feeling when I saw them, because if it wasn’t bad news, why else would they be there? The problem they had had was that it had taken some time to pull the quarry truck back, and only then could they determine the car’s registration number, and all the DVLA could tell them was the name of the registered keeper and their address. So when I answered the door they reasonably assumed, correctly of course, that I was the husband.

“Mr Smith?”

“Yes.”

“Your wife is Mrs Sarah Smith?”

“Yes, what’s happened?”

“There’s been an accident sir. Can we come in?”

I don’t think I need to go further with that conversation, it upsets me even now to think of it, save to say that I learned the time of the accident. 15.10 in police speak. You may take it that by the time they had told me as much as they knew I was devastated, my lovely cuddly wife and my wonderful children were gone. Just like that.

The next few weeks were umm ... difficult. I had to identify the bodies, they did their best but mangled remains is the best I can say. There were lots of other official things to be done, and of course family, in the form of my sister, our parents were no longer with us, and friends all helped, but I’m not sure that made it any easier. In fact I don’t think there would be any way to make it easier. I passed over the contracts I had on hand to some friends, and when I wasn’t doing anything that had to be done I just vegetated. I’d always found people with religion a bit tiresome, but I think that it might have helped to have something to lean on, or possibly someone to blame, but there we are, other than the truck driver, I didn’t. I guess you might say it was lucky that we had been insured, but I’d rather have just paid the premiums and kissed the money goodbye than claim on the policies, but that was what they were for and I ended up fairly well off. There was the life policy on Sarah, the policy that settled the mortgage, I hadn’t been bothered about taking those out in joint name but she had insisted that fair was fair, she would benefit in the event of my death and it should be the other way around too. The insurers for the truck eventually paid out a very substantial sum, nothing like what I considered my family was worth, and the insurers paid for the car. As if I gave a flying fuck about a poxy three year old Ford Focus, but there we are.

I spent the next few months feeling not a lot, and doing no more than was necessary to get by. I called it mourning but after a while everyone else said I was just feeling sorry for myself, and they were probably right. Perhaps. Finally my sister, who being single had been able to pretty well move in with me, and who had been a tower of strength, had a conniption and told me to pull myself together, that Sarah certainly wouldn’t have wanted to see me as the pathetic apology for a human being that I had become, and that I should sort myself out and get on with the rest of my life. Nice.

That night I had a visit from Sarah, it was a dream really I know, but it felt extremely real. She told me much the same thing, she and the children were gone, they didn’t want to be forgotten, but I had the rest of my life to live and it was about time I got on with it. I woke up the next morning feeling more refreshed than I had since ... well, since all this started.

That morning the first thing I decided to do was sell the house. I’d really given up work because I didn’t need to work any more, and the way I had been over the last few months I really wouldn’t have been much use anyway.

“What are you going to do?” asked my sister. Belinda, usually called Belle, by the way.

“I’m going to buy a motor home and tour around, Belle.”

“Where’ll you go?”

“Nowhere in particular, just around. I thought I might settle somewhere else, but I’ve no idea where.”

Belle looked a bit despondent. Both our parents were dead and she was still single, though for the life of me I’ve no idea why because she was very attractive, went in and out in the right places and as far as I could see, with my male hat on rather than my brotherly one, was very tasty. Hey! But my sister for heavens sake!

“D’you want to come with me?” I asked her, slightly tongue in cheek

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve got a job, there’s my flat, and what would I do? I’m sure a motor home would be far to small for the two of us, I’m not your wife you know!”

I suddenly realised that, rather than tongue in cheek it was actually a good idea.

“They do come with more than one bed, you know, I’m not suggesting anything improper, but we’ve always got on well and I reckon it could be fun. Mum and Dad aren’t here any more so what is there to keep you?”

“I’ll give it some thought.”

We sat in companionable silence for a few minutes and then she spoke again.

“Right, I’ll hand in my notice tomorrow and then we can look for a suitable vehicle at the weekend. If you buy the right one then we could tow my little car behind it, I’ve seen lots of people doing that.”

“What about your flat?”

“I’ll rent it out, I know one of the girls at work who would like to rent it so that she can get away from her parents. Then if things don’t work out I’ll have somewhere to come back to,” she grinned at me. “Come on bro let’s have a drink to celebrate.”


It took us six weeks to find the right motor home, also known as motor caravans or often referred to just as vans, meantime Belinda moved into my spare room permanently. The vehicle we found had a central shower/toilet and kitchen with a bedroom at the back and a bed over the cab at the front, so we both had our own sleeping area with access to the facilities. We had Belle’s car fitted up to be towed behind it. My car we traded against the motor home so that just left my house, but since it would sell better if it was furnished that was the way we left it. If someone decided to buy it we could come back and tidy things up and put the furniture into storage.

And so we set off on our ... odyssey.

It was already July and that of course meant high season for holiday makers. We both knew the south coast pretty well, and as children we had spent many of our holidays in the west country and whilst each has much to recommend it, both for amenities and beautiful countryside, in summer the whole area is crawling with holiday makers. Besides if I wanted somewhere to settle it had to be secluded and that would be difficult to find in the south, particularly at a sensible price, add to that a desire for either mountains or rugged coast and, well, we had to go further afield. So we headed up the east coast. Much of it seems to be very flat with wide open skies but maybe we just hit the wrong time since there seemed to be an east wind blowing all the time, and despite the sun shining it was damned cold. It just took the edge off some beautiful countryside. We stayed in various places and toured around, but really couldn’t find anywhere that clicked so we crossed from east to west. I guess when I thought about it the idea of straying too far north didn’t appeal either, winter nights are longer and spring later, not by a lot I’ll grant you, but there we are, fussy, but why shouldn’t I be?

We crossed into North Wales and things looked up. Mountains! And rugged coast! We pushed on west, enjoyed riding on the narrow gauge railways, went up and down Snowdon, although we did that on foot, but there were just so many people! I guess it is inevitable, but I was certainly becoming a little depressed as we headed down the west side of the Cambrian mountains. So I guess I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should to navigating as Belle drove through a fine misty rain, and we got lost. What we could see of the hillsides was well wooded and on either side of the narrow lane were well maintained stone walls.

“Better stop if we can find somewhere,” I told Belle.

“Right.”

It was another five minutes before a wide layby appeared, and Belle pulled in and switched off. I looked out. In the middle of the layby there was what had once been a smart entrance with stone pillars and wing walls, now, sadly, in poor condition, with a pair of rusty wrought iron gates sagging from them in an open position. Beyond the gates was a tarmac drive which now had grass growing up through the centre. The drive disappeared over a slight rise so it was impossible to see where it led. By the gates was an estate agent’s ‘For Sale’ board that looked as though it had been there for many years.

“Shall we have a cup of tea and sort out what we are doing?” asked Belinda.

A few minutes later we had mugs of tea and were looking at the map trying to figure out where we were when a battered white Japanese 4x4 pickup passed and pulled in front of us. I watched as a large man got out of the drivers seat it.

“I thing your prince just turned up,” I said grinning at Belle.

“My prince?”

“Well I know a white charger is the normal thing, but a white pick up truck is much the same in these parts.”

“Ha! Ha!”

I opened the door as the man approach.

“Step inside, you’ll just get wet out there,” I told him.

The man who squeezed himself through the admittedly narrow doorway was about our age, and being in Wales I put him down, correctly as it turned out, as a rugby player.

“My sister and I are lost and hopefully you can help us,” I went on.

He was looking at Belle like a man who had just come in from the desert would look at a cool beer. I glanced at Belle and saw from the look on her face that she would be perfectly happy to quench his thirst. Well this was a turn up because I knew that her interactions with men had been few and not very successful, to the point where I had wondered ... well, you know.

I coughed and continued.

“My sister Belinda Smith, Mr...”

He turned to me. “I’m sorry, Gethin Williams.” The accent was quite soft, nothing like you would get in the south. He thrust out his hand. “You’re lost? You’re not far from the main road, couple of miles the way you’re going.”

I shook his hand. “I’m Martin Smith,” I completed the introduction.

We had a general discussion about the area and the weather for a few minutes when another battered 4x4 pickup stopped. This time a red one.

“That’s my brother, Gavin,” Gethin told us.

When Gavin entered we had a repeat of the interaction with an entranced Belle.

“Twin brother?” I asked. Apparently I was correct. “Gentlemen, would you like tea?” I went on. “Or,” I said, looking at the clock, “we could have a beer.”

“Oh, yes please,” said practically in unison. They sat and Belle got up to get them a beer. Their eyes followed her most of the time.

“Could we park here overnight?” I asked them.

They looked at each other, a change from looking at Belle.

“Not a lot of traffic along here,” said Gavin.

“But you’d be okay if you backed into the driveway, no one’s been up there for years,” added Gethin.

“Yes, about that,” I asked, “What is up there?”

I looked at the map which was still unfolded on the table. “It says ... hell, I can’t pronounce that!”

“Neuaddllwyd,” said Gavin. It sounded roughly like Newthloyd, but there was the double L sound in the middle. It translates as ‘Grey Hall’.

The brothers looked at each other; there was something in the look.

“There’s a story here isn’t there?” I asked.

“Yeah, the people who lived there were killed in a road accident, we don’t know much about it, we were only toddlers at the time.” said Gethin. “They drove off the road coming out of town, that was before it was straightened and the Armco put in. No one knows why, there could have been another vehicle or they could have just skidded, he was reckoned to be a bit of a dare devil driver. That happened twenty odd years ago, place has been empty since.”

“Why? It’s got a ‘For Sale’ board on it. The only reason I can think no one would buy it is if it was over priced. Or there’s some dispute over the title.”

“No,” Gavin this time. He paused. “It’s haunted.”

“Haunted?”

“You won’t believe it, but everyone who has ever looked at it has come away refusing to go back. They haven’t even cleared it, it’s just as they left it.

“They?”

“The people who lived there, a solicitor in town is the executor, he put it in the hands of a local estate agent, but that was as far as it went. There was a daughter but she’d left home, fell out with her father and left, never been seen since. Nobody knew where she was.”

The brothers were alternating their contributions to the story.

“Father rented the land off the estate and we took it over when he died.”

“You didn’t buy it?”

“Would’ve but they wouldn’t separate the land from the house and we didn’t want that, it wasn’t in good condition even then and we didn’t need it. Remember we were only toddlers at the time, so most of what we’ve told you is what we’ve heard from other people,” finished off Gethin.

I sat there deep in thought for a minute.

“You’re going to look into it aren’t you bro?” Belinda spoke for the first time in a little while. “I just know you too well.”

“First,” I said, “we need to eat. Is there a pub that does food near here?” I addressed the last part to the brothers.

“Yes, the Black Lion in the village. That’s where the main road is. We’ll be down there later for a drink.”

“Great, we’ll get this off the road and then go down there. We’ll see you later.”

The brothers left and we set to disconnecting Belle’s car and backing the van into the driveway.

“You didn’t answer, Martie,” Belle said as we drove down to the pub.

“I’m just interested, it may be a total heap of rubbish, but you know somehow this place seems ... I don’t know ... comfortable, somewhere I’d like to live although with this weather I can’t think why. We’ll see. Besides, I reckon you’d like to see more of our new friends.”

Belle had the good grace to blush. “They did seem quite nice.”

I laughed. “Yeah, right.”


We had a good meal in the pub, everyone seemed friendly, particularly the landlord’s daughter, a pretty, slightly cuddly dark haired girl, well, I say girl but she must have been late twenties and she was, shall we say, friendly.

“I think she fancies you,” Belle laughed. “I’d better tell her I’m your sister, don’t want to put her off.”

Just as we finished Gavin and Gethin joined us. We had a convivial evening and they told us about their careers as rugby players, although they were not professional it seems they had been well respected. It got to the point where I decided that I wanted to get back. I had in fact just stifled a yawn when Belle spoke.

“I’m going home with the boys tonight, Martie, you go on back to the van and I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Right,” I said, drained my glass, shook the guys’ hands and said, “look after her.”

They grinned, “We will.”

Belle gave me a kiss on the cheek and I left. I wasn’t sure whether I was surprised or not, but as long as she was happy, and I was sure she would be, and for some reason I felt she would be safe too, so I wasn’t worried.

I drove back to the motor home, I’ll admit that I’d probably had a drop more to drink than I should have done, but the weather had cleared and there was bright moonlight so I had little problem, but as I approached the van I thought I saw a woman walking away up the drive. I parked and looked after her, but she had disappeared. Curious.


I woke early to bright sunlight after a dream which for the life of me I could not recall, one of those dreams that you feel should have meant something, not a nightmare, but sort of meaningful, scratching at the corner of my mind. Coffee was the first order of the day.

I was sitting at the table with my first mug when the white pickup pulled up, and after what I interpreted as a long snog, Belle emerged. The driver waved to me and Belle as he left. She came in with a beautific smile on her face.

“Is there more coffee in that pot? I’m going to have to take them in hand, Nescafé, yeuch,” but the smile held.

“Did you have a good time?” I asked with a grin.

“Oh yes! Could you put the water on for a shower please? We’ve things to do today and I need to freshen up a bit.”

I sniffed. “Yes, I can see that would be necessary,” still grinning, and ducking as she swung at me.

“Their mother is terribly sweet, told me if I could cope with the pair of them I could have them,” Belle giggled.

“And you obviously can.”

“Oh yes,” her smile didn’t seem to want to stop.


After we had both had a shower and dressed we decided the first thing we should do was walk up the drive and just have a look at the house and the barns and things I assumed went with it. I had had a look on Google Earth. As we stepped down out of the van Belle gave a slight intake of breath.

“You okay?”

“Bum’s a bit sore.”

“Why ... oh!”

“How do you think you satisfy two enthusiastic men at the same time.”

“Ah yes.”

Not the sort of information I wanted.

We walked up the slight rise of the drive and as we came to the crest we could see into a shallow valley with the mountains rising beyond, and two or three hundred yards away was the house and to one side the barns and other buildings that would be required for a working farm.

Beyond the house there was a small river. It all looked idyllic, and fine from this distance but as we got nearer the state of the place began to look distinctly run down. I had been reading about the area and one of the nearby attractions was a farm house designed by the eighteenth century architect John Nash, a place called Llanerchaeron which belonged to the National Trust. This was clearly a copy, nowhere near exact, but you could see a clear resemblance.

The paint was peeling off the windows and there was putty missing, although all the glass appeared intact. The brickwork was in good condition considering this was the main weather side, but I could see that some slates had been lost from the roof and that surely meant that there would be water damage inside. The front was almost hidden under a virginia creeper which had probably protected the brickwork.

As we slowly approached the front door Belle gripped my arm.

“Bron said that no one stays in there for very long, they say the atmosphere is so strong, so depressing that they just have to get out.”

“Bron?”

“The boys mum, you’ll like her. We’re invited to supper this evening by the way.”

“Well let’s see if we survive this first.”

I stepped up to the door and turned the knob. The door swung open. Inside was a small lobby with double doors which were open giving access to the main hall which was brightly lit by a large lantern in the roof allowing the sunlight to flood in. The stairs went up on one side and on the other side were doors giving access to reception rooms. The place was fully furnished although there were cobwebs and dust and dead flies everywhere. It was quite incredible, it appeared as though at a point in time everything had just stopped, which I suppose it had. Although musty, the atmosphere seemed warm and welcoming, which was at odds with everything we had been told so far.

I looked at Belle.

“Not what I was expecting.”

She nodded, still hanging on to my arm.

We tried the first door which swung open to reveal a magnificent drawing room with arch topped windows from floor almost to the ceiling on the long side of the room, south I reckoned. The furniture, everything, was in exactly the same condition as the hall. This was bizarre. The room felt ... loved, it felt as though you wanted to sit down and enjoy it. Double doors went into the dining room with another door back into the hall. The rest of the house was similar, although upstairs there was considerable damage to the plasterwork and decorations from the exposed roof, but it really wasn’t impossibly bad. All very strange. I mean, this house was worth a great deal of money, and yet no one wanted it. We went outside and had a quick look at the outbuildings but I had already decided that we needed to get into town and talk to the agent.


The town itself was somewhat unusual. It was split in two by the main coast road. In the centre of town on landward side was a large rectangular recreation ground with business and domestic premises on the roads either side overlooking it. Lining the main road on either side with the exception of the frontage of the recreation ground was the same but with a larger number of business premisses. The rest of the town on the seaward side was accessed by several streets the major one being where the estate agent’s office was situated. This street went past an inner harbour and down to the seafront. We found ourselves a parking space down there. Walking back up the street the one thing that struck you was colour. The buildings were all Georgian in character, with double fronted rendered façades, rendered string courses and fake ashlar quoins and lintels. All were colour washed in shades from cream to bright red, yellow and blue with strings and ashlar lintels and sills picked out in contrasting colours.

The estate agents office was similar to every other one I’ve ever been in, it’s either a sad lack of imagination or that’s the only way you can do it.

“Bora da,” I said to the girl behind the first desk who had a name tag on her blouse. “Ceris. I’ve seen your board outside a property called Neuaddllwyd. Do you have the details. Price. That sort of thing?”

She looked a little perplexed.

“What was the name of the property?”

“Neuaddllwyd.”

She went to a filing cabinet and riffled through some files, then closed the drawer. She seemed perplexed. She looked across at an older lady.

“Gwen, do we have a property called Neuaddllwyd on our books?”

Gwen, the older lady looked up.

“Say again?”

“Neuaddllwyd.”

The colour drained from Gwen’s face.

“Y y you’ll have to ask m my husband,” she stuttered. But she rose and went to a door at the back of the office and opened it and went in.

“I’m sorry about the delay,” said Ceris, looking even more perplexed.

A moment later the door at the back opened and a man came out followed by Gwen. He strode across to us, his hand extended.

“Alun Price,” he said.

I shook his hand.

“Martin Smith, and my sister Belinda Smith,” I told him.

“You’re interested in Neuaddllwyd?” I nodded. “You’d better come into my office.”

We followed him into his office and sat down; he arranged for one of the ladies to bring us coffee.

“I’m not sure what the state of play is on that,” he said. “I’ll just ring the solicitors who are the executors. We were instructed, but that was back in my father’s day, but no one wanted to buy it, and I’m not sure if the instruction still stands.”

He was dialling a number whilst he said the last part.

“Hello Nia it’s Alun Price, is Dai available? ... hello Dai how are you ... yes fine. I’ve got someone in my office who is interested in Neuaddllwyd ... Neuaddllwyd, yes, you are the executors ... oh well, yes, yes, your father, but like mine he won’t be much help now ... the Williams brothers, Gavin and Gethin, yes, but we’ll deal with that if it gets that far ... right so the instruction stands ... an offer yes, well we’ll have to see ... yes I suppose so, but you can come with me! ... okay, I’ll let you know.

He put the phone down and looked at us.

“Well the instruction stands ... you’d like to view?”

“No,” I said. “We’ve already viewed, it is open, you know.”

“No, I didn’t, I was wondering where the key could be. I think it would be best if I have a look at the place later today and if we can meet here tomorrow I’ll have more idea of what sort of offer would be acceptable. Shall we say 10 oclock?”

“That would be fine,” I said.

We shook hands and Belle and I left.


“Well what did you make of that?” I asked Belle when we got back to the car.

“Interesting,” she replied. “Gwen’s face gave away a lot, as did the half of the telephone conversation that we heard, I think we could fill in the other side. It seems that the stories we’ve heard so far are substantiated, at least in part. But it doesn’t tie up with what we found this morning.”

“It doesn’t does it? Now I think we’ll pull the van out of the drive, they’ll want to get in, and the lay by is long enough so that shouldn’t be a problem, and then we’ll go sight seeing, we’re supposed to be tourists anyway.”

We called in at the pub for a snack lunch.

“That motor caravan up the road yours is it?” asked the landlord as he pulled me a pint.

“Yes,” I said.

“I got a space on the campsite out back if you’re interested, you’d have all the facilities then.”

I looked at Belle.

“Seems like a good idea to me,” she said.

So an hour later we were parked up behind the pub and connected to water and electricity. Before we left to do our touristy bit the landlord came over.

“You’re alright there then? Thinking of buying Neuaddllwyd are you? It’s a fine property” he laughed.

“It is,” I replied. “Depends on the price.”

“Well that’s a first, no one ever got as far as asking the price before!”

“Just as well,” I said. “There doesn’t seem to be an answer!”

We went off to do touristy things.


Williams farm was roughly halfway between the pub and the entrance to Neuaddllwyd, and as we were driving up towards the farm for supper we had to stop for another car which sped past us. There were two men in the car and I recognised the driver, Alun Price, and I assumed the other was the solicitor. Neither looked to left or right and both were white as sheets. I looked at Belle, she shrugged and indicated that she had no idea either.

The Williams boys were scrubbed until they shone, and Belle was right, I did like their mother. I had imagined her to be a wizened little old lady but nothing could be further from the truth, I shook hands with a lady of about fifty who had probably been a very attractive young woman and who was now an outstandingly beautiful woman. She was dressed in a long red skirt, a white blouse with a black crocheted shawl over it and long wavy black hair tumbling around her shoulders. If Belle and the boys couldn’t keep their eyes off each other I was certainly having difficulty in dragging mine away from Bron Williams. And from the grin on her face she clearly knew it. If you looked up ‘farmhouse kitchen’ on Wikipedia there would undoubtedly be a picture of the room we were standing in. Supper was wonderful, a roasted leg of their own lamb, and all the vegetables grown in their own garden. It doesn’t get better than that. After an apple pie with pastry to die for I was replete and I think the others were too. The conversation was interesting too, although none of it was relevant to Neuaddllwyd.

“A little something to help it all on its way,” said Bron, rising and taking glasses from the dresser, from a cupboard she produced a bottle and poured a dark red liquid into each of the glasses.

“Mother’ll never tell us what’s in it,” said Gethin, “but it’s good.”

“In time I shall tell Belinda,” said his mother, “and she will pass it to her daughters.”

There was no doubt that Gethin was right about whatever it was we were drinking, and it appeared that Bron was quite sure that Belle was staying. I only wanted her to be happy.

The boys and Belle had finished their drinks and were beginning to ... look a bit ... twitchy.

“Why don’t you take a walk outside before bedtime,” Bron told them. “A bit of fresh air before bed will do you good.”

The three of them virtually chased each other out of the door, like a group of teenagers.

Bron topped up my glass.

“They are like teenagers aren’t they? But she copes very well with them though, they are inseparable and no other girls have ever been able to manage them, seem to think one at a time is the way,” she smiled.

“Well Belle has surprised me, but as long as she’s happy.”

“They’ll treat her well. Tell me about yourself.”

“Not much to tell. Well maybe a little bit,” I altered the last bit as she was shaking her head. “I’m an architect and I was doing alright building my own business until my wife and children were killed by a lorry driver who was texting at the time. Belle looked after me until I got my act together and I decided that I wanted to move somewhere new, and Belle came with me. And that’s it to date.”

“It hurt you badly.”

“Yes.”

“But you are recovering.”

“I think so, I still miss Sarah and the children, but they have gone and I have to move on. In touring around this is the first place in which I have felt ... comfortable.”

“She is still looking after you,” she nodded. “You will buy Neuaddllwyd.” It was a statement. “The house will welcome you. There is a problem there which you will have to solve. That is why no one else has been welcome, whatever it is, is waiting for you. I know you are attracted to me,” she smiled, “but I am not for you, there will be another, but it will be a little while before you meet her.”

I looked at her.

“No, I am not a witch, I just have feelings about things. That is why I cannot tell you any details. Whatever is in the house tolerates me, it likes Belle, but you are the special one. Do not bid too high when you see Alun tomorrow.”

I nodded my head appreciating what she had said.

“I think perhaps I should go now. Thank you for a wonderful meal, thank you for your advice and thank you for accepting Belle.”

“It is no problem, we will speak more. Good night.

I wished her good night and left. I didn’t see Belle but I was sure she was safe. And probably enjoying herself!


The following morning Belle arrived back in time to change ready for our meeting and we arrived in the agent’s office with a couple of minutes to spare. On the way there we had discussed how much I was intending to offer for Neuaddllwyd. I’d obviously given it a great deal of thought and come to the conclusion that given all the circumstances it was worth a try at £250k. I was sure the land was worth something around that figure and it seemed not too unreasonable to argue that the house had very little value. Belle told me there had been a discussion over breakfast this morning and that was the figure that Bron had come up with, and it seems the boys, curious that that was how I thought of them, they were in fact a similar age to me, agreed. Nice to have everyone discussing my business, but I guess they were working on my side.

We were greeted at the office by Gwen who showed us into her husbands office immediately.

“G good morning, Mr and, uh, Miss Smith,” he seemed a little unsure of himself this morning, but indicated for us to be seated. “Now, Neuaddllwyd, the executors, that is Davies and Davies, find your offer acceptable, so if we could just complete a few details, your address, proof of identity and the name of your solicitor we can...”

“My offer?” I interrupted him.

“Er, yes, I don’t seem to have it written down,” he shuffled some papers, “but it was £250,000, wasn’t it?”

Belle and I looked at each other, this had gone from bizarre to clean out of the window.

“Yes, that’s correct,” I confirmed.

I gave him all the necessary details, he photocopied my passport as proof of identity, it seems you have to do this, and prove where the money comes from to prevent money laundering, which of course it doesn’t, it merely makes honest citizens feel like criminals. Criminals are of course ... criminals, so it doesn’t make any difference to them. But government ministers like to be seen to be doing something, passing laws and that sort of thing, and being honest people, well mere amateurs at criminality, they don’t understand that criminals don’t obey laws because they are ... criminals.

Formalities complete we shook hands and went to find a decent cup of coffee. I phoned my solicitor to give him the necessary instructions. Ralf was a personal friend from school, and I told him all about it, well, I didn’t tell him all of it, partly because, well no mainly because, I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. I had, it seemed, just agreed to buy a property for about half of what I reckoned it was worth and practically had my hand snatched off. And all because it was supposed to be haunted! I say supposed to be because I had seen no evidence of this whatsoever. Well ... I did see that woman the other night, at least I thought I did. He told me he thought it was a great idea, something for me to get stuck into and take my mind off things.

“I suppose,” I said to Belle, “that we ought to go and have a closer look at what I have just bought.”

She thought that that would be a good idea.


Since it was a lovely day we decided that we would pick up some bits and pieces and a bottle of wine and have a picnic, with a bit of luck we could maybe get down to the river bank, and then after that we’d be able to explore.

An hour later we parked in front of the house and made our way around the south, the garden side of the house and across what had been a lawn, and found a gate that gave access to a meadow which was obviously grazed by the Williams’ sheep. From there we headed in the direction of the river. It was about two hundred yards to the river at this point. That is rather a grand description for a watercourse that was no more than fifteen feet across at this time in late summer, although there was room for it to reach perhaps forty feet in winter, and probably more if it flooded, but looking at the fall of the ground I suspected that it would probably speed up to clear any extra water. We got stuck in to our picnic and I poured wine into the plastic ‘glasses’ we had purchased.

“Well it seems that I’m going to be staying here, Belle,” I told her. “But what are you intending to do?”

“I’m going to stay here with you,” she replied. “This house is just wonderful.”

“What about the boys?”

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