JULIAN AND BIFFO BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER
“Cripes!” Julian nearly jumps out of his skin - twizzling round to face the music.
“I say, old chap, sorry about that. Didn’t mean to give you a start – well, not too much
of one, anyway – just couldn’t resist it, don’t you know?”
Biffo is grinning rather sheepishly and the familiar pipe-smoke – Fribourg and what’s-
it, Julian remembers - billows all around him. With an instinct born of 13-years skating round the rim of disaster, Julian assesses that he is in no immediate danger, but decides to proceed with caution just the same.
“’Ullo, Guv. Didn’t mean no ‘arm – just ’avin’ a butcher’s, like……”
“Do so understand, old thing – spent most of the time doing much the same when
I was your age. That’s the best thing about Amblewick – plenty of space to muck
about in - nooks and crannies to explore.
Julian’s mouth is hanging open rather. This is not quite what he was expecting.
“What, you don’t mind, Guv?”
“Not a scrap, old son – might do a dash of exploring together one of these days –
point you in a few interesting directions. Quite a lot of experience with the old place,
what? Discovered any secret passages, yet, have you?”
The mouth opens wider than ever.
“Coo-er! Secret passages, an’all, are there?”
“Oh, yes, I rather think there are….”
Biffo glances at a gilded pineapple set into the paneling to the right of the chimney
breast – and then thinks better of it.
“Might be a good idea to check this room out one day when there’s no one else
about. So much more fun ‘sussing things out’ for yourself, I seem to remember.”
“What, you mean I can come in here and muck about on me own, Guv?”
“Why ever not? The old house hasn’t had any fun since me sister Corrie and I were
forced to grow up and forget everything we knew. Except that we’ve never quite
“Ghosts, are there any ghosts?”
“So the stories go…..”
“Seen’em, ‘ave yer, Guv?”
“Afraid not, old dear. Corrie and I used to get strange feelings, though – shadows
and cold spots when it was hot and sunny outside – creaking floor-boards behind
us when the house was empty except for us….. One room in particular……. Who
Biffo winks, and Julian finally begins to relax – a little bit too soon, perhaps.
A dark shadow glides phantom-like from the Billiards room and stands silhouetted
against the late afternoon sunlight slanting through the French windows behind
Mr Parsons has materialised…….