“Guess we’ll have to lock you both in Mrs. Ferrison’s tower rooms,” Jersey said with relish. “What with Mr. Sykes wandering off and Mr. Tumlin caterwauling with his snores, the fact that the chamber’s haunted won’t bother the rest of us a bit!”
To Rufus’ surprise Miss Magnet stuck her head out the window, her blue eyes alight.
“Oh!” she said, “is this Inn really reputed to be haunted?”
Jersey turned right around in his seat and told the tale.
“Word is, Miss Magnet, that the previous owner of this Inn, before Mr. Ferrison bought it, mind you, was dreadfully terrified of snakes. Seems he’d been off to India in his youth and saw a victim’s skin turn black from the bite of one. The man had a suspicion someone wanted to do him in. This nervous condition of his was held up by the fact that every week he received a mysterious letter propped up somewhere around the Inn.”
“What did the letters say?” put in Maridoe, leaning out of the window too.
“No one knows,” Jersey went on. “They were burnt immediately upon the old gentleman finding them. I doubt he even read them. Anyways, one night- real late mind you, the Innkeeper leapt out of his chamber and woke the whole Inn with his screaming. Says he hears snakes a’rattling all around the walls and his time was finally up. Pointed out to him that there are no rattlesnakes in this area and he felt no better. He went running off in the dark with nothing on but his nightshirt and his greatcoat. They found his dead body next morning, more than ten miles from the Inn. But here’s the scary bit, in the pocket of his coat they found a snake skin- from a rattler. Now, every now and then when the night is dark, if you listen real close you can hear the sound of a rattle coming from that tower room.”
“Eeek!” squealed Deirdre, her tone piercing.
Rufus had a look inside the carriage. Miss Magnet and Miss Maridoe both looked amused at the driver’s story, but the maid Deirdre appeared agitated.
“That’s enough entertaining stories for now, Jersey,” he said.
“Yes, sir,” said the man, turning back around to face the horses with a wink. He clicked up the team and the carriage picked up some speed. It was good to trot into the comfortable village with the evening light falling.