The ancient house was hot in the summer night, holding the heat of the day behind windows long sealed. Its many rooms and corridors were stuffy and airless, smelling again of dust as they had before the visitors had come. They had all gone now, the visitors. The people had departed, lords and ladies, maidservants and manservants. Fireplaces had cooled, doors had been locked again, stillness had returned. For barely half a year the house had been a dwelling and now it was a tomb once more, a monument to its own long past.
The old woman wandered the halls and passageways, needing no more light than the beams of summer moonlight angling down from dusty casements. The Voices were upset tonight and her antique bones could not rest.
"What ails, Ghosts?" she called. "Why do you fret?"
No words answered. No wind rattled and wailed tonight, but the little creaks and groans told how the old house was cooling after the long, hot day, and in those tiny sounds she heard the Voices complaining.
"I do not understand!" she cried. "Speak louder."
Pale blue light made angular puddles on the floors. Rafters settled, beams creaked.
Again she called out. "He is gone. He stole away his lady, as you said he would. He took her away, and her child, also. They escaped. The others have departed. Those who came later asking questions have departed, too. There is only me. What ails, Ghosts? You can speak now."
Clicks and creaks and tappings...
"Danger? Is that it, then? He is in danger, or his lady? Speak louder. The child? Her child? What is her child to him?"
The old woman stood in darkness beside a patch of moonlight, her head cocked, straining to hear.
"What danger? That one they called Centurion? He is the danger? The one I shut in the cellar? I never trusted that one. Yes, you told me to beware of that one. Nasty, violent man. Shut him up in the cellar, we did, and let them escape."
Suddenly she cackled shrilly.
"Child? Another child? Well, that‘s different, isn‘t it? That‘s what love brings, isn‘t it, children?"
Chortling, she turned and wandered back the way she had come, slippers shuffling on the threadbare rugs.
"Nothing you can do about it, Ghosts. Nothing I can do. They‘re far away now, Ghosts. Have to handle the danger by themselves, won‘t they?" She chuckled hoarsely. "Another child! Well, what would you expect?" Floorboards creaked as she shuffled to the stairs.
"Going to be a problem, that one, isn‘t it?" she muttered.