Chapter seven The photographs.

 

The first question that had to be answered was should they tell Mrs. McKinsey? It was after all her house so presumably the ghost was her property (If indeed ghosts counted as belongings) Jenny decided that they needed to find out a bit more before they broke the news to Mrs. McKinsey- although, Gareth pointed out that, since she wrote historical romances she must have a very romantic brain and the idea of a ghost might be quite appealing to someone like that.- By now the library in Roxmoor was closed so finding old newspaper articles on Matthew’s death and the old Roxmoor hunt was off the cards until Monday morning.

They decided instead to have another look in Matthew’s old room. Which Gareth had surmised had been left pretty much as it had been when Matthew was alive. The room had been locked with all the contents intact when the house had been sold the key must have been hidden under the bookcase to prevent people using the room. Gareth had unwittingly found the key when he dropped the bowl earlier that morning and been scrabbling around under the bookcase.

Jenny and Gareth climbed the stairs to the second floor. Being winter, it was now dark. Gareth pushed the door open and put on the light. A 40 watt bulb lit up the huge spherical lampshade that appeared to be made from string and glue.

“Well, “ said Gareth “ Where do we start?”

“I don’t know,” said Jenny.

“What do we already know about Matthew?” asked Gareth

“He is neat and tidy,” replied Jenny, “All the things he has done have been helpful or useful.”

“And you are scared of this why exactly?” asked Gareth incredulously, “He sounds like a good thing to have around. A reverse poltergeist who tidies up and puts things away!”

“Bingo!” shouted Jenny, “That’s it, an organised person is likely to have a diary around the place, let’s look for that.”

Jenny started to look in the drawers of the bedside table, Gareth looked in the writing desk. He didn’t find a diary but he did find a very fat old scrapbook. He pulled it out to look at it. It was full of photos and newspaper cuttings.

“Look at this Jen, “ he said. He spread it out on the bed so they could both sit and read it.

The first pages contained some child like drawings done in crayon of horses. then there were a few black and white photographs of a boy and a girl, both with gap toothed smiles, on ponies taken in front of Havillands house. The boy was on a grey and the little girl who had long dark plaits was on a piebald or skewbald.

“That’s got to be Matthew and Pamela” said Gareth, Pamela said that Matthew’s pony was grey and hers was called Domino, so he must have been black and white!”

The following pages were cuttings from the parish magazine about the annual village show in 1955, Red rings had been drawn on the results of the gymkhana outlining Pamela and Matthew’s placings in the potato race and musical chairs. The next page had a yellow rosette on it, obviously Matthew’s first, it was very dog eared and must have been a prized possession.

The following pages contained more drawings, snapshots and newspaper cuttings, one page had a hank of grey horse hair from a pony’s tail attached to it with brittle browned Sellotape. There were certificates for showing stuck in with Copydex then more photos. The children were older in these photos, their gappy grins had filled in and their legs were longer, you could tell by the relative size of the ponies in the picture.

Flicking through the pages was like a whistle stop tour of a life. Watching the children turn into young adults via old photographs was a dis-quietening experience, particularly when it was known that one of them would not make it past 25.

Occasionally there were photos of the Roxmoor Hunt meeting on the front Lawn of Havillands house or on the village green with the Cross Keys pub in the background. Matthew and his mother were in the photos but Pamela and Domino were nowhere to be seen.

“Pamela didn’t like hunting, “ said Gareth “Mrs. Ellis said it was the only thing they ever disagreed on.”

Results of show classes and placings in gymkhana games were recorded throughout the book, firstly in an unsteady scrawl, then in legible print and after a while in beautiful copperplate writing.

The writing changes once he is about ten or so, mused Gareth, that must have been when he went to boarding school”

“THAT is the same writing that was in the bookings diary!” said Jenny abruptly, “It must be the ghost of Matthew Havilland!”

Once the copperplate writing began to creep in, other things began to appear in the scrapbook along side the photos and drawings of Charlie and Domino. Letters from Pamela were stuck in, Matthew must have taken his scrapbook with him to school. Notes from his mother Judith, a poem obviously written in an English lesson that had been marked well and praised had been preserved. Photos of groups of boys in blazers and ties, a picture of a cricket team dated 1961 with Matthew grinning in the back row and a photograph of Pamela in a straw hat and a summer dress sitting on the steps of Havillands house with a foxhound lying next to her.

“Matthew was sweet on Pamela wasn’t he?” said Jenny quietly.

“After the way she greeted me when she thought I was him, I should think they were pretty keen on each other, yes!” Replied Gareth.

The photos showed Matthew on different ponies, he had obviously outgrown Charlie by this time. Auction lists had been kept with lots ringed in biro where Matthew and his father had been to horse sales. Horse show programmes with Matthew’s name in them showed he was successful in showing and jumping.

There was gap of several years, the next item was a newspaper photograph of the Essex show with Matthew on a large hunter receiving a cup from the Mayor.

“What happened?” asked Jenny, “Why does it skip like that?”

“Matthew must have gone to college or university.” said Gareth, “Pamela said that the hunter was a present for his twenty first birthday, what’s the date on the photograph?”

The photo was dated 1970.

“That is Phoenix,” said Gareth sadly, “I can see why Pamela mistook Rocky for him, they are similar except Rocky has a star and Phoenix has a blaze.”

The following photo stood out in stark contrast to all the other in the scrap book as it was in colour. It had gone the way of a lot of old photos and had become rather orange but it was still a nice photograph of a much older adult Matthew on a bright chestnut horse and Pamela in a red polo neck jumper on a grey cob.

“He always found her a horse to ride...” Gareth echoed Pamela’s words.

There were some drawings of Phoenix done in coloured pencil with quite a degree of skill, more photos of Pamela both with and without horses and newspaper cuttings recording Matthew’s growing success and skill in the show ring.

A picture from the Essex Chronicle dated 1973 showed the hunt at the first meet in the November of that year, after that there were no more items in the scrap book.

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