It was a rainy autumn midday of the year 1829, when my carriage had arrived at the old Pack Horse Inn in Turham Green located, in the Western part of Hammersmith that passes to Bradmoor and the junction between the two roads of the district. Hammersmith was a picturesque village outside of London. My name is Aaron Bradford, an aristocrat from London. At the inn there were heavy waggons of hay and weary horses to be seen, and several intrepid commoners, walking in the streets.
Once I descended from the carriage, I had immediately entered the inn, with my umbrella at hand. I was met by the innkeeper, and proceeded to register my name as a guest of the inn. After the rain subsided, I was escorted to the nunnery that was in the village, by his carriage driver. I was extremely anxious to visit the college and the church as well, but this would have to wait until I reached the nunnery.
Along the way, I descried the ancient manor house of Pallenswick, and when the carriage halted, I was drawn by the tall three-story Gothic building that was the nunnery. It had sash windows that were blinded by the tall narrow trees that stood before the front gate covered, by a broad wall in circumference. There was a moat nigh the bridge over the Thames, and the manifold acres of land that encompassed the estate. Once inside I waited in the large hall, until one of the sisters could address me. There an elderly fellow of medium stature greeted me inside instead. He was the curate of the church of St Mary and had welcomed me afterwards, with a cordial salutation. I had reciprocated his noble gesture, with my appreciative propriety.
After the formalities exchanged, we discussed the issue that had precipitated my visit to Hammersmith. I had collaborated before with the church as a humble benefactor, and came to purchase an old property of the church, which was a lone mansion on the outskirts of the hamlet. When he was apprised of my initial stay at the inn, he offered me a room in one of the apartments attached to the church. At first, I was reluctant to accept but then, I acquiesced knowing that I did not want to offend the curate. Thus, it was agreed that I would be sojourning in the estate of the parish, during my stay in Hammersmith.
I was given a tour of the nunnery, and then I was taken to the estate of the church, where I was to stay. I glimpsed at the Roman Catholic Church, as I spoke to the venerable curate. My first impression of the church grounds was eerie but serene. There was an unusual veil of secrecy and mystery that loomed over the church, ever since its construction, but I did not come to the village of Hammersmith to unravel the intricate enigma of the village or its unearthly inhabitants. I had heard of plentiful ghost stories before in my life, but the dreadful ghost that I encountered would be the most terrifying experience yet experimented by man. Inside the church I was shown my room, whence I began to write a correspondence to Mr Fleming my accountant, informing him of my generous contribution to the nunnery and college.
The nunnery was an admirable institution for charity purposes, and the church was always seen as a supreme benefactor of such righteous folk. I made mention of my collaboration, and that I would speak to him upon my return.
Afterwards, I took tea with the curate and parish priest in the main hall, whilst we conversed about the growth of the village and the obstreperous sounds of London. I was not prevalent to the recent changes that were occurring to the village, in particular within the heart of Hammersmith. The opulent red-brick mansions were old and abandoned, for the small tenements and established neighbourhoods.
That night, I was in my room reading a fascinating book on the subject of English folklore, when the impetuous rain had returned, with the mercurial tempest that ensued. I had the window of the room opened at that time, when the rain drops fell. Fortunately, the rain did not enter much in the room, and the shutters were sturdy to resist the storm. However, as I was closing the shutters, I had a glimpse of a stranger standing outside of the window. At first, I thought nothing of it, until I heard the pounding on the front door. It was a villager, who had pounded on the door suddenly. I scurried at once to see the man, who had stirred the commotion. When I reached the area, he was visibly shaken, as if he had seen a ghost. Precisely, it was a spectre he saw, when he had told the curate who answered the front door. The curate attempted to calm his hysteria, and to rationalise with him, but he was convinced of what he saw in the churchyard was indeed a ghost. He was a diligent bricklayer, who was working in the grounds, in the early hours of the morning. When asked about the description of the phantom, he depicted him in the following manner.
'He was covered in mire, and his gaunt body was as stiff as a dead cadaver. His face was hard as a stone, and his eyes were completely white, with no pupils in his sockets truly. And worse, he was wearing the same clothing methink, when he had perished'.
I thought his account to be unreasonable and unthinkable, but he did seem to believe in the apparition he descried, regardless of the fanciful nature of its representation. He was also very adamant in his asseveration and resolution. That was something that I considered very uncommon in the mind of a normal person. Father Harrigan then arrived and he did not wish for any scandalous episodes of ghosts to influence my stay, nor did he want for any mention of a ghostly presence to arouse the fears and anxieties of the villagers, who many were parishioners of the church. Instead, he told the bricklayer to simply forget the incident and go home. He told him to rest, and not to come the next day. He also told him that what he saw was likely to be a hallucination caused, by the strain to the eyes of working many hours. The man complied and returned to his house.
The incident at the window outside of my room I recalled, when I was listening to the bricklayer speak. I had thought previously of telling Father Harrigan of what I saw as well. However, since perhaps I was not absolutely certain of what I saw, I refrained from mentioning the stranger to him. The occurrence was forgotten for the night, and I had returned to my room, where I slept for the remainder of the night, as the rain subsided.
In the morning after breakfast, I was presented to a young governess by the name of Miss Winthrop, who was a beautiful and intelligent woman, who was tutoring the children at the college nearby. Her assistance was well appreciated by the church, and her London background did not inhibit her rapport with the villagers. The young Miss Winthrop occasionally joined the parish priest and curate for breakfast at the church, and would share a lively parley with them modestly. Indeed, I would come to enjoy her lovely company afterwards, during my time in Hammersmith. Miss Winthrop had excused herself and was heading into the centre of the village. Since I was interested in seeing the ample mall and park, I asked if I could come with her. Naturally, she agreed and was delighted to offer me a mini tour of the village. As a fine dapper gent that I was, I willingly accepted her offer with fond pleasure.
My itinerary for the day was to see the property and a dinner engagement with the nuns. Once in the heart of the hamlet, I saw several streets, including the busy King's Street, which was the principal street that led to the road to Winsor. There were numerous shops, a tavern and hospital, along with the park and mall. Hammersmith, was the main thoroughfare from London to the West of England and had a flowing river with water that crossed the London Road opposite the road leading to Brook Green, and from there on the North side of London Road. It fell unto the Chelsea Creek, at Counter's Bridge. It was a fresh breath of air compared to the bustle of London. The dishevelled areas of dereliction were gradually being replaced, with the new tenements that were being refurbished by the church. The narrow streets appeared wider than many desolate and drear streets of London.
After our trip to the centre of the village, the carriage took us to the college that Miss Winthrop taught. There we entered the facility, and the St Mary's Normal College, had a chapel and dormitories inside. I had noticed that I could see visibly, the clear view of the graveyard of the parish from the window of the chapel. This I found to be curious and interesting. I did not realise at the time, the irresistible portent between the nunnery and the churchyard I felt. I was eager to see the garden of the nunnery, and I asked Miss Winthrop, if she could kindly join me. She did, and we left the college and went to the nunnery. She had explained to me that the currants, cherries and raspberries manifest that grew in the spring, were a token gesture of the original proprietor of the estate, a Lord Gurney. When I enquired about this wealthy man of nobility, her response was detached, as if she did not wish to speak of him. I did not want to appear meddlesome in her affairs, and thus, I did not enquire more about Lord Gurney for the nonce. However, when I referred to one of the mansions, I had seen upon my arrival to Hammersmith, she said it was the Bradenburgh Mansion, the former home of Lord Harrington.
I had heard of Lord Harrington before in London, but I was not aware of his life in Hammersmith. He was a fascinating man, and was along with Lord Gurney one of the generous benefactors of the village. I was interested in discovering more details of the life of this gentleman too. I soon was told that the Bradenburgh Estate was being sold to the highest bidder. For some unknown reason, the estate along with the mansion had sparked an interest on my behalf in obtaining its purchase. It was not in my original plan to purchase more properties, but the Gothic façade of the mansion appealed to me. I thought of asking Miss Winthrop of whom I could speak to concerning the matter of the house, but I understood that I could speak to Father Harrigan, since he would probably know more information of the actual proprietor I was to discuss the possible transaction. Even though I was enjoying the leisure time with the young governess, I wanted to speak to Father Harrigan, about the antiquated Bradenburgh Estate. I knew he could address my enquiry.
Apparently, Miss Winthrop had to return to the college as well. It was the perfect moment, and it allowed me the necessary pretext to abate our jaunty stroll. When I arrived at the church Father Harrigan was in the parsonage, but the curate was outside conversing with the bricklayers, who were working on the plaster and restoration of the rear entrance of the church. I had waited for him to finish the conversation before I asked to speak to Father Harrigan. He told me to wait in the hall and I did, as I anticipated his presence. Once he appeared, I began to enquire about the Bradenburgh Estate.
'Father Harrigan, would you happen to know much about the Bradenburgh Estate?'
At first, he was somewhat puzzled by my enquiry of the property, 'The Bradenburgh Estate you asked Sir Bradford?'
I then acknowledged to him, my recent inclination in purchasing the estate if the price was propitious to my benefit, 'Yes Father, the Bradenburgh Estate. I am interested in perhaps purchasing the estate'.
'Oh I see sir, but the Bradenburgh Estate has been abandoned for decades', he replied.
'Surely, you must know the current proprietor of the estate Father Harrigan? All I am seeking is to see the house, and speak to the owner'.
'Very well, the proprietor I believe is Lord Albert Harrington, but he no longer lives in Hammersmith. Presently, his residence is in London. The house you have seen from outside is uninhabited'.
'And inside, how are the furnishings Father?'
'That I do not know for sure!"
'Is there someone in the village, who could open the house for me?'
His reply was, 'There is a certain gentleman by the name of Mr Dodington, who lives in the other side of Hammersmith'.
'Who is this man?' I asked with curiosity.
'The former steward, but it has been years, since I last saw him. People here say attest that he had gone astray, since the mansion was no longer functioning as a home', Father Harrigan revealed.
His disclosure of the steward and the ironic fact that Lord Harrington was living in London were compelling. Since Lord Harrington was not in Hammersmith, I searched for Mr Dodington in the village. I was told by Father Harrigan that I could locate him at the tavern perhaps. Thus after finishing our conversation, I headed towards the tavern. There I used discretion, when I finally found him. I did not want to alarm his suspicion of me, and therefore, I was affable in my comportment towards him. I had presented myself and told him that I was interested in seeing the interior of the old Bradenburgh Mansion. He was apprehensive and intrigued with my desire in purchasing the house. He did not appear to be receptive to the idea, but after further deliberation and the fact that I would pay him for his service, he agreed. It was an ideal situation for both. He would be handsomely paid, whilst I could enter the house.
After he had finished his drink, he went with me to see the house and estate. When we arrived by carriage to the Bradenburgh Estate, he opened the mansion with his keys allowing me to enter and see the interior of the mansion. If the mansion from outside was forlorn and gloomy, once I stepped inside I descried a very worn and untidy place. It was a terrible sight to witness. The passing of time and dissipation were evident in the chambers, halls, and especially in the cellar. The dusty stairway of the stairs was absolutely rickety, and the pillars of the first storey were unsteady and could collapse at any moment. The idyllic setting of the Bradenburgh Mansion previously was reduced to the obsolete memories of the past of the local aristocracy. I reflected on the prior history of the mansion, when the tincture of its pristine luxury exuded the former precedence and prestige. It was once the place of toils and drudgeries of the footmen, house maids, valets, all underlings of Lord Gurney and Lord Harrington. All that remained of the furnishings were torn, shabby and rumpled curtains that were silk before, and the expensive silverware that was then covered with rust and mould. The walls of the decorative gallery and the ceiling of luminous chandeliers had left only a switel token of its irredeemable vestige. If I was daring to purchase this property, I would have to refurbish the house totally beginning with the furniture. This would imply a huge economic investment on my part.
It was a difficult decision to make, since the condition of the estate was discouraging. Mr Dodington mentioned before his brother had served the mansion as a loyal footman. He spoke of Lord Gurney with the utmost reverence expressed, but when he spoke of the mansion his demeanour changed suddenly. There was a sombre murk seen in his eyes. When I asked Mr Dodington about Lord Gurney's death, he quickly altered his behaviour from being talkative to mere uneasiness. Although I wanted to know the reason for his solicitude, I did not enquire about the glum details of the death of Lord Gurney out of deference. Instead, I told him that I had seen enough of the house and estate, and if I was interested in purchasing the estate, I would inform him of my immediate decision. He stood behind to close the door of the house, whilst I left on carriage. Mr Dodington seemed to be a reliable fellow, and if I was to buy the house, I would have to entrust him with the care of the house. I told him I would most likely communicate an urgent correspondence with Lord Harrington in London—or if not visit him there.
Thus, once I returned to the church, I notified Father Harrigan of my visit to the old Bradenburgh Estate, and that I was still contemplating whether or not to purchase the estate. I had pondered for the remainder of the day the prospect of replenishing the mansion as well. Even though, I had come to Hammersmith in particular to see a property of the church, my predilection was then induced towards the old Bradenburgh Estate. It was not my preference to seem disingenuous with Father Harrigan, but it was important that I informed him of my intention. In the end, I chose the opportune moment to reveal my admission. When I did, he was not overtly troubled about my decision. I had assuaged any inquietude he had before, by telling him that I knew of another gentleman who would be interested in the purchase of the property of the church.
It was a soluble solution to accede, and I was grateful for his tangible understanding.
Afterwards, I informed Father Harrigan that I would be departing tomorrow and return to London. I told him that I would return to Hammersmith, if I was able to purchase the old Bradenburgh Mansion. That night whilst I was reading again inside my room, a strong wind caused the shutters to sway and rattle to and fro. Then the wind caused the window to open wide. I rose to my feet and immediately attempted to close the window but as I did, the wind knocked me on the floor. I rose to my feet again and attempted to close the window anew, and when I did, I saw the indeterminate image of a wraith standing with a frightening guise. I was taken aback by the disconcerting image that had appeared unannounced and abruptly. I thought of the wraith of the bricklayer and his description of this surreal being was identical as what I was descrying. The ghost appeared to want to speak to me, but all he did was haunt me. I had perceived this anomaly, before he then swiftly disappeared into the nightly gust of the wind. The episode happened so fast that I did not have much time for a precise reaction. I merely concluded that the apparition was an abominable aberration, but there had to be an incentive for his appearance. Why, was he haunting the grounds of the church, and if so, what was he seeking? There had to be a logical explanation for this erratic occurrence. After calming my nerves, and thinking rationally the situation, I proceeded to not divulge the incident to Father Harrigan. What would I dare to relate to him then, since my perception on the matter was vague and unfounded? Simply, it was too premature to surmise. I had to investigate the mystery that eluded me.
As I departed Hammersmith in the morning, I left with the suspicion that something mysterious was variably, developing. If I would unravel this enigma, I would have to go to London and speak to Lord Harrington. I was fortunate to find him at his address in the upper West Side of the city. I had introduced myself and explained to him my desire to purchase the old Bradenburgh Estate in Hammersmith. He was pleased to know of my interest in the Bradenburgh Estate and was eager to sell me the property. He invited me inside, where we then finalised the transaction. It was a suitable agreement, and one that permitted me to commence my project with the Bradenburgh Mansion. The firm impression that I had of him was that he was extremely thankful for the transaction. This relief reflected in his expression, and for me it was a profitable acquisition.
Within a week I returned to Hammersmith, and I visited Father Harrigan to tell him I had purchased the old Bradenburgh Estate. What he was not prevalent of was my actual reason for purchasing the property in the first place. I had intended to use the mansion, for social gatherings and charitable purposes. I told him that the donations accumulated would accrue the benefits to the future projects of the church, such as additions in the form of new apartments and dormitories. Naturally, he did not have any objection whatsoever, since alms-giving was a superlative firmament of the Catholic faith, and as a practising Catholic, I felt obliged to do my honourable duty. I was eager to see the demure governess Miss Winthrop, and to talk to her. I wanted to share my good tidings with her.
When I reached the college, she was tutoring a student. I waited until she finished and then spoke to her. After I had disclosed my plans for the Bradenburgh Estate, she was full of enthusiasm. A fain and gay expression was detected upon her buoyant smile, and she offered to assist me in my endeavours. I was content with indulgence to have her kind assistance. I was full of optimism and hope that the grace of the nobility would indulge the village, with exceptional munificence at every social event. However, I never concluded that the ominous phantom of Hammersmith would begin to seriously torment me, with a nefarious insistence. I was not prepared as well, for the macabre outcome either that resulted nearly in my death. I was at the Bradenburgh Estate, with Miss Winthrop surveying the interior of the house, when suddenly, I heard a scream aloof. It was coming directly from the main hall, and the voice that sounded belonged to the governess.
Quickly, I ran to the main hall to see what had transpired.
She was frightened by something. And that something was the familiar phantom from the churchyard that emerged through the opaque corridor. I saw the ghastly ghost, and as before its appearance was shocking. The inanimate spectre was dressed in elegant clothing of the late 18th century, and mired in the sod of the earth. The fiend had no eyes in its sockets. It was indeed, a sickening image to bear. Poor Miss Winthrop—for she could only close her eyes in apprehension, as I held her in my arms tautly. The ghost then disappeared, as a faint gleam was visible. It was unclear to me what had made the apparition appear in the mansion, but I sensed that Miss Winthrop perhaps had the answer. When I mentioned to her about my encounter with this indistinguishable ghost, her face became more pallid. She was so visibly shaken in a frisson that I did not think it wise to agitate her with my pressing questions.
Therefore, I escorted her out of the house and drove her back to the college forthwith. There she was able to regain her composure that provided her the necessary time afforded. Then, she began to reveal the real identity of the ghost, and it was a disturbing revelation. There was so much legend behind the Hammersmith ghost that left me in bewilderment. What was even more daunting was the fact that the villagers were aware of this legendary ghost, and few had dared to speak of this unnatural being. If the governess knew about the existence of this phantasm, then surely Father Harrigan knew more, but had chosen to remain silent on the issue. Was the ghostly nature of the estate the principal reason that Lord Harrington sold the estate to me? I had realised that there was a compelling story about the Hammersmith ghost that was kept hidden to me and untold. What could that origin be, and who was verily the ghost? There had to be an answer to this mystery. My answer I would have in the form of a confession. In her admission, Miss Winthrop had acknowledged the identity of the revenant.
'They say it is the ghost of Lord Gurney. He is the Hammersmith ghost'.
'Egad Miss Winthrop, if this is true then, why is he haunting the village? Why, has he returned?'
Her reply was succinct, 'It is the eve of the date of his fateful death'.
'What else do you know? What does the relentless ghost want?'
She nodded her head in uncertainty and said, 'That I do not know honestly sir'.
She had hesitated before she responded, 'They say that Lord Gurney did not die in peace'.
'Are you implying that he was murdered Miss Winthrop? Who would kill Lord Gurney?' I asked with intrigue.
She had no reply, except that he was murdered, but, it was never proven or known, who the culprit was truly. If there was an individual who could perhaps solve that riddle it would be Mr Dodington or Father Harrigan.
Soon I left Miss Winthrop behind at the college, and sought to speak to Mr Dodington. I knew I could find him at the local tavern. When I reached the tavern, I asked to speak to him in privacy. He agreed, and we stepped outside into a narrow ginnel to converse, about the topic of the Hammersmith ghost. He was perplexed about my motive. Subsequently, I expounded on the motive, and I also enquired of the circumstances, behind the surreptitious death of Lord Gurney. He seemed evasive about the issue, and was not interested in speaking about the defunction of Lord Gurney. I thought his reluctance to discuss the matter was odd and unsettling, but I could not coerce him to comply. Although I was beginning to feel that I was wasting my time with Mr Dodington, he did acknowledge one crucial piece of information. That information was that the murderer of Lord Gurney could be found within the Bradenburgh Estate.
As for the mystery that bound this story, that answer lied in the graveyard he was buried in. There was an eerie obsession in me to unravel this enshrouded mystery that remained insoluble, within a conflation of an unparalleled nature.
As I departed the tavern after the intimate conversation with Mr Dodington, I headed towards the Bradenburgh Estate to investigate the allusion that the former steward had referred to back at the tavern. Along the way, I had speculated, about the search at the estate. When I arrived at the estate, I promptly began to search for any direct clew. I searched and searched the estate, until I found behind a knoll of stones past the seath, a mound of dead bones incredibly, buried without a headstone. I realised that this was what Mr Dodington had alluded to. I had managed to unveil the bones of an unknown individual—but whose bones did this unmarked grave pertain to?
Suddenly, I thought of Lord Gurney. Could these bones have belonged to him? Good God, what if so? My instinct had convinced me, and the indication of this likelihood was persuasive. How could I prove this, without any irrefragable evidence? I needed to go to the church. Yes, Father Harrigan could assist me. If the body of Lord Gurney was not buried in the cemetery of the churchyard, then whose remains were those I uncovered?
Time was of the essence, and the indistinct plausibility of solving this mystery was becoming more irrepressible. Nothing would prepare me for what I was to experience and confront once at the church. At the church I searched for Father Harrigan, and I instead found the curate in the hall dead. Apparently, he was murdered but by whom? I had stepped into the apartment of Father Harrigan calling him, and he was not there present. I stepped outside and looked, as I saw ravens were feasting on the dead body of Mr Dodington. His listless dead body was hanging from the tower of the church. The thought of the well-being of Father Harrigan and Miss Winthrop had rapidly entered into my mind, as well as the proximity of the assassin. I did not have the reassurance of my safety, and thus, I was at a clear disadvantage. Intuitive discretion was necessary with this precarious predicament that had enveloped me, in a revolving rigmarole. Indeed, I had to proceed with extreme caution and vigilance. I knew that the modus operandi of the killer was impulsive, but calculating.
Soon, as I gingerly began to walk amid the churchyard, I would be approached from behind, by Lord Harrington. He was standing with a pistol, as he held the weapon within such a firm grasp. I knew then that Lord Harrington was somehow involved in this intricate mystery, but what was his participation? Was he the culprit or only the mastermind behind the murders? He appeared to be cognisant and meticulous in his aplomb. His inexplicable posture was also indicative of his guilt. He instructed me not to flinch or flit, and to walk towards the graves. There amongst the rows of headstones was the supposed headstone of Lord Gurney nigh. The immediate thought of the whereabouts of Father Harrigan and the governess had occupied my mind.
The ordeal was becoming more alarming and preoccupying, by the minute. I wanted to shout out loud for help, but there was no one close to offer me that vital reinforcement I needed. I then noticed that he was fidgety, as he was waiting for someone to arrive. The pending question was who was that person that he was waiting for? Anon, I would discover the identity of that anonymous person. It was Miss Winthrop the governess, who appeared from the distance. I was not pervious to her contribution in this situation.
'Good God Miss Winthrop, are you all right?' I had asked.
'I am in fine fettle, but the same I ask about you, Sir Bradford?' She replied with a manipulative grin on her face.
'What is going on here? And where is Father Harrigan?'
'Father Harrigan you ask? No need to fret Sir Bradford, he is not dead if you are wondering'.
'If that is true, then take me to him now!'
'In due time Sir Bradford'.
'This must be a terrible jest on your part Miss Winthrop?'
'I assure you Sir Bradford that this is no jest whatsoever!'
'Enough! We shall now proceed with the matter at hand, the deed of the Bradenburgh Estate. Give me the deed Sir Bradford', Lord Harrington had demanded.
'The deed, but before I hand over the deed I must know, why was the steward and the curate murdered, and whose body is truly buried in this grave?' I asked.
His reply would be shocking, 'Oh, only the poor remains of a wretch'.
'Then the remains of the bones I found in the Bradenburgh Estate belonged to Lord Gurney?' I continued.
'Bloody be, then why was he not buried in this cemetery?'
My intrusive interrogation had unnerved his patience. I sensed the unthinkable realisation that the young delightful governess Miss Winthrop was completely involved in the complicity of the murders, and that I was going to die at the hands of a covetous scoundrel, who was her accomplice. However, I did not fully understand the extent of that involvement. I had never perceived the bracing whims of death to be so near and so inimical, as I felt at that precise moment in time. The inscrutable horror of the Hammersmith ghost seemed to be afar, but it was not. The Hammersmith ghost was to have an inherent and intrinsic role in resolving the conundrum. The unsightly phantom was conjured from the hallowed depths of the earth, as a praeternatural phenomenon and invariable malediction. His vindictive wrath would be imposed, with impunity, and his tormentors would succumb to his power of immensity and sacrilege. An unforeseen gust of the wind blew from beyond the staid transient clouds of the churchyard, and gradually raught the area where we were standing at. Lord Harrington or Miss Winthrop did not notice the strange occurrence and were fathomless to the sequence of events that ensued.
''Tis regretful Sir Bradford that I must kill you. This could have been avoided, if you had not discovered the tomb at the Bradenburgh Estate. I must commend you on your assiduous persistence and explorative perception', he said.
'Surely you realise that you shall not get away with this!' I reproached.
His irrevocable action was predicated on the secret his family was concealing, the preservation of that secret, the death of Lord Gurney. What I did not know was that Miss Winthrop was not her actual name, but instead, her name was Ellen Harrington. She was the faithful daughter of Lord Harrington. The family had determined to exile any redeemable trace of the legacy of Lord Gurney, and for decades the tragic and unlikely circumstances behind the death of Lord Gurney was kept secretive, till I revealed the improbable truth of this engrossing drama.
When it all indicated that I was to perish, the invisible ghost reappeared. A sound of an echoic voice was heard audibly, throughout the churchyard. The direful voice resounded, a cogent reverberation of a vociferation that was a clear manifestation. What had materialised next was the crystalline mist of devious retribution. It was the Hammersmith ghost once more. The fearless being had emerged from the nebulous moisture, with an intimidating complexion of pallor and conviction. The semblance was the vivid embodiment of sheer terror. It was enough to affright all of us. The attire of the phantom was clothing from the late 18th century, which Lord Gurney was buried with. The ghost wore a cutaway tailored coat over a waist-length satin waistcoat and dark breeches and shoes, and had hair that was long and powdered, brushed back from the forehead. There was dirt abundantly that covered the tattered garments. As before there were no apparent eyes in the sockets. The presence of the ghost was of a lasting impregnable impression displayed. Lord Harrington upon seeing the spectre began to shoot bullets at the fiend from the pistol, as if the ghost was of this earthly world. Unfortunately for him, the leaden bullets did no harm to his spectral cadaver at all, and passed through the phantasm.
A swift bolt of energy pierced the heart of Lord Harrington, causing him instantly to fall to the ground dead. The daughter then scurried away, but was caught by the ire of the phantom, and perished through suffocation. It was a ghastly death to witness and not a proper death for a lady. It was a tragedy that had befallen the ex-governess, irrespective of her natural identity. However, the unspeakable tragedy that occurred decades ago to Lord Gurney was even more detestable to accept. I was alone then before the Hammersmith ghost of Lord Gurney, who had risen from the dead.
Despite the apprehension that indubitably grew, I remained intact, and my steadfastness was unbroken. There was a distrust warranted I felt towards the ghost, and my reaction was to be expected. I had attempted to walk slowly backwards, as the ghost approached closer. The imminent thought of my demise was becoming realistic, as my concern prevailed. But the ghost did not murder me or choose to harm me. There was something important that he requested and was the reason why he did not kill me. The famous deed I then quickly understood was the answer to solving the twofold mystery of the Hammersmith ghost. The ghost of Lord Gurney sought the deed to the Bradenburgh Estate. I was to be evicted from the property, and no one was to be the proprietor, with the exception of any of the trustworthy remaining descendants of Lord Gurney. This was the tacit belief I was beholden to, and the assertion I upheld in the end. I did what he asked and gave him the deed. I felt a cold chill, as I touched for a brief instant the hand of the phantom. There was no verbal intercourse exchanged at variance.
Soon, the ghost vanished into the strong wind of the night that blew forcibly, and quickening the wraiths tenfold that arose afterwards, from their dormant graves of the cemetery of the church of St Mary. I stood in awe of them, as one by one they passed me by, as the ageless souls of illimitable time. I thought of the horrendous omen of Hammersmith that was derivative from the blasphemous deeds of human rapacity that condemned the village.
After the departure of the Hammersmith ghost, I went inside the church calling on Father Harrigan. I had located him in the tower, and his hands were bound by rope. He had a cloth in his mouth to prevent him from yelling or escaping. Once released and inside the church, Father Harrigan began to relate the horrid truth that I had sparingly known, about the origin of the Hammersmith ghost. He had explained to me that Lord Gurney was supposedly murdered, by the father of Lord Harrington, who after a failed dual and out of opprobrium shot Lord Gurney in the back, and had him buried in the unknown tomb in the Bradenburgh Estate. Although he was not aware of the fact that he was buried in the Bradenburgh Estate, he assumed the dead remains I found were Lord Gurney's bones. Yet, when I asked him why many of the villagers had kept this great secret hushed, he would tell me that no one durst to defy destiny. Precisely upon the date of this occurrence marked the day he was murdered and left buried in the Bradenburgh Estate, and forever forgotten.
'It would seem that the sins of the village and past are now expiated and gone, with the Hammersmith ghost', I said to him.
'I hope so Sir Bradford, I hope so!' He responded with a sanguine sigh.
I left the village of Hammersmith in the following morning and returned to the tenable confines of my home in London. However, as the years passed, I could not so easily dismiss from my recollection the notorious events that unfolded in Hammersmith, with the phantom and the untold and subtle details surrounding the deaths of Lord Harrington, his daughter and the others, including Mr Dodington. Father Harrigan thought this unnecessary to ponder, and I concurred with his assumption. Even though they were acknowledged as random deaths, their deaths were not invisibly known by me. I never doubted the veracity of the Hammersmith ghost, and I submitted to the correlative nature that created this phenomenon that haunted the village. I had continued to donate to the church in Hammersmith as a benefactor, but I did not visit the hamlet much afterwards. My last visit was to honour the death of Lord Gurney, by assisting the funeral that was done in his behalf befittingly. His remains were finally laid to rest in the graveyard of the church of St Mary privately, as was his ultimate desire in his will. As for the Hammersmith ghost, I never saw the phantom anew.