The White Lady

He cursed as he took shelter under a large oak tree. He looked at his phone and checked the weather app. He cursed again. The storm arrived an hour earlier than forecast. He called the dog to him and put her on a lead. “Yesterday was lovely, Bear,” he said to the dog. “We are going to be a while now.” He pulled an apple out of his pocket and shared it with the dog. The storm seemed very angry and the flashes of lightning seemed very close. He looked out at the view. He was in that part of the old hall’s arboretum, a mix of lawns and trees which fell away to the artificial lake which had been designed in the gothic style with a ruined cloister, a boat house and a hermitage which still retained its roof. By the shoreline, he saw a man sitting on the fence, his collar turned up and a cap on his head. He sat there unmoved by the storm and the flashes of lightning. Surely, he thought the man would move for his own safety. He picked up his phone and sent a message to his mother, asking her to go and pick up his daughter.

He was the only person out here, apart from the fence sitter. He looked at his watch. He had been here twenty minutes. The man was still there sitting patiently. Was he waiting for someone? If he were, he was sure that the other party would have stayed indoors. He waved at the man, who did not seem to be aware of him at all. Perhaps in the gloom under that old oak tree he did not stand out. He looked down at the dog and stroked her head and told her ‘hush’. The dog seemed agitated as if she had seen something. He looked up. There was another figure there down by the boat house, a woman in white with a blue bonnet. She waved at the man who acknowledged her, and he got off the fence and began to move towards the boat house.

Suddenly there was a loud crash. A lightning strike hit his tree and a branch crashed to the ground immediately in front of him. He jumped back and the dog barked and shot behind him, pushing herself up against his legs. He looked out at the view at the couple, but he could see no one. Where had they gone? And then the sky cleared and the storm which arrived suddenly, disappeared just as quickly. He left the cover of the tree and walked home with the dog. As he came up the drive, his mother opened the door.

“It was that kind of storm,” she said. “Did you see them? A man by the fence and a woman in white. They eloped in a storm and were drowned. I saw them once, in a storm like this. Tell me you saw them!”

He nodded.


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