Today I am super excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Ian Beck's The Haunting of Charity Delafield.
I have a special guest post from miss Delafield herself to share with you all:
From the secret jottings of Miss Charity Delafield
Stone Green Hall
(An incomplete fragment found written in the wide margins of an old book of
I live here at Stone Green Hall which is a house set on a rise and surrounded by a garden full of trees cut in square shapes and white stone statues. Rose told me it is a very big and important house. I wouldn’t know because I have never been to any other house. Rose said that she grew up in a very small house which itself was not much bigger than the nursery where my rocking horse lives.
I am trying to make sense of all the odd things that have happened to me recently. It seems now that even just a very short while ago, a few days at the most, everything was so straightforward. My routines were fixed and my life went on in the usual way in this house.
Every day Rose brushes my hair, which is fine and easily tangled so that Rose must brush it hard at least seventy five times in the morning and the same number of times in the evening before I go to bed. When I was younger I used to wriggle and cry and complain because the brushing hurt me so much. Now, especially after all the things that have happened, I just stare back at Rose in the looking glass. I won’t let her see me cry, I won’t even wriggle because I am braver now and things have happened and I have something secret to do.
It started the other morning. I was excited by two things. First I found some secret chocolate that someone (who I will not name in case there is trouble) had left for me in the saddlebag of my Rocking horse. The second thing was that it had snowed and the garden, when I looked out from my window, was all covered in soft white and so beautiful.
After my hair was brushed I hoped I was to be allowed out for a walk in the fresh snow with Rose.
Father said something at breakfast which made me very unhappy. I was allowed outside and Mr Tompkins came with us. I noticed that he lifted his little black paws up out of the snow very quickly as he walked. I don’t think cats like getting their paws cold. Then a big something happened which excited me and made me forget just for a moment how unhappy I was.
I met the mysterious old lady at the gates. She told me that she often walked by hoping to see me. She had been waiting for a long time to get a chance to speak to me. She told me something which was very exciting and I gave her my secret chocolate to eat because she looked so hungry. She blessed me and told me that I must look for a certain thing. It is a special thing, and it is also a secret thing.
I cannot reveal what it is. I cannot write it here in this space, in this horrible book next to all of these mathematics problems. The old lady said that I must find a secret thing before my next birthday. I will just write that it is a very important secret and that I will not write down exactly what it is. Instead I shall keep it to myself because Rose might read these words somehow, and she didn’t approve of the old lady at all. She shooed her away from the gates quite harshly and Rose said that the old lady was dirty and a beggar and she was worried that I might have touched her and caught a terrible illness. Instead of working out mathematics problems Father allowed me to play on that first morning after the snow had fallen.
I played with Rose and Edward. It was a game called Hide & Seek something which I had never played before. Mr Tompkins and I were sent to hide first and in the place where we were hiding I found a hidden envelope and inside it was a key. I don’t want to write too much about the key either, because of the key I found something else, something very mysterious, and Rose was frightened and cross and she took the key away from me at once.
If I look out of the Nursery window now I can see that the snow has finally stopped its dancing fall through the air. It has settled in big white patches on the tops of the square cut trees.
The trees march in two long lines all the way down the avenue to the padlocked iron gates. Beyond the gates and across the winding road is the forest. I have never been into the forest but I think the old lady lives in there somewhere among those dark and twisted trees and one day I hope I will go there and find her again.
I am watchful now. I can wait patiently. I have a task, and it is to find what I have to find and I will keep on looking for it. I have a new place to explore in the house too and I shall go there as soon as everyone is asleep. I think I know where Rose has hidden the key that she took away from me. I shall be very patient and very watchful and when the time is right I shall go and get the key and then who knows what I might find…?
I have to say a huge thanks to Charity for this post, and to the wonderful Ian Beck for creating such a brilliant character. Also massive thank yous are owed to Random House Children's Books for sending me a review copy of the book and allowing me to take part in the tour!
Be sure to stop by the rest of the blogs taking part in this awesome blog tour!