The moon shone like a blade frozen in blue ice. It was as though somebody had thrown a sickle into the sky, its blade tainted with crimson edging from some unknown source of light. The heavens were reminding me very acutely of why I was here, prodding me to get back to the investigation and stop admiring every pretty sights in the moors. Sighing, I tore my eyes from the sky and stared instead at the empty platform before me.
I was back where I came from, waiting not-so-patiently on a bench at the train station. After discovering the two cryptic lines, our investigation team was at a lost as to where to continue. Ellie insisted on looking for another chain of clues, but I had a gut feeling that this was it. I had called up Professor Graham at around midnight, begging him to come and lend us his expertise in literature. Of all people he would know what the two lines referenced to, and I was sure that we’d move along speedily from there. The blaring horn of an approaching train made me jump up from my seat. Only a handful of passengers stepped off this night train, and I easily spotted Professor Graham.
Our greetings were swift and brief as I steered him to the car, our breaths forming wisps of misty white in the cold country air. He ran through his theories as to what the lines meant while I drove.
“They’re couplets, aren’t they?”
I nodded my answer to his question.
“And the meaning of them would be clearer if you switch the two lines around,” he said, taking the photos of the inscriptions that I gave him and changing their positions.
They now read:
“Beneath the sky where heather twined,
The chained spirits, there you will find.”
“But what does it even mean?” I asked, “The fields of heather are endless here on the moors, how are we supposed to find the exact spot? And also, the exact spot for what?”
“Well, I don’t know the moors as well as some, but I have a feeling that the first line doesn’t reference to the actual moors. Tell me, have you ever heard of Beaufort Manor?”
“Yes,” I replied slowly, “The place covered in vines and rubble, the one rumoured to be haunted?”
“That one. But do you know why it’s supposedly haunted?”
I shook my head.
“They say that Beaufort Manor was Emily Bronte’s inspiration for Wuthering Heights, and it’s the place where the ghosts of Catherine and Heathcliff return to time and time again. I’ve only been there once, but I seem to recall heathers in the Manor. At any rate, the chained spirits will be there.”
I spun the steering wheel and turned the car around, speeding down the road recklessly towards Beaufort Manor. There was no point driving to Lamorna Mansion now that Professor Graham had hinted at Beaufort Manor. The Manor was a few fields down from where we were on the road, and we arrived as the icy moon dimmed to give way to the first morning lights.
The house was more like a historic remain, with fallen beams made of crude metal. The smiths who fashioned these beams must’ve forgotten to remove the dross, for they lie pockmarked like imperfect skeletons. Professor Graham led me to a room on the west side, one with the roof partially caved in. He pointed to the mural of heathers on the wall remnants, and I understood there and then that this was the place. We stepped around rusting chairs and tables to investigate the room. Professor Graham pulled out a chest with the crest of the Woodlows, Beaufort Manor’s old residents, and tried to shake the lock open. I stepped over and shoved my bobby pin into the lock, and with a twist the top opened to reveal a bundle of papers.
“Thank you, Nora,” Professor Graham said as he lifted the bundle of papers from the box.
“For what?” I said, a little bewildered. My eyes widened as he spun around, a gun pointed in my face.
“For this,” he held up the bundle, and I saw the word inscribed on the first page.
“Gandal?” I said aloud, “And Graham, put that gun down.”
“No,” he told me, “And yes, Gandal. Emily Bronte’s lost manuscript of secrets and heresy. The second novel that she wrote, the one the publishers never received because her sister had hid it. I’ve been looking for this almost all my life. My useless assassin didn’t manage to get the truth out of Summers, but you did. So thank you and good bye, Nora Grant.”
His finger was shaking as he closed down on the trigger. I jumped at him, suddenly fearless of the loaded gun. The ending was inevitable, and I believed that secrets should remain secrets. The papers were so delicate in my hands, crumbling at my every touch. I flung the yellowed parchments into the air as the gun recoiled in Graham’s hand, and my scream mingled with his. I was lulled into eternal sleep by the piercing cry of Charles Graham, all the while the parchments rained down like toxic snow.