Big Ben had chimed his eleven strokes and now had faded through the chilled air of the London night. The fog had rolled down the Thames and this fog has the scent of the October fires from the countryside, the leaf piles burning as a thousand foxfires.
I had heard the clang of the old iron gates closing behind me and the last creak of the thick, oak doors closing so that the locks might make their secure fit. Now all that was left was the faint grinding of the wind stressing the pieces of the stained glass windows, the occasional flutter of dove wings in the lofty roof, and the recurring, slow footsteps of the elderly night watchman making his rounds over and over again.
It had fallen to me as the present Vicar of Westminister Abbey to sit with the saints and the kings, the poets and the famous, through the one night, this one night in a year, when the ghost of the Abbey, her first abbot now centuries dead, returns to gather the souls remembered here. There are to be no others to intrude upon this moment, except the one who to bear witness to its reality to those who have yet to cross over. Even the footsteps of the night watchman will soon walk away and return no more. And I will be here to pray and to listen, to answer their questions and to ask them my own.
The old man's footsteps are growing faint and I can that Big Ben is winding himself up to strike the midnight hour.
The wind and the wait is that all that I have until the silent footsteps stirs once more the dust of time.
I am the Right Revered James Charles Bailey. In other places, they call me Chas, but in this place, I am the Vicar of the Abbey.