There was a legend about the well in the garden. Mrs Storey, aptly named as she always had one, told me in the Post Office queue.
‘You bought the old Brinkley house then, you’re braver than me. Well, at least you’re not that pretty, you might be ok, depends on his definition of pretty I suppose.’ I’m not vain but I didn’t expect an assessment of my appearance from a stranger on a Tuesday morning as I stood in line to send a parcel.
‘Don’t you know?’
‘Not my place to tell you.’ she turned away.
I put my hand on her shoulder and pulled her back. ‘I think someone should’
‘Perhaps, you’re right, better to be prepared in case he does take a fancy to you’ she folded her arms.
‘The man who built the house. Well, that was over a hundred years ago.’
She reached the counter.
I reached the counter, and she was heading for the door.
‘You have to tell me now’ I caught up with her.
We began walking down the street to the bus stop.
‘She died you see, his wife. Drowned she was, in the river. He was broken-hearted by all accounts, well you would be, wouldn’t you?’
‘Yes, I guess you would.’
‘He wanted to be with her, couldn’t bear being parted. Had this idea that the well in the garden led to the river. So, he climbed in. Never been seen since.’
‘Ok. That’s all very sad. But what’s this got to do with me?’
‘He never found her. So, he takes young women like yourself to make do I suppose. Mind you he might think they are her; he was a bit batty towards the end. Handsome devil, though, I wouldn’t say no. Before he went batty like.’
‘Yeah. Comes out the well and gets them from their beds, takes them back with him. Nobody ever finds them. Not sure if he, er you know, has his fun first. He likes the pretty ones, had his pick back in the day I would say. As I say, you might be ok, you’re not that pretty.’
My legs won’t hold me up, I sit in the bus shelter.
‘Er, how often does this happen?’
‘Oh, only once a year like’
‘The fifteenth of this month. Their wedding anniversary you see and a man well, he likes to get his leg over on an anniversary, well my Cyril likes to get his leg over whenever he can but then, who can blame him?’ She puffed herself up and tidied her hair.
‘The fifteenth but that’s tomorrow’
‘That’s why I told ye honey, best to be prepared.’