A Ghostly Silence

Capuchin crypt in Palermo_by soyignatius

Excerpt from Death In Bagheria, a work in progress

Thursday, March 24, 1870

Thursday, March 24, 1870

“Time for sleep.” Rosa yawned.

Unfortunately, Serafina could not forget the image of the mysterious lady in blue. Despite the danger, she had to find out her identity, so after saying goodnight to Rosa, she opened her door with infinite care, crept down the back stairs, and stepped outside.

The wind had lessened as she tiptoed toward the front of the house. When she strained, she could hear the lapping of waves on the shore. She stopped. Had she just heard something else? A twig breaking, someone following her? She looked around, saw nothing, wished she’d remembered to take her cape and the sharp envelope slicer she’d seen on the top of her desk. She must be more deliberate, consider all possibilities. Should she retrace her steps for them? Shaking her head, she pricked her ears and waited in the ghostly silence for any other sound. After a few minutes, trying to reassure herself that there was no other presence, she ignored the drumming of her heart, steeled her resolve, and continued on her quest.

Skirting the terrace, she picked her way through some shrubbery, crouching low, on the off chance that the baron was watching from his study window. Doubled almost in half, she advanced slowly, peered beyond the villa’s entrance and down the wide expanse of lawn fronting the road to the harbor, but saw no sign of life. Misted over now, the moon lent an eerie light to her surroundings and she wondered who might be watching her from the shadows, what wild creatures might be lurking in the tall grasses bordering the property only a few meters away. She stopped suddenly when she heard the hoot of an owl. The churning waves were now more distinct and she remembered what her mother called the sound of the sea, “the breath of God.”

Looking back at the house, she gazed from top to bottom, making sure that no light shone before continuing. Her boots were sodden with early morning dew. Cold and wet, she headed toward the sea, crossing the lawn past the carriage drive, moving with deliberation.

With a start, she halted, straining to understand what it was she saw before her—the outlines of a figure in middle distance, the specter she and Rosa had seen from the window in the baroness’s bedroom.

 Photo: Capuchin crypt in Palermo. Credit: soyignatius (Flickr), Creative Commons.

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