Chapter 1 Part 3

Lucy, the baron’s daughter, rose early the next morning. The little girl, now ten years old, had inherited her mother’s good looks and blond hair. Her eyes, however, were a striking opal-green. Lucy had been very tired the night before and had gone to bed early, missing the viewing in the museum. Looking out of her bedroom window, she could see that one of the wagons had returned and men were loading a sarcophagus. “Damnation!” she bellowed. Although none too keen on mummies, she had wanted to see the child. “Too late now! They’ll be gone by the time I'm dressed,” she muttered dejectedly.
     The morning sun came in shafts through the ornate windows of the Egyptian room as Lucy skipped in. Her father had told her that the big mummy had been removed and was being shipped to a museum, but the mummy of the child would stay at Northgate Hall for a while. Lucy was keen to look at it. She had never seen a baby mummy before. Surely a little mummy could not be scary, she thought.
     Approaching the sarcophagus, the little girl peered in. The bandaged body was small, about a metre long. Her father had described it to her as looking rather endearing, but she could not see that. She stared at the sad creature. The nose and eye sockets were clearly visible, moulded by the bandages. She shuddered to think what lay under those bandages. In the British Museum in London there was a mummy that had had its bandages removed. It looked so horribly ugly, all brown and shrivelled with a terrifying staring face. Lucy gazed more intently at the grim little figure in the linen wrappings. Suddenly, she shivered. It almost felt that the dead thing was looking back at her from beneath its bandages.
     Is it still alive? she wondered. “No! Don’t be silly!”she shouted, trying to reassure herself, but that did not stop the icy fear that was starting to seep through her. She could feel its eyes staring at her, burning into her.
     The museum was deathly quiet except for the stark cawing of distant crows. Lucy looked again at the mummy, lying in its coffin. What a strange little creature it was. She drew closer to the thing. “Was it breathing?”she gasped. Heart trembling, she backed away from the sarcophagus, a sense of panic growing within her. Turning, she started to run—run as fast as her legs could carry her.   
     The arrival of the mummies marked a grim new beginning for Northgate Hall. The warm and friendly atmosphere of the great old house grew chilled, dark, and brooding. The terrible fear did not leave Lucy, and with each passing day she became more nervous and withdrawn. At night, in her dreams, the horrible little mummy began to stalk her through the dark corridors of the enormous house.
     Baron Northgate had inspected the mummy closely. He had lifted the ancient body from the sarcophagus. It was bone dry and very stiff. There is no possibility that this thing could have moved, he concluded. How ridiculous! The poor bandaged creature has been dead for thousands of years!
     The servants became increasingly uneasy. Shadows were reported lurking in corners and creeping down the passageways. In the dead of night, strange noises and whisperings were heard. A feeling of dark unease pervaded the house, and the children became so nervous that they had to be dragged to their bedchambers. One bleak night the baron returned from a short business trip to find the butler waiting for him in the vast hallway. Standing there as dignified and imperturbable as ever, he addressed his master. “The baroness and the children are no longer in residence, sir. They left for London yesterday.”
     The baron regarded the butler coldly. “Did the baroness give a reason for her departure?” he asked.
     “No, Baron,” replied the butler. “She merely stated that you should make all haste to London.”

 

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