The Mystery of the Benson Manor

by Franc

Preface

Carlton Baxter a solicitor receives a letter sent by a nobleman, whose name is Lord Mortimer Benson who is in terrible health. When he arrives, he gradually begins to discover the hidden secret of the Benson Manor.


I had received an urgent letter from a gentleman by the name of Carlton Baxter in 1890, who described himself as a solicitor. In the letter there was a mention of a nobleman, by the name of Lord Mortimer Benson that concerned his deteriorating health.

This ambiguous patrician had claimed to be a distant relative of the family, who was held in very high esteem, and had included me in his will.

I sent a correspondence indicating my response, and I was summoned by this individual to present myself in person, through an invitation.

Although I did not know Lord Benson, I decided to accept his invitation.

Upon the morrow, I departed to Yorkshire from London, with an eager intrigue that imposed upon me about the undisclosed enigma.

Once I had arrived to the estate before the eventide, I could see the haunting view of the Benson Manor.

It had exuded such a ghastly impression, as if the manor was watchful of my every step.

The Gothic manor stood by the banks of a river, passing over the verge of a verdant moss.

A stone bridge above the river separated the grounds of the house from the village.

There was a ridge beyond the heather moorland lying in the north and east.

The main walled iris garden lying to the south of the building had rose beds, lawns, orchards and lily pads.

The windows were shadowy and vague, and the manor was partially covered in the uniquity of the surrounding vines, by the vigilant willow trees.

A slight breeze could be felt from the vast moors, as I descended from the carriage.

And a fond nostalgia immediately prevailed over me, as I thought of the days of yore, when I rambled within the heath.

The manor had belonged to the Benson lineage, ever since it was built by the late Viscount Reginald Benson the third over two centuries ago.

When I stood before the front gate, I was formally greeted by Mr Baxter, whose countenance was very grum and solemn.

'Welcome to the Benson Manor sir! I would have hoped the visit of yours was more convivial and jovial sir, and under other circumstances. However, as you are informed already, the revered Lord Mortimer Benson is dying, from an acute illness that the doctors dread, he will perish soon'.

I was next escorted up the stairway and to his private chamber, as I entered alone with the utmost discretion possible.

The chamber inside was extremely sombre and eerie, as the draperies covered the opaque window.

A faint gleam penetrated the chamber, at brief intervals during the day.

He bore such a listless expression upon his pallid face, as he lay in the bed.

He suffered a bit from hypersensitivity, and the light aggravated his concern.

He was covered in blankets to keep warm, but I had noticed his body to be wan as well.

He looked like a stiff and weary corpse, as his eyes were very haggard and his health was indeed in the most atrocious state of deterioration visibly seen.

Mr Baxter had conveyed to me that it was a matter of days, before he would succumb to the mysterious family illness that the doctors could not cure.

When I got closer, I touched his pulse and felt the cold absent rhythm, and the slow beating of the heart.

He was scarcely breathing, I sensed.

He began to cough, as the effort to speak drained his tenuous tone in voice and then activated a hypochondriac episode in him.

I was completely aghast, with the horrendous sight of his discolouring condition, 'Lord Benson, it is me, William. I am here! Can you hear me clearly?' I asked him.

Although he was extremely feeble, he had enough strength then to speak coherently to me.

'William my boy, you are finally here. Good, now I can die truly in peace, as I had planned. But not before, the entire will will be read and then effectuated'.

His muttering words startled and bemused me to the core, 'Lord Benson, you claim to be a distant relative of mine, but I have never been told of your existence. How are we related my lord?' I asked.

Despite his ailment and suffering, my presence aroused him with a momentary excitement, 'William, I am your lost and forgotten relative. You see, your father and I are cousins', he answered.

He paused then continued, 'I am afeard I am dying William, and I shall not live to fulfill the only promise I made to my devoted Elizabeth, my beloved wife. Forthan I shall be shortly stone dead my boy, and buried in the grounds of the estate, where all the Bensons of this manor have been interred'.

'Promise, what promise do you speak of my lord?'

He then stared into my eyes, as I could see the depth of his languishing eyes peering into mine, 'That one of the male Bensons, will take care of the manor! This is the reason my boy, I have summoned you. You must be frood and assume this responsibility to be included in the will William'.

Again he had paused before he continued, 'Let me show you a small portrait of my beloved wife, in a trinket I adored. You had not known of her previously before your arrival, and you were not aware of the calculated stipulation that was truly established and the ramifications that would occur afterwards if implemented'.

'Indeed my lord, I am very flattered that you have taken consideration of me in your salient will and have bequeathed me whatever you deem accordingly. But surely you must know that I must have time to ponder this important decision. I was not prepared for this!'

He then stared into my eyes, with sheer intensity, as his breathing was stifled by his exertion and a stound of despair. 'Time, I am wankle and I do not have time to waste my boy. You must accept, you must, for the curse must be uplifted, and you must not vex the Benson name. I put my trust in you to accomplish this worthy deed my boy! If not, the manor will be irredeemable and will exact revenge upon the living members of the Bensons including you. Eliza, Eliza, she must not leave this house! Gaum my steven!'

His ominous words appeared to be on the cusp of hysteria, and he was infirm of reason, but I had perceived something more than a frantic trepidation that appertained to an unfamiliar mystery.

I called on the doctor at once, since I thought it was responsible to alert him of Lord Benson's agitation.

When he arrived, he proceeded to calm Lord Benson, and he gave him some tea to assuage the nerves.

It was effective, and Lord Benson gradually fell asleep.

We left him to rest, and I told him that I would stay for a couple of days, and that I would return to the chamber to see him tomorrow to carry on with the conversation.

When I left the chamber of Lord Benson, I was taken down the stairway, and to the hall.

In the hall there were trophies, a collection of arms, brown-wood furniture, the fireplace, and those pediments above the doorframes were split and very finely carved.

Another split, triangle pediment surmounted the large cartouche bearing, the Viscount Benson family's coat of arms of the dragon above the fireplace.

The hard stone floor had squares and hexagons intersecting, and three arches on the north side of the chamber.

There was also a unique portrait of the first Benson, who had a premature death I was told by the solicitor, along the portraits of his direct descendants.

The ancient cornerstone, where the jointed two walls met, echoed the winds of the moorland.

The longcase clock in the oak hall, struck at the beginning of every hour.

A monogram read the name of Mortimer Benson.

A single walnut chest, a stairway of tapestry, an arabesque allegory, a drawing room in the first storey, and the overmantel above the drear fireplace, bearing a daunting mirror that could be seen ahead.

In the loft above there was a chamber that once was a scullery, but had been closed and abandoned for years.

The dining room had mezzotints adorning the walls.

There was one thing that I found striking and coincidental, that was the portrait of a scion who I had resembled.

'Remarkably stunning is it, for you look exactly the same, as Lord Oliver Benson. Indeed beauty and elegance runs well in the family', said a voice of a woman standing behind me.

'I did not see you standing there my lady', I responded.

The young lady had then introduced herself as the Lady Elmira Benson, the daughter of Lord Benson.

She was quite radiant and pulchritudinous and bore the vestal guise that sparkled lucently and proudly.

Her blond hair was long and flowing, and her green eyes were large but verily enchanting.

The lively contours of her figure were leptosome and appealing, as she wore an elegant dress that bore her noble presence.

My first impression of her was pleasant and winsome, and I was extremely surprised, by her slight hauteur.

All that I had witnessed of my stay and view of the manor was extremely darkled and dismal.

She was a gratifying token of refinement and regency, amidst the crestfallen and disturbing circumstances that were plaguing the manor.

'I would give you a proper welcome to the manor Lord Benson and would have titty-toited, but I see that you have already been welcomed', she said.

She then bowed her head, 'I must ask you to forgive me sir, for I was away on an errand. Ever since father had grown donsy or ill, I have had to do manifold things. Of course I am grateful, for Mr Baxter's loyal service to Father'.

'No need to worry Lady Benson, for Mr Baxter has showed me the house, and I have spoken and seen your father Lord Benson', I replied.

The coat of arms caught my attention for some reason, and I had the urge to enquire, 'The coat of arms is a dragon. Is there a particular reason for this my lady?'

She smiled and then responded, 'It is a token of the origins of the Benson lineage. Legend says that the inspiration was taken from the Tudor family. But, that of course, is a mere speculative legend'.

'Perhaps so my lady, but it is truly admirable'.

'Please let me escort you to your chamber at once sir. I imagine that you must be tired and hungry from the long trip', she sought to convince me.

She had seen me yawning, 'Yes, the trip has been quite tiresome, and I would enjoy seeing more of the estate, but I shall repose and have dinner instead'.

Once inside the chamber I rested and took dinner, as there was a silence that enveloped the manor.

I was told that the manor was only inhabited, by the Lady Elmira Benson and Lord Benson, and that the servants slept in the cottage adjoining the estate.

A Mrs Linford tended to the care of Lord Benson day and night, whilst the Lady Benson slept in the nearby chamber.

As for my chamber, it was located on the other side of the corridor on the same storey upstairs.

The unusual quietude was occasionally interrupted, by the moaning and groaning of Lord Benson, when in discomfort.

I had cogitated in the night the haunting words of Lord Benson, and the horrible condition he had diminished.

I heard these sounds and more, as the night passed, and the bustling winds of the moorland entered my window.

I slept the night, until I was aroused by an inexplicable noise coming from the loft above.

At first, I dismissed the noise as a mere occurrence of the manor, but then the sound gradually began to increase.

It was the apparent sound of a wretch in torture, and the noise abruptly abated.

It was replaced, by a heavy breathing that I heard just outside of the guest chamber that I was occupying.

Afterwards the door knob turned, as the hasp on the door creaked slightly.

For a brief moment I suspected an intruder, or one of the servants who was wandering in the manor so late in the night.

I rose to my feet to investigate, but as I did, the strange sound had gone away, and when I opened the door to the corridor, there was nobody present.

It was all black and dim-darkness to the core. It seemed like a vague nightmare that I would have dreamt ere.

After seeing that there was nobody in the corridor, I returned to my chamber and had slept the rest of the night.

The next morning when I awoke, I felt a cold draught that entered through the window, and I could feel this in the corridor when I stepped out of the chamber.

I had noticed then, that there was commotion in the chamber of Lord Benson.

I saw his door open wide, and heard the voices of several persons speaking.

'Good God, what has happened?' I asked as I entered.

I then said, 'I did not think Lord Benson's health would dissipate, one day after my arrival. What transpired doctor, if I may ask?'

He looked into my eyes and replied, 'From what it appears, he suffered an epileptic attack sir. Fortunately, Mrs Linford arrived expeditiously, and was able to save him, from choking to death on his saliva. When I arrived at the manor and saw him, he was already reposing. But the attack had incapacitated his movement. He is no longer agile enough to walk, or have much movement in his legs'.

It was then that I was soon informed by Dr Whitworth of the potential perils that existed.

He was very pensive but grateful that nothing tragic had transpired.

Lord Benson had almost succumbed to the grasp of death during the night, and that was alarming to imagine.

He was remarkably fortunate enough to have survived the brutal episode.

Immediately, I thought of the bizarre noise I perceived late last night in the narrow corridor.

Could this be intertwined in some unique manner, with the incident of yesterday?

Mrs Linford and the poor Lady Benson were present and both quite worried as to be expected, by the troubling incident.

When I had discovered the terrible ordeal of Lord Benson I was taken aback, and I sought to console Elmira who was visibly shaken.

'I heard the news of what has betided to Lord Benson, and know that you can confide in me, in whatever endeavour necessary my lady', I told her.

She was gracious in her reply, 'Of course sir!'

I thought it appropriate of me to leave, since the good doctor was present and Lord Benson was well taken care of then.

Therefore, I left his crowded chamber, and returned to my own pensive.

I went outside for a frist to breathe some fresh air from the countryside, as the fresh morning appeared to be spry with nascent elements of nature.

Once outside, I stood before the front gate on the rear side of the manor, staring off into the broad moorland.

As I began to see the interesting purlieu of the estate, I saw when I turned around, the draperies from the loft above move, and a mysterious figure seemed to be peering down at me afterwards.

The figure had definitely arrested my curiosity. I remained in a deep fixation at the draperies of the loft.

'It seems summa' 'as attracted thy attention sir?' The lackey Mr Crowther with his thick Yorkshire accent enquired, as he saw me standing outside.

'For a moment, I thought I saw someone up in the loft', I answered.

'Int' loft theur seh sir it 'as bin abandoned for decades. Neya 'un 'as bin theear for years, except fert lady benson, whoa 'as t' keys, 'n occasionally 'as t' loft cleaned', he acknowledged.

I then noticed the view of the endless rows of headstones that lain behind the manor.

I headed towards them and saw three headstones, with three names in a row.

The names were the following, Elizabeth Benson Hainsworth, Eliza Benson Hainsworth, and the third name was Mortimer Benson Glover.

The last headstone obviously had surprised me, since the good Lord Benson had not yet died, but the lackey would explain to me that however morbid the headstone may appear with the epitaph written with the name of Lord Benson, it was merely a token procedure for the preparation of his death.

It was more of an adumbration of a foregone illation that was common in these parts of England.

But what intrigued me the most was the strange headstone bearing the name of Eliza Benson Hainsworth.

I was not truly aware who this individual was in the end. I presumed that the female was dead and buried here, but who was she?

'Pardon me Mr Crowther, but if I may ask, who was this woman with the name of Eliza Benson Hainsworth? Lord Benson mentioned her to me upon my arrival', I spoke.

He replied, 'Elizeur wor t' beloved daughta o' lut benson, whoa did not survi' menny years. Unfortunately, sin shi wor born premature, shi wor not destined ta li' bur eur brief tahhm upon dis earth. Shi wor born fra t' womb o' 'a mutheur, bur nivva saw 'a mutheur ali'. Dis is orl ah kna, accordin ta wha' lut benson revealed ta me'.

His visage had personified a look of ambivalence, and the hidden mystery of Eliza Benson was first known to me.

He informed me that due to the difficult nature of the birth of Eliza, Mrs Benson did not survive the delivery.

Sadly, she died in the difficulty of her labour, and was interred subsequently within the grounds of the estate.

It was such a horrific account Mr Crowther had disclosed, and another intimate secret that I was not aware of.

What else was there about the Benson Manor that involved an intrinsic and inexplicable origin?

The stranger behind the draperies above in the loft was a pending enigma to explore.

Anon, I was told by Elmira that Lord Benson was asking for me, as she found us both, standing before the row of headstones conversing.

'Sir, please come at once with me, for Father is demanding to see you this morning!'

'Why of course my lady, I am eager to see your father forthwith. Has the doctor left the manor?' I replied.

'Yes for the nonce!' She answered.

Mr Crowther excused himself, since he had duties of the estate to tend to elsewhere.

When I entered Lord Benson's chamber, he was lying in his bed, whilst Mrs Linford and the doctor were present.

There was a Cimmerian achromatic gloom that pervaded over the chamber at that moment.

His deplorable appearance was even more pallid and decrepit, amidst the former semblance of a hearty and vibrant man.

However, there was something latent in his vapid visage that I had perceived, as I approached him nigh to be disconcerting.

Everyone soon left the chamber, allowing me to speak in privacy with Lord Benson for a short period of time.

It was quite obvious to me he was apprehensive, as his words in the beginning were overtly salient and perspicuous.

But quickly his words became overwrought and teetered on unhingement and petulant incoherency.

'William my boy come, come hither, I am afeard I do not have much time. I shall not survive the day and the wark-for the dere of phrenesis will consume this manor. I strongly feel this within me burning, burning to the marrow. Fie on the Devil that awaits my soul. Eliza, she lives. She lies within the manor!' He responded.

'Lord Benson please calm yourself, if not, I shall not be able to understand you much!' I answered.

I had attempted swiftly to calm his hysteria, and I had seen the intransigent defiance in him still plainly, even close to death was his patent exigency.

He asked for his powder of laudanum that he took for his rheumatism.

Since I was not a physician, I told him I would summon Dr Whitworth instead.

He did not want me to leave the room yet. I could only construe his frantic desperation to be an act of his dwindling faculties.

I did not want to upset him more than what he was already, and thus I acquiesced to his prior request.

My reaction was of absolute conformity in the beginning, till he had started to mention the name of Eliza of whom, I was led to believe had long since died two decades ago.

He refused to accept her irrevocable death, and he continued with his unsettling delirium.

'No, no, what I need to tell you cannot wait any longer. I need to know what your decision is before I die my boy!'

'Yes, I have made the decision to honour your request, and I shall proceed to make clear that the manor is in the possession of a Benson. I shall proceed as well to assist the Lady Benson in whatever endeavour is associated to the well-being of the estate and its affairs', I said obsequiously.

There was this heavy sigh of relief in his expression, 'Good, but you must promise me to never leave this manor unattended. And never-never I repeat let Eliza get out of the manor. This, you must promise me my boy algate!'

'Lord Benson, Eliza your daughter is dead. She died twenty years ago', I replied.

'No, no, she is alive. Eliza is not dead!' He exclaimed.

'Doctor, come at once. Lord Benson has gone mad I fear, for he keeps on repeating the name of Eliza, his dead daughter'.

The doctor had entered and immediately rushed to his bed, and successfully calmed him down enough to regain his emotional and physical stability.

He gave him his powder of laudanum to take, and I left the chambre so that he could examine him thoroughly.

Mrs Linford assisted the good doctor, whilst I attempted to discuss with Elmira, the curious intrigue I had surrounding the insoluble mystery of Eliza and the manor.

Once the doctor had restrained him with the drug sufficiently, Elmira entered the chamber anew, whilst the doctor and I had been conferring with one another, concerning the rapid despairing state of Lord Benson. Obviously, it was apparent that Lord Benson was not in fine fettle.

I then spoke to Elmira again, 'Elmira, if I may be importunate, why does your beloved father repeat the name of Eliza, when apparently she is dead?'

She was somewhat baffled by my question, but answered it with an inculcated assiduity, 'Oh, you must understand sir'.

I then told her to call me William, 'Please call me William'.

She agreed, 'William, you must understand that Father is not coherent most of the times, and his words sadly enough are full of his delirium and illness. Eliza my dearest sister, died many years ago. Poor Father, her memory and the death of Mother, still haunt him like a wretched ghost'.

''Tis sad and regretful indeed, the state of Lord Benson doctor. If I may truly enquire how long do you believe Lord Benson has to live?'

His response was succinct and concise, 'Not much longer sir!'

His confession was conventional and to be expected. But before he left, he handed over to me, a diary that belonged to Lord Benson. I took the diary and returned to my chamber, where I started to read the pages of the diary meticulously.

The following account that I read were the words of Lord Benson, and his alone. I read and read the pages and would be confounded, with the entries of the diary.

There were some pages that had been missing or torn out, but those that I understood, all began with the date and ended with his signature as if his intention was to convey this diary to a confidant.

What I found to be extremely compelling and portentous was one entry that described how Eliza his daughter, survived the harsh delivery, and did not die instead lived.

Apparently, her premature birth had caused an atrocious deformity in her that covered her body.

However, what was more appalling was that the deformity could be seen mostly in the area of the face.

A visible tissue of heavy scars on the face and body were described thoroughly.

The immediate thought within me was, where then was Eliza at, if she was not dead at all?

I thought of any logical possibilities nearby where she could be hidden, but not one was conclusive enough to determine her whereabouts exactly.

Anon, I was to unfold this mystery that bound the ancient manor, with the Benson family.

This complicated answer would be partially unravelled, by two entries that alarmed and fascinated me at the same time.

I shall condense and read the relevant parts of the entries of Lord Benson's diary.

18th November, 1878.

It has been nearly ten years since the death of my beloved Elizabeth, and the abominable child that is my daughter Eliza, still lives.

The doctors have informed us that her hideous and grotesque deformity is irremediable, and that her erratic behaviour has altered her persona and mien.

She is suffering from what the doctor had said is a conversion disorder or worse a phrenesis.

Her systems are strains, intervals of incoherence, trauma, or psychological distress, epilepsy and incontinence.

Her blank reticent stare and apathetic emotions, and her unknown laughter, are constant features daily.

There is no prognosis, and I fear that she would never be capable of living a normal human life, instead be an orling.

God forgive me, but at times I have thought of abandoning her or offering her to the care of the monks.

I cannot bear this attainture that I procreated.

But I realised that I am a God fearing Christian, and the promise I made to Elizabeth that I would forever take care of her until her death.

24th October 1872.

It has been four years now, since the death of Elizabeth, and the doctor had told me that Eliza's alogotrophy or deformity is increasing, and for this reason, I have decided to adopt a young girl from Wales who I have named Elmira.

The shocking revelation that Elmira was not Lord Benson's legitimate daughter, and that the repugnant and malformed Eliza was his actual daughter was unveiled.

Elmira was a poor waif that grew into an adorable sylph and Eliza, what was she?

According to the diary revealed of her, she was a vicious monster.

Suddenly, a myriad of doubts and concerns overtook my perception, as I incessantly pondered the information that I had discovered, and the dreadful secret that was kept unknown to the rest of the world.

This vivid entry and lengthy page had totally engrossed me, with a sudden trepidation and urgent interest.

At that particular instance I again remembered the peculiar image I had seen above in the loft, when I had gathered with Mr Baxter, along the headstones to share an engaging conversation on the topic of the Benson family.

She must be there still after so many years, I told myself.

A slight noise from the loft upstairs arrested my attention during the day, as I sat in my chamber bed, mediating the option of whether or not I should had investigated this unsettling mystery.

I rose from my bed, and walked gently through the corridor, knowing that Elmira would be occupied in Lord Benson's chamber.

Once I passed the chamber of Lord Benson, I proceeded to walk up the stairs that led to the loft above.

Slowly and discreetly I climbed the spiral stairway, reaching the surreptitious loft at last.

A sense of mild fear had enfolded me and entered my mind, as I put my hand on the knob.

There was dust upon the door, and as I was about to turn the knob, I paused as I heard a deep heavy breathing from behind the door.

Straightaway, I was unnerved with the queer sound, and remained quiet for a moment.

It was then that the breathing stopped, and I began to walk backwards.

Indeed, there was something or someone behind the door in the loft.

The question was, was it the deformed daughter of Lord Benson Eliza?

After all these years, she had been sequestered like a wild animal and a shameful secret of the Benson lineage.

I then heard the voices of Mrs Linford and Elmira speaking in the corridor.

I knew it was close to dinner hour and that Elmira would head towards my chamber to inform me of dinner.

Quickly I was forced to react, and devise a plan to solve this haunting mystery.

But first, I had to climb down the stairs and reach my chamber, before they could detect my presence outside of the chamber.

Fortunately for me, a heavy tapping was heard from the front door.

It was Mr Baxter who had returned later that day.

He had spent most of the day, dealing with the affairs of the estate, as he was instructed to do by Elmira.

I seized that opportunity to evade the wandering eyes of the manor.

I returned to my chamber, without anyone noticing me. I waited for a few minutes until Mr Baxter joined Elmira in the hall.

I soon heard a knock on my door, and it was Mrs Linford informing me that Elmira wanted to speak to me in the hall downstairs. Calmly I left the chamber and went down the stairs and to the hall, where they were waiting.

'William it is good that you came promptly. You see it is urgent that we discuss the matter of the will, for Father has just requested that the procedures be expedited upon this day', Elmira quoth.

'I must admit that I am not prepared nevertheless, what is more important is the reading of the will', I replied.

'Mr Baxter, you may proceed hereunto', said Elmira.

But as he began to read the will, a horrible clamour from upstairs was heard suddenly. It was Mrs Linford screaming from the top of her lungs, 'Help, help!'

Hurriedly we ran up the stairway to investigate, and when we raught the chamber of Lord Benson, he was dead and on the ground!

His neck was broken and Mrs Linford was aghast, as she uttered the words of 'She, she killed him, that horrible woman!'

'Who killed him?' I asked with a flummoxed response.

She stared into my eyes, as I took hold of her arms. Her reply was, 'Eliza, that monster, she killed Lord Benson!'

'Elmira, good God, what is happening here? You know that the wretched daughter of Lord Benson is alive. My God, Eliza has killed him, and worse, she must be now roaming the corridor!' I ejaculated.

'No, no, that cannot be, I had her sedated the whole time you were here. If she is on the loose, then she might be outside of the estate already', she replied.

'Then it is true, she is not dead. Good God woman, we must stop her at once. We must call the authorities!'

She refused, 'Nay, we cannot, for the shameful dern of the Bensons will be known to the world'.

'What are you talking about Elmira? Forget this and the will as well. We must go now and find her!' I had screamed.

'Yes, yes, he is right Lady Benson. We cannot let her escape the estate!' Mr Baxter interjected.

We began the search in the manor upstairs and downstairs. I searched the loft above, and the loft was completely abandoned, within a foul stench.

Mr Baxter and Mr Crowther searched the grounds of the estate, whilst Elmira searched the corridors and chambers of the manor downstairs.

It was then that another clamour was heard from the chamber of Lord Benson, and it was the voice anew of Mrs Linford.

But this time she screamed for help.

Since I was the closest in vicinity, I ran to the chamber.

And when I entered the chamber, Mrs Linford was dead.

She too had a broken neck, as a frightening image of a woman, still was grabbing her neck.

When she turned around, I descried the horrendous Eliza, the supposed deceased daughter of Lord Benson.

She was dressed in a tattered gown, barefoot and drooling.

Her long hair covered her dishevelled and deformed countenance.

Amidst that horrid guise of scars, I saw the baleful stare of those lurid eyes of horror and menace.

She was the living succubus in disguise I sensed that immediately.

I stumbled on the ground, as she towered over me, like a darkness enshrouding the chamber.

She attacked me then, as she scratched my face, with her sharp long nails that had cut me like steel scissors.

I struggled to halt her assail against me, as she attempted to choke me. I called on her, 'Eliza, Eliza, you are not a monster, you are a woman!'

She hesitated for a moment, pondering my significant words to heed.

There was absolute silence for a few seconds, as she stopped and stared into my eyes, with her piercing blue eyes of dread.

I saw a lone tear dripping down her lugubrious eye, as she gazed fixedly upon me.

The obstreprerous shout of Elmira could be heard throughout the manor, as she called my name approaching the chamber.

The voice enraged Eliza then, and she rose to her feet, waiting for Elmira to arrive.

When Elmira arrived, she was attacked by her neglected sister Eliza. I was still on the floor watching, as Elmira struggled to free herself from the choking grasp of her unwanted sister.

Her strength was manifest, as vengeance was sought by her.

'No, you cannot kill me sister, when I have kept you alive all these years, as Father has instructed me to do! Think of our beloved father. Think of your mother! You are not a monster!' Elmira vociferated.

The piteous memory of her mother, made Eliza paused again. But her rage was insurmountable and unbridled. She muttered the words of 'No, I am not a monster. You and Father are the monsters!'

She broke the neck of her dear sister, and I was to be the next victim as she rose to her feet then.

I kicked one of the lamplights that were on nearby.

Suddenly a blazing fire began to spread to the chamber, reaching the wroth being that attacked me; and her whole body began to be encompassed by the fire.

She had screamed in agony, as I rose to my feet at once, and hied outside of the burning chamber.

I went down the stairway, leaving behind in the smoke of the chambre, the dead bodies of Lord Benson, Mrs Linford, Elmira, and yes, that wretched monster whose name was Eliza Benson.

Once outside I found Mr Baxter and Mr Crowther, who had seen the fire from afar, whilst he searched the grounds of the estate. I was indeed fortunate to see him.

'My God, what has occurred, sir?'

I took a deep breath trying to compose myself, 'There, there in the chamber, that terrible monster has killed all of them', I said.

'Who, who, sir?'

I then responded, 'Eliza Benson, she has killed Lord Benson, Mrs Linford and the poor Elmira'.

'May God av mercy on thea souls!' Mr Crowther interjected.

'Yes, Mr Crowther, may God have mercy on their souls', I uttered.

We stood from afar watching how the ancient Benson Manor once glorious was reduced to mere rubble.

Thus, nothing remained of the house, and the mystery of the Benson Manor was finally solved.

For years to come, the manor would be forgotten, just as the hidden secret was.

In time the abnormal tale of the deformed daughter and what had happened was left for the idle chatter of the villagers.

The gloomy manor no longer existed, except in the active words of the ghost stories told.

And let me not forget to mention, the plentiful headstones that lain within the estate would remain; but added to the row that lain were the headstones bearing the name of Elmira.

As for the will of Lord Benson, I would be afforded all his properties, since he had no other living children.

Mr Baxter would then be my solicitor and Mr Crowther my employee.

Hitherto, thither lay the headstones of all the Benson family.

The absorbing caliginosity of the lore of the Benson Manor still enveloped the remains of the estate.

Legend says that the spirit of Eliza Benson roams the estate and the moorland, as her wailing voice is heard from afar.

All is what it seems to be, within an inusitate mystery.

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