‘Where are the spirits of those who went
Before, do they still survive?’
I said to Alice who pitched our tent
Outside, in the cottage drive.
We couldn’t sleep in the cottage then
There was still a mess to repair,
And rubble lay in the dining room
With dust, most everywhere.
We thought that we were so lucky then
For the cottage and grounds were free,
An ancient Aunt, called Emily Sahnt
Had left in her will, to me.
I’d never met her, the dear old thing
But I raised a glass to her now,
Despite the fact that her neighbours thought
That she was a right old cow!
They said that she was a witch of sorts,
Had given the evil eye,
Had grumbled all round the neighborhood
Had killed some pigs in a sty.
And out in back was a wishing well
Uncovered, that somebody found,
And that’s where Emily met her end,
She fell in the well, and drowned.
I said, ‘I’ll clear it away some day,
The rubble that hid the well,
You never know what it might conceal
A tunnel that leads to Hell!’
And Alice shuddered as Alice does
Whenever I freak her out,
I love to tease her as well as please,
She knows what it’s all about.
There wasn’t time for the well just then,
The cottage was coming first,
We cleared a couple of rooms inside
Moved in, and Alice had cursed,
The paint peeled off from the ceiling and
It dropped in chips to the bed,
We woke, with bits in our mouths and ears
And Alice felt strange in the head.
She felt quite ill for a day or two
Was sick, confused for a spell,
I left her sleeping it off and went
To work in clearing the well,
I dropped a bucket into its depths
For the water, clear and chilled,
And used it up in the cottage then,
And kept the bucket filled.
The groaning started that very night
And a grumbling in the eaves,
I said to Alice, ‘Is that you, Pet?’
Then I heard the crunch of leaves.
There were footsteps round about the place
And I lay, tensed up with fright,
I wasn’t game to be venturing out
In the middle of that dark night.
Alice said she was hearing things
And I tried to calm her down,
We’d burned our boats in moving there
And couldn’t go back to town,
She seemed to be sleeping a lot by day
And plagued with fears at night,
I wanted to do the best for her
What I did, it wasn’t right.
We were using the water from the well
To wash, to cook, for tea,
I suffered from blinding headaches then,
I found, and so did she.
The pigment in her nails had changed
She convulsed, not once, but twice,
I said I’d bring in the doctor just
To get some sound advice.
Alice died in the morning, she
Lay still on the side of the bed,
I shook her a couple of times, she was
So cold, I knew she was dead,
The doctor sent for forensics, and
They checked the place, the well,
There was arsenic in the water there
And the ceiling paint that fell.
I’m lying here in the hospital
But I’m chained, and under guard,
The police think they have a ****** case
And they say I might be charged.
But I had a dream of a rustic crone
Who was clutching Alice hard,
Who said, ‘I don’t want to be alone,
You can walk with me in the yard!’
David Lewis Paget