The Baron, for reasons of societal l expectation or personal preference, held dinner parties with some frequency, oft inviting members of the better families of the region regardless of personal connection or the lack thereof. This meant, of course, that many attending these affairs were unfamiliar with Grisleigh End, few having passed closer than the inn at Little Wrydding.
Anne Cadwalader was one of these. Of fine if impecunious Welsh stock, several of her family attended social gatherings held at the Redmaynes estate at various times. What follows is a letter from Anne to a cousin, written following what appears to be her first, and perhaps only, visit.
No. 13 Druidstone Rd. Cardiff
4th Jany, 1931
My dear Banarbas,
I fear you have been uneasy and put to trouble since I wrote to your Father in which letter I related my disquietude over events transpiring during my recent visit to the estates of the Redmaynes. Knowing that he has made you aware of that writ to him, I will not herein repeat myself. In that correspondence did I limit myself, knowing full well your Father’s religious views, to mention of the Bacchanal. Loath was I to set the match to his ever-ready tinder which these further intimations I shall make to you would have done.
The carnality of the events exceeded my own awareness, I am most certain, for much took place outside of my presence. I recognized midway through the evening the ongoing attentions which provided by the Dowager Duchess Theodora had managed my movements so as to be at some distance from the Baron Grisleigh and certain of his associates for several lengthy periods. Of a number in attendance at this social gathering the greater part, I and several others were new to the manor and these with me were kept in a group, mostly within the dining room, the library, or the lounge. His Excellency slipped without word from our company on no less than three occasions, each time, in consideration of his guests’ presence, for rather extended periods.
Subsequent to one such the excessive flush upon the cheek and bosom of another guest as she reentered our company provoked my greater attention, whereupon I recognized the greater signs of rapid breath and wide bright eyes that signify strenuous exercise. Initially concerned, I made to inquire after the fitting of her corset but turned aside seeing the secretive coquettish glances she cast towards the Baron.
During another unexplained – even unmentioned – absence through the glass doors to the terrace I saw several figures bearing electric torches at some distance appear to exit the hedge maze and move towards the rear of the house. Upon speaking of this to the Duchess, she assured me I saw no more than the dancing light of the flames reflecting from the cut panes of glass, and was the glasswork not exquisite? The melting snowflakes upon the Baron’s trousers subsequent to his return moments later gave my doubts voice on the other hand, despite the lack of any apparent cause to examine the grounds in the foul weather.
Progressing from the meal to the billiards room my stride carried me somewhat ahead of the other new guests and, the Dowager having slowed to allow the rest to rejoin us, our way led past a door somewhat ajar. I no more than glanced without thought of intrusion yet enough was seen to chill my blood. A skeletal figure shrouded in grave wrappings moved from left to right, issuing harsh rasping as of iron on granite and holding a ball of lambent flame in one claw. The Baron, in profile to me and a rendering of some occult symbology beyond him, swore fiercely and made a gesture most profane. A person or being unseen by me pushed the door to with some force at this moment, heralding also the Dowager reaching my position in the corridor. None but I had observed the chamber now shut.
Of further worrisome sights I will not write and mayhap not even speak for fear that to do so would give them greater footing in my own soul. It should come as no surprise to you that I shall be inconveniently unwell should further invitations to Grisleigh End be forthcoming.
I pray that my words have found you and yours well and not put into you any concerns for my safety. Be assured I will look to the latter as much as I value the former.
Your most affectionate cousin,