Thursday, January 13, 2011

White Lady's Gold

"WHITE LADY'S GOLD" -  Rebecca Siân Pyne

It took nearly three months before Rhys struck gold. A chest of gold coins to be accurate; the owner of the hoard raved furious but impotent. She ranted, screeched and threatened but he took no notice. Even when she raked long nails down his face - he did not stop filling his pockets. Every night, he had slipped into the star-studded darkness to wait for Y Ladi Wen - Penrhiwllan’s own White Lady. She glided through the ruins of a sizeable country manor, moonlight dancing on old-fashioned clothes and jewels.

Rhys had grown up with his grandfather’s stories and the old poacher skills proved useful at last. The nameless woman doomed to wander as a restless spirit, held the key to a better future. Eventually, she would reveal where her treasure lay buried. His persistence paid off and the Lady led him unwittingly to the burial place. It was a simple thing to dig the chest up and put it into his car, driving away as a terrible scream shattered the stillness. The howl of rage and loss rang in his ears as he drove away but did not stop. In the rear mirror, he saw the spirit glide towards him, raising white arms in a gesture of appeal, a promise of vengeance. 

Already planning a new life for his wife and daughter, he carried the iron bound coffer into their cottage. Emily would not approve and so he decided not to tell her. A tendril of smoke followed him in without waiting for an invitation. It drifted at his back with the interest of a visitor on a guided tour. It hovered over the old Carmarthenshire Coffer as if admiring the polish of beeswax and antique dust. It brushed over blue and white plates on the kitchen dresser and rested for a while in a bowl of hyacinths in full flower. That smell followed him for the next week as a voice whispered threats in his ear, invisible fingers catching at his hair and face.

He ignored everything and, in the end, the ghost changed her tactics.

Friday came without further incident and Rhys disappeared into the kitchen to make a pot of tea. At six o’clock, the telephone rang once, repeating the ring an hour later. He took the dog for a walk and returned to every parent’s nightmare.

“What’s wrong, love?” he asked and Emily, almost hysterical, just managed to control herself.  
Her eyes were red from weeping and distraught, far removed from the level-headed woman he had married. “Answer me. Where is she?”

He rushed into the night without answering, or giving a sign he had heard her question.  He drove like a man possessed and prayed the police were on other business, hardly able to breathe or think clearly. His heart almost burst as he pulled into the drive of what had once been a country gentleman’s mansion, now little more than a shell. A tall woman in old-fashioned clothes glided over the rough grass, moonlight glittered off the gossamer gown of white silk and ermine and the dying flowers in her wake. She carried with her the familiar scents of hyacinth and lily of the valley, honeysuckle and climbing roses mingled with the smell of death.
Rhys felt something tear inside his chest when he saw the small form walking beside her; a golden haired child who clutched a soft toy. The Lady turned her face towards him, the beautiful otherworldly features smiled but her eyes carried an accusation. Words entered his mind but the pale still lips did not move. “You stole my gold. I take back the one thing in the world that you care more about than money.”
“Please.” Rhys said, desperation making it hard to get the words out. “I will give it back, rebury the chest and never tell a living soul.”
“How can I be sure you will keep your word?” the White Lady said, still moving forward. Bethan giggled as a ghostly hand caressed her cheek. She lifted her stuffed rabbit and waved one threadbare paw at him. “What a pretty child. It is a shame she has to pay for her father’s greed.”
“Please,” he said again. “Give me one last chance to make everything right.”
“You have until dawn.”
Rhys drove his daughter home and put her to bed, waking her mother long enough to tell her not to worry. He bundled the chest back into his car and drove like a maniac again for the sky was already growing light. The white owl that came from nowhere and almost touched his face unsettled him. His heart pounding, he dug a deep pit and laid the chest at the bottom. Ten bright pound coins and a gold sovereign that had once belonged to his grandfather increased the White Lady’s treasure as compensation
He did not look back after smoothing the earth so nobody would know it had been disturbed; fell into bed and a dreamless sleep. Woke feeling everything would be right with his family now and went downstairs to see the question in his wife’s eyes. She was desperate to know but worried that there would be consequences. “You left those in your pocket. I don’t want to know the details but they almost went in the wash.”
Rhys looked with horror at the bright traitors that lay on the kitchen table. The four coins had nothing to say to him but it was already too late for excuse or apology. He rushed upstairs, two steps at a time, ignoring everything but the knowledge of what he would find there. His daughter’s bed empty and cold, the fluffy rabbit with an old scrap of silk stuck to its paw.

BIO: R. S. Pyne is a science journalist from Ceredigion, West Wales. Publication credits include: Albedo One, Neo-opsis, Hungur, Christmas is Dead – Again, Tainted - Anthology of Terror and the Supernatural, Star Stepping Anthology, Pen Cambria, Crimson Highway, Fifth Di, Macabre Cadaver, Midnight Horror, Delivered, Orphan Leaf Review, Apollo's Lyre, Silver Blade and others. Further stories will shortly appear in Bards and Sages Quarterly and Lacuna – Journal of Historical Fiction; also Daily Flash 2012: 366 Days of Flash Fiction.


  1. Wow what a ride. I was dreading coming to the end to find the result of this man's stupid greed. It was delicately played and horrifically revealed.

    The White Lady is a fantastic character who has more life in her, even in death, that could span more tales in the future.

    A great read that was beautifully written and managed to chill me to my bones.

  2. Suitably ghostly and spooky, Rebecca. A chilling tale recommended to be read under the bedcovers.

  3. A real Chilller Rebecca

    Well Done ;-D