Hours later, as they lay side-by-side in the grass, sweat and spent-love sticking to their naked bodies, Ichabod asked; “Do you think the hotel is haunted?”
“I don’t know,” Katrina said, “Eleanor seems convinced. What do you think?”
“You know I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“After everything you’ve seen?” Katrina questioned. “Are you sure you don’t believe?”
“I’m certain,” Ichabod replied.
“Are you always so certain of everything,” Katrina asked.
“Let’s not start all that again,” Ichabod sighed. “Come here, and let me sample your charms!”
Back at the hotel, Ichabod returned to the bedroom to change. As he buttoned his shirt his eyes fell on Katrina’s sketch of the hotel and he smiled.
“Quite lovely,” he said to himself. “But there is a mistake… or is there?”
His eyes continued to stare, as the wheel of his mind turned faster and faster.
Downstairs in the study Ichabod found Masbeth, his trusted apprentice; speaking to a man he had not met before.
“Hello,” Ichabod said. “I’m Ichabod Crane.”
“Marshall Green,” the man replied.
“You’re out of bed,” Ichabod smiled.
“Yes, I’m much better thank-you. My wife and I are going home this evening.”
“Well I wish you a pleasant journey,” Ichabod said. “Masbeth, can I please speak with you?”
Masbeth nodded, pushed back his chair and followed Ichabod out into the hallway.
“Masbeth, I need you to be my look out,” Ichabod whispered.
“Your look out?”
“Shhh! Yes, I need to go in somewhere, and look around someplace, and find something. And I need you to keep a watch for anyone coming.”
“You’re not going to get us throw out like you did in Texas, are you?”
“This is nothing like Texas,” Ichabod snapped back in a hush. He began climbing the staircase, and said; “Now no more questions, I have a theory to check out and not much time to spare.”
Twenty minutes later, Ichabod and Masbeth where back in the hallway.
“Gather everyone together,” Ichabod told Masbeth. “I think I’ve solve the case of the ghostly footsteps!”
Another twenty minutes later, Ichabod, Masbeth, Katrina, Frank, Eleanor, Rebecca, Marshall and Mr White were all gathered in the hallway.
“What’s this all about,” Mr White demanded. “Your son says you know where my silver is.”
Ichabod rolled his eyes.
“And you know about the ghost!” Eleanor wailed. “Did you see it?”
“No,” Ichabod replied. “And we aren’t going up there on a ghost hunt. We’re going outside, come along.”
At the back of the hotel there were a number of hay bundles, and as the group watched, Ichabod began digging through them; pushing them aside to expose the wall behind.
“What on earth are you doing?” Mr White scoffed. “Hunting for a needle?”
“Actually,” Ichabod replied, feeling his fingers press against cold metal, “I’m hunting for treasure.”
With a gentle pull he recovered a silver goblet from the depths of the hay stack.
“My silver,” Mr White gasped, pushing passed the others and snatching it from Ichabod. “It’s all here,” he confirmed, “hidden behind the hay; my missing money as well!”
“Oh Ichabod, how ever did you know?” Katrina smiled, her eyes dancing with adoring pride.
“Come,” Ichabod said, heading back into the hotel, “I rather suspect the answer is the attic.”
Eleanor refused to venture into the attic, so Ichabod asked Katrina to take her back to her room and stay with her. The rest of them, each armed with a candle, disappeared one by one up the ladder and into the dark space above.
“They shouldn’t be up there,” Eleanor said, as she sat at the foot of her bed, fingers picking nervously at her skirt.
“Ichabod will keep them safe,” Katrina assured her. “I promise.”
“Mr Green shouldn’t be going up there,” Eleanor continued as if she wasn’t listening. “Not with his leg still healing.”
“He seemed to manage it just fine,” Katrina replied, trying her best to put the woman at ease.
“And an old man like Mr White, and a young woman like Rebecca, and my Frank, with his heart, no, no, they shouldn’t be up—“
The woman’s voice caught in her throat, as both her and Katrina’s head snapped upwards.
“Oh Lord,” she gasped.
Step, scrap, step, scrap, step, scrap, step, scrap…
“It’s the ghost!” Eleanor cried; her eyes still wide and fixed on the ceiling.
Katrina tore out of the bedroom and down the hallway.
“Ichabod!” She called, racing towards the ladder.
“Katrina, no,” Eleanor begged, chasing after her. “It’ll get you as well!”
Katrina didn’t listen; she would sooner face a thousand ghosts than not run to the aid of her dear beloved.
She felt Eleanor’s hands around her ankle, urging her back down the ladder, but she resisted.
“Oh my Frank,” she heard Eleanor wail from below.
Moments later, Eleanor was on the ladder as well, climbing and eager to check on her own husband. The two of them scrabbled mindlessly up and up, finally heaving themselves through the hole in the ceiling and collapsing in a tangled heap on the floor.
“What’s this fuss here,” Mr White demanded, looking down at the pair of near-hysterical women.
Katrina and Eleanor began to calm themselves as they noticed their husbands, fine and fit, approaching with concern on their faces. They were followed by Rebecca and…
Step, strap, step, strap…
“Mr Green!” Katrina and Eleanor said together.
“The sound of him stepping and then dragging his broken leg, that’s the noise that Eleanor was hearing!”
Katrina noticed the proud smile on Ichabod face and knew she had come to the correct conclusion.
“Marshall?” Rebecca said. “There must be some mistake.”
“I’m afraid not,” Marshall replied, hobblingly quickly to the ladder. “I married you for your money, and after I had spent it all on beer and whores, I decided to make some of my own by selling stolen goods!”
Katrina and Eleanor let out a squeal as he kicked them out of the way with his good leg and then started down the ladder.
“Stop him!” Mr White cried.
However, there was no need to worry, for in his haste Marshall Green miss-stepped and fell, consequently breaking both arms and his other leg. He lay groaning in pile on the floor.
The next morning, after the police had been to take Marshall away, Ichabod and Katrina sat with the others, enjoying the sunshine and cool lemonade.
“So Marshall was only pretending to be unwell,” Frank reflected.
“Well he had a broken leg,” Ichabod replied, “But it wasn’t as bad as he made out. Whenever everyone was out, he would use the attic trapdoor in his room to go up into the roof, and then he could drop down into the other rooms and steal bits and pieces.”
“Genius,” Eleanor breathed.
“A bit far fetched,” Frank said.
“Shut up Frank,” Eleanor snapped.
“Then, the day Rebecca went out walking with Frank and Eleanor, he was able to sneak downstairs and take the silver from the dining room. What he didn’t realise was that Katrina was outside, drawing the hotel. I suppose I really discovered the truth after looking more closely at the drawing. We all thought she was taking artist liberties, but she drew a trapdoor because she saw a trapdoor. You see, as she was looking up, Frank was disposing of his horde, through the secret hatch in the wall of his bedroom – I found it a little while ago, as Masbeth was acting as my lookout. Marshall dropped the silver down behind the haystack, planning to secret it away this evening and sell at a later date.”
“Secret hatch in the wall, ah?” Frank said. “You’d have thought you’d know about that, Mr White.”
“You would’ve, wouldn’t you,” Mr White replied. “But I didn’t have a clue!”