Chapter One – The Old House

November 18, 2010 at 11:06 pm 7 comments

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

I have written a couple of short stories on the blog so far but am now working on a larger project. This will take me some time but I wanted to share a little of this with everyone to get their opinions and any feedback you may feel like giving. This is a book for children and this is the first chapter! I am very nervous about this; it is a real departure for me but I know that regular readers of the blog won’t be afraid to be honest with me:)

The Ghosts of Misteldown Hall

Chapter One – The Old House

Charlie tossed in the lumpy old bed. He wanted to be back in his own house and in his own soft bed. His mother had taken him away from London in such a rush that Charlie’s head was still spinning. His whole life had been turned upside-down over the last month. Firstly, war had been declared on August 4th, 1914. The announcement had been talked about at school and he and his friends agreed that their parents couldn’t talk about anything else. The annoying thing was that every time one of them walked into the room the conversation would stop.

The day after war was declared, Charlie’s father enlisted. He had of course joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry as he was Cornish born and bred. He was now Major Charles Simpson-Hoy and had waved goodbye to Charlie and his mother only two weeks ago. Charlie missed his father, he was scared that he wouldn’t get to see him again. Charlie knew that he and his mother were now in Cornwall at his father’s insistence. Major Simpson-Hoy wanted to know that his wife and child would be safe with his father, the old Colonel. So Charlie and his mother had made this rushed journey to Mistledown Hall or the ‘old house’ as it was known.

Charlie thought back to the conversation he had with his father the night before the Major left. His father had come to see him as he got ready for bed. Charlie hadn’t wanted to go to bed, he knew his father was leaving early the next day and wanted to spend every last moment with him. However, the Major was firm and escorted Charlie to his room but rather than kissing Charlie goodnight he sat down.

‘I need to talk to you Charlie’, said the Major. ‘I want you to listen very carefully to me, this is very important. What I tell you now will be confusing but you must remember this for me’. Charlie saw that his father was serious and nodded so he would continue. ‘I know that you would prefer to stay in London but I need you to go to Cornwall and be with your grandfather. You need to spend time with him, you need to get to know him better’.

Charlie was puzzled by the expression on his father’s face, it was very sombre and perhaps fearful? ‘I don’t understand Father, does Grandfather want to get to know me? He scares me a little, he has always ignored me when we have visited’.’Your grandfather loves you Charlie, you may think you have been ignored but he has watched you closely. This is what he does and what he has to do. Now is the time that he will want to get to know you. I have written to my father, he knows you are on your way and he will be waiting for you’.

‘What do you mean Father? said Charlie. ‘I am sorry I can’t say more Charlie’, said the Major. ‘I am going to war, we both know I have to. War is a horror and many will not come home. I may not come home. Please just know this, our family is not like others. There are secrets you will learn and secrets you will have to keep. Sleep now and know that I love you and will always have you in my heart’. With that his father kissed him and left. Charlie lay quietly for a long while before he slept.

The next day his mother had been sad but determined and had organised the packing up of the house. Within two days they were on their way. Charlie wanted to talk to his mother about his last conversation with the Major but somehow he knew he shouldn’t. So he just tried to help with the packing and to make his mother smile.

The old house was almost 300 years old, a large manor house. There were 12 bedrooms, 6 large reception rooms and servants quarters at the top of the house. There were corridors and passages and even some secret stairways. It was a great house for exploring when Charlie went to visit but living there for years was going to be something different. Charlie missed his friends and his own room in London. Charlie was about to start the local school and he was nervous. He was the boy from the ‘old house’ and he knew the local boys and girls would think he was ‘a toff’. Charlie knew he wasn’t but he didn’t look forward to convincing everyone else of that.

But there was something else that disturbed Charlie most of all. The whispers. Everywhere Charlie went he could hear something or someone. It was like an echo of a whisper, every time Charlie thought he could just make out what was being said it would disappear as if in a breeze. Charlie wondered if anyone else could hear the whispers? The Colonel had a staff of 8 in the house and Charlie had known them all his life. His favourite person was Hitchings the butler who had always been very kind to Charlie. Charlie wondered if he should talk to Hitchings but was worried that he would think Charlie was quite mad. So Charlie kept quiet but he listened and watched, especially if the whispers began when he was with someone else………

End of Chapter One © Lesley Miller 2010

So, there we go. I hope that Chapter One has taken your interest and that you come back to me with any comments you may wish to make:)

I close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.



Entry filed under: Blogging, Childhood, Children, The Ghosts of Misteldown Hall, Twitter, wheniwas8, Writing. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Remember….. Chapter Two – The Colonel

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. silversandpit  |  November 29, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Hi Lesley, good story coming along here.
    I already sponsor a child in Ethiopia through Compassion, currently £21 per month plus occasional extras (Christmas present, birthday present…). I also pay £7 per month to the NSPCC – have done for a long time (forget exactly how long).
    When I was 8 I wanted to be a vet. I liked animals, had a lot of pets and was generally better with animals than people – well, better than with my brothers or the children at school, anyway. Then I discovered singing, piano and music generally and my life changed forever. But I still like animals and still have a lot of pets.

    • 2. when i was 8 i wanted to be....  |  November 30, 2010 at 8:06 am

      Hi Frances,

      Compassion is another new charity! Thank you so much for this:) I also love to see another donation for the NSPCC, we all know the great work they do. I see from you website that you did change your life when you discovered music. It is an amazing thing to be able to use your talent in your life and I am sure that you get huge satisfation from this…

      You still love animals and that is a good thing, we only have the one pet, Buster. He is more than enough for us at the moment. Perhaps we will get another schnauzer soon, at least that is what my daughter is hoping for!

      My thanks again.

      Take care of you and yours,


  • 3. Cherise  |  November 20, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    My 10 year old daughter has just read this (bit of background:she is an avid reader, school assess her reading age as 12 & she has an interest in creative writing herself).
    She said that you are really talented and she would like to read more, so thats a good start!
    Her favourite paragraph was the last one. The sentence: The whispers’ stood out for her and the pace picked up.
    What she did say is that ‘she lost the picture’ a bit during the first 2 and a half paragraphs and had to go back and re-read it. and that she would have liked some more speech.

    In my totally unqualified opinion, i think that the reason she lost the thread a bit is that the first few paragraphs are telling and not really showing. Also, the sentences are all pretty similar lengths making it appear that there is little action. I think that is why the last paragraph was her favourite as you started to vary the sentences lengths and it picked up pace.

    I’ve noticed that most of the modern books my kids read hit the ground running and there is lots of action from the start, then a ‘rest’ a few paragraphs in to give a bit more background.

    She also said that the final few sentences of the first paragraph are not really necessary. You don’t need to tell kids that adults underestimate the information their kids can understand and that is it unfair they hide things from them.

    Hope this helps a little? I’ll get my 13 yo son to read it later and let you know what he says.

    My daughter is keen to read the next installment, so get typing.!

    • 4. when i was 8 i wanted to be....  |  November 20, 2010 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Cherise,

      My thanks to you and your daughter for your very apt comments. It does sit with what I really knew but will be a great help in my rework – oh yes, there will be rework:)

      I know the first chapter is too slow and needs some dialogue, something I really need to practise. I think my business head rather than my writing head was on when doing this. If I write a document in work I do focus on setting a scene and I can see this is the first few paragraphs. I need to give this more movement and, quite simply, make it more interesting…..

      I am glad that your daughter liked the whispers – they are key to everything that will happen.

      You have given me focus for tomorrow’s work on the story and I promise you will see more progress over the next week or two. Chapter One was written over a couple of hours; I will make sure I spend a little more time on Chapter Two so that I am happier with it before I publish. I hope you both feel the same way when you read it:)

      Thank you again….

      Take care,


    • 5. when i was 8 i wanted to be....  |  November 29, 2010 at 12:42 am

      Hi Cherise,

      A quick note to say that I reworked Chapter One and have now added Chapter Two and am hoping your daughter wants to have a quick peek. These really are rough drafts but I wanted to put them out there. I hope she enjoys!

      Lesley xx

  • 6. @LadyMaryan  |  November 20, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Dear Lesley,

    that’s an intriguing start of a story, a book or what do you have in mind?

    Loving it so far and waiting for more.

    Maryan x

    • 7. when i was 8 i wanted to be....  |  November 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

      Hi Maryan,

      I am not too sure yet but am glad you find it in intriguing:) I have a plot in mind but it isn’t yet fully developed so we are a ‘work in progress’…..

      Lesley xx


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