After his wife abandoned him for someone younger and more exciting, Henry accepted the task of restoring the old writings from the Merriweather estate. Soon his office was crowded with damp boxes of yellowed parchment, the spidery old scribbles now nearly illegible.
Henry had developed a scanning program that could read old documents however. It was different from the other software currently on the market and still in a trial stage. He was eager to practice on the estate files and rejoiced as his blank screen filled with code.
Meticulously, Henry spent long days refining his program and decoding the messy papers into a semblance of order. They appeared to be a mix of boring estate inventories along with poetry. He found himself strangely interested in the verse, though he never had been previously.
Snippets haunted him as he tried to sleep. “I adore you, lady fair… lace at your wrists… rose in your hair…” It sounded like a man describing a beautiful woman. Henry tried to picture her, and one night she appeared, semi-formed, in the slight light near his window.
He gasped in terror. “Who? What?” Henry was incoherent with shock.
“I am Sarah,” she whispered, her voice like necklaces sliding together. “Those poems were written for me, read to me in secret on nights such as this when the moon was full.”
“Yes, yes of course.” Henry tried to reassure her. “I’m being very respectful of them.”
“Respectful?” She laughed. “I was the butler’s daughter. James Merriweather wooed me with pretty words and seduced me. When he found out I was with child, he murdered me!”
“Murdered!” Henry slid out of bed, feeling at a disadvantage. He approached Sarah, but she was so insubstantial he could still see the outline of the window through her.
With tears streaming down her fading face, Sarah cried, “I loathe all of them and their descendants! Help me, Henry. Help me find justice after all these years!”
Henry returned to the documents with a renewed sense of purpose, determined to put together the pieces of the puzzle and expose James as the evil man he was. He kept Sarah’s distraught face in his mind as he worked, his radar homing in on any oddities. Finally, he had enough evidence to present to his boss.
“Great work, Henry,” Belinda said. “But of course we’re not going to the police or the media with this. The Merriweathers are too important to our firm. Besides, James is long gone. Just forget you ever saw it, and a bonus will be headed your way. Take the rest of the week off.”
When Henry returned to his office on Monday, every box had disappeared and his computer had been wiped of all the Merriweather files.
But in his personal locked drawer, one scrap of paper remained with a printout he’d decoded.
“I adore you, lady fair;
With soft lace at your wrists,
A pink rose in your hair.
Please step out of my dreams,
And meet me tonight
When the stars are a-shimmer
And the moon full and bright.”
Maybe Henry would see Sarah again in his dreams. He hoped so. In fact, he decided to begin his own poem for her…