The moments that followed Yvettes exit from the balcony, were filled with silence until Jonathan walked out bringing a man with him. "This is Chef Nick. He talks to everyone who orders his specials."
"Hi folks. Was everything alright this afternoon?"
"Wonderful," Mart replied. "Wed actually like to talk to you about the special. My sister and I live on a farm outside of New York that has Crabapple trees. Our mother is always trying to do new things with them. We were wondering if youd care to share your secret of the Crabapple sauce?
And so the conversation went until the Chef returned back inside to see to his other guests. As they got up to leave, Jonathan handed each of them a small tin. "Benne Wafers. Theyre a Charleston delicacy. Eat these for an afternoon snack but be sure to pick up some to take with you back to New York. And be careful with whatever you find out about these so-called accidents. Yvette and I would love for you to help Jeremy, and I believe shes right that you are the people he has chosen to help him. But we also want you to have good memories of Charleston as well."
The Bob-Whites said their good-byes and left the restaurant, walking just a short distance down Meeting Street to reach their hotel. They had called Regan from Jims cell phone just before Yvette had joined them outside for lunch and he had indicated that he was staying to have lunch with Mr. Dawkins but would meet them back at the hotel to drive out to Charlestowne Landing. Jim picked up a message from the front desk.
"Regan is here already and is up in his room. He said to call him and hed come downstairs whenever we were ready to leave. Anyone need anything from their room?" Jim asked, glancing around. Receiving no affirmative answers, he picked up the in-house phone and dialed Regans number and within minutes, the red-headed groom appeared. Soon they were speeding up Interstate 26 to the site of Charlestons inception. It took an even shorter time for things to get sticky.
"Well, here we are, alone at last. And I must confess that I am thrilled," Regan said with a sly grin. "Now how about you let me in on the mystery that has kept you guys so busy since you arrived?"
"Whatever could you be talking about Regan. Weve just been doing the touristy thing seeing the sites picking up on local lingo eating our way through Charleston," Mart said.
"Now that last one I can believe," Regan said giving a loud laugh. "But I also saw the look Trixie gave Honey at dinner the other night and I know that whatever it is has something to do with why we all got called to the stables yesterday. So are you all going to tell me the secret now, or tonight at dinner in front of Mr. Wheeler?
Trixie, sitting in the middle between Mart and Honey, looked at either of them, and then at Jim whose eyes were on her in the rear view mirror. She sighed and then informed Regan of all that had happened since their arrival in Charleston. When she finished, he leaned his head back on the headrest.
"So let me get this straight. Youre saying that these things, the ballpark, the bridge, the boat, and even the horses have all been attempts by some unknown entity to force these men to turn their allegiance to voting against the gambling proposal? And youre also telling me that the ghost of a man has been trying to thwart these activities but is arriving always too late to stop them. And now his widow has asked you all to help? Is that about the gist of it?"
"Well, now that I listen to it, it does sound a bit ludicrous. But honestly Regan, the clues do all add up," Jim sighed.
"What adds up? You have little proof of anything except that this city is under a lot of undue stress lately. And how do we know that the horses fit in here. These animals are not meant to race the Derby."
"But whomever is behind this doesnt know that. He doesnt know that Daddy really only prefers to race them for fun right now. It was a public sale and the amount that they were insured for alone would look to someone like they were incredibly valuable animals, and well they are," Honey replied.
"What about the boat?"
"Top of the line," Mart answered. "I read it in the paper this morning. It was the mans pride and joy, sadly even more so than his family from what I gathered."
"Two personal attacks compared to two seemingly general attacks is that what youre saying?"
"Thats what were saying," Trixie answered.
"Matt Wheeler would never let someone sway him."
"For the right price, perhaps he would. Maybe whoever is behind this thought killing valuable new horses was the right price."
"Its still flimsy, very flimsy. In any case, whats the game plan?"
"You mean youll help us?" Trixie asked incredulously.
"Do I have a choice Agent Belden?"
"No. Okay a game plan. Well, the truth is, we really dont have one," she replied as Jim pulled the car into the parking lot. "We have no idea where they will strike next and unfortunately, weve yet to have Mr. Bloodsworth, or his ghost I mean, be able to foretell that information either."
"Of course not, that would be too easy," he laughed sarcastically, laughing even harder at Trixies look of irritation. "Now I know how Miss Trask feels when she has to chaperone. Look kids, lets just see what this place has to offer, and we can talk about it when we leave. Theres little we can do about it here and now. Matts expecting us for dinner at 7 so we need to get moving. And dont forget the real reason Im on this trip I do have meetings starting tomorrow as well as trying to find some way to keep you guys out of trouble."
They spent the next few hours at Charlestowne Landing, walking amongst the zoo and park grounds. In the 17th century village, Mart filled his brain with fathoms of information about how Charleston began and what life was like for the settlers. Trixie and Honey spent much of their time in the zoo with the animals, marveling over the white tailed deer, cougars, bobcats, bears and alligators that were once indigenous to the area. Jim and Regan wandered over the 53-foot replica of the trading ketch "Adventure", squeezing below decks to see the small inside of the boat. As the afternoon drew to an end, with the park closing behind them they made their way to the car.
"Whats on the agenda for tonight?" Regan asked.
"Were doing the Ghost Tour," Trixie said excitedly.
"You mean you havent heard enough about ghosts since youve been in town?"
"Nope," Honey said.
"And what about you boys?" he asked rather amusedly. "Are you planning on taking in the local folklore as well?"
"And neglect to view the two Schoolgirl Shamuses grill the guide to death with questions about specters, apparitions and other unexplained phenomena? We wouldnt dream of backing out," Mart said wryly.
"Well, I suppose Ill tag along as well. Is Mr. Wheeler planning on coming?"
"He doesnt know about it yet," Honey replied. "But I dont think so. He said he was going to meet someone tonight for drinks." She finished her sentence rather dully.
"Youre still worried about him," arent you? Trixie asked softly.
Honey nodded, without looking over at her best friend. "I just have this feeling that something is going to happen."
Trixie reached over and took Honeys hand and squeezed it, not letting go until the car had turned into the drive for the hotel. During dinner at the nearby T-Bonz restaurant on the Market, conversation was filled with the events of the day, leaving out of course their conversation with Yvette.
"Daddy, you just have to take a carriage ride with us as soon as your business is finished." Honey said excitedly. "You too, Regan."
"That I will," Matt Wheeler replied. "Of course as soon as my business is finished, Regans will be just starting," he grinned. "Im more determined than ever to run some good strong horses when we return."
"This is why they should hold conferences in out of the way cities that no one wants to go to," Regan grumbled good-naturedly. "No one would have anything else theyd want to do but go to meetings."
"There will be plenty of time for that," Matt replied. "Well be here three entire days after your meetings end. Of course now that I think about it, thats three more days that Trixie and Honey can get into trouble."
"Daddy!" Honey protested.
"Im just joking with you Honey. Although I must admit how glad I am that you kids have not made friends with the local police yet. Well," he paused, "at least not of your own doing." Matts words were spoken with a grin, but the Bob-Whites could tell how serious he was that they stay out of trouble. Consequently, they were all somewhat nervous at knowing that they were in fact deceiving him slightly. They finished the meal trying to lighten the mood as best as possible.
Matt had in fact declined to go on the Ghost Tour, saying he would take the Civil War Walking Tour with them a few days later when Regan was able to join them and both of their meetings were finished. He took a cab to his after-dinner meeting while the Bob-Whites and Regan walked to the designated meeting location for the walking Ghost Tour.
They reached the fountain in front of the Waterfront Park that they had visited their first night. There, they found four others already waiting along with a man they assumed was the guide. Trixie had made their reservations online before leaving Sleepyside and after checking them off the list, he introduced himself as Jason and told them that the tour would begin in a few minutes when the last three people they were expecting arrived.
Within minutes everyone was assembled and ready to depart. Although it was 7:30 in the evening, the sky had begun to darken on the horizon over the Atlantic Ocean and Trixie and Honey moved closer to one another, shivering in anticipation of what was to come.
"My name is Jason. Im a graduate student at the University of Charleston. Im majoring in Sociological History, or basically, why people have done what they have done and thought they way they have thought about certain things and eras in History. More specifically, I am focusing on the concept of peoples beliefs in life after death and how they have shaped the notion of ghosts, as the layman would call them." At this, Trixie and Honey looked back at Jim, Mart and Regan behind them. The three tried to act nonchalantly but both girls could tell that Jason was a potential gold mine of information.
"Im a loose kind of guy so on my tour, if you have any questions, I want you to feel free to throw them my way. If Im walking too fast, holler at me. If you have a close encounter of the spooky kind, by all means, let the rest of us know so we can take pictures. Well be traveling through Charlestons streets and alleys and so pay close attention to the cars and other forms of transportation. Well also be traveling through some graveyards as well and all we ask if that you be respectful of those who are interred there." Walking backwards to face them at this point, he stopped. "Any questions before we begin?"
No one answered him and so he continued up the street, heading towards the battery. "Now the first thing I like to do on my tour, is find out who Im talking to. I think youll find thats true of most any tour guide in this city. We get visitors from all over the country. So who do we have with us tonight?"
A couple just in front of him spoke up. "Were from Vancouver."
"Ah, so not just from this country, but guests from other countries as well. Welcome to Charleston," he smiled. "Where else?"
"Were from New York," Jim answered, motioning to the others.
Jason smiled. "I got my undergraduate degree at NYU. Born and bred in the south, but their program was just what I wanted for my undergraduate degree."
"And you guys?" He pointed to the four people who had been the first to arrive.
"Were from South Dakota," one of the men said.
"Wow!" Jason laughed. "Thats a first for one of my tours," he said winking at them.
"Alright," he continued. "We have the entirety of North America represented here. So lets narrow the focus to Charleston. In any city that has been in existence as long as this one has, we expect to see a large number of ghosts, if you will. But Charlestons history has the added mystique that seems to follow the old south. The people here are believers in their history and all that comes from it, including its gore and lore. Are you ready to hear more?"
He got 12 nods. Jason nodded himself, turned around and began his tales.
"We begin," Jason said, "in the 1700s when the Charleston waters were a prime stomping ground for pirates. Unfortunately for them, not all the pirates escaped justice. Many were jailed and sentenced to be executed and on one particular night early in the century, some 29 pirates and their accomplices were hung from the trees here in White Point Gardens. Their bodies were thrown into the Harbor and their spirits still haunt this park to this day." Honey looked uneasily at Trixie, remembering a movie that they had watched that summer.
"If youll look up into the trees," he continued as he walked, "you will see the beautiful Spanish moss that has become a symbol of the deep-South. Its said that during this same time, a man from Cuba came to Charleston with his betrothed, a lovely Spanish girl with long flowing black hair. They were both killed by Native Americans and her hair was hung from the trees. It became what we now know to be Spanish moss. You can hear the moaning of the woman when the moss gets overgrown." Jim ducked his head with disgust as he came dangerously close to brushing some of that very moss.
They continued walking down East Bay Street back towards the heart of the city. "Were approaching the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. If you are able, I highly suggest touring this building. The haunting is highly substantiated. Tour guides report incidents almost daily.
Shortly before the revolution, the Court of the Guard Jail was torn down and the Old Exchange built. In 1881, an American Revolutionary, Colonel Isaac Hayne was captured and at first pardoned but this was shortly rescinded. The British gave him two options: pledge allegiance to the British crown or face death for treason. He chose allegiance but to the Americans and consequently was faced with death. He was jailed in the dungeon of the Old Exchange and on the morning of his execution, Hayne was marched past his Aunt Perroneaus house on the corner of Meeting and Atlantic. As the processional passed, she and two of his sons called out to him to return to which he replied that he would if he could. Hayne was dealt an even further blow when he was put to death by hanging instead of firing squad, very much an insult. For decades later, if one stood at the window from which his family had watched him pass, one could hear his voice and footsteps coming up the stairs as if returning home. Citizens say his ghost no longer appeared after the civil war started. They believe that he was so heartbroken at seeing his countrymen fight each other that he stopped coming."
Trixie had been so closely listening to Jason that she almost forgot her intentions to move next to him and ask him questions. As they moved on down the street, she quickened her pace until her footsteps matched his but before she could speak, he began another tale.
"This is the Old City Jail. It was built in 1802. In 1819, a man named John Peeples traveled to Charleston and tried to get a room at an inn just outside of town. The Innkeeper was a beautiful woman named Lavinia Fisher. There was no room for him, he was informed, but the woman invited him to join her and her husband for tea. He accepted and upon returning to the room with the tea, Lavinia informed him that a room had unexpectedly become available. Leaving him with the tea, she left the room again. Peeples, not liking tea very much, dumped the cup out before she returned so as not to hurt her feelings.
He went up to bed however, feeling oddly uncomfortable. Feeling suspicious that he might be robbed that night, Peoples went to bed in the chair beside the door instead of the bed. He awoke during the night to an odd sound. The bed he should have been sleeping in was being lowered beneath the floorboards. Accounts vary as to exactly how all of this happened, but more importantly he managed to exit the room through a window and rode his horse to Charleston where he alerted the authorities. Back at the inn, they found many sets of human bones. It was also discovered that the tea he had been given contained a herb known to produce a long hard sleep. Lavinia and her husband were sentenced to death.
She was buried in the Unitarian cemetery, the only one in town that would have her. Her presence is still felt there today," Jason finished as he led them to a gate overgrown with vines. He stepped aside and motioned the others into the darkened area. Eyes adjusting, the visitors discovered they were in a graveyard. "And this is that place," came Jasons low and whispery voice. "We know not exactly where she was buried. The church would allow no marker. But oddly enough, we do know that one of the judges who sentenced her to death is also buried here. Her presence can be felt beside his grave very strongly. You will notice that unlike other cemeteries in Charleston, this one is not up kept. No one will take on the responsibility." Jason stopped his speech.
"Do you believe in these things?" one of the men from South Dakota asked.
"Ive seen too much not to," he replied with a grin. "Close your eyes," he instructed the group that slowly did as he asked.
"Forget about everything else and see if you can feel it." Silence descended amongst the tourists. A breeze rifled through the tree canopy covering the area. Trixie moved closer to Jim, taking Honey with her. She breathed deeply trying desperately to feel the presence of something but other than a slight feeling of unease, all she felt was the welcome breeze in hot, humid night. The silence continued for another minute before one of the Canadians spoke up.
"All I felt was spooked," came her small voice.
Jason grinned. "Thats the point. In the latter part of that same century, Mary Bloomfield watched her husband sail away to Boston on business. He became ill and died, but she never found this out for just after he left, she also died from illness. While her husband was buried in Boston, she was buried right here in this cemetery. She too walks this yard, seeking her long lost husband wearing a long Victorian styled white dress."
"Something tells me that those arent the only two ghosts that haunt this cemetery," Honey said.
"Youre probably right," said Jason, winking at her. "But well have to explore those another day. There are many more sights to see in the city. He walked back out of the gate. Trixie took one last look as she followed him out.
"As we move to our next location though, I can tell you that graveyards do play an important part in the history of Charleston, supernatural or not. Over at St. Phillips Church lies the grave of a woman who died after giving birth to a stillborn baby back in June of 1888. On June 10, 1988, a photographer who was taking shots of cemeteries snapped a picture that displayed a translucent image of a womans figure kneeling at the headstone of that woman. Photographic experts say that the photo is indeed real."
Jim leaned down to Trixie. "We never discovered an old graveyard on the Ten Acres property, did we?"
"Scared?" she whispered to him.
"Hey, weve done the mausoleum thing before, remember. Of course Im not scared. I was just thinking of more spooky places we could explore later on," he smiled. Laughing softly, she jostled him gently with her arm before turning her head back to Jason.
"Perhaps one of the more sad stories concerning burial grounds relates to the former parking lot of Bishop England High School. The school was located up on Calhoun, but in the last 5 years, they moved out to Daniel Island and sold their downtown property to the College of Charleston which adjoined the school. Back in the 1700s, St. Phillips, which had the oldest congregation in town, would allow free blacks to worship in the church, albeit separately from whites, but they could not be buried in the same graveyard. Land was bought for a separate graveyard and records show that the plot was located where the parking lot to the former high school is now. Eventually in 1945, the land passed, somewhat dishonestly I feel, into the hands of the Catholic Diocese. In 1957, the high school needed to expand and felt that the old graveyard was the prime spot for the project and because of the desire to complete the expansion, the graves were never moved. The asphalt was laid right over the remains of the people buried there.
For years in Charleston, this was denied. The Catholic Church maintained that they had moved all of the stones and remains but this was disputed by those who had been living in the area since well before the Church bought the property. Unfortunately for the church, two years ago when the property was being cleared to build the colleges new library, 4 headstones and gravesites were discovered." Jason paused, while shaking his head.
"I think "busted" would be the proverbial term for that today," Mart said with disgust.
"Youve got that right," he replied. "When last I heard, they had plans to remove all of the gravesites and whatever else was found into a new cemetery. Incidentally, its also been said that the Galliard Auditorium here in town was also built right on top of a black burial site as well. I havent heard of any hauntings regarding either of those, but I do believe that wherever death involves injustice, there is always the possibility for the return of a spirit."
Trixie seized the moment. "Jason, do you think that these spirits might be trying to return to tell someone something maybe something that will help right a wrong? Or something that would help someone out?"
The others in their party looked amused but he turned his gaze to her. "Do I? Why else might they come back," he grinned. "When we finish the tour, I will tell you about the Grey Man of Pawleys Island, about an hour north of here. That is why he returns to the coast time after time. But for now, we move on to a restaurant that you all must eat at before you leave this Holy City of Charleston. Poogans Porch has its very special atmosphere and even its own ghost."
"Youre kidding! We were just there for lunch today," Honey exclaimed.
"Ah, then you might be able to add to my story." Before they knew it, they were once again looking up at the two-story building, waiting with rapt attention to hear about the spirit associated with this place that they now knew well.
To Be Continued
Although much of the information about Charlestons ghosts can be found in books about Charlestons Ghosts or Ghosts of the south, if you ever find yourself in Charleston and are interested in the subject, I HIGHLY recommend that you take one of the walking ghost tours. They are well worth the $15 and the guides are knowledgeable. If youre squeamish about the walking part of it, its completely doable for anyone in any kind of shape and they do go slow enough to allow the less mobile person to keep up, while moving fast enough so people wont get bored. The tours do take place in the evenings at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30 and 10:00. Warning if youre prone to being scared, take the earlier tour while its still light. You can scare yourself silly if you do the 9:30 tour like I did.
Also, while the University of Charleston is real enough, I have never heard of the field of Sociological History and if there is such a field, as much as I love the school, UofC would be way too small to have such a degree.
The Bishop England High School issue is very real and relatively speaking, very recent, and is sensitive to some. Its inclusion in this story has *nothing* to do with my interest in the subject. It is not mean as a slur to those of the Catholic denomination or anyone else. Evidence does suggest that some chicanery might have contributed towards the final outcome of the graveyard getting desecrated. But such is the history of the world.