“The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor”

by Delia Sherman

There was a ghost at Cwmlech Manor.

Everybody knew it, although nobody had seen her, not with their own eyes, for years and years.

“Ghosts have to abide by the rules,” I remember Mrs. Bando the housekeeper explaining as she poured us out a cup of tea at the manor’s great oak kitchen table. She’d been parlormaid at the Manor when Mam was a kitchen maid there. Fast friends they were, and fast friends they’d stayed, even when Mam left domestic service to marry. Mrs. Bando was my godmother and we went to her most Sunday afternoons.

I was ten or thereabouts and I was mad for wonders. Da had told me of the new clockwork motor that was going to change everything from the mining of coal to the herding of sheep. Above all things, I liked to hear about horseless carriages and self-powered mechanicals, but I’d settle for ghosts at a pinch.

So, “How do ghosts know the rules?” I asked. “Is there a ghost school, think you, on the other side?”

Mam laughed and said there was never such a child for asking questions that had no answer. She’d wager I’d ask the same of the ghost myself, if I saw her.

“And so I would, Mam. But first I’d ask her where she’d hid the treasure.”

“And she’d likely disappear on the spot,” Mrs. Bando scolded. “That knowledge is for Cwmlech ears only, look you. Not that it’s needed, may the dear Lord be thanked.”


About the Author

Delia Sherman writes historical/folkloric/semi-comic fairy stories with a serious twist. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in many anthologies, most recently The Beastly Bride, Poe, and Teeth. Her adult novels are Through a Brazen Mirror and The Porcelain Dove (which won the Mythopoeic Award), and, with fellow-fantasist Ellen Kushner, The Fall of the Kings. She has co-edited three anthologies, including The Essential Bordertown with Terri Windling. Her novel, The Freedom Maze, and her New York Between novels, Changeling and The Mirror of the Mermaid Queen, are for younger readers. She is a past member of the James Tiptree Jr. Awards Council, an active member of the Endicott Studio of Mythic Arts, and a founding member of the board of the Interstitial Arts Foundation. Delia has taught writing at Clarion, the Odyssey Workshop in New Hampshire, the Cape Cod Writers’ Workshop, and the American Book Center in Amsterdam. She lives in New York City with Ellen Kushner, travels whenever she gets the chance, and writes wherever she happens to be.