Saturday 25 – Sunday 26 February 2012
I’ve had a fascination with the moors of England for a long time. Admittedly, part of that fascination is literary, starting with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, following on to various adventures of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, and then finally, to Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Not to mention the more gruesome modern history of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley . . . and yes, I would dearly love to stroll upon the moors one day.
‘The moors,’ Bonnie said, ‘that’s where I’d like to go on holiday.’
Peter looked at his little sister with an expression that resembled disgust and confusion rolled in to one.
‘The moors?’ he asked.
She nodded in reply and said nothing further. He furrowed his brow, consternation eking its way across his face. He hadn’t thought that being the sole heir to his father’s fortune would end up being that easy.
‘Well, little sister, if it is the moors that you wish to visit, then it’s the moors that we shall head for. I suggest we start packing and head off tonight.’
Bonnie, surprised by the quick turn-around in her older brother’s attitude, couldn’t help but wonder why he was now so easily accepting her idea.
‘Now? Really, Peter?’ she enquired.
‘No time like the present, as father used to say,’ he replied, ‘Go on now, put some things together and we’ll head off into the great English wilderness that is the moors.’ He drew out his pronunciation of ‘moors’ in what was his best attempt at a Yorkshire accent. Bonnie laughed. As a child, Peter had a knack for impersonating people and accents, and his Yorkie accent was amongst his best. It never failed to make her smile when she was frowning, or make her laugh when she was sad.
‘Go on, little Bonnie,’ he said, maintaining the accent, ‘get your things and we’ll head off.’
Peter watched as she gambolled to her room to pack. He was unable to prevent the flood of images and words filling his head. Bonnie was their father’s favourite, although he said he had no favourite amongst his offspring. Peter knew better: first was dear little Bonnie, all innocent and sweet, then came James whose intellect was held in high regard by their father, and last of all, Peter. As the eldest of the Carmichael children, Peter’s one talent, according to his father, was getting in to trouble. And later on, his father added a second talent to Peter’s list of attributes – manipulation. As far as old mister Carmichael was concerned, young Peter had a gift for manipulating people to his way of thinking, and he’d witnessed the boy’s gift in action many, many times. Peter could get anyone to do anything on his behalf, and often exercised that talent with his younger siblings, getting them in all manner of trouble whilst he sat back and enjoyed the show.
The trip to the moorlands would be Peter’s ultimate test. James had been out of the picture for near on five years now, a fatal car accident cutting his life short. Old mister Carmichael had wondered if Peter had anything to do with the untimely passing of his younger brother, but was unable to prove that Peter was behind the accident. Instinctively, however, Carmichael felt that his eldest had either arranged the accident, or tampered with James’ car. As a result of James’ passing, Carmichael had his fortune put in trust. The two remaining children, Peter and Bonnie, would share in his sizable fortune, to be administered through a trust. No one person would be in control of the Carmichael millions, unless they were the last remaining child.
Peter had considered all of the variables, had been doing so for a long time. James was easy enough to get rid of, his penchant for fast cars and speed would have only ever ended up one way. It’s just that with Peter’s help, it all happened a little faster than James might have anticipated. And now Bonnie, the youngest of the Carmichael children, would meet her grisly end somewhere up on the Yorkshire moors. Her adventurous spirit, her love of nature, her incessant need to take risks and do crazy things in the outdoors would be her undoing. Perhaps it would be a long hike along the moors that left her stranded and away from shelter in the bitter cold, or an unfortunate fall that would see her head land firmly on a rock that would take her out of the picture. Peter had yet to decide upon the finer details, but at the end of the week, he would be the sole heir of the Carmichael fortune.
* * * * *
Winter made the moorlands an even harsher environment than it already was. The cold was like nothing that experienced in the cities and towns, and the rain fell in sheets, inhibiting anyone unfortunate enough to be out in a downpour from seeing anything. This was part of what Bonnie loved about the moors. She wasn’t, unlike many of her female counterparts who spoke of their love of the moorlands, attracted to it because of the romanticism of books like Wuthering Heights. Indubitably, a book such as Brontë’s did attract attention back to the area, but for all the wrong reasons. Women came out here hoping to find their Heathcliff. They would never find him, of course, but it didn’t stop them littering the countryside in search of a gypsy brute.
Bonnie, on the other hand, was captivated by the landscape. She found the beauty in its ruggedness, and she had come to know almost every inch of the Yorkshire moorlands in the years that she had spend roaming from one end to the other. Unbeknownst to her family, other than her father, she had spent many weeks, sometimes months every year, exploring the moors. It was her one vice, and what Bonnie didn’t know about the moors, wasn’t worth knowing.
She had felt that Peter was up to no good. His sudden interest in the moors and taking Bonnie away on a short break gave her pause for thought. Peter was never interested in anything that didn’t revolve around him or money. Bonnie remembered that Peter began displaying a sudden interest in James and his cars shortly before James failed to a bend on the road to their country manor. She had wondered if he had been involved in James’ passing, and had gone so far as to discuss her concerns with their father. Knowing how gifted a manipulator that Peter was, Carmichael had also wondered if his eldest had played a role in James’ death. He had counselled his daughter, cautioning her to always be aware of Peter’s motives. Since that day, Bonnie had been on guard with Peter.
. . . To be continued . . .