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Title: The Ghost and the Boy
Series: The Eagle Chronicles.
Word Count 3032
Summary On his wedding anniversary, Stevens sees the ghost of his wife

25. The Ghost and the Boy

March 1954

He parked the car next to the stone wall. The crisp sea air greeted him when he stepped out. The beach was empty; it was only spring. He walked down to the edge and looked out over the water, remembering all the fun times he and his wife had together. Some people could not fine any good that came out of World War II, but he received a whole new life, and a wife.

Over the briny smell of the sea, he caught a familiar scent. It was her favorite perfume. He looked around to see if anyone was there, but he was alone. It could have been a woman walking by. The wind was blowing in the proper direction to carry the scent. It was faint.

He turned back and looked out over the Channel. His gaze moved along the shore. He could see a storm brewing in the distance. His eyes stopped on a shimmering, white figure. He blinked and looked again. It was his wife!

He ran along the beach, calling her. She laughed without a sound and kept running. He lost himself in the game of tag. It was their first free time together since he had moved to England in 1948. He lost her at the base of a cliff. He looked around furiously, searching. He spied her in the mouth of a cave. She waved for him to follow. He did, grateful to see her again.

The cave was dark and reminded him of his cell in Germany. He walked in further. The water was up to his knees and rising fast. She kept going deeper and deeper into the cave. He kept her in sight, not daring to get lost. She soon stopped and waited for him. When he had caught up with her, she pointed at a ledge above the hide-tide line. It was almost moon high-tide, so he began to climb up to it. He hoped that there was another way out; he didn't look forward to wading back through the water.

When he reached the ledge, he couldn't believe what he saw: a young boy curled up in a dirty sweater. Upon looking closer, he realized it was the boy from the orphanage the police had been looking for. He knelt quietly beside the boy and looked at him. He looked to be about nine or ten. It must have been a trying and shocking time, being stuck in here at his age.

He tapped the boy gently on the shoulder. The startled boy turned around, wide-eyed. "Are you okay?"

The boy recognized him and nodded. "You're the duke o' Edinburgh, aren't you?"

"Yep. What's your name?"

"Jamie. Mrs. Sumner at the orph'nage told me that's your name."

"It is. How did you get here, Jamie? Everyone's been looking for you."

"I came in here to play and got stuck when the tide came in. I thought there might be an openin' or sumpin', but there wasn't and I started to cry. Then I saw a pretty lady--she was a ghost. She told me she would help keep me comp'ny. Did you see her?"

"Yes. She brought me to you. That's probably how she tried to help, but no one else saw her." Steven turned around and saw that the water was blocking the entrance to the inner cave. "I'll get you out of here. Just put your arms around my neck and hold on. When I tell you to, take a deep breath and hold it. Can you do that?" Jamie nodded.

The boy placed his arms around Steven's neck and rode piggyback to the water. Steven waded as far as he could go. "Okay, take a breath...now!" He dove under and swam as fast as he could, always checking to see if Jamie was still holding on. He made it to an open space and the each took a breath. He walked until they came to another tunnel. "This will probably take us out. The waves will be strong so I want you to hold on tight. Ready?"

Steven took a breath and dove. He could feel the water getting colder. The water also seemed to be getting lighter. The end should be coming soon--his lungs were beginning to hurt. He slowly rose to the surface, gasped for breath and relaxed his weary muscles. He grabbed Jamie's legs and waded to shore. The waves buffeted him about and it took him awhile to reach land.

Steven carried Jamie to his car and wrapped him in a spare blanket. He then drove to the hospital with his headlights on as the storm was getting closer. It was hard to concentrate on driving when he had just seen his wife's ghost. He parked, picked up Jamie, and took him into the casualty ward. His clothes were still damp, as was his hair. But that wasn't the only reason people stared. He was the duke of Edinburgh holding a boy, soaking wet. "This boy needs help," he told the nurse.

She buzzed for a doctor. "Bring him in here." She led him to a room down the hall. Steven placed him ion the bed just as the doctor arrived.

"What's this all about?" He saw Steven and became more agreeable. "Where did you find the boy?"

"In a cave on the cliffs."

The doctor put the boy on I.V. and made sure he was warm. He asked a nurse to keep an eye on him while he talked to Steven in the hall. "He's lucky you found him. Do you want me to notify the police?"

"No, I'll do it. Where's a phone I can use?"

"You can use mine in my office." He led Steven to the room. "I'll be with the boy."

Steven thanked him and called the local police. "Yes, I'm calling about the missing boy...I've found him...At a cave on the beach...I'm calling from the hospital where the boy is under observation for exposure...My name?... Steven Taylor." He hung up.

He walked down the hall to the room where Jamie was. He was awake and talking to the doctor. "Hey, kid, you look like you're doing okay."

"Yeah. I'm tired though. The doctor said I c'n go back to the orph'nage in the morning. I can't wait to tell 'em ev'rythin'."

"You're a very brave boy, but I don't want you doing that again. Okay?"

"Yes, sir." He looked down.

"Call me Steven."

His head jerked up. Really, can I?"

"Sure thing. I'll check on you tomorrow." He walked towards the door.

The doctor spoke to Jamie. "Get some sleep now. You'll have solid food for breakfast." He turned out the light and followed Steven outside. "He's taken quite a liking to you. You're very good with children."

"I think it's because of my cousin. I helped keep her out of my aunt's way when we were growing up. I guess that's where I got the knack."

"What did the police have to say?"

"They asked all the normal questions. I didn't tell them my name until just before I hung up. News will spread fast." As they turned the corner, Steven could pick out the reporters as if they were aborigines. "What did I tell you?"

"Do you want me to get rid of them?"

"No, I'll talk to 'em. When I'm done, I'll go to the orphanage." The doctor nodded and went to attend his rounds. Steven walked straight into the midst of the press. "Okay, guys, what do you want now? As you can see, I'm not avoiding you, so take advantage of it."

"Did you find the boy, your Grace?"

"Would I lie about that?"

"Was he in good shape? What condition is he in now?"

"He's weak but doing well. Should be out in the morning."

"Can we quote you on that?"

"Why not? I'm quoting the doctor."

"What were you doing on the beach?"

"Just being sentimental. It would have been my fifth wedding anniversary. If you will excuse me, gentlemen." The sea of reporters parted, and he walked away.

He pulled up in front of the orphanage. He rang the doorbell and waited. It was answered by a woman somewhere in her late forties. "May I come in?" he asked.

"Certainly. We don't get many important people here. Please, make yourself comfortable. I was just about to have some tea. Would you like some?"

"Yes, please. I'm here about Jamie."

"Jamie? Has he been found? I must tell the children."

"I found him earlier today at the beach. He got himself stuck by the tide in a cave. He's in hospital now for observation. But there's a different aspect I want to talk about."


"I want to adopt him."

"This is quite an honor, your Grace. Have you told Jamie?"

"No. I thought it best to wait so as not to raise his hopes. How long do you think it'll take?"

"Not very, I'm sure. No one would contest your ability to care for him properly. You can fill out the papers and they'll probably be processed in the next day or so." She rummaged through her desk drawers. "Ah, here they are." She handed them to Steven. "Do you have a pen?" He shook his head and she handed him one.

When he had finished and was preparing to leave, she asked him to wait. "I was going to tell the children and I want you to see their faces. You can stand by the doorway. They might be a little frightened, seeing you. Please say you'll watch." Steven gave in to her plea and followed her to the playroom.

The children ranged in age from five to their early teens. They gathered around to hear what she had to say. "I have some good news. Jamie's been found." The orphans cheered. "He's in hospital now. Nothing serious, they just want to keep an eye on him. Maybe if we all wrote a card, we could send them to him."

She walked Steven to the door. "Thank you so much, your Grace. We were all so worried about Jamie. He's a good boy and he'll give you no trouble." She smiled and waved as he got into the car.

He drove back his house on the shore and pulled out a beer. He was feeling good about himself and pictured Jamie's face smiling at him from the hospital bed. He had to tell someone. He picked up the phone and dialed. A woman's voice answered. "Hello?"

" 'Ello, luv. This Steve's Pub? I got a message for 'im."

"Oh, hello, Steven. What's new?"

"Didn't work, hunh?"

"Private number, remember?"


"Well, why d'ya call?"

"I've just decided on something and wanted to tell somebody. Remember that missing boy? Well, I found him today in a cave on the beach."

"Glory-seeker," his sister teased.

"Quit it. Anyway, I haven't told anyone exactly how I found him. You'll understand. I went to our--mine and Victoria's--favorite beach because it would have been our anniversary. Her ghost led me to him."

"Her ghost?"

"Yeah. The boy saw her too. Anyway, my decision has to do with him, Jamie. I've decided to adopt him. I've filled out the papers and just have to wait for them to be processed."

"That's wonderful! What made you do it?"

"I think it was the look on his face. Also, I think Victoria might have something to do with it. I haven't told him yet. The press'll probably gobble it up. I'll let you know how things go. 'Bye, kiddo."

"Good luck, guy. Thanks for letting me know."

Steven hung up and realized how hungry he was. He went to the kitchen and scrounged around. He wasn't in the mood for going through the trouble of cooking. Eggs. He pulled out and pan and butter. he cracked the eggs and got out a plate and silverware. The eggs were almost done. He took a swig of beer then put the eggs on the plate. He grabbed a napkin, went into the living room and turned on the television just in time to catch the late news.

Jamie's rescue was the top national story. The film showed Steven in the hospital lobby talking with the press. After that, they showed the beach and the cave. They even went to the orphanage. If they were making such a big deal out of this, he'd love to see their reactions when the papers were processed.

He woke late the next morning--11:00. He took a long, hot shower and felt refreshed. He put on a robe, went downstairs, and put on the kettle for tea. He then walked to the front door and picked up the morning edition of the Times. He unfolded the paper as he walked back to the kitchen and saw his own face staring at him. Right beside it was a picture of Jamie.

The phone rang. "Excuse me, your Grace. Did I disturb you? This is Mrs. Sumner from the orphanage. Your papers are only a formality. You can take Jamie home with you once he gets out of hospital."

"Thank you so much, Mrs. Sumner. I'm going to the hospital at about 1:00. Would you like me to pick up those pictures and cards the kids made for Jamie?"

"That would be wonderful as long as it's no trouble. I'll have them ready for you."

"Okay. See you around 1:15. Good-bye."

He finished his tea and went upstairs to change. He decided to go with the basics--jeans and a T-shirt. Before he left for the hospital, he checked with the doctor.

"Sure. He's awake now, drawing, and waiting for you."

"All right. I'm on my way."

A young girl was waiting at one of the orphanage windows. When she saw the car, she went running for Mrs. Sumner, who answered the door. "Thank you for stopping, your Grace. The children have been waiting to meet you."

"Do they know that Jamie's leaving?"

"Yes. They're all happy for him. That's another reason they want to meet you."

"Can't spend too much time, though. I told the doctor I'd be there around 1:30."

"They only want to ask a few questions. Right through here." They walked into the playroom. "Children, this is his Grace, the duke of Edinburgh. He's on his way to see Jamie now."

"Are you really going to adopt him?" asked a young girl.

"Yes, I am."

"Where's he gonna stay?" asked a boy, probably a playmate.

"Mostly in London, but whenever we're down here, he can visit. Okay?" The boy nodded.

"His Grace has to leave now. Are all the pictures together? Good." She walked him to the door. "He's a good boy," she said as she handed him a change of clothes for Jamie.

"I know. I think we'll have a lot to teach each other. He said he wanted to come back to talk to the others. Probably within the hour." As he left, the children waved good-bye from every front window.

When he arrived at the hospital, he went straight to Jamie's room. "Hey, kid! How're you feeling?"

"Great, your--I mean Steven."

"Let me see your drawings." The boy handed them to him. There was a picture of his room, Steven, and a woman. "Who's this?"

"That's the ghost. Why are you so sad? Did you know her?"

"She was my wife. That's why I followed her."

"Maybe she did it on purpose?"

"There's something I'd like to ask you. How would you like to come home with me?"

"You mean I can go back to the orph'nage?"

"No, I mean to live with me."

"Really? You want to adopt me?"

"I already have."

"Blimey! Ya mean it? You're really gonna be m' dad?"

"And a big brother, too. The doctor told me you could leave today. Here's a change of clothes from Mrs. Sumner. I'll sign you out at the desk then come back and get you." Jamie was crawling out of bed as Steven left the room.

On the way to the desk, Steven met Jamie's doctor. "Where are you off to?"

"Gonna sign him out."

"Only a parent or..." It dawned on him. "You've adopted him."

"Yep. He's going home with me."

"Let me warn you: there are members of the press all over. I'll try and keep them occupied until you're ready."


Once back in Jamie's room, he warned the boy about the reporters. "They'll want to ask you questions, so don't be nervous. I'll be with you the whole time. Let's go."

They walked into the lobby. When the reporters saw them, they came rushing over. Jamie clutched Steven's hand. He squeezed back reassuringly.

"Were you scared, Jamie?"

"What did you do while you were there?"

"What was it like to see his Grace?"

"Ya mean m' new dad?"

The reporters then turned to Steven. "What's this?"

"Jamie simply told you the truth. I'm his new dad. I've just adopted him. If you'll excuse us, gentlemen." He ushered Jamie out in front of him.

When Jamie saw the speedster, he couldn't believe it. "This is your car? Wow, she's a real beaut!"

"Climb in. I'll take you to the orphanage so you can see your friends. I'll have to run a few errands in town, but that shouldn't take too long. I figure we'll stay here for a couple of days, getting to know each other, before we go to London."

Jamie was too overwhelmed to say anything. He looked at the town of Dymchurch in a new light. He was going to have a family and a last name. He was adopted by a member of royalty!

After he dropped Jamie off at the orphanage, Steven went back to the beach. He parked in the same place and walked out to the shore. As he stared out towards France, he smelled the perfume again. He felt something light on his cheek, as if someone had kissed him. He turned around but he was alone. He headed back to the car and went to go pick up his son.


SPN Dean Writing

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