Storm Tina
   

Grieshuus. The Chronicle of a Family

Publication September 2017

Cover - Grieshuus The chronical of a family

I was in my final year at school when one October afternoon a storm, with its echoes of northern legends, drew me towards this spot. There was not an animal to be seen, the fine sand whirled up in clouds before me; only once did a grey bird scurry across the path and disappear into a crevice in the stone wall that ran alongside it […].

I walked on to the edge of the level ground. A narrow, seemingly little used path led down into the deep heathland hollow and might well have ascended again at the now hardly discernible exit in the distance. After my gaze had been fixed on that distant point for some time, I thought I noticed some ruined tower-shaped stonework, but the twilight was now rapidly descending about me. In the west, a narrow strip of dull sunset lay under dark, purple clouds, and night began to fill the heathland hollow. Above its sides I heard the sough of the wind through the stunted oaks, but by this time my eyes were seeing only a uniform dark undulation in that place. It was simply my imagination that had built the tower-shaped stonework there. ‘It’s not there now,’ I said to myself, ‘but a stone structure of some sort did once stand here’; for I suddenly believed I knew precisely where chance had led me. I had never been here before, but with a boy’s keen ears I had more than once heard talk of this place.

I turned back, for I felt impelled, in spite of the darkness, to search for still clearer traces of the past. And the clouds had lifted on the western horizon and the late evening light still showed the ground covered with short grass and thyme. And soon, walking up and down, I recognised broad strips on the ground which, being of brighter colouring, were more easily discernible in the weak light, and where, as if out of rubble, only sparse blades of grass had grown. It was apparent that I had three sides of a spacious rectangle before me; two of which ran to the edge of the heathland hollow. The missing side, which would have completed the whole, and of which only a small part was recognisable at the south-east corner, must also have been laid and later dug away. As I leaned over the edge of the hollow I noticed a couple of huge granite blocks of the kind that serve as a foundation to a broad wall, which jutted out of the sand between fragments of brick. Opposite these, towards the mouth of the hollow, I made out a smaller, rectangular remnant of the past between narrower strips on the ground that seemed to indicate there had once been a gatehouse here.

‘Grieshuus!’ I cried out. ‘The Grieshuus manor once stood here!’ […]

-- Instinctively I held back, for superstition hung over this heathland, the last shadow of a dark chapter in human history when a generation had disappeared from the earth […]

Nor was it all legend; it was well known who were the last persons to live here, where the storm now swept over the heath. It lay partly in old archives where from time to time this or that fragment of the truth had been brought to light in some newly discovered document […]

In an old book about the former manor houses of our region that had come into my hands some years earlier I had found a plan of the Grieshuus manor alongside a small exterior view of the building which had deeply interested me at the time. And from then on this discovery left me in no peace. Whenever I suspected that something more of the kind might be concealed in a book or manuscript, or in some other way in someone’s memory, it had to be dug out […] My perseverance and impertinence also yielded unexpected rich fruits. My father, however, when he saw me entering the assembled pieces of information into a notebook I had specifically prepared for the purpose, jokingly called me ‘the Chronicler of Grieshuus’.

And being such, although some half a century has passed by since that time, I will now tell the story.

   

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