The Burning House by Neil Spring Read Online (FREE)
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For sale on Loch Ness: an idyllic holiday retreat. Quiet and private. Period property prime for updating, and offered with no onward chain.
The words were embossed in royal-blue lettering on the cover of a glossy brochure, which Oswald Cattenach held between trembling fingers.
‘Prime for updating?’ He knew what that meant. The house was probably decorated by someone with spectacularly bad taste. As for ‘no onward chain’, well, that was easy: someone had probably died, maybe even inside the house.
But of course, Oswald already knew that was true.
The serenity and beauty of the location, framed by the loch, Farigaig Forest, and the mountains, make this a very special part of the world.
The ashy morning light shone on Oswald’s angular face and the wind ruffled his shock of blond hair as he lifted his gaze. Some, in fact, may find the landscape desolately rugged, the mountains brooding, the dense woodland, and the loch, sinister. But it stirred Oswald’s muse; he had an urge to be amongst his oils and watercolours and charcoals so that he might capture the eerily idyllic view. And certainly, he thought, watching little waves break on the shingle shore, this place was special. Boleskine House was special.
He leafed slowly through the brochure, studying the pictures: four large bedrooms, four bathrooms, a variety of smaller rooms, a dining room, a library and the east wing with the adjoining terrace, where he would undertake his most vital work. The house really was perfect.
‘Quiet and private’, the brochure promised. It was the privacy Oswald required, and here the estate agent was spot on. Being so isolated on the side of the loch, Boleskine would give him total privacy, especially during the winter. The gales here could be ripping and fierce, the sort that could take a door off its hinges if you weren’t careful. And a house with an unsavoury reputation like this wasn’t exactly likely to draw many visitors. Local legend had it that the dwelling was built on the site of a church that had burned down, killing the entire congregation, who were trapped inside attending Mass. A tragedy. An accident? Possibly.
But then again, possibly not.
Oswald raised his eyes, gazing over the restless waters at the dwelling he had travelled some six hundred miles to see. A thick mist hung over the loch, but he had a clear enough view of the sprawling, sullen bungalow that stood on the hillside above the cemetery. Even from this distance, there was an oppressive air about Boleskine. Sombre and brooding.
This part of the world, he thought as he studied the opposite shore, grew more intriguing by the second. There was a young woman over there, a girl with ginger plaits, wandering.
She seemed to be carrying something, a large sketchpad, possibly. Who was she? Who, like him, would find anything so fixating in this desolate part of the world? He thought maybe he had seen her once before. This wasn’t the first time he had kept vigil here.