The locked room

It happened in Suffolk, near the coast. There is a tall, red house
There, built in about 1770, perhaps. It has a small, untidy garden
Behind it and from the front windows you can see the sea. Tall,
Dark trees stand around this lonely house. Near the front door
There is a sign which shows that this was once a public house,
Where travellers could stop to eat and sleep.

One fine spring day, a young Cambridge University student
Called Thomson arrived at this house. He wanted to spend some
Time in a quiet and pleasant place where he could read and study.
No one else was staying there at the time and Mr and Mrs Betts,
Who managed the house, welcomed him and made him feel very
Comfortable. They gave him a large room on the first floor with a
Good view from the window. He spent his days very calmly and
Quietly. Every morning he worked, he walked in the country in
The afternoon, and he usually had a drink with some of the local
People in the bar in the evening before going to bed. He was
Very happy to continue his life like this for as long as possible. He
Planned to stay for a whole month.

One afternoon, Thomson walked along a different road from
The usual one and in the distance he saw a large white object. He
Walked towards it and discovered that it was a large square stone
With a square hole in the middle. He examined the stone, then he
Looked at the view for a moment – the sea, the churches in the
Distance, the windows of one or two houses shining here and
There in the sun – and he continued his walk.

Thar evening in the bar, he asked why the white stone was
There.’It’s been there for a very long time, since before any of us
Were born, in fact,’ said Mr Betts.

‘People used to say that it brought bad luck. . . that it was
Unlucky for fishing,’ said another


‘Why?’ asked Thomson, but the people in the bar became
Silent and clearly didn’t want to talk about the stone any more.
Thomson was puzzled.

A few days later, he decided to stay at home to study in the
Afternoon. He didn’t feel like going out for a walk, but at about
Three o’clock he needed a break. He decided to spend five
Minutes looking at the other rooms on his floor of the house –
He was interested to know what they were like. He got up and
Went quietly out of his room, into the corridor. Nobody else was
At home.’They are all probably at market today,’ he thought. The
House was still and silent, except for the flies. The sun was shining
And it was very hot. He went into the three rooms near his own
Bedroom; each one was pretty and clean. Then he tried the door
Of the south-west room, but found that it was locked. This made
Thomson want to know why it was locked and what was inside
It. and he took the keys of all the other doors on the floor to try
To open it. He finally succeeded, the door opened, he went in and
Looked around him.

The room had two windows looking south and west, so it was
Very bright and hot. There were no carpets and no pictures, only
A bed, alone in the corner. It was not a very interesting room, but
Suddenly. . . Thomson turned and ran out of the room, closing
The door behind him noisily.

‘Someone was in there, in the bed!’ he almost shouted. There
Were covers over the whole body on the bed, but it was not dead,
Because it moved. He was not dreaming, Thomson knew: this was
The middle of a bright, sunny day, after all. He didn’t know what
To do.

First, of course, he had to lock the door again but, before he
Did this, he listened. Everything was silent inside the room. He

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The locked room