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16. Trick

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The Captain strode along the upstairs corridor, his stick tucked under his arm.  He was gently pompoming to himself as he made his way to the television room for his daily tank documentary.

A movement at the end of the corridor caught his attention and he spotted the skirt of Kitty’s dress as it swished round the corner.  He continued onwards.  This time it was Robin’s retreating fur that he glimpsed disappearing through a doorway.  Most odd, where were they all going?

Upon entering the TV room, the Captain was confronted with Julian’s legs and back.  He had phased his head through the outside wall, leaving the rest of him inside.  The Captain frowned, surely Julian was much taller than he seemed at this angle?

The television was off and Alison was nowhere to be seen.  The Captain huffed in frustration and turned on his heel to find her.

Through the long window over the stairs he could see Mary on the lawn.  There seemed to be something unusual about her gait but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

As he reached the bottom of the stairs he almost tripped over Thomas’ stockinged legs protruding from a cupboard.  Thomas appeared to be laying on his back with his upper half inside the cupboard.  The Captain noted that Thomas’ legs seemed even shapelier than usual.  He immediately squashed the thought away.  He opened his mouth to enquire as to the reason for Thomas’ unusual position when Alison hurried in, wiping her hands on a dishcloth.

“Sorry, Cap, sorry, sorry.  Something boiled over in the kitchen.  What is Thomas doing?”

The Captain opened his mouth again.

“Never mind, sorry, your programme has started and you’re missing it, come on.”

The Captain followed Alison upstairs.  She went ahead of him to the TV room but before he could do likewise he heard Thomas say:

“Pssssst, Captain, in here,” from inside Fanny’s room.

“Thomas?  But you’re downstairs?”

He followed the voice in confusion but Thomas was not there, only Fanny leaning through her window and shouting ‘orf the lawn’ at some poor person below.  The Captain felt more bewildered than ever.  He shook his head and went to find Alison.

“Here you go, enjoy.”

The Captain looked pensive.

“Alison, have you noticed anything strange this evening?”

“Apart from Thomas sleeping in a cupboard?  No, why?”

“I’m not sure…” the Captain said slowly.

“Well, never mind, watch some tanks instead.”  Alison left the room and the Captain settled down on to the sofa.  After a couple of minutes, he heard giggling and turned round.  Behind him were his fellow ghosts but not as he had ever seen them before.

Fanny wore Kitty’s gown, Pat had on Julian’s blazer and garters, Kitty was arrayed in some of Robin’s furs.  They all grinned at him as he goggled at them.  His gaze went on to Robin in Mary’s dress and apron, Julian in Thomas’ stockings and breeches and, possibly most disturbing of all, Thomas in Fanny’s silks.

“What on earth….?!”

“We tricked you,” giggled Kitty behind her hand.

“For heaven’s sake!  I thought Julian looked shorter!”

“That was me, mate” Pat grinned.  “We thought it would be funny.”

“Yes, yes, very good.  Never let it be said that I don’t appreciate a little horseplay now and then.  Fanny, even you?”

“I think I look rather fine in Kitty’s gown actually.”  Fanny swished the skirts back and forth girlishly. 

“But I heard you.”

“It was me.”  The Captain’s eyes fell on Thomas.  “I’m rather a good mimic, do you not think?”

“Oh, that was supposed to sound like me, was it?”  Fanny gave something of a harrumphing noise and clasped her hands under her bosom.

“I think I’d like to stay like this if that’s ok, first time with covered legs in 27 years.”

“It absolutely is not ‘ok’ sir, I demand the return of my breeches immediately!”

“Alright, alright, settle down, we’ve had our fun, let’s change back.” Pat grinned at the Captain once more.  “Fun while it lasted though.”

“Aha, yes, jolly good,” the Captain said a little distantly as the ghosts drifted away and he tried not to remember how well Thomas’ stockings suited Julian.