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Mystery of Coniston Water - Terry Tomscha

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Julie Wants a Holiday
It's a hot, sunny, lazy day in June and Julie Thomas is painting outside in the garden. She stops for a while to drink some lemonade and have a look at Teen Adventure, a magazine for teenagers.
The magazine has photos and stories about outdoor sports and there are some advertisements for summer camps and study holidays. Julie turns the pages and notices an advertisement for a place called Holly How.
The advertisement is colorful and exciting. There are pictures of some teenagers in boats and others are swimming in the lake. There are more photos of people climbing and pony-riding.
There are beautiful trees and flowers around the camp. There are forests on the hills near the lake.
All the people in the pictures are smiling. They're having a good time. Julie thinks, «That looks like a fun place.»
She reads the advertisement. It says:
«Stay at Holly How near beautiful Coniston Water in the Lake District. Swim, boat, climb, and go pony-riding! Visit the beautiful towns and historic sites nearby.
The food is excellent and the rooms are cozy and comfortable with beautiful views...»
«Hmmm… this is a very nice place!» Julie thinks. «And it isn't very expensive. I can go with Diana. We can make some new friends and have a good time there.»
Her brother Paul comes into the garden.
«Hey, Minnie Mouse! How are you?» he shouts and pulls his sister's ears.
«Don't call me Minnie Mouse. I hate that name!» says Julie.
Julie and Paul don't look like a sister and a brother. Julie has brown hair and green eyes. She is not very tall and she has braces on her teeth. She is sensitive and intelligent. She likes painting and is especially good at painting landscapes. She is very shy and she doesn't have many friends.
Her brother Paul has a lot of friends. He is tall, blond and athletic. His favourite sport is soccer, and he likes swimming and boating.
He is very popular. Everyone wants Paul in their team at school. Sometimes Julie feels a bit jealous of him. Everything is easy for Paul.
What are you reading?" asks Paul. He looks over Julie's shoulder. «I need a holiday after the exams and this magazine has some good ideas. There's a lovely youth hostel called Holly How. They have a lot of outdoor sports. I can paint landscapes, and I can make new friends,» says Julie.
«That sounds fun. Where is it?» asks Paul, looking at the photos.
«It's in the Lake District near Coniston Water,» replies Julie. «I think it's about 70 kilometers from here. Look at the photos, Paul — it looks like a beautiful place!»
«Hmmm...,» says Paul, «Coniston Water.» He scratches his head. «I know that name...»
The Mystery of Coniston Water
Later that day Julie is sitting on the sofa in the living room reading a book. Her brother Paul is lying on the rug in front of the coffee table, watching tennis on the TV. Suddenly he jumps up.
«Now I remember,» he says. «There is a mystery about that lake, Coniston Water.
A girl died there a few years ago. I think she was about 16, the same as you Julie. Some people say you can see her at night on the lake, a little white figure boating all alone.
And there was something about a silver locket, but I can't remember the details...» Paul stops.
His sister's face is white. «What's the matter, Minnie Mouse? Are you scared?» he says, laughing.
«Stop it! I don't want to hear this! You just want to frighten me. You don't want me to go,» says Julie. «I'm not going to listen to you!»
«Okay,» says Paul. «I'm only warning you. When you're swimming in the cold lake at Coniston Water all alone, Julie, and you hear a strange voice, and the ghost of the lake comes after you...»
He jumps on Julie suddenly and hits her with a cushion. «Boooh!» he shouts.
Julie screams. «Aaaah! Get lost, Paul. You're horrible. Leave me alone!»
Julie and Paul's parents come into the room.
«Stop it, you two!» says Mr Thomas. «What's the matter? Why are you making all this noise?»
«Paul is trying to frighten me,» says Julie. She looks at her brother. He sits and smiles at her.
«Now, Paul,» says Mrs Thomas. «Don't frighten your sister! What are you talking about?»
«Mom,» says Julie. «I want to go to Holly How at Coniston Water. Can I go, please? Please? I want to take a vacation before school starts again-complete change, somewhere in the countryside. And I can paint there. There are beautiful trees and flowers. Here, look at the advertisement.»
Mr and Mrs Thomas read the advertisement.
«It does look nice, dear,» says Julies mom. «Yes, all right, you can go. But Paul must go with you.»
«What!» cries Julie.
«Yes,» says her dad, «You must both go. You're too young to go alone, Julie.»
«But I'm going to ask Diana to go with me. I don't need Paul,» says Julie.
«No, sorry, Julie. If Paul doesn't go, then neither of you can go,» replies Mrs Thomas firmly.
«That's fine with me!» says Paul. «I want to take care of my little sister. She needs protection from the ghost of the lake!» he laughs.
«I don't believe in any lake ghosts!» shouts Julie. She runs over to Paul and pushes him onto the armchair. Paul laughs and laughs.
«Now Paul, stop teasing your sister,» says Mrs Thomas. «I'm going to call the youth hostel and book your places. You can go next week.»
«Oh thanks, Mom! You're great!» replies Julie.
Mr and Mrs Thomas leave the room. Paul looks at his sister and smiles. «Well, do you want me to go with you and Diana?» he asks. «I can be your protector!»
Julie thinks for a moment about the story of the ghost girl.
«Can it be true?» she asks herself. «Is it safe?»
To Paul she says, «Okay, okay, come with us, if Mom says you must!»
Julie doesn't tell him, but secretly she is happy her brother wants to go. After all, two can fight ghosts better than one!
More about the ghost
Later Julie telephones her best friend Diana to tell her about Holly How. Diana is similar to Julie. They are both quiet and like the countryside, and they both have one older brother. Diana loves music. She plays the piano very well and practices all the time.
«Hi, Diana! It's Julie. How are you?»
«Great, thanks,» says Diana. «How are you?»
«I'm fine,» replies Julie.
«What are you doing this evening?» says Diana.
«Well,» says Julie, «I'm planning to go to a youth hostel in the Lake District,» says Julie. She's very excited.
«That sounds fun!» replies Diana. «Where is it?»
«It's at Coniston Water in the Lake District. It's called Holly How. There's an article in Teen Adventure about it. Would you like to come with me?» says Julie.
«Holly How?»
«Yes, that's right.»
Diana is silent.
«Diana,» says Julie, «what's the matter?»
«Err… Are you sure it's called Holly How?» asks Diana.
«Yes, I'm sure. Holly How at Coniston Water. It's a beautiful place. It's on a big lake. They have boats and you can go climbing and pony-riding… Why?
»I think Holly How is..." Diana stops talking.
«Holly How is what?» asks Julie impatiently.
«Well… people say that a girl died there a few years ago...» replies Diana.
«What do you mean?» asks Julie. She remembers Paul's words. Suddenly she can feel goosebumps on her arms.
«There is a mystery about the lake,» Diana continues.
«What mystery?» Julie replies.
«Some people say Coniston Water is haunted by a ghost,» Diana says. «You can see it at night. It's the ghost of a girl and it always wears a silver locket, the same locket the young girl who died there had.»
«What nonsense,» laughs Julie. «That isn't true.
Coniston Water is very safe. There are lots of teenagers at the youth hostel in the photos in Teen Adventure and they're all having fun! No one is scared, there's no ghost there! Please come with me. It's more fun if we both go!» says Julie.
«Do you really think it is safe?» asks Diana.
«Oh, yes!» says Julie. «And anyway, my brother wants to go, too. He says he is going to protect us!»
«I don't know,» says Diana. «I do like to boat and swim… When are you going to go?»
«Next week. My mom's booking the places.»
«How long are you going to stay?»
«Five days,» replies Julie.
«Do you think they have a piano? I want to practice,» asks Diana.
«No, I don't think so. But we can take a guitar.»
«Yes, that's true. What clothes are you going to take?» Diana asks.
«Oh, the usual things — a jacket, a couple of pairs of jeans, a few T-shirts and some good hiking boots. And I'm going to take some tennis shoes, too,» replies Julie.
«Okay. Let me ask my parents. Hold on,» Diana says. She puts down the phone.
She is back in two minutes. «Sorry, Julie, my parents don't want me to go. They say neither of us should go. They heard that Coniston Water is dangerous. They know the story about the young girl who died there. I'm sorry. I hope you have a good time!
Talk to you later!»
Diana puts down the phone.
«A good time!»
Julie thinks to herself «I hope so, too. I hope nothing terrible happens at the youth hostel!»
Julie Makes an Enemy
Paul and Julie arrive at Holly How the following week. It is a beautiful but quiet youth hostel. There are lots of trees.
The lake is very big. Julie thinks, «This looks like the picture in the magazine! My holiday is going to be fun!» She sees other young people about her age.
They are talking and laughing. There are three youth hostel organizers. They take Paul and Julie to their rooms.
«Julie, Anna, Tessa, and Maggie, you are in Room 13,» says David. He is a tall, handsome 19 year-old. He is reading from a list of names. «Paul, you're in Room 9.»
«Oh, no! Room 13!» thinks Julie to herself. «What had luck!»
Julie looks at her roommates. There are two dark girls with big backpacks. There is another small, thin girl with long blonde hair. She is carrying a large backpack and one small bag. They all go to Room 13. There are four beds in the room and cupboards for the girls' things. There is a table and four chairs. From the window you can see the blue lake and the forest on the hills near it.
«It's beautiful here,» thinks Julie, «I can paint some lovely pictures!»
Tessa and Maggie, the two dark girls, quickly take two bunks together. Anna throws her backpack on the other bottom bunk.
The only bunk left now is the top bunk. There are a lot of spider webs over the bunk.
Julie looks upset. She thinks for a moment, then says, «David, can I have the bottom bunk please? I don't like spiders.»
David brushes the spider webs away with a broom. Julie is embarrassed. She isn't really afraid of spiders, she is afraid of heights.
«I'm sorry, David,» says Julie quietly, «but I'm afraid of heights too. Please, can I have the bottom bunk?»
«Anna, Julie is afraid of heights,» says David.
«Can you please take the top bunk?»
«But I have my things on the bottom bunk already,» replies Anna. She gives Julie an angry look.
«Listen, Anna, Julie is afraid of heights. Tessa and Maggie are friends and don't want to change. Come on, be kind! Give Julie your hunk.» David smiles at her. No one speaks. Everyone is looking at Anna.
«Okay,» she says finally. She pulls her backpack off the bed and puts it on the top bunk.
«Thanks, Anna, for taking the top bunk. You're very kind,» Julie says, trying to make friends with Anna. But Anna doesn't reply.
«What a stupid thing to tell them, that I'm afraid of heights!» thinks Julie to herself. «This is not a good start. How can I make friends when my roommates all think I'm a scaredy cat?»
Julie Finds Something in the Lake
The girls start to put away their clothes.
Tessa and Maggie are taking things out of their hags and chatting to each other. They are friends already. They go to the same school. Maggie pulls her jeans out of her backpack and a small plastic purse drops onto the floor. Maggie doesn't see it.
Julie wants to make friends. She sees the purse on the floor and picks it up.
«Excuse me, Maggie, is this yours?» she says, smiling. Maggie goes red.
«That's my purse! Don't touch it!» she cries, grabbing it from Julie.
«I'm sorry, I'm just trying to help...» replies Julie.
Maggie takes the purse quickly but it is open and some syringes and small bottles fall out.
«What's this, Maggie?» asks David.
«It's… it's my insulin...» says Maggie. «I'm diabetic.» «But why isn't that written on your entry form? It's very important,» says David, «I must go and talk to Sally about this...» And he goes out of the room.
«Thanks a lot, Julie! Now everyone knows I'm diabetic! They aren't going to let me go on the overnight hike in the hills!» says Maggie, angrily.
«I'm sorry,» says Julie.
She feels bad. «What's wrong with me? Why can't I make friends? Anna hates me because of the bunk and now Maggie hates me too!» she thinks to herself. She looks at Anna but Anna climbs up onto her bunk and opens a book. Tessa and Maggie are going outside.
Julie walks over to them.
«Maggie, I'm really sorry,» she says.
«Never mind,» replies Maggie. «I suppose it was an accident.»
«Do you want to have lunch with me?» asks Julie.
«Sorry. I want to sit with Tessa,» Maggie says. «We've got a lot to talk about.» And they go out.
Julie feels very depressed and lonely. She goes to the door and walks outside. She sees Paul laughing and joking in the summer sunshine with five other boys.
«Paul has made friends already! I'm not surprised, he makes friends easily. Everyone likes him, he always knows the right thing to say. He's funny and confident. Not me. No one wants to be friends with me.»
Julie goes through the trees and walks by the lake alone. She looks at the water and decides to see how cold it is. She puts her hand in the water. «Ohh! It's freezing!» Suddenly, she sees something shiny between the stones at the bottom of the lake, something small and silver.
«What's this? It looks like a necklace… No, it's not a necklace, it's a locket, a silver locket. How pretty!»
She opens it. Inside there is an old, brown photograph of a young girl. She is thin with long blonde hair. She is about sixteen years old.
«That's strange,» thinks Julie. «She looks like someone I know… but who?» She is puzzled. She tries to remember but she can't.
She tries the locket on. She looks at her reflection in the lake.
«It looks lovely,» says Julie. «I'm going to keep it.»
A Scary Ride in a Rowboat
After lunch Sally is organizing the activities for the afternoon. «Okay, everyone! Who wants to go out in a rowboat?» she asks. Ten teenagers shout «Yes!» all together. Sally smiles.
She is the water safety instructor at Holly How. She is 28 and very energetic and fit. She has a strong personality but everyone likes her. She knows teenagers can sometimes do dangerous things.
She takes everyone to the jetty and asks them to sit down. They must listen to the safety rules before they can take the boats out.
«Everyone must go with a partner. Everyone must wear a life jacket all the time. Never, never, never go out alone on the lake! Always stay in a group. Remember, the lake water is very cold. Be careful in your rowboats and hold on to the oars! Don't lose them! Don't stand up because the boats can tip over easily. Now, does everyone have a partner? No? Hurry up, then. Everyone find a partner.» The boys and girls stand up and choose their partners.
Julie is left alone. Anna is alone too. Julie walks over to Anna and says, «I think we are the only two left. Do you want to be my partner?»
«Not really,» says Anna. «But I don't have any choice.»
Then Anna sees the silver locket around Julie's neck. «Where did you get that locket?» she asks, looking at Julie in a strange way.
«Err… It was my grandmother's,» says Julie.
She doesn't know why but she doesn't want to tell Anna the truth.
«It's going to bring you bad luck,» says Anna coldly.
Julie is angry. «Why is Anna always so aggressive?» she thinks. The two of them get into the rowboat and begin to row slowly. The other boats are moving quickly. Soon Anna and Julie are left behind.
Julie tries to make friends with Anna again. She stops rowing for a moment. «Listen, Anna, I'm really sorry about the bunks,» she says. «Can we be friends?»
«I don't know, Julie,» says Anna. «Can we?» Her voice is strange.
Suddenly Anna moves to the middle of the boat. She takes her oar and Julie's too and starts rowing very quickly. The boat begins to turn in the opposite direction.
«Anna, what are you doing? Where are we going?» asks Julie, «The other boats are over there. We must stay near them. Remember the safety rules.»
Anna doesn't answer. She looks straight ahead and continues to row.
«Anna,» says Julie again. «What's the matter? Can you hear me? The other boats are over there.» She points to the other side of the lake.
Anna still doesn't answer.
«Listen to me Anna, please!» shouts Julie. «We're too far from the shore here. We must turn back!» She is frightened now and her voice is trembling. But Anna continues to look ahead. She isn't listening to Julie.
Julie pulls her arm. Anna turns slowly to look at her.
«Don't worry, Julie. Nothing is going to happen. I'm a good swimmer and I can manage the boat. I don't want to go with the others. I want to go to Hawkshead,» she says.
«But, Anna,» replies Julie, «Sally said we must stay near the shore. We mustn't go too far from the other boats...»
«Are you afraid, Julie?» Anna asks. She is staring at Julie. The wind lifts her blonde hair and there seems to be a bright light around it.
Julie stares at her. «I'm imagining it,» she thinks, «the sun and clouds are playing tricks on my eyes.» She looks up at the sky. Black clouds are moving over the lake. A storm is coming. Julie thinks quickly.
«No, Anna, I'm not afraid. Okay, let's go to Hawkshead,» she says. She doesn't want Anna to think she's a scared cat.
They row for half an hour. The boat is in the center of the lake now. The sky is dark and a strong wind is blowing. It is raining. They can't see any other boats. Julie is really frightened.
Anna doesn't speak, she seems to be in a trance. Julie doesn't care it Anna likes her after this trip or not. She wants to get back to the youth hostel.
«Anna, I want to go back to Holly How. It's raining,» she says firmly. «Anna! Anna! Can you hear me? Stop the boat!»
Anna turns to look at Julie. Her eyes are dark and enormous and her face is white. Her body trembles. The light around her is very bright now. «What is happening?» thinks Julie. «Anna doesn't look real.
She looks like a ghost! This must be a dream!»
Suddenly, Anna stands up and the boat starts to rock. She is laughing.
«Anna! Sit down! The boat is going to tip over! screams Julie. „Stop it, Anna! What's going on? What's happening?“
A Frightening Experience
Suddenly Julie is in the water. It is cold, very cold.
Her clothes are pulling her down. She remembers that she isn't wearing her life jacket.
»Oh no!" she thinks. «I'm not a good swimmer! I must find my life jacket. It can keep me above the water.» She looks around in the water for the life jacket but she can't find it. She begins to panic. Then she remembers Anna. Where is she?
«Anna! Anna!» she calls, «Oh, I hope she's all right. I hope she isn't under the boat.»
She looks around desperately. There is an island nearby. Can she swim to the beach there?
«The island isn't too far,» she thinks. «I can try to swim to it. I can get help and we can come back and look for Anna.» She starts to swim but it is very difficult. The water is cold and her arms and legs get tired very quickly. She stops and begins to shout, «Anna! Anna! Where are you! Can you hear me? Are you all right?»
No one answers. There is nothing on the lake but the wind and the rain.
«Oh, God, please help me! I'm so tired!» sobs Julie. She looks around again and shouts, «Someone help me! Help me!»
Suddenly Anna appears in the water in front of her.
«Anna! You're okay!» cries Julie. «I'm so happy to see you!»
Anna stretches her arms towards Julie. She says, «Don't worry, Julie, I'm here. Do you understand? I can help you.»
But something is wrong. Anna isn't swimming in the water, she is standing in it. The bright light around her is stronger than ever.
She is smiling. «Julie, Julie, let's be friends. I want you to be my friend! I want to take you to my home. Come home with me,» she says, and she takes Julie's hands.
Julie looks at Anna. Anna looks at Julie. Julie tries to look away but she can't. There is a strange power in Anna's dark eyes. She says again and again, «Come with me, Julie. Come with me.»
Julie is swimming very slowly now. She hears herself say «What must I do, Anna?»
«You must swim down to the bottom of the lake,» replies Anna smiling. «The water is warm, it's lovely. The water is your home, Julie.»
«Yes, Anna,» says Julie, still looking into Anna's eyes. «I'm going to swim down with you.»
Anna is near her. Anna is in front of her. She is talking to her under the water in a faint, far-away voice. She is saying, «Follow me, Julie, follow me. We will be friends, sisters. Forget about Holly How. Forget about Paul. Forget about your family. Follow me...»
Julie doesn't think about her parents, or her brother. She can't remember Holly How. She can only see Anna's eyes. She feels Anna's hands on her shoulders. She is pushing her down. Julie swims under the water with Anna, down and down into the deep lake shadows, deeper and deeper into Coniston Water.
Suddenly a small silver light flashes through the water. The silver locket! Julie's eyes follow the light and she stops looking at Anna for a minute. Immediately she realizes where she is. She kicks her legs and starts swimming up to the surface. Her heart beats faster and faster. She must get some air! Up, up, up. Then she is on the top of the water. She takes a deep breath and begins to shout, «Help! Help! Someone help me!»
Julie Tells Paul Her Secret
Julie is lying on the shore of the lake. All the people from the youth hostel are standing around, watching her. Paul is kneeling next to his sister.
«Julie, are you all right? Julie, say something!» he is saying.
Julie turns her head. Water comes out of her mouth.
«Where am I? Am I alive?» she asks. She hears another voice. Sally is talking to her. She is angry. «Yes, you are. You almost drowned in the lake! she says. „You didn't follow the safety rules, Julie. Anna says you were in the boat alone. You are lucky to be alive! You're a very lucky girl.“
Paul helps his sister to sit up. „Julie, are you okay?“
»Yes, but 'I'm very tired," she replies.
«Let's go and get some hot tea,» says Paul.
He puts a blanket around Julie's shoulders. She stands up slowly and looks around. She sees Anna standing near Sally. She rubs her eyes and looks again. Anna isn't a ghost! She is there! Anna is staring at Julie. She has the same strange smile on her face.
Julie doesn't smile at Anna. She walks away from her.
«Come on, Paul,» she says. «We must get away from that girl.»
They go to the kitchen. «Why are you angry with Anna?» asks Paul. «She's a good person. She saved your life!»
«Paul, I have to talk to you. Something very strange is happening. Anna isn't… well, she isn't a real person...»
«What are you talking about?» says her brother.
«She isn't real! She's a ghost!» shouts Julie.
«Julie, are you mad? Anna helped you. You are alive because of Anna! You're upset. You need to sleep.»
«No, Paul! Believe me! Anna is a ghost. She made the boat tip over, she has some strange power. She is the ghost of Coniston Water!» cries Julie.
«Julie, listen. Why don't you go to your room now and sleep?» says Paul after a moment.
«I can't go back there, Paul! I want to leave Holly How tonight!» says Julie, trembling. Her brother sees that she is really frightened.
«Okay, Julie, why don't you go and see the hostel manager? Maybe she can help,» he says.
«Okay,» says Julie.
Julie walks down to the lake. She looks out at the water. She thinks, «What am I going to do? Paul doesn't believe me. I can't go back to the room. Anna wants me to go back. I have to leave Holly How. I want to go home — tonight.»
«Julie, Julie...»
She hears someone calling her name quietly. She turns round. Anna is standing next to her. She looks at Julie and says, «Julie, do you know who I am?»
«Yes, you are the girl who died at the lake a long time ago,» replies Julie.
«Yes,» says Anna. She looks into Julie's eyes. «Please come with me. I want to show you something.»
The two girls start to walk towards the boats. Suddenly Paul arrives. He calls his sister. «Julie, Julie. Where are you?»
Julie replies, «I'm here. Near the boats.»
Paul runs to Julie and takes her by the hand. «What are you doing here?» Julie says, «I don't know. Anna wants to show me something.» «Anna? What do you mean?» says Paul. «Anna isn't here.»
Julie looks around, but Anna isn't there.
«Oh, Paul! She was here! Anna was here.»
Paul replies, «It's the accident, Julie. Your mind is playing tricks on you. You need to sleep.»
Julie feels very tired. «All right, Paul,» she says.
They go back to her room. Julie says good night and walks through the door.
«Julie!» It is Anna. She is standing in front of her.
Julie's Dream
«Julie, how are you? Are you feeling all right?»
«Anna, what are you doing here?» says Julie.
«I want to talk to you,» says Anna, «about the locket.»
Julie doesn't look at Anna. She is afraid of Anna's eyes.
«No», she replies, «I don't want to talk to you. I'm going to the kitchen. Please don't follow me.»
She goes quickly into the kitchen. She is looking for David. She sees him at one of the tables. She sits down next to him and begins to cry.
«What's wrong, Julie?» asks David.
«Please, David, I want you to telephone my parents. You have to telephone them now. I want to leave Holly How tonight. I want to go home.»
«Now, Julie, says David, „Don't cry. It's going to be okay. Tell me, what's the matter?“
»I'm sorry." says Julie. «But I'm scared. I think something bad is going to happen to me here. I have to leave tonight.»
«Julie, listen, you're upset because of the accident...» says David.
«Yes,» replies Julie. «I know, but I want to go home.»
«I'm sorry, Julie, but that's impossible,» says David. «Our phone isn't working now.»
«Oh no!» cries Julie. «Where's the nearest public telephone?»
«I'm sorry but it's in the village, 10 kilometers away.»
«Oh dear,» says Julie. «Can't you drive me to a telephone in the car?»
«We don't have a car here. There's a bus on Fridays to take people to the train station, but no car. Why don't we telephone your parents tomorrow? They're coming to repair our phone tomorrow morning.»
«You don't understand, I have to talk to them tonight! It's very important!» says Julie again.
«Julie, you're upset, you're ill, you need some sleep. Go and lie down on your bunk. I can help you tomorrow. You're safe here in Holly How. Don't worry.»
Julie sighs. She is too tired to insist.
«Okay,» she says, «I'm going to my room, David.»
«Good girl,» says David. «Good night. Sleep well.»
David turns to talk to the other people at the table. Julie sees Anna there with two other girls. They are laughing. Anna looks up and smiles at Julie. Julie doesn't look at Anna. She walks quickly to the door. She leaves the kitchen and goes to her room.
She opens the door very quietly. She looks in — the room is empty.
«Good, no one is here!» She lies down on her bunk. She is very, very tired.
«What am I going to do?» she thinks. «Don't fall asleep. Don't fall...» But her eyes close and soon Julie is fast asleep.
She dreams about the accident on the lake. She is in the water. She is going down, down, down into the shadows. Anna is there in the water with her.
«Hello, Julie,» says Anna. Her voice is faint. «It's good to see you here. Do you like the water? Isn't it lovely here?»
«No, Anna! I don't want to be here. It's horrible, it's dark. I want to be with my family. I want you to leave me alone!» cries Julie.
«I don't have any friends here. I want a friend,» answers Anna, sadly.
«It's very cold down here,» says Julie. «Very cold, very cold...»
Julie wakes up from her dream. She rubs her eyes. The air in the room is like ice.
«Brrrr!» she says. «Why is it so cold in here? I'm freezing!»
Then she sees Anna standing next to her bed.
Anna Wants to Be Friends
Julie sits up in her bed. She pulls the blankets closer. It is freezing in the room.
«Why are you following me, Anna?» she says. «Why
don't you leave me alone? What do you want?»
Anna sits down on Julie's bed. She takes Julie's hand in hers. Anna's hands are colder than Julie's, they are like ice. She is pale and her eyes are dark. She is looking at Julie strangely again.
Julie is frightened. She doesn't want to look at Anna's eyes.
She touches the locket around her neck nervously.
«Don't be afraid of me, Julie,» Anna's voice is kind and friendly but it is difficult to hear. It seems she is talking under the water.
«I want to be friends, Julie. I want to be best friends. You and I are alike in many ways. We must be together.»
Julie takes her hand away quickly. «What do you mean, the same?» she asks.
«We're both shy. We want to have a lot of friends. We are both lonely, we want to be popular, we want everyone to like us.»
«I don't know what you mean,» replies Julie angrily. «I have a lot of friends at home.»
«No, you don't,» replies Anna. «You're lonely and you're shy, like me. You're jealous of your brother Paul because he's more popular than you. He's cleverer and he's friendlier too. He has a lot of friends.»
Julie feels uncomfortable. How does Anna know these things about her?
«You are very like me,» Anna continues. «I wanted the same things when I came to Coniston Water many years ago. I just wanted to make friends, I wanted people to like me. I tried hard to do the things they did. I went hiking and pony-riding. I played volleyball and tennis. I was scared of the water and I couldn't swim but I went boating with them… Oh, my story has a sad ending, Julie, a very sad ending...» There are tears on Anna's pale face.
Julie doesn't feel frightened now. She is curious. She feels sorry for Anna. She wants to know Anna's story. She says, «Okay, Anna we can be friends. But first, you must tell me your story. I want to know exactly what happened to you here at Coniston Water many years ago. Can you tell me?»
«Maybe you're going to be frightened,» says Anna.
«No,» replies Julie, «I want to know. I must know.»
Anna looks over to the window and the lake outside. She sees something that Julie can't see. She sees Coniston Water many years ago. She begins to tell her story. Julie listens very closely.
Anna's Story
Many years ago...
«Anna! Do you want to come out on the lake with us? We're going to row across Coniston Water,» shouts Ken, the youth hostel organizer. He is strong and athletic. He loves to go boating.
«No, I don't. Look at those dark clouds,» says Anna. «It's going to rain.»
«It's all right,» says Ken. «We can row in the rain! We want to row across to Hawkshead on the other side of the lake.»
«But I can't swim,» replies Anna. She is fourteen and afraid of water. «I want to stay here, Ken.»
«Come on,» Ken insists, «get into the boat. Everyone is going.
We can't leave you here. Sarah is your partner. She's a very good swimmer and she can manage the boat.»
Anna touches the locket around her neck nervously. She wears the locket all the time. It's her lucky charm.
«Anna, please get into the boat,» says Ken, impatiently. He pulls her hand and the chain with the silver locket breaks.
«Oh, Anna, I'm sorry,» says Ken. «Your beautiful locket. I'm sorry.»
Anna looks at the locket in her hand. «This isn't a good sign,» she whispers to herself.
Ken says, «Maybe they can repair your locket in Hawkshead. Come on, let's go.»
Anna gets into the rowboat with Sarah.
«Don't worry,» says Sarah. «It's easy to row the boat. It's fun!»
The two girls row very slowly out to the middle of the lake. They can't see the other boats now. Suddenly, their boat hits something under the water. A small hole appears in the bottom of the boat and the lake water begins to come through the hole.
«Oh, no! There is water in the boat,» screams Anna.
«Don't panic, Anna,» says Sarah. «You're going to be okay. I'm going to swim to the beach to get help.»
«No, stay in the boat! Don't get out!» cries Anna, terrified.
«Listen Anna, it's not far. There is another boat on the beach. I can get back very quickly,» says Sarah. She jumps into the water and swims away.
Anna is alone in the boat. More water is coming into the boat. The hole is bigger. Anna is very frightened.
«What am I going to do?» She looks for Sarah but she can't see her. More and more water comes into the boat. The boat is sinking. Anna's legs are in the water.
«Help! Help!» she screams. Now her chest is in the water. She splashes around with her arms.
«Please, someone help me!» The boat is full of water. The cold lake water goes over her head. She goes under, then she kicks her legs to get up to the surface to get some air. She sees Sarah in the distance.
«Sarah, help me! Help me!» she shouts. Three times she goes under and kicks back to the surface, but now her clothes are full of water. They pull her back down. She goes under a fourth time. She kicks her legs but she is very tired and they feel so heavy, so heavy...
Anna feels herself going down and down to the bottom of the lake. Her eyes close, her hands open and the silver locket drops to the bottom of the lake.
Soon, everything is dark.
Paul to the Rescue
«Anna, that is a very sad story,» says Julie.
«You and I are best friends,» says Anna. She isn't smiling now, she is very serious.
«Why am I your best friend?» Julie feels nervous. She touches her locket then looks at Anna. Anna's eyes are dark and strange again. She is staring at Julie. Julie tries to look away but she can't.
«You know my secret, Julie. You have my locket. The person that has my locket must come and live with me in Coniston Water. You must live with me here forever!»
Julie is silent. She is still looking at Anna's eyes.
«It is time,» says Anna. «Come with me, Julie.»
Julie cannot say no. She stands up and follows Anna out of the room.
They walk past the young people in the kitchen. They are all talking and laughing. They don't notice Julie and Anna walking down to the lake.
Anna is looking at Julie. Julie is looking at Anna.
Anna is speaking quietly. «Walk this way, Julie. Follow me into Coniston Water.»
Julie nods her head. «Yes Anna, I'm coming. I am going with you to Coniston Water.»
They go onto the beach. Anna steps into the boat. She says, «Come and sit in the boat, Julie.»
Julie replies, «Yes, Anna.» She steps into the boat and sits down next to Anna.
Anna says, «Julie, pick up the oars. Row the boat.» Julie picks up the oars and begins to row.
Paul looks out of the kitchen window. It's almost dark but he sees Julie in the boat. She is rowing the boat out into the middle of the lake. He runs outside.
«Julie! Julie! What are you doing? Come back!»
But Julie doesn't look at Paul. She doesn't hear him. She can only see Anna. She can only hear Anna's voice. Anna says, «Row, Julie, row faster.»
Paul runs onto the beach. He pulls a boat into the water and jumps in.
Anna sees Paul. She shouts at Julie, «Faster, Julie. Row faster. Row to the middle of the lake.»
Julie looks at Anna and nods her head. She rows harder and faster.
Paul is near them now. He shouts, «Julie! Julie! Stop! Wait for me! Stop!»
Julie turns her head towards his voice but she is still looking at Anna.
Anna says, «Julie, it's okay. You're going to feel better in the water. You're going to be happier with me. Do what I say.»
Julie says, «Yes, Anna. I am going to be happy with you. What do you want me to do?»
Anna tells Julie to stop rowing. She takes her hand and says, «Stand up, Julie.»
Julie puts the oars down and stands up. Anna takes her hand.
She jumps into the water, pulling Julie down with her. Julie doesn't try to swim, she can't do anything. She can only look at Anna's eyes.
She tastes the muddy lake water in her mouth. She closes her eyes.
Suddenly Julie feels someone pulling her up to the top of the water. She is coughing. Water is coming out of her mouth. Paul has his arms around her. He is pulling her into his boat. He climbs into the boat and pulls Julie in after him.
«Hurry, Julie. Lie down. Lie down in the middle of the boat!»
A strong wind is pushing the boat. Waves hit the sides. Paul tries to row the boat but he can't move it. The waves are too big.
Julie opens her eyes. «What's happening? Where am I?» she says. She can hear a small voice in her head, «Julie, you are my best friend, my best friend forever!»
The wind gets stronger. The furious waves tip the boat over.
Paul and Julie fall into the water. Julie feels the water go over her head but Paul grabs his sister and puts his arms around her. He swims with her slowly towards the overturned boat.
The Storm is over
The wind is very strong and heavy rain is falling. Paul shouts, «Julie! Come on! Hold on to the boat!» Julie and Paul cling to the boat in the violent storm.
Another large wave hits the boat and Paul and Julie are under the water again. When they come back to the surface the boat is the right way up! One oar is still inside it! Paul sees the other oar in the water and swims towards it. He throws the oar into the boat, then he climbs in. He pulls Julie in after him.
Paul begins to row towards the shore. Julie lies in the bottom of the boat. She is very cold. She hears the small voice in her head again. «Come with me, Julie! Be my friend!» says the voice.
«What's the matter?» asks Paul. «What are you listening to?»
«I have her locket,» says Julie dreamily. «I found the locket near the shore. She was wearing it when she died. We are best friends...»
She touches the locket around her neck. She looks at Paul hut she doesn't see him. Her eyes are strange.
«Take it off, Julie!» says Paul suddenly.
«Take the locket off! Now!»
Julie pulls the chain hard and it breaks. She holds the locket in her hand.
Paul takes the locket and throws it into the water. They watch it sink slowly to the bottom of the lake.
Suddenly the wind is silent. The rain stops. The lake is calm. There are no waves now. Slowly the dark clouds move away and the warm summer sun is shining on Coniston Water again.
Paul and Julie look at the lake. Then they look at each other. They smile.
«I'm sorry. I didn't believe you, Julie,» he says, «You were right. There was something strange about Coniston Water.»
«Yes,» says Julie. «Anna had a strange power over me. I can't explain it. I wanted to go with her. I wanted to jump into the water and go down to the bottom of the lake with her.»
«So, Anna is the mysterious 'Ghost of Coniston Water',» Paul says.
«Yes,» says Julie. «But we can't tell anyone. Who is going to believe us? The people at the youth hostel thought I was crazy when I tried to explain...»
«No, they like you,» says Paul.
«Do they? Well, it doesn't matter now,» replies Julie. «I don't care. I'm lucky to be alive. You saved my life, Paul.»
«Well, I said I was here to be your protector!» says Paul, laughing. «I'm glad you are my brother,» says Julie shyly and gives him a hug. «Come on, little sister,» says Paul. «Take the other oar. We're going home.»
Hope you have enjoyed the reading!
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