"Did you ever hear of a King Joseph papa?"

George Midgley flashed a puzzled look across the table to his brother Edwin. Odd question.
"King Joseph? No such person. At least as far as I know."
"But isn't there a King Joseph, or a kingdom of Joseph in the Bible papa?"
"Not that I know of Mary.There might have been. There was Joseph with his coat of many colours, Joseph husband to Mary, Joseph of Arimathea and no doubt some other Josephs too obscure to mention, but to the best of my knowledge none of them were kings my dear."

Mary poured herself a glass of water from the carafe. She was crestfallen. She had felt certain that the answers she sought were something to do with the Bible.
"I see papa."
"Strange question Mary. Why do you ask?"
"Oh it's nothing papa, just something I found."
Her uncle Edwin grinned. Did you find it in the hallway perhaps Mary?"
"Well er.... I..."
"She got it from the hall George. Its written into the pattern of the hall floor tiles ."

Her father smiled. "You mean Captain Thompson's initials?"
"Well yes - but it also says 'Kingdom of Joseph' if you look at the greek letters around the border. Very clever of you Mary. I didn't know your daughter could read Greek George."
"Well neither did I Edwin. Our Miss Stewart must be doing a good job".

Mary stammered, unable to hide her embarrassment. " Well actually father, I didn't find it in the hall... I...I..." Then, thinking better of it, she let it subside.

Edwin pushed his plate to one side. "Odd though, dont you think George. I mean I can understand old Captain Thompson setting his initials into the floor, but why the cryptic inscription? Perhaps the old boy knew about something he wasn't letting on about."
George Midgley grinned. "Dickey Postlethwaite's pirate treasure perhaps? Honestly Edwin, sometimes I think you base your world on penny dreadfuls!"
He knew his droll brother only too well. "Oh by the way, did you and Wilfred manage to make the acquaintance of Captain Thompson on the staircase landing last night?"
Edwin lowered his face and reached for the water carafe. Now it was his turn to feel embarrassed. "No George. We went to bed in the early forenoon. Didn't see a thing except a dog scratting in the back yard."
His brother grinned."Gave up the ghost eh?"
"Oh very funny! Anyway, we've taken the old table back downstairs now so as not to clutter up the staircase. You can tell Mrs Lumb we'll keep off her territory from now on."

After dinner Mary wasted no time in sneaking out into the hallway. Sure enough, set into the centre of the tiled floor was a small mosaic containing a cartouche with the sinuous initials J.T.T. Mary had seen this device before, but had thought little of it. Now she examined the design rather more closely. Sure enough, hidden in the the border pattern around the edge of the mosaic were the same Greek letters she had first encountered on the window. But there were no numbers. She gave a sigh of relief. Clever uncle Edwin! So he knew about the Greek inscription. But he hadn't discovered those strange numbers so carefully hidden in the nooks and crannies of the great window - and she certainly wasn't going to tell him!

Mary stood at the centre of the tessellated design, looking first up the stairs and then up to the tall window. As she did so, it occurred to her that the pattern of the border matched that around a corresponding pane in the centre of the great window. She looked more intently. Behind the stained glass she could make out a dark silhouette, standing out on the far horizon. It seemed strangely familiar. She moved to one side. The shape vanished. A sidestep back into the cartouche and it reappeared. Suddenly realisation dawned. A single, carefully designed location in the hallway lining up to a cunningly contrived window pane.... the whole chamber had been deliberately focussed on a single point ..... that dark distant shape, the stand of trees on the rocky summit of Rawley Billing..........

copyright © Jim Jarratt 2007