Archivist note: This article is from an older recovered archive and might be obsolete or in need of updating.
Most recent revision is shown below, by Galactic Baroque.
””’Told by Captain Wiggy Undertone at the R. F. Burton Public Library””’
It was about fifteen years ago that grief befell one of New Babbage’s wealthiest (and most eccentric) citizens. Would you care to hear how tragedy befell the widow Cogsworth and her son? WELL THEN, DRAW NEAR AND PAY HEED! This is a tale you will not oft hear told.
Many years ago, The Cogsworth family owned almost all industry in New Babbage and beyond. Their wealth and influence rivaled that of Charles Babbage himself. One by one, the Cogsworths died off until there only remained Florence Mary Cogsworth and her young son. The widow Cogsworth took up residence in Brunel Hall, renting out the entire top floor of the hotel for herself, her son, and their butler.
The lad’s name was Theodore Cogsworth. He was about your age, Cyan, but not nearly as fit. Theodore was a pudgy lad, with a pasty complexion. He was a real mamma’s boy, but he could hardly be blamed for that. Why, every hour of every day Theodore was closely supervised by his mother! Each day for him began thus: After waking, Theodore would dress and make his way downstairs for breakfast with Mother in the dining room of Brunel Hall. Literature and history studies were next. A private tutor of course; no public school would do for Theodore! After lunch, more studies. This time, science and mathematics. And then, Theodore and his mother would visit Brunel Hall’s swimming pool for Theodore’s daily exercise. Once there, Theodore would begin to swim, always under the watchful eye of his Mother.
Now even though he was a lad of 12, he was never allowed to leave the shallow end of the pool. He would dog-paddle back and forth, making his way past the younger children who were splashing about and having fun. Often times the other children made fun of Theodore, but he was always meekly polite, and ignored their taunts.
And so it went, day after day.
Until one fateful day when Theodore saw someone new at the pool. A very pretty young girl, maybe a year younger than he, caught his eye. She moved with such grace and speed! Diving and swimming about effortlessly. She noticed Theodore staring at her, and she flashed a quick smile at him in return. The young lass dove under the water. An instant later, she surfaced beside him.
“Hello!” she said, “My name is Isabel. What’s yours?”
“Theodore”, he replied, and he flushed and smiled awkwardly back at her.
“What are you doing here in the shallow end with all of the small children? Can’t you swim?”
“I can swim.” Theodore said proudly. He was about to add that he wasn’t allowed in the deep end when she grabbed his hand and tugged saying, “Well, come on then!”
Theodore nervously looked back at his mother. The widow Cogsworth was talking to a burly lifeguard, and for once was not observing him. So, he yielded to her touch. He was soon dog-paddling about in the deep end of the pool.
Isabel observed Theodore’s splashing for a moment. “In order to really learn how to swim, you have to learn to swim underwater. Now, hold your breath…”
With that, Isabel grabbed Theodore’s hand and quickly dragged him beneath the surface!
The sound is different underneath the water. The sounds were louder, but muffled. All looked blurry to Theodore’s eyes. All save for Isabel. For some reason, she appeared perfectly clear as she floated in front of him. “What an odd trick of the light.” Theodore thought. Isabel flashed an impish grin, then she pulled him even deeper! he pressure on his ears increased as they moved down toward the drain at the bottom of the pool. Soon His lungs felt needles of pain as he neared his limit. Theodore struggled for the surface! Seeing his panic, Isabel pushed him up, and Theodore bobbed up to the surface beside the pool ladder, safe and sound.
Everything was fine! At least, it was fine until he until he heard…
“OH NO!! THEODORE!! SOMEONE SAVE MY BABY BOY! HE’S DROWING!!!”
Theodore cringed at his mother’s cries. He soon found himself plucked from the water by the burly lifeguard. He tried to explain that everything was perfectly fine, but no one could hear him over his mother’s wailing. He looked about, but Isabel had vanished.
Later that evening, while Theodore and his mother were dining, the Cogsworth butler shuffled to their table and announced: “A young woman is at the front desk. She wishes to see Master Theodore.”
“What? You just tell her that Theodore cannot see her at this late hour!” his mother said.
“But Mother, it could be the girl from the pool I told you about!” Theodore protested. “Her name is Isabel.”
Upon hearing the name Isabel, his mother blanched. “You are never to speak to her again young man!” She ordered. “In fact, we will find a new form of exercise for you. That hotel pool has always been beneath your station, and now it is positively crawling with commoners.”
They finished their meal in silence.
That night, Theodore tossed and turned. He kept thinking of Isabel, and of his brief venture into the deep end of the pool. Just then, he heard a knock on his room door. Fearful that his mother or the butler would wake, Theodore slipped out of bed and quietly opened the door. It was Isabel! Her pale complexion fairly glowed in the lamplight.
“Hello Theodore. Want to go for a swim?” she smirked.
“What’s the matter?”, she said harshly, “Do you want to be a mamma’s boy all of your life?” Then her voice softened. “Come with me and I’ll show you how I can swim like a mermaid.” She smiled coyly at him.
His hesitation vanished. Theodore grinned broadly. “One moment!” He said, and he grabbed his togs. Hand in hand they walked down the stairs toward the pool.
“I know what it is like to be teased by other children.” Isabel said.
“Oh?” Theodore replied, “Please tell me more.”
“Once, a group of three well-to-do girls made fun of me. They mocked my worn clothes, and my uncombed hair. The horrid snobs even pushed me into the canal saying that I needed a bath! They didn’t know that I couldn’t swim…”
“Oh my! How awful! What happened next? Did they pull you out? Who saved you?”
Isabel ignored his questions. “Ah, here we are!” She said. The doors of the pool room swung open at her touch.
Theodore ran inside and jumped into the water.
“Look Isabel! I can swim better already!” Theodore called out as he dog-paddled about in the pool.
“So I see.” She said, and then she murmured to herself, “And I’m quite sure this will be your last swimming lesson.”
An hour later, there was a loud knock on the Cogsworth’s butler’s door. A very loud, insistent knock.
The butler answered the door, rubbing his eyes and still wearing his nightcap. To his surprise there was no one there. He found only a note on the floor which read: “I have Theodore at the pool. Come quickly if you want to see him again!” The note was signed – Isabel.
The Butler gasped and ran to Theodore’s room. Upon seeing Theodore’s empty bed, he next moved as quickly as he could to the Widow Cogsworth’s room and banged on her door. “Madam! Come quick!”, he cried.
Soon Theodore’s mother and the butler were stumbling down the stairs. “Go down the street and rouse a constable!” She ordered.
As the butler pushed open the hotel door and ran outside, she called after him “If you must, call out the entire Militia, but get help for my boy!”
Next, the widow Cogsworth rushed into the pool room.
“Theodore?” She called out, her voice quavering. There was no answer. The pool room was quiet and empty. Florence Cogsworth looked left and right as she moved around the pool, looking for some sign of Theodore. She moved close to the water’s edge.
Just then she noticed a something at the bottom of the pool. Something was deep in the water, resting on the bottom near the drain, but she couldn’t tell what. Shaking all over, she leaned over the edge as far as she could, and peered into the depths.
“Is that you Theodore?” She whispered; her voice chocking.
“No, that’s just an old towel.“ Isabel spoke loudly from immediately behind her!!
Theodore’s mother whirled around. She gasped in shock and surprise.
Isabel was hovering in the air a few inches off of the floor. Her gown, even her translucent flesh, shimmering in the pool water reflections. Her eyes glowing with hatred.
“Theodore is just fine.” Isabel said coldly, “He’s resting in the changing room now. In fact, I’m surprised you didn’t wake him with all of your noise!”
Theodore’s mother tried to respond, but succeeded in only making a small noise.
“Don’t you have anything to say?” Isabel taunted, “You certainly had plenty to say to me that day YOU THREW ME INTO THE CANAL!”
Isabel roared and rushed toward Florence Cogsworth! The widow Cogsworth screamed and stumbled backward in her attempt to get away from the ghostly spirit! She fell into the pool with a huge splash! Sinking toward the bottom, she struggled wildly at first, but soon her movements slowed and then grew still…
Later the butler arrived with the constables. When they pulled Florence Cogsworth’s cold, water-logged body from the bottom of the pool, they found her face was frozen in an expression of absolute horror!
And now friends, you know the fate of the widow Cogsworth. As for young Theodore, He vanished the next day and no one has heard from him since that fateful night. He is heir to the vast Cogsworth fortune, and he would be a young man now.