The Excise Man and the Ghost

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PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Tom scanned the clifftop and cursed the excise man atop his horse. He heard the slap of the waves against the boat and caught its signal. The man saw it too, for he replied in Tom’s place to tempt it ashore. The fool would catch trouble.
Donning a phosphorus dipped cloak, Tom feigned to glide eerily along the tideline.
The officer shrieked, “A ghost!” but instead of fleeing, he charged at Tom and swooping down pulled him onto the horse, crowing, “Not the spirit I expected but you’ll do little ghost. We’re not as gullible as them at Hadleigh Castle.”

I feel a little explanation may be required.

Back in the day smuggling into Britain could be a  brutal business, those employed to prevent it were often outnumbered and came to grisly ends. The smugglers would prefer to go about their business undisturbed though and ghost stories were often used to hide their operations and scare off the superstitious. At Hadleigh Castle a pair of ‘phantoms’, – the White Lady and Black Man – made dramatic appearances just before a shipment of illicit liquor arrived, and duly disappeared when all the liquor had been moved away. There is no doubt that the famous 18th century legend of ‘the Ghostly Drummer of Hurstmonceaux Castle’ in Sussex started with some enterprising smugglers and a little phosphorus! – by Ellen Castelow




‘The Ghostly Drummer of Hurstmonceaux’

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by  Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

56 thoughts on “The Excise Man and the Ghost

  1. it seems smugglers always know what they are doing. Law enforcers are usually outnumbered, unless they have specific information. Besides, in many places police cannot shoot because they may be prosecuted later for firing. In this case, law enforcer appeared to be quite courageous.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your story did just fine standing by itself, especially to anyone who has read lots of British novels, as I have 🙂 But the explanation was most interesting, and clarified the characters. Well done.


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