The old woman was escorted into the country pub by a local estate agent, who had noticed her leaning against a gravestone in the adjacent churchyard, in an obvious state of distress.
Seating her next to the log fire in the pub, he went to the bar to buy her a sweet sherry, and as she waited, she fell into a reverie whilst staring into the flames.
She had not been into any pub for many years, and the smell of various spirits, beer and cigar smoke brought back memories of Christmases spent at home during far-off childhood.
She had entered the church in the hope of gleaning some missing information about that childhood, and - for want of proper genealogical records - thought that names and inscriptions on stones and tablets there might throw some light on her family, who had lived in the area for generations.
Distracted by the half-open door to the tower, she had climbed the tightly spiralling, medieval, stone steps until she found herself - breathless - in a tiny room at the very top. A butterfly battered itself against a dirty, leaded window, but since the window did not open, she could not help it to escape.
She had noticed some strange and incongruous objects in the little room - things which looked as though they had been there long before the church, which seemed to have been built around them in mid-air.
Suddenly, she was filled with a nameless dread, and desired nothing more than to escape into the fresh air outside, but had to descend the seemingly endless spiral staircase in order to reach it. Speed was impossible without a fatal tumble, so by the time she reached the bottom again, she was ready to run as fast as her ancient legs would take her, out into the sunshine of the graveyard. It was then that the estate agent saw her, leaning against a tomb and breathing heavily.
As she sat and waited for her sherry, she abstractedly watched the soft firelight playing against the polished surfaces of horse-brasses, which were hung on leather strips either side the inglenook. She started to admire them, and wished that the owner of the home at which she was housekeeper would have admired them as much as she did, so that she too could have a few sets hanging up near his hearth.
Then she though better of it, realising that - as housekeeper - it would her and her alone who would be responsible for their maintenance, and the polishing of brasses would only add to her workload, which included the weekly polishing of all the silverware, whether used or not.
It was as she began to consider the possibility of coating all the household metalware in some sort of varnish that she first noticed the creature, sitting harmlessly amongst the flames of the log fire, staring at her with inhuman hatred as it waited for her to take notice.
As soon as she had looked into it's dark, malevolent eyes, the creature began to insult and abuse her with foul language, calling her names which she did not want to even acknowledge as part of her known vocabulary, but had herself - long ago - shouted and screamed out whilst coming round from the general anaesthetic of a minor, surgical operation, much to the amusement of the nurses on duty at the time.
She bade the creature to show some respect for her age and sex, but the being simply replied that - compared to him - she was a new-born child in terms of years, then continued his vehement invective.
The estate agent looked over from the bar and noticed that the old woman was talking to herself. He recognised her as the housekeeper of one of his clients, and vowed to himself to return her there safely after she had finished her sherry.
As he walked across the room with her drink, the fire let out a sharp crack, and a fat ember flew from one of the logs and burnt a hole through her thick stockings and into her leg. She let out a loud scream, and the creature disappeared.
Making small-talk in the aftermath was difficult for both her and the estate agent, but what she knew that he did not, was that this was only the beginning.
Without outside help, she would punished for an accident which had nothing to do with her, and the punishment would continue until the end of her days.