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Agnes at 18, before leaving for Radcliffe. Photographs of her are more scarce as she gets older.

Agnes Downes Bristol (b. 21 June 1901), born Agnes Mabel Parker, is a 3-time widow and Maundbury resident.

Agnes was born the second child (her brother, William Jr., was born in 1890) and only daughter of Anna and William Parker, moderately well-to-do tailor from Atlanta, Georgia. She was known for being talkative and popular, though with the ability to get lost in her own thoughts. Agnes left the South and attended Radcliffe College starting in 1919; she had dropped out by 1922, because the speakeasies in Boston were more interesting than the books in Cambridge. At one of these illegal gatherings she (called Aggie by her rough-and-tumble friends) met her first husband, Lewis Downes; she has been quoted as saying, "The night I met Lou, my life changed-- and it was only with him that it was for the better."

In the fall of 1922, after a whirlwind courtship and hasty marriage, Lewis and Agnes Downes moved to downtown Boston, to experience the joys of Prohibition that were now just outside their door. All their friends said the Downeses were a happy family, and Agnes never regretted leaving school and the South behind for him. Both young people fell into alcoholism, though Agnes wouldn't admit it until years later. Downes worked in a restaurant that hosted illicit parties in the evenings, and it was after one of these parties that Downes met his end.

On the night of 2 September, 1923, both severely intoxicated, the couple got into their Roadster, Downes planning to drive his wife the short distance home. Less than halfway there, their automobile careened into a parked car and then the storefront behind. No passerby were hurt and there was no significant damage to the deli the car hit, but the other car was totalled, Agnes broke her collarbone, and Lewis was killed after being ejected from the car. After the death of her first husband (and the only one she'd really loved, she would say in her old age), Agnes never again touched a drop of alcohol, and even worked to shut down speakeasies during the remainder of Prohibition.

In the spring of 1924, the child Agnes had unknowingly been carrying at the time of the accident was born. Charles Lewis Downes was the apple of his mother's eye, and Agnes did her best to raise him on a meagre seamstress salary. She mourned her late husband for almost ten years, often refusing to speak with anyone that wasn't her son or a customer; she had broken ties with all her old friends and was still often ridiculed because of the accident.

But in 1930, Agnes met her second husband, Arthur Pembroke (1896-1938). He was a quiet, stern shop-owner from a town called Maundbury, come to Boston on business. Their relationship progressed slowly (in a later police report, Charles said he'd told his mother he didn't "want a new Papa, 'specially this scary one.") but Agnes was swayed by his strong charms. By 1933 she and Charles had left Boston and moved up to Maundbury. Agnes was then legally Agnes Downes Pembroke, leaving her married name as her middle name.

Maundbury changed Arthur, or at least let Agnes see his true colours. It started with yelling, especially about how Agnes would muss the dishes or leave the tap on-- she didn't do these things, but hadn't the heart to tell him. Then he wouldn't allow her to leave the house, except to help him in his shop, to deliver the sewings she'd done, or to send Charles to school. Agnes agreed, if only because it seemed stranger things were going on out in town than the occasional noise or bump in their house. But as the years wore on, Arthur got more violent, and the once-happy Agnes got more reclusive and sank into the comfort of their small but somehow-cosy home.

Once Lillian Pembroke was born in the winter of 1935, the situation reached its head. Arthur had left Charles alone, for reasons still unknown to Agnes, but the women in his life he abused brutally. Daily, while her son was at school, Arthur beat Agnes and refused little Lillian food or attention. Agnes went without letting Charles know for as long as possible, making up excuses and wearing heavy make-up around her son. She stayed only for Lillian, and because somehow, through no decision of her own, Maundbury was home. Something strange kept her in the town.

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Only known photograph of Lillian Adelle Pembroke, 1936.

Perhaps it was this same "something strange" that caused Arthur to attack Agnes with a knife while she was feeding Lillian on 30 November, 1938. The knife caused a deep cut across her cheek and throat, but then Agnes was able to fight him off and run to the kitchen. Pembroke met her, ripping Lillian away and tossing the child on the floor; the most Agnes would ever say about the death of her daughter was that "she went all grey and didn't cry any more." When Agnes, sobbing, asked her wild husband what he was doing and why, his response was, "They told me to. It's this place. It's them."

Somehow, Agnes was able to turn the knife on Arthur and slit his throat. When Charles arrived home from school, he immediately called the police. Agnes was found curled up on the kitchen floor, holding Lillian's body while Pembroke was crumpled at her feet. Every faucet in the home was on, and several plates were found broken but undisturbed. There was a small investigation and a discussion of sending Agnes to Saint Mary's, but the whole affair was hushed and Agnes allowed to live without blame, especially once WWII started and thoughts shifted away from the middle-aged woman.

Charles, traumatized by the events, ran away at 17 and joined the army. He was subsequently killed somewhere in France in 1943, without Agnes ever seeing him again. Agnes was distraught and wore mourning for two years, because (other than the wedding ring she wore on a chain around her neck) Charles was all she had left of Downes.

The happenings in the home continued. Numerous plumbers came to inspect why the water would come on without provocation, but the best excuse they could find was "faulty plumbing" due to the home's age. One day just before the news was shared that Charles was dead, Agnes called the police to report a break-in to her home; she said a dark shadow seemed to follow her all through the house. Officer Josiah Bristol (1908-1950?) searched the home and found nothing, but promised to keep watch for her, as he was somehow endeared to and interested by Agnes.

Bristol sat outside her house every day for two months, watching to make sure that no one unsuspected entered the home. Agnes slowly started coming out of her shell again (though she was but a sliver of who she used to be) and would often sit out with Bristol, just watching. She never told him about the lights she saw flashing in the attic; it wouldn't do to bother him. The watch continued three times a week for the next year and a half. After that, in 1945, Bristol asked Agnes to marry him; there was no pomp and circumstance, though it is recorded that Bristol, seven years Agnes' junior, had told his mother that he had fallen in love with the strange woman and intended to marry her, if only for convenience.
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The last known photograph of Agnes and Josiah Bristol, taken on their wedding day in 1945.

Even once she was a Bristol, Agnes kept Downes as her middle name, but tried to forget all about the Pembroke era of her life. She and Bristol lived comfortably-- they were not passionate, but they made due. Bristol continued to report the small "incidents" that happened in the home, such as lights flickering into darkness and voices seeming to speak of a "them." According to Agnes, Bristol didn't necessarily believe anything was going on, but played along to appease her; it worked.

The last day Agnes or any other citizen of Maundbury saw Josiah Bristol was 4 March, 1950. He was last seen walking into Telemark Forest with nothing but the clothing on his back, and no trace of him has been found since. Some say he couldn't deal with his eccentric wife any longer and skipped town, while others speak in whispers of how "ol' Agnes did another one in." Still others (such as Agnes herself) believe that something sinister killed him.

After Bristol's disappearance, Agnes finally sold her house and moved to a smaller place with no history of violence or mystery. Whenever people attempt to speak to her, she either declines or eventually falls into rambling about how her second and third husbands died because they were not up to par with the love of her life. She also speaks of the paranormal experiences of her previous home, though cannot pinpoint a cause other than, she says, demons. Agnes now lives on the outskirts of Maundbury, growing old and waiting for the time she can be reunited with Lewis again.

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