Prologue: When the Hands Meet at Twelve

"I wish to make very clear to all who have cast eyes upon this narrative that, unless some occasion arises that will necessitate the public disclosure of such information as I have penned here, it will remain solely for the eyes of my family. I should not see the names of my forbears sullied, and it would not do for any of my progeny to be deprived of their inheritance.

Nonetheless, although I have thus far attempted to lend as little credence as I can to the tales of horror that attach themselves to the family properties, there is one warning that I bid the men of Alton heed. Death will come when the Hands meet at Twelve. I have enough knowledge of affairs that I would not presume to contradict my own assertion, and although I am a God-fearing gentleman, I must be forgiven my superstitions in this regard."

John Alastair Murray Huntington, Marquess of Alton, Earl of Winchester, baron March
London, 1724