Dan Matiwane, while not vain or overly concerned with appearances, spent a certain amount of thought on fashion. He had been allowed to ignore it as a boy (he had been running loose on the Wild Coast as a boy, and it would have been reckless to give him clothes that were too good), but wearing better clothing had recently become important because, as a distinguished gentleman, he was expected to look the part.

In any case, outfits could not be thrown together easily. As a result, Dan always made sure to lay out his clothes for the evening in the morning in order to make sure he had the entire outfit, and that it was well put together. Then he would have his brother, Simon, check it out (or rather, Simon would insist on checking it out because he claimed Dan’s fashion sense was completely terrible), then he would leave it lying on his bed for the rest of the day while he attended to do other things. He knew that evening attire was not suitable for the morning or the afternoon.

On one particular night, things did not proceed the way they usually did. Dan had laid out his clothes in the morning, and it consisted of a white shirt, a blue waistcoat (in order to match Nolwazi’s recent surge of blue dresses, even though no one would know that), a black coat, and pair of pants. Simon then peeked at the clothes and, seeing a familiar pairing, shrugged and said Dan was getting slightly better at living a civilised life. When Simon was done, Dan left the outfit completely alone all day.

But, when Dan went back to check on his outfit later that evening, he found the waistcoat, coat, pants, and shoes all there – he even found the cravat and pocket square still there – but the shirt was gone.

Dan, of course, had a lot of white shirts. But, when he chose a new one to wear, Simon complained that the shirt he had ended up choosing was eggshell white, and that it was not as nice as the snowier white he had chosen earlier. But it was a matter of little importance because no one at the gala noticed that evening, and Dan figured that the other shirt would turn up eventually.

The following night, which was a Saturday night and the second night in a row, another one of Dan’s shirts went missing. It was a cream one that time, but the eggshell white shirt had also gone missing in the washer. The laundry lady said it was none of her doing, and she said she had never received the shirt, even though Dan was almost certain that she had.

Dan thought it was petty to interrogate the staff over the issue, so he did not worry too much about it. He had at least twenty five white shirts, not to mention a number of shirts in brighter colours for less formal occasions – including red shirts, yellow shirts, green shirts, and even a few in dark blue and black ones. So, he thought it did not matter.

The problem was, the same thing happened that Sunday as well. His white shirt for the night went missing, which took down the number of shirts he had to twenty two white shirts. It was becoming a pattern.

Dan thought it over during the evening. “Things go missing at the hotel all the time,” said a little voice in his head. Then another voice, which sounded a lot like the General Manager’s daughter, fourteen-year-old Isabella, whispered too. “When things go wrong at the Aquamarine, there’s only ever one cause …”

But, even as he was thinking, Dan knew that it was all ridiculous. The ghost of Jefferson Mangena, their dearly departed Hotelier, had no reason to be stealing hiss shirts. They barely even knew each other.

There were a few things that Dan knew about the Aquamarine Ghost:

Firstly, Dan knew that he was real, and that was more than many people knew. Many people said he was simply a superstition, although a potent one considering the hold his name had on the staff. Others who had received certain notes from him knew better, but even they did not know whether he was a simple prankster, a dangerous criminal, or in fact a ghost.

Dan, on the other hand, knew a little more than that. The ghost was a man, and moreover, a man named Jefferson, and Nolwazi had told him a good deal about him.

Apparently, the man had at first lied to Nolwazi. He had claimed to be the Angel of Aquamarine that her father had often spoke of. However, after a couple weeks of the lie, he revealed his true colours. He was in actual fact a ghost, dreadfully lonely, and even more dreadfully clever. He was haunting the hotel because he feared society and humanity, and that was because he was deformed with a face that looked more like a honey badger’s. He had revealed himself to her, one evening, or so she claimed.

Nolwazi had hesitated a bit when telling Dan the part about the man revealing himself to her, so Dan felt like she might be leaving something out. But he allowed her to tell him only what she wished to.


Tell us: Do you think Jefferson, The Ghost of Aquamarine, is real, like how Nolwazi and Dan think he is?