When everyone discussed the events of those weeks afterwards, they all agreed that had it been anyone but Daisy then they would have believed her a lot sooner. After all, Daisy was Daisy and everyone knew that she was a bit too innocent, a bit too easily fooled. They thought it was Thomas playing a particularly mean-spirited trick or perhaps the result of an overactive imagination that had seen too many things while the house was filled with wounded soldiers during the War.
At first it was simple things that Daisy shrugged off. After all, who would believe that she kept hearing her name on the wind? Or that there were shadows that moved when everything was still?
Sometimes days went by and nothing happened. Daisy would convince herself that she was imagining everything.
Then, just at the very edge of hearing, she would hear something whisper “Daisy” in the silence of her tiny attic room or as she crossed a quiet, sun-lit field. Once the whisper was “Margaret”, a name that nobody in Downton ever used and a name that Daisy hadn’t heard since her mother died.
She caught sight of things just at the corner of her eye, but when she turned nothing was there. It frightened her. Daisy had heard of the places that people got sent when they saw or heard things that weren’t there and she was sure that she wasn’t insane.
She kept it all to herself even as she grew nervous and pale, or at least paler than normal, and she tried to pretend that it all had a perfectly rational explanation.
Then there came the day that Daisy saw the ghost properly the first time and it was impossible to pretend that nothing was happening. It was such an ordinary day, a Tuesday of no particular significance except maybe that Lady Mary had been particularly demanding and waspish. Daisy was carrying an enourmous armload of linens for Anna when, just ahead of her in the corridor, she caught sight of him.
He wore the olive green uniform that she remembered the soldiers wearing and his back was to her. Daisy was so surprised for a moment that she stopped dead in the corridor and Anna walked into her, distracting Daisy for a crucial moment. When she looked again the soldier was gone.
“Daisy!” Anna exclaimed. “Are you alright?”
“Did you see him?” Daisy asked, feeling slightly distracted.
“See who?” Anna asked.
“The...” Daisy trailed off, frowning. “You’ll say that I’m mad.”
“I won’t,” Anna promised.
“Yes, you will,” Daisy said miserably. “I must be.”
And then she burst into tears, which fell on the clean linen in her arms and for a few minutes Anna was so occupied with getting the linen safely away from Daisy and checking for tear-stains that they almost forgot what had caused it all to start with. The sight of the clean, white sheets that she had so nearly spoiled provoked more tears and Daisy only calmed down when Anna handed her a handkerchief and spent a few moments petting and murmuring to her.
“Now, why don’t we get all of this put away and then we’ll go down to the kitchen, shall we?” Anna said when the worst of it seemed to be over. “You can tell me all about it.”
Daisy nodded mutely and followed Anna downstairs. She sat at the table twisting the handkerchief into knots until Anna gave her a cup of tea, which didn’t calm her down but did at least save the handkerchief from complete ruin.
“Now, what’s it all about?” Anna asked.
“Nothing,” Daisy said.
“Nothing doesn’t make you cry on Lady Mary’s clean sheets and pillow-cases,” Anna said gently. “What’s wrong? I promise that I won’t think you’re mad.”
“Do you believe in...um...ghosts?” Daisy asked hesitantly.
Anna’s kind face did not immediately turn mocking, so Daisy felt encouraged.
“I mean, have you ever seen one?” Daisy continued. “Really seen one, not just pretend?”
“No,” Anna said, “but my aunt Meg did once. She said that he was sad, not frightening.”
“Is that what you saw?” Anna asked. “A ghost.”
Daisy shrugged and stared at her tea. “I don’t know. He looked like a solider. And...I think he’s, maybe, been calling to me. When I’m on my own. Do you think that I’m mad?”
“Of course not,” Anna said reassuringly. “If you’re mad then so is my aunt Meg and a lot of other people.”
For the first time in days, Daisy felt something relax inside. Anna seemed completely confident that nothing was wrong and she wasn’t going to be marched off to Bedlam.
“Now, we’d better get a scurry on or Mrs. Patmore will have us both out on our ears.”
Daisy jumped up, almost tipping her cup to the floor, and hurried to clear away and get the first pots, pans and ingredients out on the table for Mrs. Patmore.
“Mr Bates, do you believe in ghosts?” Anna asked that evening after Daisy had gone to bed and the kitchen was mostly empty.
Bates grinned. “Not as a general rule. Why?”
“Daisy is certain that she’s seeing one,” Anna said thoughtfully. “I tried to calm her down but...”
“It will be Thomas, playing tricks,” Bates said, anger tinting his voice. “I’ll have a word-”
“No, don’t,” Anna said. “Daisy is frightened enough. You know what Thomas is like when he’s cornered and he’s not a footman anymore.”
“He lives in this house, supposedly until he finds something more suitable. That doesn't mean he can be cruel,” Bates said.
“Leave it be, Mr Bates,” Anna said. “He’s only looking for a reaction.”
She was almost certain that Bates was right, but the innocent certainty and fear in Daisy’s eyes gave her a tiny doubt.
“I’ll keep an eye on her,” Anna said.
Daisy’s sense of reassurance lasted for several days. Even the faint whispers of her name, while they made her nervous, did not make her fear for her sanity. Anna smiled at her sometimes, a secret, comforting smile that made Daisy feel just that little bit less afraid.
She had almost convinced herself that everything would be fine when she saw him again.
Cleaning out the hearths had, for once, been a swift and easy job. Daisy was carrying her tools across the great hall when at the far end she saw a man in an olive green uniform. He was further away this time and just starting to turn towards her. Daisy could see blond hair under his cap and her heart stopped for a moment.
Then Mrs. Hughes appeared behind her sounding quite sharp and unhappy and Daisy was so startled that she dropped her bucket of ashes on the floor. In the confusion of cleaning up and Mrs. Hughes telling her off at length, the soldier disappeared.
Anna knew something was wrong as soon as Daisy appeared in the kitchen. The girl was pale, shaking, and made so many mistakes that Mrs. Patmore was reduced to fetching everything from the pantry herself and assigning Daisy only the simplest tasks possible. Stirring the soup for the downstairs staff proved to be the most advanced task she could successfully manage. Anna wanted to pull her aside and find out what had happened, but the entire staff were run off their feet due to the combination of unexpected dinner guests and Lady Violet so there was no time to do more than squeeze Daisy’s arm comfortingly as everyone rushed from task to task.
Daisy had already disappeared to bed by the time the staff sat down for a final cup of tea and Anna was distressed to learn that everyone had noticed Daisy’s behaviour.
“It’s been going on for weeks,” Mrs. Patmore said. “Just as I thought she was growing some sense, she’s getting worse than she was when she first arrived.”
“Anna, can you talk to her?” Mrs. Hughes asked. “I’m afraid that if I try, she’ll never confess to her true problems. You know how she can get."
Daisy’s room was in darkness, but Anna heard quiet sobbing when she stopped outside and Daisy responded with a muffled “Come in” when she knocked.
“Oh, Anna,” Daisy said as soon as the door opened.
Anna immediately went to sit on Daisy’s bed and let the younger girl cry on her shoulder for a minute before firmly sitting her upright.
“What happened?” Anna asked. “Everyone is worried.”
“He must be angry with me,” Daisy said. “He knows that I lied and he’s angry.”
“Who knows? What you do think that you lied about?”
It was as the words came out of her mouth that Anna realised who Daisy must be talking about. There was only one person that the girl had lied to and if she thought that she had seen a ghost...
“William,” Daisy said, sobbing again. “It must be him.”
“Have you seen...it...again?” Anna asked. “Are you sure it’s William?”
“Not sure certain,” Daisy said, "but I saw him again this morning - in the distance - and his hair was fair just like William’s.”
“But you don’t know for sure,” Anna said.
“No,” Daisy said reluctantly.
“Then maybe it isn’t,” Anna said. “There were other fair soldiers here.”
“How many of them died?” Daisy asked.
On that, Anna was caught. As far as she knew, no other soldier had died while they were at the house. Some had died when they returned to the front, but William was the only one who died in the house.
Of course, if she believed that it was William come back to haunt Daisy then she had to believe in ghosts and Anna was a practical girl. She believed that Daisy believed in ghosts, but for herself, well, it was never something that she had been completely convinced of one way or the other despite her aunt.
With nothing comforting to say and no words of wisdom that she thought Daisy might believe, all Anna could do was stay until Daisy finally fell asleep and then tip-toe out of her bedroom.
Afterwards everyone agreed that it was a good thing that everything came to a head the next day. Mrs. Patmore disagreed loudly at the time, but that was only because she dropped a perfectly roasted pheasant when she turned from the oven to find a ghost behind her.
He was obviously a ghost. There could be no other explanation for why the kitchen table could be seen through him and everyone agreed that he had appeared out of nothingness.
Mrs. Patmore’s shriek brought everyone running and they stopped to stare in amazement. Daisy pushed through the crowd and gave a tiny cry at the sight of him.
“You’re not William,” she whispered.
There were definite similarities and it was easy to see how Daisy might have become confused on seeing him from a distance, but this man was older and his face was lined with sadness. He opened his mouth and spoke, but no sound came.
“Oh,” said one of the maids quietly.
She was called Clarrie and she had arrived to work at the house shortly after the War began. Anna vaguely remembered that she had previously kept house for her brother and had come to them after he was called up.
Her memory was confirmed when Clarrie said, “It’s my brother. Oh, Daniel.”
The man held out a hand and Clarrie rushed to reach out to him, but her hand slid through his. Tears began silently streaming down her face.
“He wanted to say good-bye,” Daisy said numbly. “And I think he’s sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” Clarrie said, her face anguished. “He died, there’s no blame for it.”
“Sorry that he left you,” Daisy said. “That you had to find work to earn a living.”
“Then he’s very foolish,” Clarrie said. “I’ve been happier here in Downton than I could have thought possible. I have a purpose and good work.”
Some of the sadness seemed to leave the ghost’s face.
“That’s right, Daniel,” Clarrie said. “You shouldn’t worry about me. Go on somewhere else and be happy. Don’t keep frightening young Daisy.”
“I wasn’t that scared,” Daisy protested, but everyone ignored her.
The ghost seemed to pause for a moment and then he flickered and abruptly disappeared. The temperature in the kitchen seemed to rise a few degrees and that was when everyone realised just how cold the room had become despite the fires and the ovens.
There was a long moment where nobody was quite certain what to do and then Mrs. Hughes took charge and ordered tea for everyone, helped Mrs. Patmore to creatively stretch the remaining roasted pheasants for the family’s supper and quickly had the downstairs household so busy that they had no time to think too deeply until much later.
“Why do you think we could see the ghost today when it was only Daisy before?” Anna asked thoughtfully as the staff took care of final tasks and cups of tea before bed. “My aunt had the sight and we never saw anything that she saw.”
“I think he made us see him,” Daisy said. “Did you see how tired he was? It took everything he had."
“How did you know what he wanted?” Anna asked.
“I don’t know,” Daisy said. “I just...did.” A thought occurred to her. “Do you suppose there are other ghosts here?”
“If there are,” Anna said, “just tell us. We’ll believe you, I promise.”