When we first walked into the house, it was like walking into a fantasy land. The house was utterly beautiful, and we could not believe our eyes when we saw it. The front porch was the first room that we entered. It was full of lively paintings, up the stairs, paintings of various different people. As I looked around the bright room, I saw that there was very little else but many paintings. These pictures were obviously very important to the owner of the house.
"This is incredible!" said Victoria.
"Try spending seventeen years here", replied Miss Douthwaite, who did not smile in the slightest.
Victoria was wandering round the front porch, looking at all of the paintings. She noticed a painting of a man and a small child, and she stood there, staring at it. She seemed so amazed at that particular picture that she froze there.
"What's so special about that painting?" I asked her.
"What? Oh, nothing", replied Victoria, "I just like how they were painted with such perfection". Victoria has always been a keen art admirer.
"That's the Lord of the house. His name was Robert", said Miss Douthwaite.
"And is this his daughter?" asked Victoria.
"Are they here today?"
"Oh, no. Sadly, the Lord died just before I came here to work for the Lady. He died not long after that portrait was painted. The child is also dead".
"What a shame! That's awful! How did she die?" I asked, not expecting the reply that Miss Douthwaite had just given me.
"I have no idea. She also died just before I came here".
"So both of them died within a short period of time of each other?" I asked with great interest.
"Yes. I know, it's very sad, isn't it?" replied Miss Douthwaite.
"It must have been awful on the lady".
"Yes, and also, Lady Violet's sister, Lucille, had also died before her husband and daughter. All that's left of the family is Violet and her cousin, Mary".
Although it was very sad, I was also intrigued by the fact that three people had died within months of each other. I thought it was rather strange. I was about to ask what had happened to them, but I was interupted by Lady Violet entering the room.
She wore a green, silk dress, and she stood near the top of the stairs, looking as though she wanted to make herself stand out. She appeared to be very pretentious of herself. When she saw Victoria and I, she appeared to have sadness in her eyes. I would also look like that if almost all of my family had died early. She did not seem to get over these deaths, despite the fact that it was almost two decades later. She must have been like that for all these years, I thought. Lady Violet just stood there and stared at us for about ten seconds, and the she said, "thank you, Joan", to Miss Douthwaite.
Miss Douthwaite walked away, and Lady Violet spoke to us.
"So, do you want to use my telephone?" she asked, suddenly changing her dreary look into apparent enthusiasm.
"Yes, please", Victoria said, "and thank you very much".
"There's no need to thank me", replied Violet, trying to make herself appear as kind and caring as possible.
She showed us to where the telephone was in her lounge upstairs. On the way there, she said to us, "so, I heard you had a crash".
"That's right", said Victoria, "and it looks like we're stuck here until help arrives".
"I think you may be here a while", replied Violet, "there is nothing out here for miles except this house and us".
"But help will come?"
"It might, but it might not. Do you know who to telephone?"
"Then how are you going to use my telephone?" said Violet, suddenly snapping at us.
"I don't know, but we might be stuck out here for a while unless we do".
"I'll ask John who to telephone. He should be in here".
I tried to picture John in my head. So far, all of the employees in here seemed to be above 50, so I assumed John would be no different.
My assumption was right. When we entered the room, we saw John, the butler. Like Miss Douthwaite, he looked like he was in his 60s. In the lounge, there were three people: the butler, a woman and a man who both appeared to be married. The woman was fairly young looking, but the man looked twice her age.
"Who are you?" asked the woman, in a stereotypically British accent.
"My name is Victoria, and this is Janet", my friend said, "we've been in an accident, and we would like some help. Lady Violet has kindly allowed us to use her telephone".
"It's right here", replied John, pointing to the telephone.
"Do you know who we can call?" asked Victoria.
"As a matter of fact, I have a friend who deals with these sort of things", the butler replied, picking up the phone and dialling a number.
Then something unexpected happened.
"What on Earth?" said John, trying the number again.
"What is it?" said Victoria, looking puzzled about what had happened to the telephone.
"Something's happened to the telephone! I can't get it to work!"
"Are you sure it won't work?"
"I've tried it twice, and I can't hear anything!"
"That is strange", replied the woman, taking a sip out of her cup of tea.
"You'll have to report it to Lady Violet", said the man.
"Oh, whatever shall we do?" said the woman, trying not to sound too sarcastic.
"Are we going to be alright?" said Victoria.
"Probably. My cousin will probably let you stay here until Monday, when Miss Douthwaite goes into town. My cousin is very nice, you know". When she said that, her facial expression changed, like she was excited to be talking about her cousin.
"Well, we're very lucky for that, aren't we, Janet?" said an eager Victoria.
"Yes", I agreed, not wanting to express my real opinion about these people who I had just met.
"Is there anything else you would require, my lady?" John asked.
"No, I'm alright", replied the woman, "what about you, Tim?"
"I'm not having anything if you aren't", replied Tim, gazing at the woman with a loving stare.
"Actually, I have an idea. When do you leave?" I asked.
"We're staying here for another couple of weeks", replied the woman, "why?"
"Janet and I have money. Perhaps you could give us a lift?"
"Actually", replied Tim, "neither Mary nor I can drive. Miss Douthwaite gave us a lift here".
"Well, can't Miss Douthwaite give us a lift?" I asked, trying to talk my way out of staying in the house.
"No. She's always too busy round here, poor thing", replied Mary, again trying her best to sound sympathetic, not sarcastic.
"Anyway, Janet. We might as well pay Lady Violet to stay here. We can think things through while we're here", said Victoria. It was just like Victoria to want to stay in a place like this. She was always up for trying out new things.
"Good idea", replied Mary, "anyway, Violet is swimming in cash! She does not need any more money!"
What Mary had just said made me wonder about why she said it. I had established that Mary was potentially a very complicated character, and that she was jealous of Violet and her money. Mary had unintentionally hinted to us that she wanted Violet's life, and she seemed to be excited whenever she mentioned Violet. I began to suspect that there was something else to this. Additionally, when Mary said that, I thought about how Violet's wealth probably made her even more unhappy. This mansion must have been where all of her memories were made, and now that her husband, her sister and her daughter died here, it must have been awful to live here. I wanted to ask to find out more about these deaths, but I did not want to upset anyone. I could not get past the feeling that there was something mysterious about these deaths; it was just too strange for three deaths to happen in such a short period of time. I had only been through the front door for five minutes, even less than that, and my mind was lured into wanting to learn more.
I looked at Mary and her husband. They did not look like the typical husband and wife - quite the opposite. Although she came across as a fairly nice person, I was beginning to become suspiscious of Mary. I also thought that about her husband, and I began to wonder if he had just married her for the money.
I looked around the room a little bit more, and I noticed a fairly perculiar photograph. It was a photograph of Violet. She was wearing the same clothing as what she had on the present day, except she was wearing purple dress a pearl necklace, and she was with another man. It was strange because the man in the photograph was different to the one in the portrait that I saw as we came into the house. Would Violet remarry? In the background, I noticed that there was a small girl, and she looked just like the one in the portrait, only younger. I began to have thoughts, and things did not add up. If the man in that photograph was the girl's real father, which he appeared to be, who was the man in the portrait? I thought it was very weird that Violet had dozens of photographs pinned up in every room that I had been in. I assumed that it would be like that for the others, as well. Victoria did not notice these photographs - instead, she decided to chat to Violet.
"It's a wonderful house you have here", Victoria said to Violet.
"I don't get that a lot", Violet replied, "so, you're from America then?"
"Yes. I have lived there all my life, and this is my first time out of the country. Quite a disastrous one, really".
"Quite. So, what is your job?"
"I don't have a job at the moment, but I want to become a Historian. I like to study historical events so I can teach people about them. I really enjoy the beauty of it", Victoria replied with great enthusiasm.
"Well, I'm sorry to say, but you can't study anything in my house. I do not allow that", replied Violet, putting her foot down immediately.
"Oh, I know. I had no intentions to. Janet and I came here to see the sights in the museums. Do you know where the Great Mining Memorial Museum is?" said Victoria, trying to change
the subject because she was worried that Violet would kick them out of the house for no apparent reason.
"I've never heard of it in my life. It can't be round here".
"We seemed to get lost on the way".
"It would appear. So, how did you manage to crash right next to my house?"
"Well, I'm used to driving on the right, and I got rather confused when I had to drive on the left".
"What's so confusing about it?"
"I don't know. It just is. Anyway, I crashed into a tree about half a mile away from here".
"And you saw my mansion and you wanted to get help from here?"
"Yes. Now we are going to be in serious debt".
"Well, don't think I'm going to be giving you money! My grandfather worked hard for this!" said Violet, beginning to get very angry. She was an incredibly complicated woman - her personality repeatedly changed every few seconds. One moment, she was nice and friendly, but the next, she was angry and spiteful, and then it changed back to her nice personality, and so on.
"I didn't mean that. I'm sorry if it sounded like that", said Victoria, trying her best to calm Violet down.
"Anyway, feel free to explore the house, but don't take anything! My maid and butler will be watching both of you like a hawk! One last thing, you can go into any room except for the one next to my bedroom. You can't go in there!"
"Why not?" I asked, feeling like I should say something.
"That doesn't matter. You just can't go in there. You got that?"
"Yes, we have", I said.
When Violet told us not to go into that room, I immediately felt curious about what was in there. Could she be holding a secret that nobody wanted to know? This house was becoming more interesting by the minute.
After speaking to Victoria, Violet walked back into the lounge and asked John for a glass of her favourite wine, Blue Nun.
"What are we supposed to do now?" asked Victoria.
"Well, she said we can feel free to explore the house", I replied.
"But first", said Miss Douthwaite, listening to our conversation, "let me show you to your rooms".
"How long have you been stood there?" asked Victoria, extremely surprised.
"It seems like hours when she's around", replied Miss Douthwaite, giving us that dull expression.
© Copyright 2016 declan mckimm. All rights reserved.
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