Monday, December 17, 2012
Ten Years Later
Chapter Twenty Two
Ten Years Later
Tracy sat in her office looking out the window at the newly completed cabins on the east side of The Merryweather property.
“I think Millicent Merryweather Stout Harvey would approve of the addition,” said Holly as she walked into the room admiring the cabins herself.
“They do look nice, don't they? I love the awnings and Adirondack chairs on the porches. I'm glad we made the decision to expand.”
“Yes, we just filled the last vacancy for the week. The Village Theater has been such a boon to our business. We have a family coming from Maine and two reservations are Illinois residents. They all ask about our special theater package.”
“That was a good idea you had, Holly.”
“It was Steve's idea, he thinks everyone likes a bargain. Melanie said the performances are sold out for the rest of the week.”
“I can't wait to see the play. From what I hear, Lily Henderson nailed the part of the eccentric old lady.”
“She is wonderful, Hap does a good job as her son. Who ever thought he would catch the acting bug at his age?” Holly said. “Aggie told me he is having the time of his life. Sometimes I wish we weren't so busy around here, I would like to audition for a part one of these times.”
“You should, I'd be happy to watch the girls while you're gone. I think Melanie has limited the rehearsal times.”
“Maybe in the fall when Katie starts school. Right now I have enough to do with The Merryweather, the children and Steve to take care of. I took your advice and started looking for a housekeeper. I love the farmhouse, but it is so much work to keep it up. I would much prefer to spend my spare time with the Steve and the kids.”
“Shall we go check on the little darlings now? I hope Mark isn't tormenting the girls again,” Tracy said as she cringed.
A few years ago, The Merryweather added child care for staff who would otherwise not be able to afford to hire a babysitter. It worked out well for Tracy and Holly. They were able to be with their children throughout the day. Mark was seven and took pleasure in teasing his sister, Brooke. Kelli Burke was an added bonus for him. The girls were inseparable and he was able to get two for the price of one.
Samantha Mackenzie celebrated her sixteenth birthday the week before. It had been ten years since her mother and nanny, Julianna, stayed at the Merryweather. Samantha hadn't lost her sweetness, even through her preteens.
“Hi Tracy, Hi Holly. I'm here to drop off the twins. Mom is in the middle of rehearsal and they were begging to come to play with their friends.”
Melanie gave up her movie career when she fell in love with Camden Corners and Joe Mackenzie. Samantha's father had died in skiing accident when Samantha was very young. Shortly after Joe and Melanie were married, Joe adopted Samantha. Three more children were added to the family. Robbie was nine and twins, Luke and Staci were almost four.
“We haven't seen your mother in a long time. She is so busy with the theater. How is the play coming along?”
“Pretty well, Mom is very busy with it. Mr. Logan has recruited some of the younger boys to help paint the scenery. He is trying to keep them out of trouble this summer. Seems they are getting restless. I know Robbie has been teasing the little guys lately, but now that he's working with Mr. & Mrs. Logan, he is settling down.”
“Sounds like Andy is heaven sent. How can I sign Mark up?” said Tracy. “He needs a break from his sister for awhile.”
“I'm going over there from here. I'll take Mark with me. He will be occupied for a few hours this afternoon.”
“Thanks Samantha. That would help greatly. I don't think Mark would ever admit it but he will be glad when school starts again next month.”
“So will I,” said Samantha. “I thought I'd be able to sleep in this summer, but Mom won't let me. She finds things for me to do.”
Mark happily went off with Samantha. He was glad to be doing something that his sister wasn't allowed to do and he made sure she knew it.
“Mark, you are doing a wonderful job with your painting,” said Andy Logan. He and Heather were watching him closely.
“He is a regular little artist, Andy. I wonder if Tracy knows just how talented he is,” whispered Heather.
“Hello Mark,” Lily Henderson came over to where he was painting. “That is a lovely picture. Why don't you tell me about it?”
“It's the haunted house on the other side of the bend by the lake. My dad and I rode our bikes there last weekend. He says it isn't haunted, just needs some love. I wanted to look inside, but Dad said it was too dangerous,” Mark explained to Lily.
“I don't think I've ever been inside a haunted house. Maybe we could go together. My son, Walter would go with us. He's not afraid of ghosts.” She patted Mark on the head and wondered how she was going to convince Walter to explore the place with them.
“Lily, I think we are done rehearsing for the day. Grace will be by any minute to pick you up,” said Melanie. “I think I'll pop in on the twins. Andy, will you be alright here with the boys?”
“Sure, and I have Heather to protect me if they give me any trouble,” he chuckled.
“Mama, I don't think you should have promised the boy we would explore that house over on Beach Road,” said Walter when his mother brought up the subject at dinnertime. “I'm sure the way the wind blows over there in the wintertime that those floor boards aren't the safest.”
“We would be careful. I told little Mark that you weren't afraid of ghosts but I'm not too sure about that now,” Lily said with a pout on her face.
For the most part, Lily didn't show the effects of the brain injury she suffered long ago. Dr. Hammond warned she may become anxious and sulky when she was over tired. It didn't happen often, but it was happening now.
“Maybe you should lie down for a rest after we eat, Mama. You seem a bit tired tonight,” said Walter.
“Sure, get rid of the old lady when she doesn't do what you want her to. Walter, you are just as cruel to me as George was.”
Grace spoke up. “Lily, you don't mean that, Walter loves you very much. He doesn't want you to be hurt in that old house. Maybe tomorrow we can call someone to give us a tour of the place. I wouldn't mind seeing it myself.”
“I'm going to bed! You don't need to bother, Grace. If you don't do what Walter says he will probably get rid of you too.”
Lily marched off to bed and closed the door behind her. She knew she was acting childish, but couldn't help it. I want to see the house and they aren't going to stop me, she thought to herself.
Lily was in much better spirits the next morning. She hadn't forgotten about the haunted house but she was going to keep her plan to herself.
“I'd like to go to the library this morning, Walter. Maybe you could drop me off on your way to work,” said Lily.
“The library doesn't open until 9:00, Lily. I'll be glad to take you on my way to Jamie's. We are shopping for decorations for Belinda's shower on Saturday. You are more than welcome to come with us,” said Grace. She was relieved Lily's disposition had changed. She knew it bothered Walter when his mother was out of sorts. She was usually so even tempered.
“I won't be able to this morning, dear. I told Eve Mason I'd help her make signs for the book drive,” Lily had rehearsed exactly what she would tell her son and daughter-in-law. She prided herself on being a good actress when it counted.
When Lily got to the library, she put her plan into action. She looked up the history of Camden Corners and discovered there was a house on Beach Avenue that was built in the 1800s. It was the first house built close to the lake. She asked Eve Mason where she might find information on houses built in that time period. Eve was ever so helpful and showed Lily exactly where to look. The very first article was written almost two years ago. It showed a picture of the house and gave the address. At that time there was talk of demolishing it but the city council was dragging their feet on the project. Lily was happy they were so slow because now she and Mark would be able to explore the old place. What an adventure this would be.
She wanted to check the house to be sure it was safe and then she would ask Tracy if she and Mark could investigate to see if it was really haunted.
Lily followed the directions on the map. She knew the house was on the same street where Aggie and Hap lived. She didn't realize it was quite as far from the library. She stopped under an oak tree and rested for awhile before she turned just beyond the bend. There it was. What a beautiful old house. I think Jack Crowley was right, it does need love, she thought to herself.
Lily walked to the front door but it didn't open. She went around to the side and with a little push, she managed to get into the house. Now she was getting a little nervous. Maybe it was haunted after all. She walked into a room she thought must be the butler's pantry. Suddenly there was a creaking noise coming from upstairs. The place must be haunted. Wait until I tell Mark he was right.
“Hello Mr. Ghost, come out wherever you are,” Lily called. A minute later she was looking into the ice blue eyes of a huge stranger.
“What do you want?” the stranger said in a gruff voice.
Lily started to shake and then remembered she wasn't afraid of ghosts. “My name is Lily Lamont Henderson. I am a star on Broadway. Well, maybe not a star yet, but I will be someday.”
“Lady if you aren't a star by now, I don't think you will ever be one,” the stranger laughed. “You didn't answer me, what do you want and why are you here?”
“No need to shout at me! Are you a ghost? You don't look like one.”
“Of course I'm not a ghost. My name is Lester P. Hemingway. My son made me go to an old folks home. He doesn't think I can take care of myself, but I'll show him. I was about to have some breakfast, would you care to join me madam?”
“Oh dear, I have already had my breakfast but I will take a sip of that coffee. How did you make it without electricity?”
“I didn't make it, I swiped it,” Lester laughed. He was very proud that he was a thief as well as a trespasser. The hospital on the next block is very generous with the coffee for people in the waiting room. When nobody is looking I fill up this container and have enough coffee to last all morning. Don't worry though, I always leave a nickel on the table.”
“A nickel for a whole container of coffee isn't very much,” chided Lily
“It's more than enough for this coffee. Wait until you taste it.”
“Did you swipe the muffins too?”
“No, I paid for them. The market over on Elm has day old bakery products. I buy a package every other day.”
“You should come to my son's house. His wife Grace is a very good cook. She is much better at it than I am but then she isn't a Broadway star either.”
“I thought you weren't a Broadway star yet.”
“I'm not, but I will be soon.”
They both laughed.
“That was fun Jamie,” Grace said as they put away the decorations they bought that morning. “I always like spending time with my daughter and planning for my other daughter's shower makes it even more special. I think I'll call Eve Mason to see if your grandmother is through helping her.”
“Hi Eve, it's Grace. Is Lily ready to be picked up?”
“Lily isn't here Grace. She was earlier this morning. She was looking up information on old houses in Camden Corners. What a dear lady she is. She was very determined to find all the information we had on the old Penderghast place. She said she was doing research for her next play.”
“You say she left around 10:00?” Grace tried to hide the panic she felt. “Thanks Eve.”
“Mother, what's wrong? Where's Grandma?” cried Jamie.
“I don't know. She left the library at 10:00. It's after noon, Jamie, she has been gone for over two hours. I know she can't walk that far. I have to call Walter.”
Walter called Sheriff Ben Murphy to meet him at the old house. “This is such a long walk from the library, Ben. I don't know how she could have walked this far. It must be over a mile.”
“We'll check here first, Walter. She may have stopped in at any one of the houses along the way and just lost track of time.”
Ben opened the door of the old house. He hoped the floor would hold up. Walter followed Ben just as Grace and Jamie pulled into the driveway.
“Look Dad, the side door is open,” Jamie shouted. “Mother and I will check in here.”
They walked into the butler's pantry and spotted Lily sound asleep next to an old gentleman who was snoring away peacefully.
Walter raised his voice, “Mother, what are you doing? Who is this man?”
“My goodness, Walter, stop that yelling. Lester and I were just resting our eyes. It was a long walk from the library and Lester walked all the way to the hospital for coffee this morning. We are not getting any younger and we need to take forty winks once in awhile.”
Sheriff Murphy asked Lester if he had any identification. He recalled seeing a bulletin that an elderly man had walked away from a nursing home in the next town. He wouldn't be surprised if this was the missing gentlemen.
“Sheriff, my name is Lester P. Hemingway. I don't have identification because my son took my driver's license away and then dumped me in that old folks home. I am not going back there. Arrest me if you must but I refuse to go to that awful place. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”
“I'm sure you are, Mr. Hemingway, but I can't let you stay here. You are breaking the law by trespassing. Your son is very worried about you. May I call him and tell him you are safe?”
“Oh, he doesn't care. He'll just send me away again.”
“Walter,” Lily said with a sheepish grin,“could Lester come live in our house. I know he wouldn't be any trouble and I like him.”
Walter was speechless. His mother wanted a roommate. He looked at his wife who was trying to hold back her laughter. His daughter wasn't much help either, she was hiding behind her mother and giggling.
“I think we'd better invite Mr. Hemingway home for lunch, Walter. There is no telling what these two crazy kids will do if we try to keep them apart,” Grace said as she hugged Lily.
“You are a big help Grace. Alright, but it's only for lunch, Mama. I want to talk with Mr. Hemingway's son.”
“Thank you, Walt. I'd be much appreciative. You wouldn't have any corned beef on hand now would you? I've had a hankering for a corned beef on light rye. A cold beer might be nice too. None of that light stuff though.”
“Anything else we can get for you Les? Wouldn't want you to go away dissatisfied,” Walter was beginning to like this old gent in spite of himself. He smiled as he watched his mother walk hand in hand out the door with Lester P. Hemingway.