I was about to start reading Abby Ann’s story, when there was a knock at the door. It was Aunt Bea. I wondered how she manage to put such outrageous outfits together. On the other hand, they suited her. She was through the door before I had a chance to invite her in. There was a wheelchair ramp, so she hadn’t had to climb stairs, yet she was totally breathless.
“What can I do for you Aunt Bea?” I asked. “Can I get you something? Maybe a glass of water?”
She shook her head no, then took a minute to catch her breath. “I must speak with you about something of major importance.” She said.
“Of course,” I said. “What has you so distraught Aunt Beatrice?”
She moved from the wheelchair to a chair near me. She was barely talking above a whisper, as if she feared someone would hear.
“It’s about my brother Charles. He’s been coming down from the tower again. Oh dear, you don’t know he’s mad do you? He’s absolutely loco! ” she looked at me as if to see if I was grasping what she was trying to tell me. “He has a nurse who is to keep him sedated so he will stay in the tower.”
“I have no previous knowledge of My Uncle’s state of mind,”I said. “What do you mean when you say he’s coming down from the tower again? What does he do that concerns you so much?”
“Oh dear,” she sighed, “I think I need to go back in time a bit. Please try to keep up with what I’m telling you.”
“Charles and I inherited the estate from our parents. Our sister, your mother, wanted nothing to do with any of us. Charles has always been somewhat strange, but not in a malicious way.” Aunt Bea looked away, as if she was trying to decide how to help me understand her dilema. “Charles was married for a brief period of time. He and his wife had a daughter, Belle who was raised here until she turned sixteen; at which time her Mother took her abroad to complete her education. Neither of them came back, which devastated Charles. “Oh dear,” she fanned herself, ” I believe I will have some water, if you don’t mind?”
This could take awhile, I thought, as I went to get her water.
Refreshed, she went on. “Several years later, Charles learned he had a granddaughter. His daughter Belle, who would be about your age now, married a Mr. Anders. They had one child, Amanda. One day Charles received word that Amanda was being sent to him. She arrived a week later with a governess. She was only 3 yrs old. We never learned why she was sent here, or what became of her parents, and Grandmother.”
“Charles was devoted to Amanda. She was a delight and everyone loved her. Charles even built a small school on the grounds. There were five children including Amanda. It was a boarding school of sorts. Charles awarded scholarships to less fortunate children. They resided here during the school year, and went to their various homes during the summer months.”
“Where was the school Aunt Bea?”I asked.
“Oh my,” Aunt Bea looked as if all the blood had drained from her face. I helped her lie down on the setee and got her a cold cloth.
I could barely here her answer.”It’s inside the wrought-iron fence,”
“Do you need a Dr. Aunt Bea?” I asked. She didn’t answer me.