Manor by the Sea

   It’s a windy day, and the beach is shrouded in mist. All tourists are shut up in
their hotel rooms, cursing the bad weather. Not a soul can be seen through the
fog, but Caleb wants to go to the beach, and I must oblige. I can just barely see his
blonde head bobbing along the gentle slope down to the cold water of Auror’s
Cove. I remember when our little seaside town was virtually empty except for its
inhabitants, but now it is one of the biggest tourist attractions on the coast.
   “Grandpa, Grandpa!”  Caleb’s voice pulls me out of my thoughts.
   “Yes, what’s up?”
   “Momma said that I have to make sure that you don’t space out. She says old
people get very forgetful. Why is that?” Caleb asks inquisitively,
  
  “It’s nothing, your momma’s just worrying herself for no reason. You know how
she gets.”
   In the short span of time it took me to respond, Caleb has already moved on to
the next thing, which happens to be the carcass of what clearly used to be a
glamorous manor on a cliff not far off. Though the grand dome has halfway
sunken into the house, you can tell that someone rich lived in this old building.
The paint is cracked and peeling, in some places you can see that it has
completely decayed, showing the rotten wood holding the whole thing together. I
can tell that the salty air has not helped preserve this wonder from the golden
days. Bandits must have pillaged the estate at one point because many windows
are broken, and there are doors missing on the side facing us.
   I remember when I was young, how us kids would run in the woods surrounding
the ghost of a home; boasting about how one day we would prove our valor by
spending the night in the manor. We never did, all of our bravery lost, once we
heard how the wind whistled through the big building.
   “Grandpa, who lives in that old house? It’s really big and ugly.”
   “Well Caleb, I could tell you, but you’ll have to listen to the whole story. You
think you can do that? It’s quite a tale you know,”
   Caleb’s eyes widen, his favorite thing in the world is a good story. Second only
to bothering his momma.
   “Yes! I can listen! Please tell me the story Grandpa, please!”
   By now he’s hopping about, filling with anticipation.
   “Alright, alright, hold on to your pants, you look like you’re about to float away!”
   “Just start the story already!”
   “Kids these days are so impatient. Okay,
                                                            ***
   It all started in 1875 when a young man hailing from Hiram, Maine, named
Alexander Rothschild made a few good business deals and struck it rich in Boston.
With his newfound wealth, he decided to invest in the stock markets. Clearly it was
a good idea, because soon he had more than three times the amount he had
gained in his first few years as an entrepreneur.
   He met a beautiful young woman named Marianne Weaver. Alexander fell in
love, they got married and had three kids, Benjamin, Rachelle, and Howard.
Marianne was determined to give her kids the highest education possible, so she
enrolled them all in Du Pont’s Academy for Gifted Children, a large and fancy
school for the rich and powerful, situated in South Wales.
                                                              ***
   “This is boring, skip to the good part!”
   “Caleb, be patient.”
***
   Sending them to boarding school ensured that the siblings grew to be very
close. With his strong athletic build, Benjamin became the school’s star rugby
player. Rachelle won many awards for her talents in the choir, her piercing blue
eyes and even more surprising soprano blowing the judges away. Howard
exceeded in his studies, becoming one of Du Pont’s most gifted students.
   After they graduated, they returned home at their parents' request. Alexander,
who was getting a bit older, decided that it was time to move away from the city,
for his health. He uprooted the whole family, and moved to Auror’s Cove, a cute
little seaside town near the New Hampshire border. They moved into a grand
manor  overlooking the sea from a cliff. It occupied twenty acres and a garden.
The manor itself was a royal dark green, it had two turrets on the side with stained
glass that depicted knights slaying dragons and saving damsels.
   Alexander spent the remainder of his life in that house, with Marianne, and his
kids. After the death of their parents, Benjamin, Rachelle, and Howard became the
owners of the manor. Eventually, Benjamin decided to travel across Europe and
Asia, and settled in southern Italy with a smart young lady from a wealthy family,
and had several children. Rachelle met a handsome man from the south who
swept her off her feet and brought her home with him. Only Howard stayed in the
manor.
   He married a sweet little seamstress named Annabelle. She was not rich by any
means, but she loved him, and he loved her. They stayed together in the manor.
Sadly, Annabelle died while giving birth to Minerva, the last of the Rothschild
family left in Auror’s Cove.
                                                              ***
   “Ughhhhhhhhhhh.”
   “Caleb! Hush now. You were the one who wanted me to tell the story so you’re
going to listen to it. Now where was I? Ah yes,”
                                  ***
   Minerva was the last proprietor of the Rothschild Manor. She would live in it all
her life, and she die in it.
   Minerva wasn’t so lucky as the past generations of her family. Her childhood
wasn’t bad, it was just sad and lonely.
   Howard was a very different man after his beloved Annabelle passed away.
Whenever she was near, he was loud and joyous, but after her death, he became
quiet, rarely ate and would take long walks by the sea. Howard tried to limit his
interactions with his daughter; her face reminded him of Annabelle and he couldn’t
bear to look in her eyes. But he couldn’t send her off to a boarding school. She
was the last piece of Annabelle, and he couldn’t fathom being away from her. So
he hired tutors from around the world to teach his child. Minerva learned algebra,
geometry, French, Latin, Italian, chemistry, biology, gardening, and much more.
   Minerva grew to be a strong willed, smart, determined young woman. She was
often found in the study, or the garden, reading. She made friends with the maids
and kitchen staff.
   When she was seventeen, she found herself the sole owner of twenty acres, a
manor, and fifteen house personnel. Her aunt offered to come and stay to help
out, but Minerva politely declined. She started up a gardening club for young
women in the area, which took up most of her time. Minerva was also a very
charitable person. She was well known for paying off people’s debts and helping
with education costs. Everyone in Auror’s Cove knew Minerva and they all loved
her.
   For a while Minerva prospered, the money flow was nice, and she lived very
comfortably. But then, The Great Depression struck. People were unemployed,
they lost their homes, and prices everywhere went down. The stock market
crashed, and with it, the Rothschild family fortune.
                                                            ***
   “Grandpa, what’s The Great Depression?”
   “It was a sad time for America in the early 20th century. Lots of people didn’t
have jobs and they didn’t have a lot of money. Now, do you want me to continue
or not?”
   “Continue, continue!”
                                                              ***
   All her life Minerva had never had to worry about money, and she was severely
unprepared for this calamity. Slowly, she had to let go of her entire house staff, as
she couldn’t afford to pay them anymore. And being left alone in a large house is
never a good thing for someone’s sanity.
   Minerva was under a lot of pressure. She was getting older, and everyone was
having enough trouble trying to keep their own families and fortunes afloat to even
bat an eye at her. She frantically looked for a solution to her worries.
   One day, she was walking around the backstreets of Boston after trying to
retrieve her retirement savings from a bank that had unfortunately shut its doors to
the public. Minerva bumped into a lanky, greasy looking man that had a long scar
snaking along the right side of his stubbled chin. His name was Slim, or at least
that was what everyone called him. This is how she came across Boston’s mafia.
Slim worked with the mafia, and he saw an opportunity to exploit a sheltered old
woman, so he took it.
   Slim may have been skinny and frail looking, but he was very dangerous, as
well as a great con artist. He pretended to care for Minerva, flattering her, and
giving her advice. He told her that the answer to all her problems was to complete
one little business transaction for him. He made it out to be a simple, law-abiding
plan. Of course, Slim was lying. He wanted Minerva to pay a gang of hit men some
money that the Boston mafia owed them for killing off a rival. Minerva easily
complied, too worried about her fortune to take a moment to think about the
catastrophe she was getting herself into.
   It all went down quite smoothly. Minerva, carrying a suitcase full of what she
thought were real dollars, arrived at the meeting point which was an abandoned
canning factory on the outskirts of Jamaica Plain, a notoriously dangerous area
full of gangsters and thieves. The hitmen arrived ten minutes later, as a signal that
everything was well; for now. Without a word, Minerva slid the suitcase over, and
walked out. Little did she know, the small case was filled with counterfeit money.
Slim had set her up in a trap.
                                                              ***
   “Ha Ha! The old lady was tricked!”
   “Caleb, I’m almost done, can you hold your comments till the end please?”
                                                               ***
   Naturally, the hitmen were pissed, their bounty was fake! So they decided to get
back at their traitor. As all hitmen do, these people had informants everywhere. It
didn’t take long for them to find out where Minerva lived.
   Late one night, they crawled through the windows of the sad manor, no one
was alerted, there was only one occupant in the house, after all. Right as the clock
struck midnight, a single shot echoed through the walls of Rothschild Manor.
Minerva was dead.
   It took several weeks for anyone to notice that she had died, everyone thought
she had shut herself up in the closed off estate. No one has claimed the house
since, and if they did, they’d have a heck of a lot of insurance issues to sort out.
                                The End.
                                    
                                                              ***
   “Grandpa, that was a boring story! And I’m thirsty” Caleb brings me back to
reality,
   “Really? I thought it was pretty good.”
   “The only part I liked was when the old lady got shot. Bang bang!” Caleb is
imitating a gun and is running in circles pretending to shoot gangsters and rich old
women.
   “Why don’t we go home and see your momma, then we’ll get you a nice drink.” I
try to calm him down,
   “Bang! Haha, I shot you Grandpa,”
   “Caleb, shooting people isn’t polite, you know, your momma isn’t gonna be
happy when she finds out about this.”
   “I’m sorry Grandpa, I won’t do it again, please don’t tell momma.”
   “Don’t tell me what exactly?”
   I turn around to see my daughter, April, standing with her hands on her hips,
trying for all the world to look mad. April couldn’t be serious if her life depended on
it. I love her so much.
   “April, what are you doing here? I thought you had work to do.”
   “I’m done with work for today Dad, and I’m allowed to see my son and his
grandpa if I want to,” she says with a smile playing on her lips,
   “Momma! Grandpa just finished telling me the worst story ever! And I’m thirsty,
so can we leave now?”
   “Hey you little rascal, it was a good story and you know it. C’mere so I can tickle
you to death!” I exclaim as I run towards him. Giggling, Caleb dashes up the path
to town.
   “Oh Dad, were you telling him that story about that old lady’s manor? I
remember when you told me, I really thought it was true! Such a bummer that the
bank took it away from her, they aren’t even doing anything with it.”
   April looks wistfully back at the manor, before running after Caleb.

~end~
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