All of us took turns looking at the portrait of the woman over the fireplace. Whoever painted it did a beautiful job, but it is only signed with initials, C.B., and that does not really help. It is a painting of Lydia’s grandmother, the original owner of this house. It is mainly her head and shoulders in the portrait with a very old style dress, something that looks out of place considering the age of the painting. The woman is very beautiful, with long light brown hair and green eyes. I started getting a headache again so we went back to the hotel.
While driving back several pictures flashed in my mind, but none of them made any sense, except they were all from that old house. Or maybe they are from a different old house. I cannot think right now. I went to sleep quickly, and morning arrived quickly as well. Carine, Jennifer, Kristina, Candace and the cats came with me on our first visit of the day. Carine stared at the painting. So did I for a bit…then it hit me and I told Carine to stand under the portrait.
Candace and Kristina spoke up at the same time, “that is Carine!” It was true, that painting looked exactly like Carine, I do not know how I could have missed that before. “Does it have initials C.B. on the painting?”, Carine asked. “Yes, it does,” I answered. Carine smiled, “that is my great grandmother, the initials are not the painter, but are her initials, Carine Blanchet, I am named after her. She had come to America long ago because of some argument in the family and everyone lost touch with her. Now, here she is.”
“Wow, this is amazing,” said Kristina. “That would mean the painting is older than we thought,” said Jennifer. “Yes, that is true,” I answered, “and obviously it was not Lydia’s grandmother like she thought.” “Listen,” said Carine. Sure enough, it was that groaning again, but fainter this time. MC and Kristina look inside the walk in fireplace. Kristina noticed an unusual brick near the bottom and pushed on it with her toe. A very narrow door opened at the back of the fireplace with stairs going down, likely to the basement.
“Hold it Kristina,” I said, “you cannot go by yourself, and I do not want all of us to go either. So Kristina, Muffin and I will check it out.” “It might be better for me to go Steve,” said Jenny. “Not this time Jenny,” I said, “Muffin and I know things about this place so we need to go along and Kristina found the door so she should go too.” “Okay, but you be careful, all of you,” she said, “Muffin, you look after Steve.” “I will look after him too,” said Kristina, “with my life if necessary.” Jennifer smiled at her, then off we went down these narrow stairs.
Kristina went first and I told her to watch the steps carefully. When she stepped on the 6th step, the door closed and locked behind us. Meow,meow.=We should have thought that would happen. “Yes Muffin,” I said, “and it is a steel door too. Well, keep going Kristina.” Down we went to the bottom, but instead of going to the basement there was a narrow passage with a door at the end. Kristina opened it and there was what looked like a bedroom. There were candles in the room so there must be some kind of ventilation system in here to bring in fresh air, it certainly did smell okay in here.
Why would someone have a bedroom down here? We all looked around but did not find anything unusual. Meow,meow.=Basement on other side of that wall. “Yes Muffin, you are right about that,” I said, “so why not just have a door from the basement into here?” “Someone wanted a safe place to hide,” said Kristina, “or perhaps a place to hide something.” Meanwhile…Jennifer had called Kat and her and Rock were on their way very quickly. When Rock got there Jenny showed him where the door was located and he went to work.
It did not take him very long and he had the door removed, but he was too big to fit into the passage, so he called to us and we came back up right away. Everyone was there now and we pointed out the fact that it was Carine’s great grandmother. “Now that is an amazing connection,” said Baldwin. “Steve, look at the folds in her dress,” said Carine, “what do you see?” “Now why did I not see that before?”, I asked, “it is so plain.” Right then I dropped to the floor, that pain in my head was back. Annelie gave me a shot of medicine that Chung had given her for me, since she is a nurse too. Those pictures were flashing in my mind again…
To Be Continued.
©2022 Steve McLeod.