The Danish modern armchairs, the sleek new dining set, and paintings from unknown abstract artists blended cleverly with the carved mahogany end tables and enameled lamps, the needlepoint cushions worked by nimble fingers, the porcelain figurines and brass fittings from a hundred and then some years ago.
Nate and Dorothy loved their home and spent many early married years sifting
through treasures left behind by Butterfield ancestors. "There
was a murder here,
you understand," warned Nate. "Or at least a scandalous suicide. Another dead step-aunt I never knew, quite tragic."
"Did she die for love? What happened?" Dorothy studied Nate's face to see if he was light-hearted or serious about this family mystery.
"No one ever really talked about it," said Nate "but I did pick up bits here and there. She was young, only 18, I think, and took up with the wrong sort of young man for the times, maybe a Mexican or an Indian boy. They lynched him, or he escaped, that part's not clear. She died upstairs, in the tower."
"Here? In this house!"
"Yes, I told you that dear, when we learned of Auntie's Will."
Dorothy thought a moment. "I do remember. It's just different now that we're here, to imagine it actually happening upstairs. How sad."
"My mother always said it was a fever. That she died of a fever, complicated by a broken heart."
"Her name was Pearl, wasn't it?" asked Dorothy, hoping to prompt a bit more information from her new husband.
"Yes, Pearl and Lily, the two belles of Bears River. Pearl perished young; Lily persevered and left us this big heap full of bric-a-brac and ghosts. Boo!" yelled Nate, and Dorothy ran, giggling, as he chased her around the brand-new dining room table.