A soft tinkling sound could be heard as she attempted to unlock the front door which stood before her. The keys she had been given were of an odd nature. Misshapen into forms she had not seen before. From the sounds they made as they fell against one another she wondered if possibly they were made of silver. She could barely recall the last time she had stepped foot into Bayless Manor. She could not have been more than possibly 5. It had been James’ birthday. His 7th to be exact. It had been a grand party. Although it had been a birthday party for a 7 year old boy, few children were in attendance.
The guests were made up of older men dressed in long flowing robes. She had not been allowed to attend the party. She was required to stay in the kitchen area with her mother and the few other women who were present. She remembered not caring to much of the outcome as she was allowed to eat all the sugar cookies and drink all the fresh lemonade she could want. She remembered her mother crying softly in the corner at one time and her grandmother sternly shaking her finger at her. She did not hear what was said to her mother yet as time passed it was an event that she would witness often between the two of them.
Finally the right key was placed into the lock which securely held the world out of Bayless Manor. As she turned the key, she could feel the tumblers inside the lock give way. Slowly she pushed the large door open and stepped into the entrance. Although the many years passed could easily be seen, the beauty was present also. The flowing staircase before her led its way up to the second floor where its’ pattern continued along the railing that circled the entire view. She was not certain, but the color and grain of the wood appeared to be of a like she had not seen before. Sunlight shone through a great cathedral window which was positioned directly above the entry. It broke into fragments, forming prisms of multicolored light which danced across the floor like small fairies.
Sitting her one suitcase on the floor beside her, she was startled by a loud noise. She had assumed the manor was empty as she had not been told otherwise. She grabbed a large candlestick which sat on a table not far from where she had stood and began to walk down the hallway towards the unidentified noise. Again the noise sounded. Frightened yet determined to find its cause, she continued. As she reached the door to where its origin seemed to be she could now hear a more subtle sound and what she thought to be singing. It was a woman’s voice yet the words were unrecognizable to her.
She slowly pushed the door inward, candlestick in hand. Standing at a wooden work table was a frail looking older woman. Her hair was white with slight hints of what used to be red. As she looked up, her eyes of bright green danced like those of a young girl. Flour dust was in the air and covered the table. By her surroundings she assumed she had entered the kitchen.
“Gracie you’ve come home.” The old woman dusted her hand off on her apron and walked towards her at a pace that for her was probably a run. As the old woman embraced her she was confused. This woman knew her, she called her by name, yet Grace did not know who she was. When the woman realized from Grace’s lack of response that she did not know who she was, she quickly pulled back. The old woman’s eyes did not look as young now that she stood before Grace so closely. It was obvious that she was a woman of many years.
“I am sorry.” She spoke. “It has been so long; of course you don’t remember me. It’s Millie; I tended you often when you were a wee child.” Grace smiled although she did not remember any of what the old woman spoke of. The old woman continued, “I tended the manor while James was its keeper and stay still after his passing. It is and always has been my home, I hope you don’t mind.”
Grace was glad to have someone there. She had many questions and it would be helpful to have someone who was familiar with the home to show her around. You must be exhausted, Millie stated as she took Grace by the arm and led her from the kitchen. I have made your room ready for you. Come I will show you where it is. The old woman led Grace up the flowing staircase she had admired earlier. As they reached the top a turn to their right led them to the east wing of the Manor. Stopping at a door not far down the hall, Millie stopped before opening the door and spoke. This was your mother’s favorite room. She loved how it overlooked the garden and how the early morning sun would shine in and wake her each morning. With that said the door opened to reveal a beautiful sun filled room.
As Grace walked to the center of the room, it felt as if she was inside a moment in time, a moment of the past. Lace curtains fell from the windows which opened up to the garden below, fresh flowers sat in the crystal vase next to the bed, a beautiful tiffany style land sat on the opposite side. The large 4 posted bed between the two stood inviting Grace to rest. I will call you for dinner, Millie said as she closed the door behind her. Grace’s drive had been long and sleep sounded good. She kicked off her shoes and lay on the soft pillows. Her eyes closed and she was gone.