Hey everyone! Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are enjoying your day. Today I thought I would share with you a small story. Because Thanksgiving and cold weather need a little story, right? So, I hope you enjoy and have a wonderful day!
It all started three weeks before Pavo Day…
Leaves were scattered all along Maple Tree Lane. The wind smelled like burnt firewood. Clouds were building upon the dark horizon. A slow and steady step echoed down the halls of Mason Manor. A Shadow crept along the walls. Slowly making its way towards the study the Shadow crept slowly and cautiously. With a bolt towards the door, the shadow entered the dark study, and with lightning speed it made its way out with a large black rustling bag, unnoticed by humanity.
The Shadow was unaware of two dancing and twinkling eyes spying through a half-closed door.
Inside the parlor of Mason Manor sat Mr. Müller slowly rocking back and forth in his squeaky rocking chair. A long white shawl served as a blanket as he slowly read the paper he was holding. Impatiently he rubbed his forehead and adjusted his silver spectacles. There was no doubt about it. Great Mr. Müller (Mr. Müller’s father) had made this his last and final Will. After 50 years of being lost it had been discovered. The contents where unmistakeable. There was no doubt about it. As plain as ink, the Will stated that all possessions of the deceased would be passed down to… But no! Impossible. Mr. Müller paced up and down the room dropping the Will on a nearby table. He refused to believe it. His father would never pass down his precious possessions to Him! Impossible. Careless, irresponsible, what was Father thinking when he wrote this Will. Never! In all his years Mr. Müller had never seen anything so scandalous. To give your possessions to someone so reckless was unthinkable. Father knew this. Then why, pray, had he written this down? No! Whatever it might take, Mr. Müller was determined to get to the bottom of this. His father was a sane man when he left the world behind, and never in a million years would a sane man do something so outrageous.
On the second floor, Master Jackson was reading a book on History when Miss Lindsey entered and interrupted his quiet study.
“Did you hear?” She asked her brother.
“Hear what?” Jack said uninterested.
“Why, about Great Grandfather’s Will.”
“What about it?” He asked, turning from his book.
“Everything’s going to Uncle Theodore, you know. And Grandfather is so outraged. Knowing how reckless he is. Grandfather claims it’s a mistake. Great Grandpa never liked Uncle Theodore, they say. So it mustn’t be right. You know what I think?” Here Miss Lindsey stopped for a breath, “I think the Will got swapped.”
Jack looked at his ten-year-old sister. “What makes you think that?” He asked.
“Well, the writing is different and-“
“What?” Jack interrupted. “Grandfather never lets anybody see the Will, how do you know?”
“I only took a peek when he left the parlor.” Lindsey said, “Anyway, the writing is different. And you’ll never guess what.”
Jack rolled his eyes. “What?”
“Before they read the Will last Tuesday I saw someone in the study.” She said in a whisper.
“So what?” Jack asked exasperated.
“Don’t you know anything?” She said taking a seat across from Jack, “Grandfather kept the Will inside his safe in the study that night, I saw him put it in. After he left he closed the door. Anyway, I went to the cellar for some jelly for Martha who made bread that night for supper. I was coming out when I heard a noise and peeked around the hall. And you wouldn’t guess what I saw!”
“What?” Jack asked still in disbelief.
“I saw a man carrying a bag coming out of the study.” Lindsey’s eyes glowed.
“Can you think of anything the man might’ve been stealing?” Jack asked interested.
“It sounded like papers shuffling.”
“Did you recognize him?” Jack asked starting to get an idea.
Lindsey nodded solemnly.
The night was dark and cold as the wind rustled outside the windows. Jack had a feeling this was a bad idea. How did Lindsey ever succeed in making him do this kind of stuff? Her plan was to sneak the Will out of the parlor and compare the writing with Great Grandfather’s writing. Then she would be able to prove that someone had swapped the Will.
Jack had been waiting in the dark hallway for hours it seemed. Grandfather was still in the parlor. He could hear him pace around the carpet. It was pointless. Jack was tired. If he stood there another minute he would fall asleep and get caught in the morning. Feeling miserable he was about to turn away when heard steps behind him. He froze in place. The steps were heading down into the study. Quickly he followed soundlessly. A door squeaked ever so softly. As Jack reached the head of the stairway he saw a shadow creeping along the steps. Suddenly the shadow pulled out a key and opened the door to Grandfather’s study. Carefully Jack crept down and peeked into the dark room. He could barely make out the shadow as it opened Grandfather’s safe and put in a pile of papers.
Why did he do that? Jack wondered. If he had been a burglar, he would’ve taken papers out of the safe, not in. Jack quickly hid in the shadows as the stranger came out of the study locking it as he went. Jack crept out of the shadows bewildered. Whoever this man was, he had a key to the house and he knew when everyone would be asleep. If what Lindsey had said was right, then this man was either stealing for Uncle Theodore or he was Uncle Theodore. Things were getting weirder by the minute.
Jack went back upstairs like a ghost and quietly entered Lindsey’s room. Just like he thought, she was wide awake waiting for him.
“Well?” She asked in a whisper. “Did you find the Will?”
“No, Grandpa was in the parlor. While I was waiting for him to leave I saw someone go into the study. Whoever it was put a lot of papers in Grandpa’s safe, he had the key.”
“I knew something was up,” Lindsey said excitedly as she crept out of bed. “I bet Uncle Theodore just wants the money so badly he will likely do anything to get it.”
“But we don’t know for sure that it was Uncle Theodore who stole the true Will,” Jack said.
“But I saw him sneaking out of the study. I know it has to be him. After all, nobody likes him.”
“But how are we ever going to prove it?”
“We have to find the real Will.” Lindsey said in a mysterious whisper.
“The real Will?”
“Of course. They said they had finally found it after 50 years. But maybe they only found the false Will. Who knows? The real Will might still be lost.”
Jack snapped his fingers. “Capital idea, Lin. We have got to find it before Uncle Theodore gets his hands on the money.”
“We only have until next week. The lawyer will be coming then.” Lindsey said.
“We’ll find it,” Jackson said confidently. “I have a feeling I know just where to start looking.” There was a far-away look in his eyes.
The wind was howling through the trees as Jack and Lindsey walked through the dark forest.
“Do you even know where you’re going?” Lindsey asked.
“Of course I do. Remember the Old Lady who lives in the small hut at the end of our property? Well, she is the oldest person around here, I bet we can get our information out of her.”
“But how do you even know her?” Lindsey asked.
“Well, when our parents died there was a lot of time to explore around here. You were just a baby. I guess I was lonely. Anyway, I once found her hut and she became my friend. I call her Aunt Sally.”
“How come you never visit her anymore?”
“Well, one day Uncle Theodore caught me walking towards her house, and he forbid me to go there again.”
“Sneaky,” Lindsey whispered.
“Yeah, that’s why I think Aunt Sally might know something about this Will business.”
After a long and silent trek through the thick shrubbery and noisy leaves, Jack and Lindsey finally arrived on top of a hill where they could make out the faint outline of a small hut in the valley below. The sweet smell of chimney smoke arose as they neared the place. The hut had a wooden roof and flower boxes at the windows. It was just like a fairy house where a kind Grandma lived.
As the kids approached the door swung open and a small plump lady with a clean blue dress came running out and hugged Jack. Lindsey just stared at her with wide eyes. She was the nicest old lady she had ever seen.
“Well my child,” she exclaimed, “what brings you young’uns o’er dis way?”
“We need your help, Aunt Sally.”
“Why, dat Uncle o’ your’n causin’ more trubl?” She asked.
“Well, sort of,” Jack said. “Oh, this is Lindsey.” He said turning to his sister.
Aunt Sally gave her an equally big hug.
“Lordy, how you’ve grown child!” She exclaimed. “I remember when you was a wee one. Crawlin’ all o’er de place.” She said as she stared at Lindsey in wonder. Then with a shake of the head, she said, “Where are my manners? Do come in and grab yourselves a cookie or three. They’re fresh as apples.”
They all went inside and sat by a warm fireplace as Aunt Sally fetched them a glass of milk and a plate full of cookies. After eating until they were stuffed, Jack looked at Aunt Sally.
“Well, what be dis business you come fur?” Aunt Sally asked reading his thoughts.
“Well, it’s about Great-Grandpa Müller’s will.” Jack began. “Since you used to know him when you were a young, we thought we might get answers from you.”
“You thought right my child, but I ain’t gonna meddle in nobody’s business without proper permission.” She said.
“It’s important Aunt Sally. If we don’t find out the truth before next week, well, everything will go to Uncle Theodore.”
“Lawsy!” Aunt Sally exclaimed with a start. “You mean they’ve found the Will at last?”
“Well, mighty purty hullabaloo this’ll make.”
“It already has.” Lindsey said for the first time, “Grandpa is outraged!”
“He might as well be. He wanted all to go to your daddy ‘fore he died. See everythin’ settled ‘fore then.”
“Please Aunt Sally, will you tell us the story?” Jack pleaded.
“What story, child?” Aunt Sally asked trying to evade the question.
“You know what I mean Aunt Sally. And both Lin and I know this Will is a fraud.”
“Oh well, if I must I must. I reckon the time has come.” She gave a sigh. “Your great-grandpa was a great friend o’ mine. He was at least fifteen years older dan me, but he loved meeting people. You can say that from the furst we were great pals. He was like me big brother. Anyway, I remember him talking ‘bout how he didn’t want your grandpa to get everything at de end. He knew your grandpa was wealthy ‘nough with all your grandma’s money after she died. So he thought ‘bout your daddy. He had a special likin’ to him, and his days where drawin’ to a close. So at de end, he confided in me an said, ‘Sal, my days are drawing to an end and my son is well provided for. He is also getting on in years, and I would like all my money to go to someone worthy.’ So den he decided to give all to your daddy. The Will was finished de day just ‘fore your parents had de accident.
“Your great-grandpa knew dat if he didn’t do something, t’would all go to Theodore. Now, Theodore was already a scoundrel by den and your great-grandpa, he was sorry to see his ways. So he says, ‘Sal, don’t go on telling everybody. This has to be a secret to keep the child safe. But I’m giving every penny to Jack when he is old enough. I’ll be gone by then, buy the child and the property will be safe from Theodore.’” Aunt Sally stopped and looked at Jack’s pale face. “Well,” she continued, “‘bout dat time your uncle was twenty, and you was just one. Li’l Lin here was just born. Dat was why your great-grandpa didn’t want nobody but me to know. He wanted you young’uns to be safe from your Uncle. So dat be de truth ‘bout dat Will. Your great-grandpa died a week afterward.” Aunt Sally finished her story and the room stood in silence.
“But then what about the Will they found? And if what Lin says is right, about someone swapping the Will, then there must be a third Will, the real one.” Jack said.
“Aye, me child.” Aunt Sally said.
“So, if Uncle Theodore found he was disinherited, he had a fake Will made. The Will they found was the will that gave everything to my dad. And the real will that is missing is the one that gave everything to me!” Jack said as revelation poured all over him. His face was pale as he realized that all would one day be given to him and that Uncle Theodore might want his neck if he found out.
“But then we have to find the real Will before next week!” Lindsey exclaimed in dismay. “And we will have to give it to the judge when they read it aloud. That way they will have to take Uncle Theodore away for what he did. And that way Jack’ll be safe.” She said in one breath.
They looked at her in surprise. “When did you learn so much?” Jack questioned.
“You can learn a lot if you can read.” She said.
“Now we just have to find the real Will,” Jack said. “Only it will take ages. The house is huge. And we only have a few days.”
Aunt Sally sighed as she rose from her chair. She quietly walked across the room to a shelf against the wall. She slowly opened it as the children watched her. Slowly she reached for a dusty old book. Carefully she brought it down and turned the pages until she reached a place marked with a yellow envelope. She returned and handed the envelope to Jack.
“Here you go, Master Jackson. One day you’ll have what is rightfully yours.” She said solemnly.
Jack slowly opened the envelope, and behold, he found the true Will.
It was raining the day the judge arrived. Everyone had gathered for the final reading of the Will. Uncle Theodore had a smug look on his face. Grandfather was pale and worried. The children just sat in a corner looking at the proceeding.
The judge began reading the document. The legal talk was tiresome. Grandfather couldn’t stop fidgeting. Finally, the moment came, but before the judge pronounced a name before the signing began, the door swung open. All heads turned. At the door was an old lady dressed in blue accompanied by an elderly and elegantly dressed man.
“What does this mean?” Uncle Theodore shouted.
Everyone started as Aunt Sally quietly made her way to the center of the room and placed the real Will on the table. The old man accompanying her spoke.
“My name is William Greenwik, the former lawyer of Great Mr. Müller.” Uncle Theodore turned pale. “I present to you the last and final testament of the deceased, Great Mr. Müller.”
“Good heavens!” Grandfather said. “What is the meaning of this? What have you to do with anything Aunt Sally?”
Aunt Sally quietly related her story as Uncle Theodore fidgeted with his tie. Both lawyers looked at each other as the story was told.
“But why then,” the younger lawyer asked, “are there three Wills?”
“One,” Mr. Greenwik said, “was the first Will, giving it all to Eric, the youngest son. The second is the fake Will, made by this man present.” He said turning to Uncle Theodore who was very red by now. “And third, the final Will, which I made, and was entrusted to this woman for the protection of these children.”
They all stood in silence. Finally, the younger lawyer spoke.
“Mr. Müller, having heard this evidence, the final and sole heir to Müller Manor and all that comes with it is Jackson Müller, son to Eric Müller, grandson to Mr. Müller, great-grandson to Great Mr. Müller.”
“And this man,” Mr. Greenwik said turning to Theodore, “will have the decency to accompany me.”
Days passed in a flutter and confusion mingled with joy as the matter was legally arranged. Grandfather Müller, who lived twenty more years, was given sole guardianship of Master Jackson until he came of age. And Aunt Sally was welcomed as one of the household.
Years passed and Mr. Müller died, but Müller Manor stood erect and safe. Guarded and protected by a noble soul.
Have a great day!