Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gadget Finds A Home (a story)

                                                               By Bethany Canaan

   The dusty, black, model T pulled up in front of an old house. It was rather imposing looking, with its three stories towering over the front lawn, and the grand looking columns that held up both the front porch and second story balcony. David Conroy got out of the automobile, followed by his wife, Gloria, and two teenaged children, Alistair and Mildred. It had been a long, hot drive from Chicago. The only possessions they had brought along were in trunks, strapped to the back of their vehicle. They had been told that the house was fully furnished, and they had no need of their own furniture, which would have only filled a small portion of the huge house since they had lived in an apartment in the city.
   The man removed his bowler hat and wiped the sweat from his brow. “Well, here we are!” he said, forcing a cheerful smile.
   His wife smiled genuinely in return. “It’s beautiful David! It just needs a little tender loving care”
   “…And a machete for the front weeds. I can’t even tell where the walk way is to the porch!”
  “Alistair!” the girl glared at her brother.
  “Hey! Don’t look at me! I’m just making the observation. Dad, if your uncle could afford a house like this, don’t you think he could have at least hired a gardener?”
  “Well son, he wasn’t the wisest with how he spent his money, and the little that he had left when he died went to the lawyer who drew up his will.”
   “So we came all this way for a big, “free” house that we’ll have to pay to fix up?”
   “I’m sure we can do most of the work ourselves. But the main reason for moving out here was to get away from the city. It just wasn’t the place your mother and I wanted you to grow up in. So when your great uncle died, and left me this house, we thought it was a good opportunity”  
   Mr. Conroy had just finished unfastening the straps that held the trunks onto the back of the vehicle, and was about to bring them up to the house when…
  “Mr. Conroy! Looks like I caught you at the perfect time” It was a young man. He was in his mid twenties and dressed in a gray, pinstriped suit.
   “I’m Julian Harford, your Uncle’s Lawyer, there are just a few papers to sign and the house is yours!”
    Mr. Conroy turned to his family. “You can go up to the house; I’ll meet you there in a minute or two”
  “Here!” the lawyer held up a set of keys. “These will open the front door, side door, back door, garage door, there’s a key for every door. Catch!” he tossed the keys to Alistair, who caught them, then ran up to the front porch to unlock the door for his mother and sister.
   The door let out a protesting groan as Alistair pushed it open, and Mildred and Mrs. Conroy walked through.
   Before they started to unpack, Mr. and Mrs. Conroy took the car downtown to pick up some groceries so Mrs. Conroy could have a hot supper for the family after the rest of them had finished unpacking. Alistair and Mildred were left alone in the house and the first thing they wanted to do was choose their bedrooms.
   The big house had many bedrooms, on both the second and third floor. One was the master suite but the rest were up for grabs.
  “I want the bedroom that opens up onto the balcony!” Millie called out, running up the stairs.
  “I think that one will be Mother and Father’s!” Alistair called up after her.
  Alistair knew which room he wanted too, he just had to find it. From the outside of the house he could see that one of the third story rooms was connected to the turret on the north side of the house, so he headed up the second stair case, to the upper level of the house.
  He walked down the hall, opened each door along the way and looked in, even though he knew that “his” room would be towards the end.
    He was right. The last room was a corner bedroom, with windows on the north and east side, plus an area that opened up into the turret. All the rooms were lavishly furnished, and this one was no exception. The large four poster bed that was against one wall was surrounded by a heavy, red velvet canopy, a little to much for Alistair’s taste, but… it did look comfy. And a large mahogany wardrobe stood opposite it. In the turret was a high-backed chair and end table, a perfect reading nook, he thought, and a good look out. From the turret windows, one could see all the way across town!
   Alistair went back down stairs to get his things, and just as he was about to head back upstairs, the doorbell rang.
   Hearing it for the first time took him off guard as the series of chimes resounded through the large entryway. Through the stained glass panes in the door, he could see multiple figures.
   “Hello! And welcome to the neighborhood!” A middle aged woman holding a large basket greeted him. Besides her stood two girls, one about Millie’s age, one a little older, and a rather sullen looking boy who appeared to be close to Alistair’s age.
   “Hello” Alistair replied politely
   “You must be one of the Conroy’s children, are your parents at home?”
    “They had to go to the store… but they’ll be back soon. I’m Alistair” He held out his hand, and then drew it back. “Silly”, he thought, “she can’t shake hands when she’s holding that basket”
  The women smiled, then gave her son a nudge. He reluctantly stuck out his hand, which Alistair then shook.
    “That, is my son Corwyn,” the women said, introducing her children “And my daughters Cornelia” The older one smiled “And Abigail” the younger one also smiled, and curtsied slightly. All of the children had blond hair, and Corwyn and Cornelia’s hair was especially curly.
   “I am Mrs. Hartford, we live just down the street and I though you might like some supper” she passed the basket to Alistair, who could smell something delicious inside.
   “Thank you! I’m sure we will all appreciated this! I didn’t realize anyone knew about us moving in today”
   “My oldest son Julian told me and since we live just down the street…”
   “Julian Hartford? The lawyer?”
    “Yes. Well, we had better get going and leave you to your unpacking, but let your mother know I stopped by and tell her when you are settled in, we’ll have tea together” With that, the Hartfords left.
  Alistair brought the basket of food into the kitchen, and set in on the table. Opening the lid only made the smells more intense as he pulled out a roast chicken, a bowl of mashed potatoes, a dish of glazed carrots, and a strawberry pie, each carefully packaged.
    “Who was that?” Millie asked, following the good smells into the kitchen.
   “Some of our new neighbors, the Hartfords, and they brought supper!”
    “It smells wonderful! I can’t wait to eat it!”
    “Did you choose your room yet?” Alistair asked
    “Yes, but you were right about the room with the balcony, I found a better one though, no balcony, but much prettier. Did dad’s uncle have a daughter?”
   “I don’t know…” he paused, hearing something.
   “What is it?”
    “I thought I heard a meow… but it must be coming from outside”
   “All the windows are closed” Millie said, looking around.
   “It must be a loud cat” Alistair laughed

       *          *       *        *         *       *        *         *           *         *         *          *         *          

    The next morning Alistair went outside to explore the garage. It had only been recently that it had been converted into a garage, before it had been a carriage house, and a long drive way led it up to it from the road.
   He unlocked the door with one of the many keys on the ring, and pushed open the door. It was dark inside, and there were no electric lights, those had only been recently installed in the house. To his left there was a lantern hanging and next to that was a shelf with a dusty box of matches on it. He lit the lantern and unhooked it so he could carry it with him. The building was mostly empty; Alistair could see a ladder in the back, leading up to a loft. In the back there were also some crates and a few things covered with canvas sheets. He walked back there with the lantern and pulled back the sheet, revealing the first hidden object. It was an old trunk. He lifted the lid and found it was full of old dresses, silks and satins, with full skirts like what ladies used to wear to balls and fancy parties. He made a mental note to tell Millie about them. She was interested in those sorts of things. The next object was a worn looking sofa, most likely retired from the parlor. And the last thing was… a Velocipede. It was old, and rusty, but the tires seemed in good shape so Alistair wheeled it into the open.  It was the style with the front wheel much larger then the back, before they had invented the safety bicycle that had both wheels the same size. He would look silly riding it, he though, but it might be fun. There were a few things to be tightened though, so he headed inside to find some tools.
    Mrs. Conroy was busy in the kitchen when Alistair came in the back door. She was familiarizing herself with where every thing was.
   “Hi Mom”
   “Hello Alistair, did you find anything interesting in the garage?”
   “A few things, but there’s no work bench or tools out there, where do you think those would be?”
   “Why, I’m not sure… Maybe in the cellar?”
    “I’ll have a look. Thanks!”
   Alistair made his way down the steps to the cellar. He had to use the lantern again as there were no lights down there. It was a large cellar, with a smooth dirt floor. The stairs where on one side of the house, so to his left he could see the stone foundation of the house. There were shelves dividing off one section of the space so he headed that way, hoping to find a workshop of some sort.
  Something furry brushed against him and darted ahead of him into the shadows. He only caught a glimpse of it, a small, dark shape with a long tail.
  “Great! There are rats down here!” he said to himself then he heard a scuffling sound as the creature climbed up on the shelves and knocked some things over.
  “Big rats!” he thought. He kept walking though, holding the lantern up and peering into every shadow, not wanting to be surprised.
  There was a workshop. On one side of the area stood a long table, with tools hanging above and neatly arranged on it. The shelves that partitioned off the workshop area were filled with miscellaneous boxes, jars of nails and screws and other gadgets. Alistair found a screwdriver set that would work and a wrench, and was about to head back upstairs when he heard something. He could see the shadow of something moving behind a box so he picked up a hammer, preparing to exterminate the rat. He quickly pushed the box aside and raised the hammer, but stopped. There, blinking in the light of his lantern, sat a little, longhaired, gray kitten. It mewed and looked up pitifully at him.
  Immediately he set the hammer down and scooped up the kitten from the shelf. It was soft and fluffy, but he could feel its ribs, and it was very thin.
   “How in the world did you get down here?” he asked the kitten.
   “Mew!” it cried hungrily.
   Alistair waked around the perimeter of the cellar, holding the kitten, and found that a high, narrow window was open.
   “You probably fell in, and couldn’t climb out! Are you a stray?”
  “Of course you can’t answer… let’s go upstairs and get something for you to eat”

“Mother, where’s Alistair?”
“He’s in the cellar dear”
  Millie looked confused “Why?”
  “He was looking for some tools, but he should be up soon”
  Just then Alistair came in the kitchen where his mother and sister where talking.
   “Mom, could I have a bowl of milk or some of the left over chicken from supper last night?”
   “Yes, but wouldn’t you like your milk in a glass?”
   “It’s not for me!” with one hand he lifted a sleepy kitten out of the crook of his other arm. It mewed softly.
  “Oh! How darling!” Millie exclaimed.
  “I found her with all the tools and gadgets down stairs, she must have been trapped down there, and she’s really hungry”
   “Mew!” the kitten agreed wholeheartedly.
   “Can we keep her?” Millie asked.
   “You’ll have to ask your father, but I think it would be all right” Mrs. Conroy answered
  “What should we name you?” Millie said to the kitten, as she took her from her brother’s arms and held it close to her face. “Where did you say you found her Alistair?”
   “With the tools and gadgets”
   “Gadget… that would be a cute name!”
   “Gadget it is then!” Alistair said, taking the kitten back from his sister. “Gadget, it looks like you found a home”
       The End


  1. Bethany I really enjoyed your story. Will there be a Chapter 2?

    1. I'm sort of doing a series of short stories with Alistair and Millie, so yes, there will be more. I even have one where they get a visit from Doctor Who, but that one is a little too long to post. :)


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