“I don’t get anything, do I?”
“You made sure of it by disobeying him, didn’t you? Anyway, the will is yet to be finalized.”
Father had declared me persona non grata and shown me the door on the day I told him there was no going back on my decision to marry Martha, the daughter of his friend-turned enemy. He had conveniently forgotten that it was he who had declared Martha as my girl when we were children.
Uncle John was a trusted friend of my father with whom he would discuss all important matters.
“Who gets the old mansion?” I asked.
“Your eldest brother.”
Though I had worked as hard as my brothers and father on the farm, I was not keen to have a share of the property. The old mansion was, however, different. I had a lot of sentimental attachment to it. It was there that I had spent my childhood with my late mother and dreamt my dreams before the family moved to the present house. It was an old-fashioned, beautiful wooden structure, situated at the edge of the forest. There was a narrow road in its front and beyond that a deep gorge. One could see miles and miles of the beautiful valley from the mansion.
Suddenly, I wanted it. By hook or crook.
I called on Joy, a close friend who headed an amateur drama troupe, the following day.
Within a short period, the mansion had become the talk of the town. People were reported to have seen strange flashes of light and heard blood-chilling shrieks from the locked building at night. Some neighbours would swear that they had seen white-clad figures floating in the air in and around the building. Dogs were heard howling continually at night. Neighbours would take care not to go anywhere near it after sunset.
“Congratulations, Jacob,” Uncle John told me a few days later. “Your brothers have refused to have anything to do with the haunted mansion and your dad has bequeathed it to you in his will. Nothing else.”
“He wants the ghosts to keep us company?”
“If you don’t want it”, Uncle John whispered with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, “Joy may perhaps be interested in buying it from your dad.”