This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.
THE BIG REVEAL
As the police and medical examiners were led closer to the possible gravesite they could feel the sponginess of the ground. On a whim, Dave backed off and started walking toward the Jebediah Hodges statue. The ground felt solid. He informed all of his findings. “I guess that we were all centered on the possibility that Ian could have been buried near his statue that we didn’t think about his father.”
“I checked with the Midia’s cemetery office and both Mr. & Mrs. Hodges are buried there, but no one else from the family is there, so there is a very good possibility that the child was buried here,” Jake stated.
As Chief Meuller shifted his weight around the softened ground, he scooched down to see where Miri’s foot had sunk in. “It does look like there might be some void under the ground. It would make it much quicker to find out if anything or anyone is buried there if the state owned a ground penetrating radar, but we can get a loan of GPR from a private company, which takes time to get and is also expensive. We don’t get one unless we feel it is necessary.”
Jake said, “We were about to start digging ourselves until we felt it might be necessary to call in law enforcement. This ground doesn’t look like it would be difficult to dig up. Dave and I can go back to the carriage house to get shovels and a wheelbarrow, if that’s okay with you.”
Chief Meuller glanced over to the forensic technicians to see what they thought and they nodded their approval. “If a child was buried here over 150 years ago, there won’t be much, but enough for us to bring back to the lab. By the feel of the ground, I think you guys can do it and if you have extra shovels, we can help,” said Technician Simpson, referring to himself and the chief of police.
“Depending on what you find, I can start sifting through the dirt for any signs of bones and other artifacts that may have been buried. Alan, come back to the van with me to get the equipment we’ll need while they go get their tools,” said Miss Maitland.
Everyone went off in their own direction while Miri and Amy stayed in the garden sitting on the granite bench. “I can’t wait until this is over,” said Miri. “I thought it was over after the Christmas event. I told Jake but I didn’t say anything to either you or Dave but I’ve been hearing Ian, maybe in dreams, asking to be brought to his father.”
“Maybe he has been contacting you since you were the first one to sense his presence back in June. He trusts you,” replied Amy as she put her arm around Miri’s shoulders consoling her.
As everyone returned to the potential grave site, Miri and Amy offered their services, and when it looked like they weren’t needed, they went back to the house to prepare sandwiches and beverages for the working crew. It took less than twenty minutes to get down to what appeared to be a rotted wooden box. The more they uncovered it, the more it looked like it was once a casket about five feet in length. This was where the forensic technicians became more involved, slowly taking the wooden container apart, they handed it over to the gloved men to be put aside on a laid out tarp.
“Oh my stars,” said Connie as Alan let out a whistle. Chief Meuller, and the others looked down the hole where the forensic experts were to see a well laid out small skeleton. Miri started to weep uncontrollably. Ian had been found.
“Tom, thank you for coming to help me. Please bring me to my father.” The Chief asked if anyone heard what he had just heard or was it his imagination.
The forensic people didn’t hear anything, but the other four did! “Welcome to being included in Ian’s circle,” said Jake. “He apparently thinks you’re the handyman of his time since you look so much like him.”
It was a cool fall day but Chief Meuller took out a handkerchief to wipe the perspiration from his forehead. “If I hadn’t believed you folks before, I certainly do now.”
Several days had gone by since the exhumation had been completed. While everyone waited to find out what the lab could deem was the cause of death and if, in fact, the remains were that of a child, Jake and Miri made arrangements with the cemetery officials to have Ian buried with his parents. When the townsfolk got wind of what was found many came forward to offer to help pay for the burial and a marker. Through the ages it was known that if it had not been for Mr. Hodges, their town probably would not have survived. He had been very generous in helping the businesses and several of the townsfolk in the area. About three weeks later the news from the state forensics lab came back to Chief Tom Meuller who in turn brought the news to the foursome. From the pieces of fabric that were found with the body’s remains, as well as the thorough examination of the bones, it was found that this was in fact a child between twelve to fifteen years of age and had died around the 1840s. What they hadn’t expected to find was a dent in the back of the small skull. It appeared that the cause of death was a blow to the back of the head.
“I can’t believe that this was anything else but accidental,” Miri said. “Even though Emma was eccentric, she seemed to love her son.
“I don’t know,” replied Dave. “From what we saw through those years of Christmases her axis wasn’t placed centrally. She seemed to have a mean streak in those last few years.”
“No, I don’t think she would have harmed Ian, not intentionally anyway. We saw how much weaker he was getting and he couldn’t even climb the stairs anymore. Maybe he tried to go get one of his toys that she had hidden upstairs and he fell,” said Miri “Either way, Ian will be at rest and next to his father soon.”
A small graveside service was planned but it seemed as if the entire town showed up to pay their respects and to give Miri, Jake, Amy, and Dave some type of support after they had heard of some of the things they had gone through since they purchased the house back in June. As everyone was leaving the cemetery snow bugs, as Miri and Jake remembered their father calling the little bit of snow flurries, were descending upon everyone. It seemed that Ian wouldn’t be spending another winter alone. He was now between his mother and father.
THE STEWART B&B IS NOW OPEN
Six months after the Stewarts purchased the loan for the B&B, the first Christmas was celebrated. Two weeks prior to the holiday, a somewhat familiar scene took place. Miri was able to find a recipe for Wassail, tea cakes and raspberry tarts. The home had a marvelous scent to anyone coming in. There was a knock at the door and when Amy opened it, there stood two guys covered with snow carrying in a six foot balsam. “Shake yourselves off before coming in and the tree as well,” she instructed.
Jake and Dave sighed, did as they were instructed and Jake asked where they wanted the tree to be placed. Miri, coming out of the kitchen said, “Where do you think? Right where we saw it and once it’s placed in the stand I put in that corner, I have warm refreshments for you.”
“Smells like that vision we saw,” said Dave.
“That’s because I made what Emma had made.”
“It smells delicious,” commented Jake as his stomach also made a comment.
After everyone was sated, and the tree had time to dry out, decorations were brought out. Pictures, rather than memory, was what they needed to make replicas of what they saw on the Hodges tree so they Google searched decorations for Christmas trees of the Victorian era and specifically looked up Christmas in Pennsylvania since it was the Germans who brought that tradition to the United States. Once the tree was decorated, Dave, being the tallest, was asked to put the final piece onto the tree. Ian’s star was placed on the top. “This is for you Ian,” Miri said with a bit of a leak of the eyes. When she looked at the others, their eyes were leaking as well.
By April Dave was able to complete the renovations required to make the B&B ready for opening. In the meantime, Jake was able to find buyers of the antique furniture they weren’t going to utilize and used the money to purchase items to make the B&B functional. Someone in town was very interested in setting up a small museum dedicated to the Hodges. The items that brought several exciting adventures for the foursome plus the spectral child were donated to the museum with no chance of any more hauntings happening. Ian told Miri that once he was at rest with his parents he would leave them alone, and he did. Other items from the house were also placed there.
It took a lot of exertion to groom the garden to a beautiful area for folks to roam around in or just sit and relax. Since the statues of Mr. Hodges and his son weren’t part of Jake’s and Miri’s plans for the garden, Jake asked if the curator of the new museum would want the statues of Mr. Hodges and his son. He didn’t have the room but had an idea that he brought up to the town, who loved his idea. The statues were carefully moved to the town park where a couple of granite benches and an arbor were placed, somewhat imitating the garden. Amy was going to use the garden often to photograph special events that might take place at the B&B as well as high school senior pictures and the statues just didn’t seem to fit in. With the B&B renovations completed, Dave now had time to spend on the carriage house which he wanted to recondition so the outside looked the same but there would be a spacious modern apartment on the second floor, and the tack room on the main floor would be renovated to become Amy’s photography studio.
The opening of the B&B was set for May 6 with its first event, a wedding, the wedding of Dave and Amy. They wanted a small wedding so guests of the wedding that required a place to stay were the first to use the inn. Weather permitting, the wedding would be held in the garden, but if not, the B&B could handle it in the spacious living room. The spacious dining room would handle the reception and the small sitting room, turned into the inn’s guests’ breakfast area, could handle the overflow. Miri’s vision of the porch came to life with beautiful flower baskets hanging in several areas.
June 20 was the last day of school and Miri’s last day as a third grade teacher. Her time would be spent managing the B&B with help from her husband when he wasn’t performing his principal duties and Amy would also be helping in between her photography appointments.
A year had gone by since the purchase of this beautiful Victorian home and much had happened in that year. The death of a child long ago allowed the occupants to better understand the place but also brought it life. Stewart’s B&B was finally open and bustling.
Author’s comments: I hope you enjoyed this story. I would not have been able to accomplish this feat without my own personal editor, my boyfriend, Edgar Cormier. Thank you Roland Hallee, managing editor of this newspaper for allowing me to have this story published. I had so much fun writing this story and am now trying to think of another topic to write about.