The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Three
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part One
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Two
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Three
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Four
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Five
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Six
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor – Part Seven
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Eight
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Nine
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part 10
Frank sighed. “The murder happened about a century ago. The Covingport line are close descendants from the man who was killed, but there was hardly enough blood relation in the beginning to be true Covingports.”
“So the owner of the house was killed then?”
“Yes. Edward James Hawthorne Covingport was the original owner and title holder of the marquess line. No one knows who did it; it was never solved. His distant uncle, George Henry Covingport, and his family inherited the manor. They changed their name to Covingport so they could claim the title and the king did not dispute it. Then life went on.”
“Emphasis on the life went on part,” Michael interrupted. “Supposedly, Edward never moved on.”
“Hence the manor ghost,” I concluded.
Frank nodded. “As the decades went on, the family swore they saw the spirit of their relative in the manor. There were rumors about what they thought he wanted but none were proven, and neither was the ghost.”
“And the Covingports before my aunt?”
“They got scared. Couldn’t stand the torture anymore. So, they abandoned the place and took every penny they could get their hands on,” Elaina said. “Supposedly, Edward hid his money here in the manor. Whatever the family got a hold of was not nearly what he truly had. After a while, they tried selling the manor to get more. It didn’t matter how long ago the murder occurred. Hardly anyone wants to buy a home where someone was killed. The manor stayed in the family but no one wanted to live in it.”
So why did my aunt? I didn’t ask them this question; I doubt they would’ve known. I doubt anyone would know, and it wasn’t like my aunt could tell me.
“So, is that all the baggage that comes with this place?” I asked. “A good cleanup, an unsolved murder, a possible ghost, and three staff members?”
“Sounds about it, yes,” Elaina answered with a chuckle.
I nodded as I thought over my options. Even if I wanted to sell this place, would anyone buy it? Would I waste years of my time trying to sell this place? Waste tons of money to keep it up hoping I would have interested buyers?
Plus, Aunt Blaire made it clear in her will. Practically begged me not to sell and to keep this place. Perhaps she intended to have the manor passed down among the future generations of the Covingport family. But I was the only one left now, and the manor was too big for me alone.
“We’ll have to take this one day at a time. It’s a big decision for me to keep this place. I don’t work, I’m still in school, and the only income I have is an inheritance that I don’t want to waste,” I told them truthfully. I didn’t want there to be any miscommunication between us. From what Mr. Watts said, these three had been with the manor for a long time. Generational loyalty was not something I could dismiss lightly. If I sold the manor, I would risk them losing their jobs and I couldn’t do that without being truthful and considerate to their situations.
“We understand, Miss,” Frank said. “All we ask is that you let us know what you need and how we can help. It is our job after all.”
“I promise I will. Is my aunt’s room still untouched?” I asked. I tried not to fidget with my fingers again.
I wasn’t sure where to start with Aunt Blaire’s things. With my parents, it was harder to go through everything because I knew them. Everything I found of theirs brought back memories or showed me things I didn’t know about them. But going through Aunt Blaire’s things would be like going through a stranger’s personal things. I wanted to know more about her, but in a way, thinking about going through her, things felt like an invasion.
“Of course!” Elaina said. “Everything in the manor is how she left it. I just cleaned around it all. It didn’t feel right moving her stuff yet.”
“Will you show me her office?” I asked, deciding that would be an easier place to start for me than her bedroom.
“Right away,” Elaina agreed. She flattened out her white apron as she walked to the bottom of the stairs.
“Would you like me to bring you anything from the kitchen?” Frank asked.
“Tea or coffee?”
Frank bowed slightly in response before leaving through the servant’s entrance to the kitchen. He was old-fashioned, and it was a nice change from the people I normally encountered every day. Frank had respect.
“I should be getting back to my post. If you need anything, Elaina will show you how to contact me through our intercoms,” Michael said with a small wave. He disappeared out the front doors and they clicked shut behind him.
“This way.” Elaina began making her way up the staircase. I followed Elaina up the stairs so I could start going through the things my aunt had left behind.
Sitting on the floor of Aunt Blaire’s study was making my butt numb and my legs fall asleep. Surrounding me are stacks of paperwork that she had laid around that I had begun organizing. More was stuffed in the desk that I hadn’t even looked at, nor did I plan to tonight.
This was the part I hated the most when my parents were hit by a drunk driver four years ago. I had just turned eighteen and had no idea what I was looking at half the time. Just like my parents, Aunt Blaire had personal papers, legal papers, some hand-written notes, all kinds of things scattered around.
Frank was a sweetheart and had made me some tea. He said it was a stress relief tea to help me as I went through Aunt Blaire’s stuff. He had been bringing me cup after cup for hours now as I sat in the study sorting through papers. Both he and Elaina had been coming in to check on me.
I almost felt bad. I didn’t know if they were rotating checking on me because they were worried and thought I would need help, or because they needed something to do. Both, perhaps.
I had four stacks of papers started; legal documents, a surprisingly large number of handwritten notes, personal papers like hospital results, and an unknown pile—because it was unopened, or I didn’t know what the significance was.
“How are you doing in here?” Elaina asked, poking her head into the room.
“She had so much paperwork. More than my parents combined I think.”
“I’m sorry. We can’t be much help. We all adored Miss Blaire, but her private life was just that. We didn’t pry into anything she didn’t want us to.”
“That’s alright. You guys are doing plenty just by being here. I don’t know what I would do if I was in this big place by myself.”
“Perhaps a break from that stuff will be good for you. Miss Blaire has quite the collection of books in here.”
I looked over at the grandfather clock in the room’s corner. 10:36 pm. “You’re probably right,” I admitted, getting up. “Can you have Frank bring me another cup of tea in my room, please? I think I’ll grab a book and head up there.”
Elaina’s smile was big and bright. She had the type of smile that was both reassuring and motherly, no matter what the situation was. It felt comforting to see her smile. “Of course.”
I searched through the eight bookshelves that lined the study. There was a wide range of genres. One shelf in particular caught my attention. They looked like history books. Upon closer inspection, I saw most of them were the history of Covingport Manor. I grabbed the three books that were stacked together before going upstairs to my room.
My room was the second master suite. The first had been my aunt’s, but I hadn’t gone in there yet.
When I got to my room, Elaina was inside, turning down my bed.
“Would you like the fireplace started too?” She asked.
I shook my head. “No thanks, I think it’s a perfect night out. I’ll just leave the balcony doors open. Michael is sure no one can get in without him knowing?”
“Absolutely. Miss Blaire had the best security system installed. Any movement that crosses the gates around the property sends a loud notification to his phone. He says it’s quite annoying to be woken up at all hours of the night for raccoons,” she said with a chuckle.
“Would it be easier on him if I hired a second guard? One for a night shift?”
Her eyes widened. “Oh, no! Michael enjoys his job. I think it would offend him to think that you didn’t believe he was capable of doing a good job.”
I nodded in understanding. The last thing I needed was to offend any of them. “If he ever mentions to you that it’s too much, you’ll tell me?”
“Right away, Miss.” She promised.
A blush spread across her cheeks, and her hand covered her mouth in embarrassment. Calling me miss seemed to slip out as a habit with her. I gave her a small smile before turning around.
I motioned to the books as I put them down on the end table next to the loveseat. It sat in front of the fireplace, which would be heaven in the winters. “What do you know about these history books on the manor?”
I took a seat and brought my knees up.
She came over and looked at the titles. She brightened when she saw what they were. “Those are the books Miss Blaire had commissioned to make. She hired historians to look into everything they could find on the history of the manor and the people who had occupied it. Even into the guest lists for the balls if they could find them. It took almost twenty years of work and investigation. They found hundreds of photos, letters, and souvenirs from families whose ancestors had once been a part of Covingport Manor.”
“I was told she had isolated herself here?”
Elaina nodded as she moved to sit on the loveseat next to me. “She had. It occurred a year or so after she took ownership of the manor and moved in. She just stopped going out and didn’t invite many people here. She stopped contacting your parents.”
“Not all together, of course. She wrote to them a few times a year. Your mother would write every two weeks. I would always see her letters and packages when I would collect the mail. Miss Blaire would hang the photos she would send throughout the house, too. It devastated her when they passed so unexpectedly.”
“Me too,” I admitted. I grabbed one of the books for something to do. Talking about my parents always made me uneasy. “I miss them all the time. My mother would tell me stories about her. Sometimes I felt like I knew everything about my Aunt Blaire, even though I had never met her. I wish she had come around more when they passed.”
“It was hard for her to attend the funeral. Leaving the house was a big event for her, but she knew she needed to be there for you. She talked about you all the time, she wished she could’ve been around more.”
“Why wasn’t she? Was it her research into the history?”
Elaina hesitated, but answered me. “Something changed in her. I’m not sure she could make herself be anywhere but here. I know she wanted to. She looked forward to your mothers’ letters. I would never see her happier than when she was reading one and looking at photos of the three of you.”
“What changed?” I begged. Aunt Blaire was a mystery to me. I was dying to know why she had left my mother behind and was never around.
Elaina’s smile was forced, almost pained. “I’m not sure, Miss. But whatever it was, it affected her deeply.”
There was a knock at the door, and Frank walked in. I had left it opened for him. He had a tray, which he carried with him. “Your tea, Miss.”
“We will leave you to rest,” Elaina said, getting up. “Let us know if you need anything. We both have rooms in the servant’s corridors. You remember how I told you to get there?”
“Yes, thank you both.”
Elaina wiped her hands on her apron. She grabbed the few things she had brought in with her and followed Frank out.
After the door closed behind them, I began flipping through the book on the stack I had brought in.
Featured photo by Timothy Eberly, courtesy of Unsplash