ooking back on it now I still find what happened all those years ago just as
hard to believe as I did when we first came across “that house” …
It all started when I was driving home with my daughter Rachel from a
Saturday hockey game her school team had played at Toowoomba. (They’d lost!)
Halfway home to Brisbane I usually stopped for a cuppa at a small café that
had been there for years. Today was no exception. Calories or no, it was Devonshire
tea for two.
As my daughter and I indulged ourselves we noticed one of those junk stores
that masquerades as antiques stores had opened across the road. After our break
we went in to have a looksee. Maybe we’d find a worthwhile item, even something
in the way of the miniatures we both made and collected. Not much chance of
finding anything we supposed. But one never knows, does one?
I ploughed my way through the usual boring bits of discarded farm rubbish,
mismatched cups and saucers, hideous ornaments, books as boring as they were
worn out. Nothing here. Total waste of time as usual. Then Rachel yelled, “Hey,
mum! Come and see this! It’s EX!-Ellent.” I went to the dimly lit corner where
she stood looking at a large rectangular object. Could it be? Surely not! But
I really was looking at a superb example of the dolls’ house maker’s art.
It was dirty with no lighting installed. But what a beauty! Built to the
standard scale of one inch in the foot. (We dolls’ house addicts never use
metric.) This gorgeous two-storey building was something I really wanted, although
it was probably well beyond what I could afford.
Obviously professionally made, its timber exterior was painted a now faded
white with some cracks in the planking. It had possibly been built before the
current enthusiasm for such things developed. No commercial windows here, these
had been hand-crafted just like the doors with their brass door knobs and fittings.
The sloping roof seemed to have individual ceramic tiles. The thing was perfect
even to the guttering, down-pipes, and mini-bricked chimney stacks.
I looked through a front window and could not believe my eyes. The room
was fully furnished with tables and chairs made to scale, tiny paintings hung
on dirty papered walls. Gazing through other windows my daughter and I found
that all the rooms had been furnished down to the smallest details. Even the
dusty polished timber floors were complimented by carpets still lovely despite
the grime of many years.
This building was a masterpiece. But could I even dare to ask the price?
I gently pushed its front door open. What I saw convinced me I had to at least
enquire. From the large central hall a mahogany winding staircase went to the
upper floor. I’d never seen anything like this in all my years of going to
miniatures shows. By hook or crook it had to be mine. But it was worth thousands
even in its dilapidated state—well beyond this lass’s budget.
“Can I help yer, lady?” I jumped slightly at the voice and turned to see
a shabby-looking man in woolen shirt and shorts. “Suppose so,” I answered,
“How much do you want for this thing here?”—Play it down! Don’t show your enthusiasm!—Luckily
Rachel knew the drill and kept quiet, although I could see from her face that
she was as excited as I was at our find.
“Weeell, now …. That’s a bit expensive. Couldn’t let it go for anyfink
less than $300 and yer’d ’ave ter transport it yerself.” $300 for this beauty?
Man didn’t know what he was selling it seemed … Antique dealer indeed!
My heart was beating fast, I can tell you. Without showing him how I felt
I said, “Ah well, just let me look and think a little more.”
“As yer like, lady. I got all day. But as I say, you’ll need ter get the
transport. Wouldn’t be sorry ter see it go. Takes up lot of space fer a dirty
toy nobody wants.” I looked him firmly in the eye although I was queasy inside,
“How about me giving you $200 for it? After all, it is dirty and needs cleaning
and lots of repairs.” “Deal!” says Mr Antiques, “If yer picks it up termorrer … $100 deposit now, rest on collerction.” It didn’t take me long to write a
cheque … For two pins I’d have nagged my husband David to come back in the
Pajero to collect it that night. But, as they say, “Patience is a virgin.”
David swears that miniature collecting and making is not a hobby. “It’s
a bloody obsession, Jenny,” says he, and he’s probably right. Actually, he
enjoys looking over what Rachel and I create or buy. One day we’ll get him
in. He complained a lot when I asked him to drive over with us to collect the
house. “I’d other things planned for this Sunday, like my golf.” He loves us
both, though, and in the end he surrendered to our combined appeals. He had
to after all, got his own back next morning by lying in bed until nine while
we were raring to go at seven! Rachel finally goaded him into action, as only
a twelve-year-old can. Beast had dithered around for ages … Men!
At long last it was all aboard the Pajero, a carrier of many’s an unusual
load, and just over an hour later I was paying the balance to our unshaven
“Dealer in Fine Arts,” still dressed in clothes he’d worn the day before. He
seemed quite relieved when the three of us carried the house out and put it
in the back of the 4WD. Lazy blighter didn’t even lift a hand to help us. “Hope
you’se enjoyr it, lady,” he mumbled as we drove off. If I’d only known how
soon my enjoyment would give way to bewilderment, concern, and even fear!
We drove home carefully, trying to avoid bumps in the road, and set our
prize on the workbench in the garage. It seemed to have suffered no damage
from its journey apart from a couple of pictures falling of the walls and most
of the furniture getting scattered around the rooms. I wanted to have a real
good look there and then. But lunch had still to be made for my dependent family.
In the end it was not until after three that I finally had time to get back
to the garage.
I looked over the outside first. There were cracks to be filled in the
walls after which a complete repainting was on the agenda. Would those tiles
stand up to scrubbing with a toothbrush? The windows certainly needed cleaning,
I tapped one and was amazed to find it was glazed with thin glass panes, slightly
over scale in thickness. But what dedication to detail! Nowadays, of course,
we all use clear plastic.
I peered through a window and was surprised to see the furniture perfectly
placed and the pictures back on the wall. Rachel must have had a sly viewing
and rearranged things before she went over to her friend’s house. How on earth
did she get inside? I could not see the usual hooks to keep the front closed.
It took me a while to find two tiny studs which, when pressed, released the
entire front in two sections, showing the interior.
Unique mechanism indeed. How clever of my daughter to work it all out
for herself! The furniture was in perfect condition and on its own was worth
much more than the money I’d paid for the whole kit and caboodle. Genuinely
French-polished too, pretty dusty. But gentle brushing would bring that back
to as new. The rugs were appalling. So we’d see what a light rinse would do
to one before we tackled the rest. All of the pictures were framed and covered
with more of that thin glass. Some of the gilding had flaked off though. Work
for me there all right.
The wallpaper looked as though it had had its day. I’d try washing it
down, but in the end I’d probably need to use suitable dolls’ house paper from
my reserve collection.
I would also get Bob Jennings, our local miniatures dealer, over to advise
on electrification. I so wanted to see his face when he saw my treasure for
himself! Looking into the hallway I could see more doors leading off the corridor.
But where were the rooms? I looked in the rear windows to find more I had not
known about. How to get in? There must be a way. Remembering the studs that
released the front I checked below the roof and found two concealed under the
eaves. When I pressed those I was able to swing the back out in two more sections.
I could not believe my good fortune!
There was actually a 1950s-style kitchen complete with fridge and electric
stove. The taps over the sink really turned although no water came out … Disappointment!
The room was rectangular. But two walls in one corner joined to form two sides
of a square inner room set in the back angle. At first I was unable to find
any doors. But finally located one cunningly set in the wall. This opened into
a walk-in-pantry filled with replica foodstuffs, tiny pots and pans hung on
hooks behind the door.
I found a bench with drawers. Gently pulling one open I found it filled
with blackish metal cutlery. I noticed that this area only took up some of
the space. There had to be a door on the other wall as well. There was and
it opened on to a linen cupboard with shelves full of mini towels, sheets,
and other bedding still in top condition. On the other side of the main corridor
the door opened on to a large dining room. If only I could have had a full-size
version of the table and its Queen Ann chairs! What really caught my eye, though,
was a display stand against the wall. It had been specially built to show off
the tiny house standing on it. A perfect little replica of the house itself,
there was treasure indeed in my new treasure-house.
I was desperate to start fixing it all up. But my first job was to clear
the rooms. I inventoried the furniture and fittings in every one of them, then
drew rough sketches of each item’s location. Armed with this information I
transferred it all to boxes which I took for restoration to my work-room upstairs.
I’d work on the actual house here in the garage.
That was enough work and excitement for one day. Soon it would be time
for dinner and some relaxation before bed. That night I dreamed I stood outside
a real house just like my model. Ablaze with light, laughter coming through
the open windows and dispersing into the darkness outside.
A housewife’s work goes on and on. But over the next few days I managed
to fix quite a lot of the building. First I thoroughly washed down the exterior,
then tried the wallpaper. But I had been right about it being beyond recall.
I checked my reserve supplies and found suitable replacements.
The roof tiles cleaned up as new, however, and very little work needed
to be done on those polished floor boards. I was pleased to see there were
not nearly as many cracks in the wall timbers as I’d thought. I soon rubbed
filler into them, sanded the lot down well, and all was ready for the first
coat of paint. Work proceeded pretty quickly. Just two weeks later I was applying
the third and final coat. The inside walls looked great with the new wallpaper.
The main building was ready at last.
At the same time Rachel, who has a delicate touch, was carefully dusting
all the furniture stored in my work-room. David got quite enthusiastic about
it all as the wonders of the house unfolded. He offered much helpful advice
we ignored. Nothing really for him to wield a hammer on, but he was allowed
to go to the hardware to buy supplies for us.
By the Sunday morning the paint was dry and the end result was really
something. Time to break the news to David as he asked, “O.K. But where are
you going to put this one? After all, there’s your chemist shop, three dolls’
houses, and five room boxes upstairs already.”
“I know just the place, my darling,” I cooed, “If we take your golf trophies
and sailing photographs off the table in the front room it will sit there perfectly.
Imagine the effect it will have on visitors. I know you’ll have fun building
shelves to put your stuff on somewhere or other.”
The man of the house protested vehemently. But the united pressure of
mother and daughter of the house prevailed, as always. Men are so easy to manipulate
when you know how, and they love such guidance. We even helped him put all
his stuff into a couple of cardboard boxes where they remain to this day.
The house was pretty heavy. It took the combined efforts of the three
of us to put it in its final location. “Can I put all the furniture in now,
mummy?” asked my favourite ally. “Carpets first, dearest,” said I. They’d cleaned
up perfectly and were quickly replaced in their old locations. After lunch
David went out for a round of golf while we started the work of refurnishing.
With the aid of my sketches us girls soon had everything just as I thought
it had been. I must say it all looked like new. I had yet to learn there would
be a distressing price to pay. But for now we were full of pride with the results
of our efforts. Rachel rang round a few of her friends who came over and gazed
with dutiful admiration. Only real miniaturists go crazy about such things.
But just wait until the club members saw it! David was impressed enough to
say, “Very nice, dear,” before we went to bed.
Late that night I was awakened by the sound of torrential rain. Had I
left the window behind the dolls’ house open? Was rain even now ruining all
that hard work? I rushed to the front room and switched on the light … Window
firmly closed … All well. I put out the light but noticed a faint glow persisted.
The little house seemed to be lit up. I thought I must have left the lights
inside switched on, then realised that of course it was still unwired!
I was confused until I realised light from the street outside had to be
reflecting off wet concrete, filling the rooms with a magical effect. This
is how it would look once everything was completed. There were even shadows
moving inside … shadows of trees in the garden, blowing in the wind. I even
thought I heard voices and laughter. The sound of rain can do some strange
After the usual flurry of breakfast, getting daughter and husband organised
for school and work, and putting laundry in the machine, I had a little time.
I went to the front room to dust my mini-house, whether it needed it or not.
It didn’t. But I dusted the outside anyway. I opened its front and back panels.
Was this really how we’d set the furniture yesterday? Had the carpets in two
of the rooms been changed around? I checked my sketches and found I’d placed
those particular rugs in the wrong rooms. Rachel must have relocated them before
breakfast and tidied the furniture at the same time. She must have been sticky-beaking
in the small linen cupboard as the door was slightly opened. I closed it. After
all, it was as much her house as it was mine … I must ring Bob some time about
that lighting. The chores took over as Monday is my cleaning day and I’d shopping
to do later.
On Thursday morning I finally succumbed to temptation and started re-arranging
the furniture in my dolls’ house. I loved doing this in our real rooms. Most
women do. But David ended up complaining he could never find anything. dolls’
houses are a great way to ease a woman’s obsessive furniture moving and it’s
not nearly such hard work. In a couple of hours I’d changed things from how
they were to where I wanted them … until I changed my mind again.
Time passed. It was back to being a housewife for the rest of the day.
Rachel was impressed by my new arrangement. I dragged David to see and he was
so affected he said, “Very nice, dear.” Sometimes I could thump him!
On Friday morning I did some vacuuming, then stopped for a coffee and
pondered … Should I have put the writing desk where I did? I went through
to my little house and opened the front … What the hell! As far as I could
see all the furniture was back exactly where it had been. My wicked daughter
was at it again. Must talk to her about this,. All my work for nothing. Later
that day when I confronted her. She emphatically denied any knowledge of the
mysterious movings. In fact, she assured me she had never even opened the house
as I had not taught her how to. Had to be that damned husband of mine having
a go at me. But how did he re-arrange it so correctly? That night I shifted
a few items around. Next morning they were back in their original places. “David
just you wait! “
I kept quiet about his antics, for now. I’d catch him in the act first
and then …! Like a patient spider I spun my web and waited. “Oh, David! You
are for it!” Making sure he saw me, I moved a few items around. It was getting
late. But I told him I’d watch TV for a while. He couldn’t stand the programme
I planned to watch, so he said he’d slope off to bed. I sat quietly for a little
longer. Then, leaving the TV on, I slunk into the darkened front room and waited
behind the door for my prey.
I waited, and waited, and waited, passing the time planning what revenge
I would impose on the brute. Nobody came near. I was getting tired. I decided
to call it a day, then realised the room was far from dark. Once again my little
house had lights coming from the windows. I seemed to see movement inside.
This time I could definitely hear voices. That wonderful husband of mine had
planned to surprise me. Somehow he’d sneaked Bob in to install one of those
new computerised systems that simulate life in a miniature home. I went over
to look closer and was just peering in when a voice clearly shouted, “Hey,
folks! Come out here! There’s a surprise!”
A babble of noise … and the rooms went dark. I looked forward to playing
with the controls next day. But for now it was time to join my snoring husband
in bed. I kissed him a thank-you, but he snored on. I dreamed I was running
around with strangers through lighted rooms, calling a name, looking for something … or someone.
When I did thank David next morning he claimed he had no idea what I was
talking about. I checked the little house later and there was no sign of electrification
or anything else. I opened the back to check there. No wires, batteries, or
controls. But that airing cupboard door was slightly ajar again. The items
I had moved the night before were back in their original places … For the first
time I felt just a little scared. It didn’t last as I’d soon worked it all
out. I must have dozed off while waiting for David. It was just a dream. But
how did that furniture move? Nobody had had a chance to shift it back.
Over the next few days I kept changing things around only to find them
back in place next day, and that linen cupboard door was always slightly open
after I closed it. What on earth was going on? Perhaps I could find out some
of the history of my mysterious building? One morning, telling nobody, I made
a flying visit to my old friend at the junk shop …
I swear he wore the same clothes. I got out of my car and started saying,
“Morning, about that h…” But that’s as far as I got … “Lady, you bought the
damn fing. I don’t wannit back.” “I don’t want to give it back,” I answered,
“just want to know where it came from and who made it?” He scratched his head,
“No bloody idea. Picked it up in a load o’ junk from an auction. Thort I’d
do it up for me granddaughter’s birfda. But it does funny fings … lights shine
in it, folks talk when nobody’s there. All I wanna see is the back of it …
It’s all yours, far too scary for me.” At least I knew now that I was not imagining
things. This worried me a bit and I was no further forward in my attempts to
discover the history of “the house.”
Being a lady, I thanked him politely and drove back to town. A house of
mystery indeed! Question was to keep or not to keep? By the time I got home
I’d decided to finally ring Bob about that wiring. Of course, nothing would
be said about the odd happenings. He’d think I was mad, being what he was.
Surely there had to be a rational explanation for it all. Road vibrations maybe?
Miniaturists are a motley band of folks. Men and women from every background
follow this obsession, many even forming clubs like ours. You’ll find lawyers,
labourers, tradespeople, university-types, secretaries, computer freaks and
even housewives like me among the enthusiasts. Bob Jennings is a good example:
a copper for over 35 years and a detective inspector for much of that time.
Now sort of retired, he runs a dolls’ house and miniatures supply business,
he’s as expert in that field as he once was at catching crims.
Bob came round on the Saturday morning and my daughter and I proudly showed
him “the house.” I must say, his eyes did widen when he saw it … “You paid
$200 for this beauty? Jenny, you always were the lucky one! Know what? Reminds
me of something but I can’t think of what for now. It’ll come back.” There
and then he started measuring things up, working out where to run wires, how
to fit wonderful mini-lamps and even a chandelier for the hallway. Between
us we decided what was required, and he promised to order everything for me.
Rachel and I would naturally install it all ourselves, wouldn’t be the first
time. I wield a mean soldering iron.
David joined us and while we were having coffee. Bob suddenly said, “That’s
it! Has to be! Do you realise just what this house of yours is and who made
it?” “Do please tell us, Mr Jennings!” begged my daughter. “Yes, come on, Bob!”
said David, “Unveil the mystery!” “And mystery it is, old son …” Bob looked
sad as he started his story …
“It all dates back to one of my first cases as a young cop. For starters,
the house is a replica of one built for Walter and Jane Carter in the 50s.
You’ll probably never have heard of them. But Jane raised quite a stir a few
years later. They were a devoted couple who ran a jeweller’s business down
the foot of Edward Street. Both were skilled in many trades and actually pioneered
the making of miniature furniture in Queensland. Pity there was no market at
the time. First off, they bought a piece of land out Moggill way when it was
still a quiet area. Next they designed themselves a dream-house, even did a
lot of the construction work on their own.
After they moved in they decided to make an exact scale model of the place.
You lot will realise just what that involved. Took them just over a year to
build this beauty. Then they started fitting it out with antique furniture,
pictures and what have you. Do the drawers in the pantry open, Jenny?” I showed
him they did, and he stared at the blackened cutlery inside. “Heavens above!
It’s true! Realise what you have here? The story went that they made replicas
of the knives and forks in sterling silver. Give those a clean and you could
“All right,” said David “But how come they sold such a wonder?” “They
didn’t, mate. And thereby hangs a tale, for the rest is tragic and mysteries
have yet to be solved. First off, Walter was killed in a car crash while driving
down the old Pacific Highway to an auction. Jane was devastated at her loss.
But she continued to run the business and turn out miracles in gold and silver.
In memory of her husband she finished the entire dolls’ house project and it
then occupied pride of place on a stand in the dining room. They say she was
a real bubbly person and her spirit of fun gradually came back over the years.
Loved playing a prank or two, did Jane. When she was 48 she met and married
Jimmy Carlisle who sold his place and moved in with her. I knew him well, top
bloke, never short of a buck. They seemed to be a perfect pair. So why she
did what she did is beyond me.”
“What happened, Mr Jennings? Please tell us!” begged my daughter. “I’m
surprised you’ve never heard this part of the story as it’s been televised
a couple of times in “Unsolved Mystery” features. I was one of the cops called
in at the time of the disappearance, so know as much about it as anybody does.”
“Get on with it, Bob, pulleeeese!” said David, “This is fascinating.”
“Okay. Well, it was on New Year’s Eve 1958 that Jimmy and Jane had a few friends
round to celebrate their first New Year as man and wife. There was quite a
bit of drinking then. Around quarter to twelve, Jane said she had a big surprise
for everybody. She left the room and was never seen again.”
“Come off it Bob, is this really true?” contributed my skeptical husband.
“On my oath it is and I wish I had the answer to this case …it’s still open
even now. As I said Jane left the room, shortly afterwards they all heard her
shout “Hey Folks, come out here ….there’s a surprise!” Everybody did as she
asked but she was nowhere to be seen. They checked every room, every cupboard,
even under furniture but there was no sign of Jane then or ever again.”
David offered, “Could she have been abducted, or murdered and dragged
through a window? After all, it was summer. Everything would have been open
to let the air circulate.” “There were no signs of a struggle, no blood, no
sign of any intruder, never any ransom demands. We went over the surrounding
area carefully but found no trace of the missing lady. She was in the habit
of carrying jewellery and large sums of money between her home and business,
used a large leather bag chained to her wrist. In those days that was enough,
not like now. That bag was never found. One theory is that she decided to do
a bunk with it. All very well. But why leave everything else she had for no
reason? Why would she want to leave the new love in her life? Case drove me
mad then and does to this day.”
I had to get in my two bob’s worth, “Maybe the husband murdered her for
her money?” “No way, Jenny. Jimmy was rich in his own right and of excellent
character. In any case, everybody agreed he was in the room with them when
Jane vanished. So that’s the tale of your little house.”
We sat quiet for a while then I asked, “But how did such a lovely creation
end up in a junk shop?”
“Well, Jimmy stayed in that house for the rest of his life, hoping, praying,
that Jane would return one day. He only lived a few more years. Many reckon
he died of a broken heart. It’s said that he locked the dining-room up and
never entered it again. Poor chap left everything to his unmarried nephew who
still lives there, far as I know. For some reason the heir seemed scared of
the little house in the dining-room. Rumour has it that he and a mate ended
up shoving the thing in the back of his ute and dumping it by the road somewhere.
Who knows what happened to it after that?”
I must say we were all overwhelmed by Bob’s sad yet mysterious tale. I
had to ask, “Do you know why the nephew was so frightened of the dolls’ house?”
“No idea. After all, it is such a work of art. I’d offer you $5000 for it right
now. But I know you’d refuse.” David looked longingly at his table but Bob
was right … Spooky or no, I would keep my special house come what may.
While we waited for the electrics to arrive from overseas I decided to
leave the furniture well alone. The little rooms seemed quiet, although that
linen cupboard door sprung slightly ajar no matter how often I closed it. Did
lights still shine in the dark? I’ve no idea, never had the nerve to look,
and I locked the spare room door at night.
Some days later I carefully polished all that black cutlery. It really
was sterling silver and looked superb when I finished. A little clear lacquer
judiciously applied kept it looking that way. Once cleaned I replaced it all
in the pantry drawers. That infernal door was ajar again. Was something stopping
it from closing fully? I had washed all the linen then replaced it on the shelves
after my renovations. Maybe something was fouling a hinge?
I prodded round a stack of towels on the second shelf with my finger and
felt something firm in the wall. Removing the towels I found another of those
little studs. When I pressed it there was a slight click as the whole cupboard
swung slightly inwards. Pushing it fully open I found a small alcove. I wondered
why it had been hidden behind the cupboard. But it was too dark to see much.
Getting the flashlight from my real kitchen I shone it inside to find
the biggest surprise of all. It seemed to be a replica of the sort of walk-in-safe
some jewellers keep in their homes. The house was indeed a perfect replica
of the original in every way. There were shelves on each wall with small gold
and silver items on them. Enough space remained for a doll figure in scale
to stand behind the closed door. On a shelf at the back was a replica of a
leather bag with a chain attached. Suddenly I realised what may have happened
to poor vanished Jane. Instinctively I realised why this innocent-looking building
was so disturbed … Without any more ado I rang Bob Jennings …
Retired or not, the detectives took Bob along with them when they visited
the Carter House that afternoon. The nephew had long since married and he and
his wife got quite a shock when a carload of cops drove up and requested admittance.
Bob was given the dubious honour of feeling around in the linen cupboard until
he found the stud. When he pressed it the door began to swing inwards, but
its further progress was impeded by some object on the other side. He applied
gentle pressure and was able to ease the door far enough back to see a light
switch on the wall.
When he automatically reached for it Bob saw it was in the on position.
The bulb had obviously shone continually until it finally blew. Getting a police
flash lamp he opened the heavy door just wide enough to slip through. Even
though he was a hardened cop he still recoiled at what he found sprawled on
the floor. Behind the door was a mummified body. That was later confirmed to
be that of Jane Carlisle.
Behind the corpse was a large cloth bag containing several packages. These
were labelled with the names of her husband and their guests of that fatal
night. On a back shelf, just as in my model, was an old leather bag with a
chain and cuff attached.
What exactly happened? The police can’t be really sure. But it seems that
Jane the joker had stored New Year presents in the safe. Her plan must have
been to play some sort of mad hide-and-seek game before mysteriously reappearing
with her bag of parcels. When ready, she left the room, shouted her message
from the kitchen door, then quickly entered the linen cupboard. Opening the
door of the safe and switching on the light she closed the cupboard door behind
her. Entering the hidden vault she pulled its door to and leant against it
waiting for the search to get into full swing. Instead, something went horribly
wrong. We will never know exactly what. But those present on that awful night
agreed, when interviewed, that they’d all drank quite a bit. Jane may have
dozed off because of the grog. But even a sober person would soon have used
up enough oxygen in that small chamber to cause drowsiness. She probably never
felt a thing, never even realised she was in trouble as she gently suffocated
to an easy death. I hope that’s how it happened, can’t bear to think of the alternative.
The police went so far as to distribute the gifts to as many of that night’s
guests as they could locate. In the small package intended for her husband
there was a key with a label tied to it on which Jane had written, “Will explain
this later, dearest.” That key was a spare for the lock on the safe. It seems
she’d intended to entrust her new husband with the secrets of the chamber after
the guests had gone home. Pity she had not done so earlier.
The Coroner said, “Death by misadventure,” and poor Jane was buried with
due ceremony beside her first husband. The nephew and his wife got the jewellery
in the safe after probate. Banknotes in the leather bag had long since become
useless except as curiosities. I’m told the couple used some of the proceeds
from the sale of their windfall to get that steel death chamber taken away
and the hidden room blocked off. Can’t say I blame them.
And me? I remain the proud owner of a wonderful miniature house, free
from any odd happenings since the discovery of Jane’s corpse. I don’t want
to dwell on the strange happenings that led to its discovery. Let’s just call
it coincidence or something, heh? All I want to do is forget that part of the
tale by writing it all down to get it out of my system.
Thanks to Bob and our efforts, “that house” is fully electrified. David
even paid for all the fittings. Bless him! It is very much admired when displayed
at shows and has even been featured in two overseas magazines. We’ll never
part with it, come what may.
Rachel and I are currently planning a scale model of a five-storey hotel.
But please don’t tell my husband!