The first box they found had been heavier than the contents it contained, but worthless compared to the value of the gemstone treasure inside. This second box was cardboard so the weight came from the contents. They decided to open it on the dining room table.
Neat bundles of official looking papers no wonder it was heavy.
“Top or bottom?” asked Morgan. Fanning the bundles on the table, like a hand of cards.
The bottom bundle was the thickest and tied with a ribbon. That was the one Alice pulled closer to her end of the table.
“We will work from the bottom, and that way they should fit neatly into the box when we are finished.” Said Alice.
Untying the ribbon, they discovered it contained several documents of great interest, a map of the land. Floor plan layouts for all the house from the basement to the attics and others for the outbuildings. With these spread in front of them, came the realisation of the task ahead. She decided to give more time for closer scrutiny when she was more bright eyed and bushy tailed. The whole place was far to big to be a family home for herself and Lovell. If Alice was to live there she would need to make the place pay for itself. A mountain of work was needed before that could happen. They folded the plans and re-tied the ribbon before placing them back in the box.
The next bundle had stamped legal documents from years earlier. “How come these were not with the solicitor”? Asked Alice. “He never actually mentioned plans or any of these items, although he did have the deeds.”
The third folder, was interesting for a very different reason. A family tree going back about five generations. The most recent members were Sidney’s generation and his name was there among them. His and his grandfathers were the only names on the tree with no date of demise. Now she realised why the house had come into Sidney’s possession. “All those people and not one left. How sad.” Said Alice. “I really need to think of how to breathe fresh life into Thudder House and make good use of it!”
Morgan was quiet, the scale of the place, the work and the potential, suddenly hit him.
Putting the family tree back in the box, he handed a slim envelope to Alice, saying “Only two more folders after this.”
Alice took the envelope, it was sealed and addressed to S. S. Slythe, Esq. with the words By Hand in the top right corner. She opened and withdrew the contents. A letter inside was in a very neat hand and written to Sidney’s grandfather. A thick bundle of old high value bank notes were inside the letter. Old bank notes, that should have been put in a bank almost half a century earlier. Alice remembered Sidney telling her years ago, that his grandfather was worth a fortune. He had older cousins so never expected to see any of it, Sidney was not one impressed by money, you could say he was almost careless with it. His old cars, his plants and Alice were his only interests. Oh, and football. Don’t forget the football!
“Central Bank! That is where these need to go and they will at least give you some value for them. Said the guy with the fast running mind. “What does the letter say?”
The signature, was a name Alice had heard before, but not from Sidney. It was the gemmologist that Mr Grimes mentioned: Andrei Shuyski.
The letter explained the money was in part for his annual rent and board in the house, the safe keeping of his stock of gemstones, and the remainder was the return of a loan made ten years before that.
“You remember the inlayed intricate ivory pattern on the jewellery box? It had the initials ‘A S’ worked into it. I am surprised Mr Grimes had not mentioned it.”
“Mr Grimes sounded to me like a man fond of detail. Perhaps he was waiting to see if you recognised the name or noticed the initials.” He said, handing her the last bundle.
“So Sidney knew about the jewellery and the gemstones?” Questioned Morgan.
“I don’t think so, he only met his grandfather a few times in the final twenty years of his life. If Sidney had seen this letter, the envelope would be open. He would have told me about it.” Returning the contents to the envelope, Alice handed it to Morgan and he put it in the box.
“Morgan, in all the years that I was married to Sidney, I never knew him to open a drawer, without being asked to. He was just not a curious person. I bet he was the same about Thudder house. That cardboard box has rather yellowed with age and the string is not much better. Where did old Yeeeeeoooo say he found it? Had he gone through the papers?”
“No. He said when he saw they were papers, he brought them straight down to you. They were in the Master Bedroom. The top two folders were on top of the box, so he undid the string and put them inside”
The final bundle contained a couple of folders of documents from a bank. The branch was a few doors away from the solicitor’s office. They were details of an account in the name of Sylvester S. Slythe: Sidney’s grandfather. Statements for the last few years of his life with the last lodgement of a rather large sum of money, dated a month before his death. A hand written note to Sidney, said: “There should be enough here to see me down!”
“There is our answer! Said Alice.
“What do you mean? asked Morgan.
“Sidney paid for his grandfather’s funeral out of his own pocket, so he never saw any of these papers! Morgan, before you close up the box, let me have another look at the family tree.”
Morgan spread it in front of her. Alice was quiet as she scanned the document.
“ Look! There you have it. Ivan S. Slythe, was the eldest of Sidney’s cousins and heir to old Grandad Sylvester. He is the most recently deceased on this tree. He died two months before the grandfather, so Sidney only became the heir to the place shortly before his grandfather died. No wonder he never mentioned this lot. He knew nothing about it! I think this is best kept between us until I talk to the solicitor and the bank.”
Morgan agreed. “Now it has been a long day and you need a nightcap. I’ll join you for one and then head back up to the Workshop.”
Handing Alice her glass, he sat in the armchair opposite to her.
“Sunday tomorrow, I think we should pack a picnic and take Lovell and Crumbs to the beach for the day. A long walk at the waters edge would clear our heads and give time for all this to sink in.”
“Good idea.” said Alice. “Then on Monday Morning, I will phone both Mr Grimes and the Solicitor. I would like to have a chat with Mr Grimes first, he might know more details of how long Andrei Shuyski was resident in Thudder House. Then later on, I should have more details for the solicitor. I’m hoping he can deal with the bank and sort out the money angle for us. We need to know exactly what we have to play with, in order that I can move on and really do something with the place!”
“Right, My Lady, dreamland is calling you, it is time I went home. Is there anything I can pick up for the picnic, when I go for the papers in the morning?”
Alice shook her head. “No thanks, there should be plenty of food in the fridge. A walk along the beach might be the right place to separate the wheat from the chaff of the ideas I have for the future of Thudder house. Thank you, Morgan for all your help, yet again today. Now off you go and let me lock up all these precious papers”.
“Sleep well, see you in the morning!”