The Dolls’ House by David Macfie
Rosemary and Peter had just moved into a new home with their parents, John and Elizabeth. The house was big and old, with lots of rooms, set in a large property plenty of trees and shrubberies and lawns and flowerbeds. It even had a duck-pond with ducks on it. The kids were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to explore. They decided to start with the garden. Mum and dad were very busy unpacking and were relieved to let the children loose to work off some excess energy before supper and bedtime.
“Be careful around the pond,” John yelled after the two, when they flashed out the front door.
“OK, dad,” he faintly heard from Peter, as the kids disappeared.
Not surprisingly, having been warned about the pond, they started their great adventure there. They were laughing with joy when they saw tadpoles and little fishes in the margins of the water and Peter already had ideas for his goldfish bowl and his large jam jar. Then they found a little stream that fed into the pond. It was flowing quite quickly and there were minnows and caddis fly larvae in the crystal clear water and dragonflies flying above. They followed the stream right to the boundary of their garden, where the wall had a grate in it to let the stream come through.
“That means there must be another stream going out again,” said Rosemary, wisely.
At twelve, she was the oldest and was conscious of her position as such.
“You’re right. Let’s find it,” answered, nine year old Peter, who was quite happy to let his sister take the lead as long as it was in a direction he wanted to follow.
They spent the rest of the afternoon examining every square meter of the garden and making all sorts of plans for extracting maximum enjoyment from this wonderland. At the fourth call from the house the kids deigned to obey.
“Supper in an hour,” said mum. “You can look round the house now but I want you washed and ready for bed when you come to the dining room. Understood?”
“Yes, mum,” came the overlapping replies from the back of two retreating heads.
The kids started downstairs, but found nothing out of the ordinary to catch their attention. Disappointed, they rapidly ascended the curved staircase that led to the upstairs landing. They began by looking, over the balustrade, at the entrance hall and were titillated by the height.
“Pity those ornamental bumps will stop us sliding down the banister,” remarked Peter, sadly.
He turned and rushed into the corridor, with Rosemary tagging along behind. There were four bedrooms along the corridor. The first was clearly going to be for guests because it had basic furniture only. The second was small and looked like it was designed for very young kids. The third and fourth were obviously Peter’s then Rosemary’s and their furniture was already in place. Three bathrooms were on the opposite side of the corridor on the back of the house. At the end of the corridor, a door led into the master bedroom that had its very own bathroom. All this was pretty routine and once again the kids were disappointed. They’d hoped for something more exciting. So far the doors to all the rooms they’d looked at had been open. Inevitably, Peter was drawn to the one closed door off the passage. It was opposite Rosemary’s room, just before the master bedroom entrance. Intrigued, he opened the door. It was really dark inside. He edged his hand into the darkness, searching for the light switch. When he found it and clicked it down, a feeble light came from a bare globe hanging by a plaited wire from the ceiling. The only window was concealed behind a heavy set of curtains that blocked all light from outside.
“It’s nasty and really creepy,” observed Rosemary, obviously not keen to go further.
Peter was silent for a moment. He scanned the room, taking note of some interesting looking trunks and boxes. Then he noticed a thin curtain drawn across something in the far corner on the left of the room – the opposite corner to the master bedroom.
“Wonder what’s behind that,” he mumbled, pointing to the curtain. He started across the room.
“No, I don’t want to see,” replied Rosemary, in a trembling voice.
“Then run away like a scaredy-cat,” answered Peter disdainfully and carried on.
Reluctantly, Rosemary followed. She couldn’t let her brother get away with that.
The curtain screened a narrow staircase. Peter flicked the light switch and climbed to the door at the top. Now he was feeling a little nervous, but he resolutely opened the door and felt again for a switch. A much more powerful globe illuminated the space. It was an attic room filled with all sorts of interesting things. But, by far the most interesting was a very large dolls’ house sitting by itself in the middle of the floor. The kids excitedly rushed in to check it out, when they heard their mother calling them to get ready for supper. The two were dying to share their discovery and even more intent on getting back to the attic as soon as possible, so they rushed through their ablutions and got into their bedclothes.
Over supper, they spoke about what they’d found.
“I knew it was there,” admitted John. It belonged to the previous owners, but they said it really belonged to the house. Apparently, it was made by the people who built this place, for their two children and has been passed down through the generations of the family. We’re the first owners who are not directly descended from the first people here.”
“How long ago was it made?” asked Peter, curiously.
“About a hundred and fifty years ago,” said John.
“Shew,” exclaimed Peter. “So long ago!”
“You can examine it tomorrow,” said John, sternly. “We’ve had a very busy day and we’re tired so it’s an early night tonight.”
The kids recognized the voice John was using and knew there was no getting around this decision so they gave in gracefully, helped with the dishes and headed for their rooms.
Sometime in the night, Peter was woken by an anxious sister.
“What time is it, he mumbled?”
“Just after three o’clock,” whispered Rosemary. “I’ve been hearing noises from the attic. And I’m frightened. What should we do?”
“Investigate,” replied Peter, tersely, picking up his flashlight. Rosemary could tell he was nervous if not scared. She followed close behind him. He crept through the door into the dark room and swept his light around. All was quiet here, but they could hear voices coming from the attic. The two slid silently up the steps to the door into the roof space. Peter opened the door and the two slipped inside then stopped in shock and amazement.
The dolls’ house was ablaze with the light of many tiny candles. The doll family were sitting at the dining room table and talking among themselves. The man turned his head and stared at the children.
“Ah, visitors,” he said in a surprisingly deep voice for one so small. “We’ve been expecting you.”
Peter and Rosemary were frozen in shock. The little man cocked his head.
“Cat got your tongues? Oh well, no matter. The show must go on. My family were all murdered in this house, by people who wanted to take it away from us. We were fortunate on two counts. First our extended family were strong enough to prevent the house being taken and second, our thirst for vengeance was strong enough for our spirits to live on in these dolls until we could avenge our deaths. Now that your family has taken our family legacy, the time has come.”
The attack, when it came, was so fast and vicious that the two kids never had a chance. Then the dolls headed for the master bedroom….