Mrs. Newman smiled. “You found it then. Good for you. That’s going to make this easier on all of us. Did you show the realtor?”
“No. Since the realtor didn’t show it to us, we weren’t sure she knew. A secret is only as good as the people who keep it,” she said.
“We weren’t even entirely sure if you knew. But it looked like your father left some of his work behind. We wanted to make sure you got it out of the house before you sold it,” he said.
“We are all going to be very good friends,” said Mrs. Newman.
“It’s so nice to meet you Mrs. Newman,” she said.
“It’s nice to meet you too. I understand you have some questions about the house,” said Mrs. Newman.
They sat down at the table across from Mrs. Newman, as a waitress came bustling up. “What can I get everyone?”
“Just coffee for now,” said Mrs. Newman.”
“The same,” they said together.
“So the house,” said Mrs. Newman after the waitress left.
“Well, we noticed a couple of anomalies,” he said.
“Like?” asked Mrs. Newman.
“Like the upper hall cupboard that opens on to other things,” she said.
“We’d like to talk to the owner before we put in an offer,” he said.
“That’s pretty unusual,” said the realtor.
“There are some features of the house we’d like to ask her about. That and the history of the house,” she said.
The realtor shrugged. “Okay. I’ll call her.”
“How are we going to do this?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“We could buy the house hoping that the owner knows about all her father’s work in the cupboard room. But I’d feel really wrong about that. She should have the chance to clean that out.”
“But we don’t know who knows about the hidden rooms. I don’t want to tell anyone about them, if the don’t already know. So we can’t message the owner through the realtor.”
“You don’t think the realtor knows already?”
“She didn’t show us the entrance. It’s very definitely a feature.”
“So how do we get to talk straight to the owner?” she asked.
“We could just ask,” he said.
Down the spiral stairs, they found themselves in a closet sized room. There was a door in the wall before them.
“Want to guess where we end up before we open the door?” he asked.
“I’m a little turned around, but I think maybe we’re coming out in the living room,” she said.
“I’m thinking the entry.”
“Let’s see,” she said with a nod toward the door.
He opened the door and they stepped out into the entryway with the bells. Right next to the one bell that was permanently installed in the wall.
“You were right,” she said.
“I really love this house,” he said.
“Me too,” she said pulling the door closed behind them.
He climbed the up the ladder and opened the trap door in the ceiling. “You’re going to like this.”
She followed him up through the ceiling. “I bet this was her’s. The dead wife.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” he said.
The Attic had been turned in to a library with shelves running along the walls from one end of the house to the other. In the center of the room there was a large old fashioned desk. Every beautiful wood surface, the floors, the shelves, the desk, and the window seats had been swept clean.
“Did you see a circular staircase anywhere downstairs?” she asked.
“Then I wonder where that goes,” she said pointing to the wrought iron stairs at the front of the attic.
“Let’s find out.”
“I love the stained glass,” she said running her hand lightly over a set of three abstract windows in one wall. The blues and reds danced over the floor.
“It looks like he’d started to pack up the books and things,” he said surveying the desk and old fashioned typewriter surrounded by neatly labeled file boxes.
At the workbench against the back wall she ran her hand over shiny gears and springs. “Do you think he was inventing things?”
“I think he was a toy maker,” he said.
“What makes you think that?” she asked as she turned back to him.
“Each of these boxes holds schematics and several prototypes of a clockwork toy.”
She stepped close and peered into the box too. “Oh. Not plastic either. Metal and enamel. They’re beautiful.”
“They are. It kind of makes you wonder where that goes,” he said pointing to a ladder that seemed to lead up into the ceiling.
“We should find out,” she said.