It was love at first sight with Lisa and Grant, they had met almost 2 years ago and with most modern young couples, it wasn’t long before they rented a little flat and moved in together. They were very happy and so were their parents, which is always helpful if you can skip the wicked stepmother syndrome. However they had reached a time in their relationship, they felt they wanted a home of their own and so the search had begun.
Houses in the town were a bit beyond their means and the best option seemed to be to get a small flat in one of the surrounding villages. With that in mind, much of their time had been spent in estate agents offices recently and they were beginning to despair of not getting somewhere suitable for the time being. Then by good fortune, one of their friends had mentioned one of the well known characters in a nearby village had died recently and that he thought there might be a possibility of his little home being put on the market. As far as anyone knew, he didn’t have any remaining relatives and that a solicitor was dealing with his estate. Both Lisa and Grant were quite familiar with the village and had a very good idea where the little flat was, so first thing the next evening, they both went to have a look to check it out and they liked the look of it so much, they decided to try to find the solicitor dealing with the old man’s affairs.
It took several phone calls but at last they tracked him down. He was a busy man and anxious to have the estate settled as quickly as possible. Arrangements were made for someone to be at the flat later that evening. It was well into the summer and the evening was warm and sunny; everything seemed just so perfect. Lisa and Grant arrived at the flat early, impatient to see inside, every minute seemed like an age. The front door was a bit tatty with signes of rotting at the bottom. The paint on the window frames were peeling and the place had an overall impression of being neglected for several years.
Just when they had begun to wonder if maybe this wasn’t the place for them, the solicitor’s clerk arrived. He was a bright, cheery young man, not someone you would normally associate with the legal profession, somehow the image expected is of sombre looking men in sombre suits and ties. Not this young man, his suit was sombre enough but his tie was more of a statement than a colour. It was almost as if he rebelled against the establishment’s image. His brown hair wasn’t slicked back with gel, it flopped about as he walked and he had an altogether air of cheerfulness about him.
“Sorry to have kept you, have you been waiting long?” before they had time to answer he continued “you’re the first people to see this flat, it hasn’t been advertised yet” By this time he was putting the key in the lock.
The hall was a bit dull, of course it hadn’t been decorated for years. The door on the left let into a little kitchen, so tiny it wasn’t much bigger than a cupboard. The next door led into the living room, it too was small but the original cast iron fireplace was still there and of course there was no central heating. The whole place looked as it it had been caught in a time warp. Although the place hadn’t been decorated in years, it had been kept scrupulously clean, that was what was so noticeable about it. The couple looked around, trying doors and looking in the rooms and cupboards again. There was one door at the end of the hall which was locked and the solicitor’s clerk said they didn’t have a key for it but thought it maybe a cupboard. It didn’t seem important at all because it was just what they wanted. They were told to contact Mr Anderson in the morning for further details if they were interested. Coming out of the door, their minds were made up, this was the house for them, depending of course on the price but they had been assured that because it hadn’t been moderised the price would be rock bottom.
Mr Harrison’s death had been quite sudden, he hadn’t been ill and had always kept reasonably healthy for his age. The newsagent had got concerned when he hadn’t collected his newspaper at his usual time and had gone to his house to check on him. He knocked on the door and when it wasn’t answered, he looked through the window. There he saw him, sitting on the chair with a book in his hand as if reading it. When he didn’t get any response to knocking on the window, he summoned the police. Within a short time they had arrived, had the door open and the amulance called. It was a sad day in the village, the day of his funeral, villagers and many outsiders had turned out to pay their respects.
In the morning, Lisa and Grant were making their way to Mr Anderson’s office, he was very business like although quite friendly. The flat had been surveyed for valuation and what was considered to be a fair price for such an old fashioned property, including the contents, was fixed. Everything seemed fine and the couple were delighted with the price. Mr Anderson had indicated that this price would be accepted should an offer be made. Lisa and Grant couldn’t wait to submit their offer and headed off, straight away to their own solicitor. Mr Smith was very helpful and guided them through all the red tape of buying a house.
Time seemed to drag but at the same time it wasn’t being wasted. Dreams were now materialising. The structure of the flat was sound but in time Grant would work installing some of the comforts, like double glazing and central heating.
Offers of help were coming in from friends and family, everything was going well and soon the day arrived and with the final arrangements, came the handing over of the key. Tension was high when they arrived outside the door of what was now their first home. They had arrived armed with measuring tapes, pencils, notebooks and even a light bulb in case it was needed. They set to work with their planning. They tried to open the locked door in the hall, they had brought a variety of old keys with them and as luck would have it, one of them worked.
They did not expect to see what lay before them. What they thought maybe an ordinary cupboard, turned out to be something quite different. Behind the door lay another room. It was fairly large, packed with boxes and all sorts of junk. Lisa and Grant stood for a moment apparently speechless then Grant made a move into the center of the room. He picked up a few items to look at them, then Lisa joined in, opening boxes, finding all sorts of treasures. There was hat boxes with top hats in them, button boots, opera glasses, various pieces of crockery and jewelery, clothes, mirrors, pictures and odd bits of furniture.
After they had had a look at some of the items, they decided to call their families. Half an hour later Grant’s parent arrived followed by Lisa’s parents. They all stood in the room with the same look of astonishment. They decided to call in the experts and various phonecalls were made to establish how the articles got there and who they belonged to. The archivist from the library was also called and soon the story was unravelled.
At the turn of the century, that building belonged to a pawn broker and after his death, the house had been divided into flats and Mr Harrison had at first rented one of them and when the landlord wanted to sell the flats to a property developer, Mr Harrison had been given the offer to buy and this was taken up by him. At this time he felt he was too old to go through and upheaval of modernisation, he was happy with things as they were and so was his wife. The flat had remained in it’s original state all these years. Because the flat was originally rented, Mr Harrison had never questioned whether he could have use of the ‘cupboard’ and as the years had passed, even after he had bought the flat, he never seemed curious as to what lay hebind the locked door.
Most of the goods had been sent to the antiques auctions and had raised substantial sums. Grant and Lisa kept a few of the items, and some of the money helped in renovating their little home. The secret room revealed a window and door both which had been bricked up, presumably to make the room safe for storage. Grant now had a new window installed and patio doors where the original door had been and now it looked out to a neat little garden. There were more surprises when they found the room also had access door to a basement. With Grant’s talent for DIY and Lisa’s skills in homemaking they now had a very comfortable little home, it even had room for expansion and looking at Lisa’s ultrasound scan of their first baby, it was just as well. As they sat in their warm centrally heated home in front of a highly polish cast iron fireplace, a framed photograph of Mr & Mrs Harrison hung on the wall. They knew somehow that this home was meant for them and that their years together would echo the happy years the Harrisons spent there.