Chapter 4: Family History

The Collins’ enjoyed a scrumptious meal made by their cook, Eugenia. Sadly, Mrs. Johnson suffered a stroke two years ago and passed away. She is sorely missed by the family, and they cherish the memories they had with her. Eugenia is a world class cook who specializes in French, Italian, and Mexican cuisines. Her desserts have won prizes at the county fair in the summertime. Needless to say, she is very well loved by the family. After dinner, the men retired to the study to continue talking business while the women retired to the drawing room for coffee and conversation. The children were ushered upstairs by the governess, Samantha, to get ready for bed.

“Say, Hallie, where’s your uncle? Does he still live in the cottage?” Julia asked ask she entered the drawing room with the others.

“Oh, he went to New York City to give a presentation on the supernatural. He’ll be back in three days. He does regret he wasn’t here to greet you,” Hallie responded. “And he actually lives here at Collinwood. Since David opened and restored all the wings of the house, we gave my uncle part of the East Wing.”

“Oh, how fascinating! I’d love to hear about his adventures when he gets back,” Julia replied. “Barnabas and I have read many of his books, and I’m glad to see they’ve gained such popularity.”

“Yes, he is very proud of his work…as am I.”

“I bet you are.”

Melody entered the room with Max after taking him for a brief walk outside. “Looks like it’s about to storm. I’m glad we got inside just in time,” Melody announced as she took a seat next to her mother. “Did I miss anything.”

Julia took Melody under her arm and kissed her forehead. “Not really. We were just discussing Hallie’s uncle, Professor Stokes. He’s giving a presentation in New York City on the supernatural.”

“Oh, I see. I don’t really believe in all that stuff. There’s really no such thing as ghosts and monsters. It’s all a Hollywood fantasy made up to make money,” Melody stated. Her mother tried so hard not to laugh at the statement. Oh! If she only knew what she and her father went through before Melody was born.

“Well, there’s spooks here in the house!” Carolyn cried. “Although, there aren’t as many as there were before, but strange things have happened here. Hauntings, occult happenings, monsters. It’s all true.” Melody looked at her older cousin like she was on some sort of drugs.

“Well, you can believe what you want to believe, but there’s no such thing as the supernatural.” Melody said while sipping her tea. Julia looked at her daughter with a slight smile before returning to her own tea.

“So, Melody, your mother tells us you’re going to Yale in the fall to study Pre-Veterinary medicine. That’s so exciting!” Elizabeth stated quickly changing the topic. “You’re a very intelligent young woman, and if you’re anything like your parents, you’ll excel in that field. Tell me. Will you be specializing in any specific kind of animal?”

“I don’t know yet. I really love all animals, so I will probably just be an all around Veterinarian.” Melody replied. “It’s really what I wanted to do since I was a child. From having Max, saving strays from the streets, and riding my horses, I have a deep love for animals.”

“Oh, you ride? How fantastic!” Hallie stated. “We have a stable full of Thoroughbred horses in the stables. Maybe we can ride this summer!”

“I’d love that!” Melody replied as she stretched her back. “I’m beat. Mother, may I go to my room? I’m awfully tired.”

“Sure, darling. You’ve had a really long day,” Julia said while standing up to hug her daughter. “Goodnight, love. Sweet dreams.”

“Night mama. See you in the morning. C’mon Max. Time for bed” Melody stated while hugging her mom. Max jumped up and stood by Melody’s side waiting for the cue to move. Melody padded Max’s head, they followed Carolyn up the staircase to Melody’s room.

Melody’s room was right next to her parents room on the second floor of the Great House. It was large with a king-sized canopy bed, a sitting area, a wardrobe, and it’s own entry to a private bathroom. Melody noticed that one of the housekeepers placed her suitcase on the bed, but did not put anything away. It was a rule of the Collins family that housekeepers do not put away guests’ things. Melody opened her luggage and put away her clothing, leaving out sweat pants and a t-shirt for bedtime.

Ghosts! Hump! No such thing. Sure, this house is large and looks like something out of a horror movie, but there’s no such thing as ghosts! Melody thought to herself as she put her things away. Just then a loud clap of thunder roared from the sky that made Melody jump and drop her clothing from her arms. Oh for petes sake Melody! It was just thunder. You’re an adult now. You shouldn’t be spooked by thunder. Melody chastised herself for being scared of the thunder. Melody finished putting up her belongings, slipped into her pajamas, brushed her teeth, and got into bed. Max immediately jumped up into bed and snuggled beside her. It wasn’t long before both were fast asleep.

BOOM! CRASH!

Thunder roared through sky and lightening lit up the Great House to the point it woke Melody up from a deep sleep. Max was already on the floor, shaking, with his head under the bed. Melody looked around her room. The room that was once beautiful and airy was now gloomy and dark. At the next bolt of lightening, Melody thought she saw a figure of a woman standing at the end of her bed.

“Hello? Mother? Is that you?” Melody cried out. No one answered. Lightening flashed again and the figure was still there. Spooked by what she saw, Melody leaped from her bed, rushed out of her room, and barged into her parents bedroom with Max behind her slamming the door. Julia was still up reading in bed, and Barnabas wasn’t even there as he was still in the study talking with Roger and David about the business.

“Hi mom,” Melody stated wide eyed and shaking. “What’s new?” Julia put her book down and took off her glasses.

“Melody. What’s wrong? You’re not scared of the storm are you?” Julia asked. Melody shook her head, but when the next clap of thunder hit, Melody and Max made a b-line for the bed and got under the covers next to Julia. “Honestly, Melody. Aren’t you a little old for this?”

“Mom. There was a woman in my room. I saw her when the lightening struck. She scared me. Can’t I stay in here tonight, please?” Melody asked. Julia gave her daughter a half smile and nodded her head. Melody snuggled up next to her mother. “Thanks mom. This place is creepy at night.” Julia just smiled at her daughter and kissed her forehead. Julia then stroked Melody’s hair until they both fell asleep.

Later that night, Barnabas came into the room after discussing business affairs with Roger and David.

What the….. Barnabas thought to himself as he saw Melody and Max in bed with Julia. Barnabas just smiled at his sleeping angels and decided not to wake any of them up. He quietly got out of his clothing and put his pajamas on that Melody got him. He then sat in the big recliner, staring at his beautiful family.

Yep, I’m one lucky man. Barnabas thought to himself as he drifted to sleep.

Melody woke up the next morning with the sun shinning in her face. Barnabas, Julia, and Max were not in the room, so Melody assumed they were downstairs already. Melody rose from the bed and went to her room to get a shower and get ready for the day. Once she was ready, Melody hurried downstairs to get breakfast. Eugenia made pancakes, sausage, fresh orange juice, toast, and coffee for breakfast. Melody could smell the food from the foyer of the Great House. Melody skipped into the kitchen where Julia and Elizabeth were eating their breakfast.

“Well, there’s Miss Sleepyhead,” Julia quipped. “How are you this morning, darling?” Julia rose to kiss her daughter on the forehead and hug her.

“I’m fine, mom. Where’s dad?” Melody asked while hugging her mom. Julia sat back down while Melody went over to hug Elizabeth.

“Your father went into the cannery already. He was up early. Seems like he didn’t sleep well last night,” Julia replied while a sly smile on her face. Elizabeth giggled while Melody grimaced while sitting down to her plate that Eugenia had ready for her.

“Yeah, about that,” Melody stated. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I got so spooked last night.”

“It was probably from Carolyn telling you about the ghosts of the house,” Elizabeth chimed in. “Your imagination just got the best of you.” Melody nodded her head and began eating her breakfast. “This house can play tricks on the mind. When I was a girl, I thought I saw ghosts too, especially during storms.”

“Well, I guess you’re right,” Melody stated between bites. Julia was reading the paper when she stopped at a particular article.

“Liz, who’s this Beaumont family?” Julia asked while looking at the article. Elizabeth looked over her coffee cup at Julia.

“That’s the family that owns a textile factory about 30 miles from here. They live in the countryside of Collinsport. Dreadful family if you ask me,” Liz replied. Julia put the paper down and looked at Elizabeth.

“Why would you say that?” Julia asked cocking her head to one side.

“Oh, they’re just so snobbish. Even more than Roger I’m sad to say. They think they’re better than everyone in town, especially that little brat of a son they have. He gets into more trouble than Willie did when he was younger, and yet, the police don’t do a thing,” Elizabeth replied to Julia. Melody stopped eating and looked at her aging cousin. “And no, I’m not jealous. Finally this family has a good reputation in this town and the two business don’t compete against each other. But still. They think they own Collinsport.”

“Well, Liz. I wouldn’t worry about anything,” Julia said. “It sounds like they’re more a pain than an asset to the community. I’m sure the townspeople know who really owns this town.” Elizabeth nodded towards Julia and then excused herself to the drawing room. Julia sipped on her coffee while Melody finished her breakfast. Julia’s hand reached over to Melody’s hair as she stroked it back behind her ear to see her daughter’s face. “So, Melody, do you have any plans for today?”

“Not really, mom. I thought I would explore the grounds a little and go take a look at the horses. You don’t think the family would mind do you?” Melody asked her mother.

“No. Of course not. This is your home as well, darling. Feel free to explore,” Julia told her daughter while putting up her plate and coffee cup. “Just be careful. This is an old house and there are lots of secret panels and hidden corridors. I don’t want you hurt.”

“Ok, mom. I’ll be careful,” Melody said while putting up her plate. Before leaving the kitchen, she hugged her mom and told her she loved her. Melody made her way down a corridor where pictures of her ancestors hang. Melody looked over all the pictures carefully. Joshua Collins. Naomi Collins. Josette Collins. Sarah Collins. Barnabas Collins.

Barnabas Collins. The name stops Melody in her tracks. Barnabas Collins. A cold shiver went up her spine, and she shook like it was winter time. The portrait looks exactly like her own father! She couldn’t believe it! She just stared at the picture with her mouth open when she got a tap on her shoulder. Melody jumped two feet in the air and screamed. When she turned around it was her father.

“Oh, I’m sorry my dear. I didn’t mean to frighten you,” Barnabas told his daughter while giving her a hug.

“It’s OK, dad, but this picture. It’s YOU!” Melody exclaimed. Barnabas chucked and gave his daughter a kiss on the forehead.

“No dear. This is the first Barnabas Collins. He did come to America from England back in the 1700s, but went back to England after some unfortunate events. I came to America in 1967 from England. I was the only surviving member of the English branch, and I wanted to meet my American family. Since then, I’ve stayed here,” Barnabas explained. “Yes, we do look very much alike, but assure you we are two different people.” Melody studied the portrait further before turning back to her father.

“I just can’t believe the resemblance! It’s like a…..a…..”

“A ghost had come to life?” Barnabas asked. Barnabas knew a ghost had come to life, or more so, a vampire. Barnabas reminisced about his first appearance at Collinwood and how it changed is life forever.

“I guess so,” Melody replied. Melody continued to look at the portraits one by one. She studied the faces and the names carefully asking her dad about the ones she was curious about. “Where’s Quentin’s picture?” Melody asked her father. Barnabas was quick to come up with an answer. He was not ready to tell her that his portrait was done in 1897 by Charles Delaware Tate and aged instead of Quentin aging. He was also not prepared to let her in on Quentin’s secret.

“Quentin doesn’t like his portrait painted. He says it takes way too long,” Barnabas replied quickly. “The family keeps encouraging him to get one, but he’s hesitant and impatient.” Melody just shrugged her shoulders and came to the pictures of the current family and portrait of her father that was done by Sam Evans when he first arrived in Collinsport.

“Oh, this is the portrait that Mr. Evans did!” Melody excalimed. “He did such a great job! Oh, and here’s mother’s picture! My how pretty she looked in her wedding dress.” Both Melody and Barnabas admired the picture with the name of Dr. Julia Hoffman-Collins. Barnabas was also taken back by how much Melody resembled Julia. He wondered if Julia looked like Melody when she was just eighteen years old. Julia stated many of her pictures when she was younger were destroyed in a fire when she was in college. Unfortunately, Barnabas would never know. “So,” Melody stated as she turned to her father. “Is my picture going to go here?”

“Yes darling,” Barnabas answered giving his daughter a side hug. “In fact, a little surprise for you. You will have your picture painted during the summer and it will hang right next to your mother’s portrait. How does that sound?” Melody’s eyes and smile grew wide and she wrapped her arms around her father’s neck.

“That would be so wonderful! When do I sit for it?” Melody asked.

“Whenever you would like. Your mother and I have it all arranged and all you have to do is tell us when it is and we’ll let the painter know.” Melody was gleaming with excitement over the fact she would be joining her family and ancestors on the walls in Collinwood. At that moment, she realized she was finally home.

 

 

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