Ginny Morse has a secret. She has kept this secret for 10 years. An old house, with an even older piece of furniture that occupies Ginny's room. The massive ancient wardrobe has a story and Ginny is determined to find out the truth. She finds an interesting Professor, a business acquaintance of her father's, to help her uncover the history and the mystery of the wardrobe. But can she trust him? If the news of the wind and silvery gray light gets out, will it make a spectacle of the Morse family in this small town? Will Ginny have the courage to reveal her secret and risk losing the trust and faith of her family?
By Daniel Carroll
A crack, or was it a scratch in the reflective coating on the back of the glass? The large, ominous looking wardrobe with the mirrored door was in the house when Ginny and her family moved in 10 years ago. Ginny was just six years old and she picked the room with the wardrobe. The wardrobe was not the attractive feature of the space, but the three section bay window, with a seat, that looked out onto the spacious back garden and the wooded space beyond. Her first morning in the new dwelling, an old three story manor house long since passed out of the hands of the wealthy gentry that originally had it built, was magical to her six year old eyes. The sun rising from behind the thick wooded area, casting dancing patterns of light and shadow onto the wall across from the bay windows was to her young eyes, magical. It was a full year living in this wonderful place, something of a castle to Ginny, that she saw it...or dreamt it. She heard what sounded like a distant rushing wind. She awoke, or perhaps was dreaming that she woke up, and looked intently to the bay windows, thinking that a storm was approaching causing the trees in the wood to whisper the storms coming. But as soon as she turned her head to the windows, it was clear the sound was coming from inside her room! It was not frightening, but very odd to hear the sound of a mighty wind inside a room, and more curious that it seemed to be coming from far away...inside the room.
Her curiosity was peaked and she moved out from under the warm quilt and placed her feet on the cool, polished wooden floor. She stood beside her bed and rubbed the sleep from her eyes so she could focus. The sound was definitely coming from the direction of the massive, dark oak wardrobe. She took two cautious steps in that direction, staring wide eyed at the wardrobe. She could see something, but wasn't close enough to clearly make it out. She took another slow, deliberate step and stopped suddenly with a gasp. There seemed to be a light, almost like gray sunlight coming through a thin, jagged crack in the upper right hand corner of the mirror on the wardrobe. She moved in closer until she was within a foot of the wardrobe, her eyes never leaving the gray silver glow coming from the mirror. With her head leaned back she studied the glow as best she could from her low vantage point. At only six years old and this wardrobe being every inch of eight feet in height, there wasn't any possible way she could be at eye level with the source of the light. She looked around the room considering what object she could use to elevate herself. Her toy box was overflowing and to clear it out and move it into position would surely awaken her brothers and her parents. Then suddenly it occurred to her that she didn't feel the need to alert her parents. Why? Because she wasn't afraid and thought of this discovery as her special secret that she would share when she knew more and could tell more. She was tired and should get back to bed. She turned back toward her bed and then looked high over her shoulder at the glow. She tilted her head to align her left ear with the sound and it confirmed that it was coming from that sliver of misty, gray light. She crawled back into bed and got comfortable under the warm quilt and dozed off back to sleep with the distant rushing of the wind in her ears. She awoke the next morning feeling well rested and immediately jumped out of bed and trotted over to the wardrobe. She looked up to the place where she believed the source of light came from the previous evening to see nothing but what appeared to be, a black crooked scratch about three inches long. She listened. There was silence. She decided it was just a very curious dream.
Chapter 1 – The Morse Family
It had been ten years since Ginny's first experience with the mysterious gray, silver light from the wardrobe mirror. A lot has changed in her life and that of her family. Her two older brothers, Jim is 19 working at the local hardware store saving money for trade school and Kenneth, at 17, just a year older than Ginny, was finishing up his last year of high school hoping for an academic scholarship to the state university. Ginny's father had established himself well in the mid- sized community as a dependable and honest accountant, working with most of the local businesses and two of the banks. He worked out of a small store front office in old down town near the county court house. He would leave the house at seven in the morning and return at six, by which time dinner was almost ready. This old colonial town had the early Americana charm of having a real 'town square'. Complete with benches, elderly townsfolk milling around and talking in the cool of the late afternoon, a central park with a lazy shallow creek winding through its center and green spaces shaded with old oaks and maples. Ginny's mother, always jovial and constantly trying new tasty dishes for the family to enjoy for the evening meal. Her mother worked two days a week in the local nursing home as a nurses' assistant, helping care for the aged and reading to the residents. She loved to read and welcomed the suggestions for material from the inhabitants of the nursing home. It offered her a tremendous variety of works she may never have chosen to read herself. One week it would be some old Western paperback, then classic literature from a European notable or a romance novel, of which she skipped most of the racy parts as she considered the writing a little crass and inappropriate for the audience. Her favorite requests were the ones for poetry. It didn't matter what author, she liked the way such a few choice words in a well written poem could evoke an emotion.
Ginny and her family were very happy here and they all adored the old manor house. It was so roomy and stately with a long drive from the wooded lane which came off the main highway three miles outside of town. It was quiet and semi-secluded due to the dense woods and lack of near neighbors. The size of the home and property allowed her family to host school and church social functions with no worries for space inside or out. It was a very comfortable place, but because of its age, required constant maintenance. Very few weekends passed that Ginny's father wasn't having to do something to the house; either leaking plumbing in the basement or stone repair on some failing wall section. The house was sturdy and well built in 1840 but time and weather takes its toll. The roofing job that was needed after they had been in the home for five years was quite costly and extensive. Ginny's Mother and Father insisted on retaining the original shake shingle roof and with it being a three story house, required a lot of scaffolding and four weeks to complete the job. The company Ginny's Father, Mr. Morse, hired did an excellent job and Mrs. Morse thoroughly enjoyed preparing a lunch time meal for the crew. They were nearly always surprised by some strange new delight Ginny's mother would have made. Not all were taken well, however, as her mother would say, "The roofers' palate just isn't sophisticated enough to appreciate salmon and artichoke." Ginny would always giggle when her mother talked about food as if it was some 'highbrow' affair, but she greatly appreciated her efforts to make a basic necessity of life exciting and new. Her Father was always complimenting the meals and genuinely liked most of them. On occasion he would ask for a favorite, usually when Mrs. Morse got carried away with the spicy stuff too many days in a row.
The Morse family; Mr. and Mrs. Morse along with their three children Jim, Kenneth and Ginny were fairly well known, mostly due to Mr. Morse's solid accounting business, and well-liked by the community. All the children performed above average in school with the exception of Ginny. Ginny was far above average, even above gifted. Not in the sense that she would be considered genius, but more about the fact that she was so well rounded and her uncanny ability to catch on and retain information. She excelled in science and math, much to her Father and Mother's pleasant surprise. Ginny's older brothers did well, but not nearly as well and with far more effort than was required of Ginny. She had a passion for understanding how things worked. When she was an adolescent, the Morse family went through an unusual number of small household appliances such as toasters, can openers and computers as Ginny was prone to take them apart to learn how they functioned. Many of her 'learning projects', as her Father would kindly call them, didn't always turn into a need for a new toaster. Ginny was able get some of the items back together and working correctly, but not always. Mr. Morse had to finally say something when he found her in the workshop with an old tube type television with the outer shell almost off. When he saw Ginny trying to slide it off the back of the cathode ray tube he rushed to her side.
"Now, Ginny. This has gone a little too far. I understand your passion for learning about things, but this can be very, very dangerous. The charging capacitor on an old television like this one can hold a large electrical charge and it can hurt you," he said in a stern, but gentle tone, looking straight into her eyes. "I think from now on, Mother and I will allow you one book a month from a book club and an extra trip to the library so that you can read about things rather than do them without enough information, ok?" He said it with a slight plea in his voice so as not to snuff out Ginny's fire for learning. He wasn't intending to put a stop to her tinkering, but wanted to make sure she has some background knowledge so she could pursue her interests without getting hurt….or cutting into the birthdays and Christmas budget with unnecessary appliance purchases.
Ginny dearly loved her brothers and they all got along as well as could be expected. Ginny's brothers felt the same way about their little sister, but she could be quite annoying with her knack for practical science and mechanics. When Jim got his first car, a little bit of a clunker, Ginny knew more about the inner workings of the machine than Jim did after owning it for six months. The first time the car was due for oil change, Jim was not keen on watching his Father do the job and less enthused to do it himself when it came time for it again. Ginny had overheard her Father tell Jim that it was time to change the oil and that the supplies were in the garage. Jim said, "Ok, dad. I've got too much school work tonight, but I'll take care of it on Saturday." His tone was dry and half-hearted. It was obvious he had no interest in doing the chore. Ginny decided to help him out. Friday night Jim had an outing with some of his friends from school and took off with them in their car. Mr. and Mrs. Morse were busy tidying up the kitchen and downstairs living areas after dinner, so Ginny headed to the garage intent on changing the oil for Jim.
Saturday morning around eight, Jim came into the kitchen with slightly dirty hands with a wrench in one and an old rag in the other with a quizzical look on his face. He stopped at the kitchen counter, and scratching his head with the wrench addressed Mr. Morse. "Dad, I know you aren't going to believe this, but the filter looks brand new and the oil on the dip stick looks like it just came out of the can? Did you change the oil for me?" Mr. Morse grinned and sat down his coffee cup. "Jim, I know you don't relish the idea of changing the oil, but if you want the car to keep running well, you have to do it. The filter may 'look' new, but you don't drive the car that much and with the lack of rain lately, it's not surprising it appears that way, but it has been three thousand miles since the last change so it needs it. If you want my help, give you some pointers, no problem." Jim was stammering the entire time his Father was speaking, wanting to get a word in and once Mr. Morse stopped speaking, "Dad, you don't understand. Just come look, I'm telling you the filter looks brand new!" Jim said with some excitement. "Ok, Jim. I'll play along," Mr. Morse said with a sigh, rising to his feet and heading for the garage with Jim tailing close behind. As they entered the garage Mr. Morse took an immediate left for the shelving that lined the wall. "Jim, the oil and filter are right….here?" Mr. Morse agitatedly shuffled some boxes and jugs around on the shelving muttering to himself, "I know I put the filter and oil right here when I got home Wednesday. Where could they have gone?" "I think I found them," said Jim with his head inside the waste bin. Mr. Morse crossed over to Jim as he was emerging from the trash can with an oil smutted filter and empty oil can. They both looked at each other for a long second and spoke at the same time, "Ginny!" Jim of course, was extremely grateful and offered to take Ginny out for ice cream and Mr. Morse was somewhat perplexed, maybe a little annoyed that Jim's younger sister was more capable and willing to do an oil change than Jim. Ginny simply responded to the inquiry, "It was fun!"
Chapter 2 – The Wardrobe and the Wind
All these years Ginny had remained silent about the wardrobe and the strange light. The reason for her keeping it to herself was the same as it was when she was six years old. She wouldn't tell anyone until she could better, if not fully explain it. Once into high school, her studies had unlocked some clues, she desperately hoped, to understanding the light and where it might come from. Her physics class touched on some of the concepts of time and space as well as the possibility of other dimensions that co-exist with ours. When she was studying plants and organic life in her 8th grade biology class, she took note for the first time, the large oak tree that grew about fifty feet from the back of their house. Looking out her bay windows it was clearly visible and slightly to the left of her view from there. What she noticed was a large, mature branch of the tree jutting out toward the house at almost a forty five degree angle to the bay windows. The odd thing was that this branch, growing to within 20 feet of the house took an abrupt 90 degree turn toward the sky. Looking at its growth pattern, it was as if the branch had hit an invisible wall and could not grow out straight as the other large branches do on the rest of the tree. As with most houses that have outcropped design features, the set of three bay windows had a roof line and guttering for rain to run off. Birds like any elevated ledge on which to perch and rest or survey an area below for food. Birds would come to rest on every other available ledge, railing or gutter on the house, but not hers. She had observed them in flight, appearing to be headed to her bay window ledge, but would always abruptly change direction when getting just past the oak branch that was turned up 90 degrees. Again, it was like there was an invisible barrier which they could not pass. Ginny tried many times to sense something there. Something she couldn't see but could maybe feel, but never could. She thought if other organic things noticed it she should be able to as well, but nothing.
Over the years she did notice a pattern with the appearance of the gray, silvery light the emanated from the crack in the wardrobe mirror. It seemed to happen like clockwork at each of the seasonal changes of summer and winter equinox, when the northern hemisphere of the earth was the closest and the farthest from the sun. The light would appear for the longest, usually between five and ten minutes on its first showing and over the next five days would get shorter in length of time visible and would disappear completely until the next seasonal change. Her Father thought it was odd on her 14th birthday that she asked for an eight foot step ladder. She told him she wanted it to be able to access the top of the wardrobe for storage. Mr. Morse was happy to oblige his daughter's desire to keep things organized and use all the available space in her room, but was confused as to why she wanted to keep the ladder in her room. Ginny told him she wanted it to be hers and she planned to decorate it over time, as like an ongoing creativity outlet. Ginny's true reason of wanting the ladder, was of course to get at eye level with the light in the mirror. She would paint or doodle on the ladder with bright colors and patterns to keep her word about an outlet for creative energy.
One important thing that Ginny found out early in her experience with the light from the mirror was that she didn't need to mark a calendar or set an alarm to awaken her. When it was time for the light to come and visit her, she was always awakened by the wind. So strange to her was the fact that as weather would come and go, they had their fair share of heavy wind and rain storms, but nothing ever woke her like the wind from the wardrobe. There was never any lightning or thunder to shudder her awake. No pitter pat pat on the mirror glass, like rain would do on her bay windows. Just the whisper of a rushing wind, seemingly coming from a great distance inside her room. Ginny had been at eye level with the light many times now, but still no concrete break through or understanding. She kept a secret journal just for the wardrobe and the light. Every time it came, she made an entry. Her entries were kept in the same fashion as a scientist would document an experiment. She included the date, the hour and a line reserved for every minute of observation. Sometimes she would simply make short bullet statements to capture her observations and then down the page would elaborate in greater detail after the event was over. One of her best entries was in October five years ago:
'The light is unusually bright this time and when I get in a direct line of sight, I can see what seems like space within the light. The crack is very small, but when I move from left to right slightly, I see what appears to be a landscape. I cannot make out any definitive features like trees or structures, but I think I see a hilly horizon and sky. I can't see the source of the light, like a sun or other light giving object, but there does seem to be variation, like shadows on the landscape which would mean there is a fixed source of light coming from a specific direction.'
Ginny has tried very hard to study the light as intently as she can during the events. But she found out early on that it is difficult, what with the crack being so small and also, though she cannot feel it like something hot or cold, the light gives off some sort of energy that fatigues her vision rapidly. Once she tried to look through the sliver in the mirror without blinking, just moving her eyes back and forth slowly to capture as much detail as possible, and finally after about two minutes she could barely focus and her eyes were streaming with tears. She had to carefully get down from the ladder and feel her way back to her bed until the fuzziness in her vision cleared. She never got sick to her stomach or a headache from the observations, just tired eyes and temporary blurred vision. Ginny also attempted to photograph the light. Her first attempt produced reasonable results with her phone. She was probably four feet away, standing on the floor at about a 45 degree angle from the wardrobe. She used the moonlight mode on her camera phone and the photo was fairly clear, but would still require an explanation of what a person was looking at. She attempted to get a close up from being eye level with the crack. Big mistake. When she had taken the photo with her phone camera in line with the light and at a distance of about six inches, the phone went dead. She waited a week before she told her Father that her phone was broken. She was tempted many times to use a digital camera but was worried about the same result, another damaged electronic device. For the time being, her journal would have to suffice for documentation.
After learning through her observations that there was space within the light, she tried drawing what she thought she saw. Her brothers called it modern art. Well, there wasn't much to it. Some chalky blue gray stuff on the bottom half of the page and yellowish white stuff on the top half. The blue gray stuff could be interpreted as the ground and the stuff on top as sky? She had only half a dozen of the drawings, most in pastels and a couple in colored pencils. It did seem to better represent what she saw using the pastel chalks, though. Her journal entries didn't just include visual observations, but what she heard as well. In June two years ago she wrote:
'The wind I call it seems to be just that, based on what I'm hearing. When I'm standing level with the light it sounds just like a sporadic, unceasing wind like what you might encounter on a wide open plain or the desert. It does fluctuate up and down in velocity, but never stops completely. It also seems that the sound is being created from the crack like the sound that would be made in a drafty barn or the howl from a partially closed window with the wind whistling through the opening. If it is being created by the crack, like a partially closed window, I would think I could feel something, but no, just the sound.'
Ginny had studied the wardrobe from top to bottom, inside and out ever since she got the ladder for her birthday. It is far too heavy to move and besides, she is not sure how much of the light's appearance is based on physical location, so she dare not move it. She has borrowed her Father's inspection mirror from his tool box several times to check the back of the wardrobe that is against the wall. She has never found a maker's mark or a date of manufacture. She has tried researching on the internet for any information about the origin of the wardrobe based on its shape, size and construction style but has never found anything conclusive. Ginny had decided it was time to get some outside help. It was a risk to her secret to have someone else involved, but she believed she had gone as far as she could in learning anymore about the wardrobe's origin.
Chapter 3 – Professor Carrigan
There was an early harbinger of winter's approach in late October. A fierce northern front had come in on Thursday night dropping the mercury to just above freezing. A steady chilling breeze swept across the front lawn as Ginny and her Father loaded up into his car to head to his office downtown. On a Saturday, Ginny would, from time to time, accompany her Father to his office when he had some unfinished work that couldn't wait until Monday or a special client who couldn't come by during the week and her Father would make the rare exception to meet with them on a Saturday. This Saturday was a client meeting. Mr. Morse had mentioned Professor Carrigan over evening meals in conversation with Mrs. Morse, saying how he was very friendly but a little odd in his manner. This would be Ginny's first time meeting the professor and was a little anxious. Mr. Morse handled most of his business with the professor through the mail, over the phone or through the internet and it was usually only once or twice a year that he needed to meet him in person.
They arrived down town just after eight in the morning and Ginny's Father parked in the reserved space just in front of his small storefront office. Mr. Morse, upon deciding to open the office not long after they had moved here eleven years ago, wanted the office to have a banker's look to it. He had a local sign painter paint deep green half way up the store front glass windows and box them in with a deep maroon pin striping. Mr. Morse had a local curtain shop install old style canvas pull down shades for the top half of the glass and they were kept pulled down to the point where most adults could clearly see into the office space. On the door in arched gold and black letters read, 'T. Morse, C.P.A.' and immediately below that the street number of the office, 1235 Brook Ave. Mr. Morse unlocked the door and held it for Ginny to enter. She always enjoyed her trips to her Father's office. The walls were dark paneled wood a third of the way up the walls and the color on the remainder was a pale forest green. The receiving area contained a low occasional table surrounded by four chairs. Two of which were a Queen Anne style with over stuffed bottom cushions and the other two were old fashioned fabric covered wing back lounge chairs. The receiving area was broken up into two distinct sections. On the other side of the cozy room opposite the chairs and table was an old style writing desk with a chair facing the desk and another situated to the right of the desk nearest the front window. The letter holders on the hutch of the desk were stuffed with tax forms, envelopes and other sundry office documents for clients. A narrow hall flowed back to the end of the store front office into a wall where a painting of a sailing ship on rough seas was hung. There were two doors about midway down on either side of the hall. One was closed, the rest room, and the other was open, which was her Father's private office. "Ginny, hope you brought a book to read. The professor can be long winded sometimes, but our meeting shouldn't last longer than an hour," her Father announced. Ginny cheerfully replied, "No worries dad, I brought a book and a word find to keep me busy." "Do you want a soda or something?" her Father asked. "No, I'm fine. Looks like your client is here," Ginny responded pointing toward the door, at which a thin, finely dressed man stood. Mr. Morse walked to the door and opened it, his hand out stretched to shake hands with Professor Carrigan. "Good day Mr. Morse, good day, sir," Said the elder gentleman with a wide smile. "Good day professor, hope your travels were smooth," said Mr. Morse in reply. "Oh, yes no major bumps in the road. A little cool this morning, eh?" said the professor still smiling broadly. "Yes, old man winter is walking our way." Mr. Morse responded. "I see you have your daughter with you today," said the professor acknowledging Ginny with a head nod. "Yes, she decided to come in with me today. Say hello, Ginny," said Mr. Morse. Ginny smiled at the professor and said, "Hello, professor Carrigan." "Hello, Ginny. Doing well I trust?" asked the professor. "Yes sir. I'm doing very well, thank you." He was dressed very well, but very old fashioned. He wore an old style English bowler hat made of dark grey felt with a black silk band, a heavy black over coat with big buttons that were only closed halfway up revealing his charcoal grey suit underneath adorned with a bright red necktie. He carried an old beaten up leather satchel with which he carried the documents for her father to use in preparing his taxes and balance the accounts of his business. Professor Carrigan had retired from teaching European History at the state university several years ago and started an antiquities exchange business after he had stopped teaching. Ginny was hoping he would look at her wardrobe and see if he could tell her anything about its origin. She had not spoken to her father about this, so she was worried how she could get the professor to come to their home. The professor usually came into town for just the morning to talk to her father and go over the documents he had brought.
"Professor, should we go back to my office and begin?" asked Ginny's father. "Yes, but of course. I've brought this years' documents to date and will fax the remainder at the close of the year. I've also brought some photographs of a piece that I think is just what your wife has been looking for. It's an 18th century side board with a dish cupboard. It is in fairly good condition, original stain and the seller is offering it at a very reasonable rate. Would you like to see the pictures?" the professor announced with a salesman like air. "Oh, well, yes, but you know I can't usually afford the items you sell." Said Mr. Morse, a little shyly. "Oh Mr. Morse. I would never presume upon your finances that is precisely why I've extended the invitation to view it through pictures. The seller is completely unaware that I am currently marketing this particular piece. He has left several wonderful items, not all furnishings mind you, in my care to dispose of as I find interested parties," the professor said reassuringly. "Alright, then. Ginny, would you like to look at the pictures with me and tell me what you think and if your mother would approve? This just might make shopping for her birthday very easy!" said Mr. Morse gleefully. Professor Carrigan sat down the leather satchel on the writing table and removed a brown mailing pouch from which he pulled out 4 large color pictures. He handed them to Ginny. Ginny's father moved around beside her as she looked at each one carefully. "Hmmm." She said. "Hmmm, what? Do you like it? Do you think your mother would like that in the dining room or the kitchen?" asked Mr. Morse. "It is very nice. I like the simple carvings on the edges and the color would go very well with the kitchen table, don't you think?" Mr. Morse grinned from ear to ear and patted Ginny on the shoulder. "Professor, I think you've just gotten a buyer…but, er, what was the asking price?" asked Mr. Morse with a little trepidation in his voice. "Mr. Morse it is being offered at $235; now before you say no, you need to understand that the silk drawer linings are original Chinese silk, all the hardware and fixtures are original hand crafted brass and the unit has a branded makers mark to verify authenticity," said the professor with his hands palm down bouncing up and down to punctuate each fact as if he were playing the piano. Mr. Morse chuckled, "Oh the price is fine, just fine. When would I be able to take delivery?" "This afternoon if you so desire," the professor said cheerfully. "Really? I thought you kept all your stock in the city?" inquired Mr. Morse. "Most of it I do indeed, but since my sister has retired here, just last year, I've acquired a small warehouse to keep items that I think may be of interest to the surrounding communities here. I can have one of the boys from her neighborhood load it into my cartage van and bring it to your home this afternoon myself!" Said the professor, with the excitement of having just made a sale. "I wouldn't want to put you to any extra effort," replied Mr. Morse, genuinely not wanting to make the professor stay in town longer than he wanted. "Oh, it's no bother at all. I am spending the evening with my sister and you live only a short distance outside of town, it would be my pleasure. I would love to the see the look on your wife's face when you present it to her," the professor said kindly. "Wonderful, thank you so much. I will need to call Mrs. Morse and let her know we will be having an afternoon guest. I suppose we need to get to work on your documents?" asked Mr. Morse. "Oh yes, let's get this business with my documents settled now so we can focus on more pleasurable events to transpire this very afternoon, yes?" said the professor with a twinkle in his eye.
The professor and Mr. Morse headed down the hall to his office. With their backs turned, Ginny was bouncing on the balls of her feet and grinning wide. How could things have worked out any better? The professor was coming to their house and Ginny was sure he wouldn't mind looking at her wardrobe.
Chapter 4 – Gypsy Secrets
Mr. Morse and the professor had finished their business discussions by 10:30 and by 11:00, Ginny and her father were sitting in the kitchen waiting for Mrs. Morse to put out lunch. They were having a tough time not grinning at each other over the surprise that was coming. "Dear, why are you having the professor come here for afternoon tea? I thought you tried not to 'entertain' your clients? You've always said there needs to be a professional distance maintained between your clients' business affairs and your personal life. Not that it bothers me at all, I love to entertain, but this seems very unlike you. You've only ever had the bank presidents come over for a Christmas season dinner once and it was with both of their families here to make sure they knew you weren't singling one client out over the other," said Mrs. Morse nervously. "Oh, yes I haven't changed my mind about how the business should be conducted…I, uh..well..the professor is a kindly old gentlemen and I..uh..just thought it would be a nice gesture, I guess, to have him come by for a cup of tea. You know his sister retired here last year? I didn't know that until today. He said he was going to be spending the evening with her. So..maybe..this is kind of like a 'welcome to the community' type affair? Believe me, dear, this won't be a regular thing," assured Mr. Morse. Mrs. Morse placed tuna salad sandwiches on the kitchen table and everyone sat down to eat. The conversation over lunch was pleasant. Jim, the eldest son, announced to the family he was getting a two dollar an hour raise which would mean he would have enough money to start trade school in the spring semester. Mr. Morse was very pleased with Jim's hard work and staying on track with his savings plans. "Jim, your mother and I have already decided that we are going to match your savings. I know you weren't expecting this, but we are both very proud of you and if you need to cut back on your hours at the hardware store for study time, the extra money will help in paying for the fall semester next year," Mr. Morse said with Mrs. Morse beaming with pride. "Dad, you know you don't have to do that, but I really appreciate it! The matching money will go directly into my savings account so the money will be there for school. Thank you both, so much," Jim said with a great deal of humility and it was easy to see he was so grateful for the help. "Congrats on the raise, Jim," smiled Kenneth. "Does that come with a promotion?" he continued. Jim chuckled in reply, "No, uh, there just aren't that many positions within the hardware store for a promotion, but I need the increase in wages a whole lot more than I need a fancy title." "Show me the money!" blurted out Kenneth and everyone laughed. After lunch everyone just lazed around the house while Mr. and Mrs. Morse tidied up in anticipation of the afternoon guest.
It was three thirty and Ginny was in the back garden when she heard the truck coming up the front drive. She hurried around to the front and watched it rolling in towards the house. "Ginny!" called her father from the front porch. "I need you to go keep your mother occupied in the house while we unload the surprise!" ordered Mr. Morse. "Sure thing, dad," Ginny said, heading around back to catch up with her mother in the kitchen. When she got inside, Mrs. Morse was milling around the kitchen waiting for the tea kettle to whistle. "Is the professor here?" she asked. "Uh, yes, but dad asked that we wait in here. He wants to make…a..proper entrance with Professor Carrigan, or something like that," Ginny bit her lip as she was trying to be truthful without spilling the beans about the surprise. Her mother laughed at the phrase 'proper entrance' and said she would play along. They both heard the front door open and then some mild banging around like something was being brought into the house. "What in the world is going on in there? Did the professor bring an experiment with him?" Mrs. Morse said with a smirk on her face. Ginny quickly replied, "Well, the professor is a little eccentric, but I'm sure everything is fine." A few moments passed and Mr. Morse walked into the kitchen a little out of breath with beads of sweat on his forehead and upper lip. "Dear, are you alright? You look as if you just took a jog or something," asked Mrs. Morse with some incredulity. "Oh, no dear I'm fine, just had to help the professor unload something from his truck, come see," he said breathlessly and motioned them both to join the others in the front room.
"Oh, my. Dear what is this?" Mrs. Morse said with a gasp at the sight of the sideboard. Ginny and her father looked at each other slightly worried because of Mrs. Morse's reaction. Then their fears were immediately laid to rest when Mrs. Morse walked over to the piece of furniture and gently stroked her hand across the highly polished top panel. "Happy birthday, dear!" said Mr. Morse smiling. "Oh goodness, it's just beautiful. It will go so well with the kitchen table. Now boys, be very careful moving it into the kitchen, don't bang it up getting in through the entry way," warned Mrs. Morse. "Ginny helped pick it out. She said it would go good with the kitchen table," said Mr. Morse motioning toward Ginny. "Ginny it is perfect! Thank you so much for helping your father in picking it out," said Mrs. Morse a little tearfully. "My apologies professor. I guess we forgot our manners presenting the sideboard to the lady of the house. Please come in and make yourself at home," said Mr. Morse hastily. "Don't mind me. I told you I wanted to see her reaction and it was priceless. I'm so happy she is pleased with it," the professor said with cheer and an outstretched hand toward Mrs. Morse. "I am professor Carrigan, so pleased to meet you," he said vigorously shaking her hand. "Your lovely daughter has a good eye for fine wood and color matching!" he said of Ginny. "Yes, she does sir and thank you as well. Please sit down and I will bring in the tea," said Mrs. Morse motioning toward the love seat and couches. Jim and Kenneth placed the sideboard carefully into the kitchen while Mr. and Mrs. Morse chatted over tea with the professor. Ginny stood in the kitchen eaves dropping. She wasn't intending to be nosey, but was waiting for the right opportunity to approach the professor about the wardrobe. She heard her queue when the professor said, "I don't want to take up you good peoples entire afternoon with my ramblings. I should be going." Ginny walked into the front room to see all three adults standing up preparing for farewells. "Professor Carrigan?" Ginny asked shyly. "Yes, my dear?" replied the professor. "Well, I know you need to go, but I have an old wardrobe that has been in my room since we move here and, well, I was wondering if you would mind looking at it. With all your experience with antiques and teaching history at the university, I thought maybe you could help me find out about its origin?" Ginny hurriedly asked. "Ginny, I'm surprised at you. The professor didn't come here to look at an old wardrobe, besides, his sister I'm sure is expecting him back at her place," said Ginny's father, with a tinge of scolding in his tone. "Mr. Morse, it is no bother at all. I love looking at old things, including Ginny's wardrobe," the professor said warmly smiling at Ginny. Mr. Morse conceded gracefully but intended to discuss this later with Ginny. "Alright, young lady, I'm all yours. Let's have a look at this wardrobe of yours," he said with enthusiasm. Ginny led the way to her room upstairs.
Mr. Morse, professor Carrigan and Ginny walked into Ginny's room and the professor stopped dead in his tracks and then cocked his head back with his chin resting in one of his hands. He stood there just inside the doorway studying the wardrobe at a distance very intently. A minute or so passed and he crossed the room toward the wardrobe. He stared it up and down and ran his hand across the surfaces of the wooden mammoth. "It is rather large and ominous isn't it?" he asked. "It was here when we moved into the house. Ginny uses it for clothing and some of her other things," commented Mr. Morse. The professor looked at Ginny and asked, "Do you mind if I open it and look inside?" "No, of course not, please," replied Ginny opening both doors, the paneled side door as well as the mirrored door. The professor again ran his hand along all the seams and panels all the while saying things like, "Ahh, yes..Hmmm, yes." Ginny looked at her father shrugging her shoulders as if to say, "What is he going to tell us?" "Well Ginny," the professor started, "Your wardrobe is quite a find and very rare." "Really professor," Mr. Morse said as he walked up beside Ginny. "Oh yes indeed. You see how the trim pieces along the frame, both inside and out have no nails or tacks? That is because these pieces are custom fitted together. The one piece will have a nib and the matching panel a groove and they are pressed together for a tight fit not requiring securing hardware. You would cause great damage trying to dismantle a piece made like this. Also, you will notice the hinges are hidden completely with a wooden slat accordion device, also form fitted so as to make it impossible to disassemble without considerable damage. The wood is a black oak only found in abundance in Eastern Europe and is rarely seen any more in large pieces such as this. I've only seen one other piece of this type with my own eyes; of course I've seen lots of pictures of similarly crafted pieces, but only touched one other in person. Do you know where it came from?" He asked Mr. Morse. "No, as I said it was in the house when we moved in. The previous owner didn't mention anything about leaving any furnishings with the house, but when I asked about the wardrobe, he said it was part of the house and too heavy to move out anyway," Mr. Morse told the professor. Ginny spoke up, "Professor? Do you have any clues as to where it may have come from?" she asked pleadingly, hoping because of his observations he knew something. "Actually, I don't know specifically where it came from or who may have made it in particular. But I can tell you that it was made by Gypsies, probably around the middle of the 17th century and in Eastern Europe near the black forest, however the location is a guess because the black forest wood was highly prized from the late 1600's through the middle of the 18th century and supplied throughout the trading world at that time," reported the professor. "Gypsies?" asked Mr. Morse. "I thought Gypsies traveled in caravans with horse drawn houses?" interjected Ginny. "That is true, but you see, this design style and the construction method is almost sure to mean it was made by Gypsies," responded the professor. "Yes, but it would seem that this is far too large and heavy to transport around in one of those small dwellings?" commented Mr. Morse. "Oh, well, you see they wouldn't have crafted this for themselves. This would have been a form of payment for rent so that they could occupy a wealthy land owner's rural property. An arrangement would be made with the landlord that the Gypsies could remain on the land to camp, hunt and fish for a specified length of time and in exchange they would build something like this for the land owner," informed the professor. "Ahh, I see. So the Gypsies used their gifts of making things like this to have a place to stay," offered Mr. Morse. "So which Gypsy, uh, tribe I guess, would have made this?" asked Ginny. "Oh, there would be no way to tell just by looking at it. They never put a maker's mark on their work as the object was a bartering item between themselves and the land owner. To put a craftsman's mark on it would indicate previous ownership of the piece, when in fact, the land owner actually possessed it prior to completion as the 'tribe', as you referred to them, was already in occupation of the land. A better word to describe the individual groups of Gypsies would be clan," the professor said with confident authority. Professor Carrigan continued, "You see, the design features and construction method was their 'trademark' if you will. Each clan had their own unique way of putting the pieces together along with some distinction in the choice of wood grain placement. Unfortunately, there are no written records that could identify a particular style or construction method to differentiate between the clans' work. You have a very unique piece of Eastern European history here and in certain circles would fetch a handsome price, should you be willing to part with it?" Ginny quickly replied, "Oh, no, no, I wouldn't want to sell it," her eyes darted to her father, "I mean we, we wouldn't want to sell it, right dad?" Mr. Morse put his hand on Ginny's shoulder and looked at the professor, "No professor, I think this piece is a family heirloom, now." "Very good. Well I thank for the opportunity to view it and tell you what I can about it. I dare say the house would fall into ruin sooner than this wardrobe. They are usually very well made," smiled the professor. "I think it is time I should go and allow your family to enjoy the rest of the afternoon," the professor said, indicating the door with his hand. "Oh, of course. I do apologize for this intrusion on your time and knowledge," said Mr. Morse. "Oh it was no imposition at all, I thoroughly enjoyed our chat over an old piece of wood!" responded the professor with great positive vigor. "Thank you so much professor," said Ginny extending her hand. The professor shook it firmly and they both smiled without a word.
Chapter 5 – Harvest Voices
It was the second week of November and Mrs. Morse was busy about the house putting up her fall décor. Mrs. Morse loved decorating the house with seasonal wall hangings, special ornamental knick-knack and always a special wreath placed on the front door. The table linens were also designed to bring in the cheer and change of the seasons with appropriate colors and patterns to liven up the kitchen and dining room. She made a special effort with her new sideboard Mr. Morse gave her in October as an early birthday gift. She festooned the top of the dish cupboard with dried flowers and placed on the sideboard top a golden yellow table runner that had a pale red rope fringe all the way around the edges. Everyone in the house was looking forward to the Thanksgiving break and a sumptuous feast prepared by Mrs. Morse. This year would be unusual. Since learning of Professor Carrigan's sister retiring in the community and he was the purveyor of her sideboard, which she truly enjoyed, Mrs. Morse insisted that Mr. Morse extend them an invitation for the Thanksgiving meal. In spite of Mr. Morse retelling Mrs. Morse's original objection to 'entertaining clients', she said she had given in more thought and seeing how the professor's sister now lived here, the circumstances were different. She added that seeing as both Professor Carrigan and his sister's spouses were deceased, it was only fitting that we have them join our family for the day rather than the Carrigans try and cook a complete holiday meal for the just the two of them. Mr. Morse just grinned at her reasoning and said he was fine with the idea.
Ginny had been keeping herself busy with a new direction in her study of the wardrobe. She took on the task of reading and learning as much about Eastern European gypsy clans as she could make time for between school, church and home. Her studies had provided some interesting reading, most of which could easily be categorized into legend more so than fact. Yes, she did get plenty of historically verified facts about where and how they lived, but there was also a long list of legends associated with gypsies. The one most repeated was about gypsy made objects. According to the gypsies, if they craft a personal item, such as jewelry or a clothing item, the person wearing it can always be found by the maker of the item. If it were a piece of clothing that was made, it is possible that the maker has woven some hair into the fabric as a personal connection between themselves and the receiver of the item. A piece of jewelry, such as a bracelet or ring, would contain a small amount of the precious metal from one of the maker's own pieces of jewelry, again 'sharing' a personal connection between the maker and the receiver. Based on some of the writings Ginny read, there may be some truth to the legend. Rings, for example, that were lost by the original owner, had been returned by a gypsy because they found the person that was wearing it was not the original receiver. There are several accounts of gypsy made ladies' scarves making it back to the original receiver after years of the item being missing. Ginny never came across any accounts of that same type of mystical connection with things such as her wardrobe. After nearly two solid weeks of reading and some online research, Ginny was saturated with gypsy fact and fiction. After having Professor Carrigan provide so much information that she didn't have before, she was sure this was going to be a major turning point in her understanding of the wind and the light, but so far, nothing. Ginny knew that the turning point in the year was soon to be past and the light and whispering wind would disappear again until spring. She expected maybe two more opportunities for observation sessions and was hopeful for a break through.
It was around eleven in the evening on that Friday that the sound of the wind from wardrobe awakened Ginny. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and reached into her bedside table to retrieve her journal. She grabbed the ladder standing near the chest of drawers nestled next to the wardrobe and quietly set it in line with the light emitting from the crack in the mirror. She took a pencil, a small flashlight and her journal up the ladder to begin her observation. Immediately she noticed the light seemed to be a bit dim as compared to every other time she has seen it. This was a new observation and took a short note about the lack of intensity in the light. She still wasn't completely awake and let a comforting yawn escape. She blinked back the desire to keep her eyes closed and gathered her determination to focus better. Ginny placed her right eye dead level with the crack and then gasped and nearly lost her balance on the ladder. To her amazement and disbelief, her mind told her she saw a hand pass over the light….from the other side! She cleared her throat and said to herself silently, "Don't be ridiculous. It was just a shadow from the window or something. Could have been just some sleep not cleared from my eyes, that's all," she thought with a strong sense of dismissiveness. Then, it happened again. There was no way of convincing herself this time, it was too clear. The definite outline of a hand with four fingers and a thumb appeared to have passed over the crack, like someone was wiping dust from a window or steam off a bathroom mirror. She thought pensively for a moment and bit her upper lip in concentration. "What should I do," she thought. She was almost beside herself and quickly jotted down another note in the journal including the time. After quickly returning her gaze to the light, she realized the light was fading as was the sound of the wind. This observation session was about to come to a close with the worst possible timing. Based on the events of the last two minutes, the fact was that there was someone on the other side of this crack in the mirror, which of course could no longer be called such a thing, but more like a window. Ginny's mind was racing in high gear trying to figure out what she could possibly do to either make the light stay longer or somehow communicate with the person on the other side. She didn't want to risk alerting the rest of the family in the middle of the night by shouting; so she decided, as the light was fading fast, to tap on the mirror. She did this repeatedly with her index finger in rapid succession like a wild woodpecker, but not with such force as to potentially damage the glass. No response, nothing. The light continued to fade away with the sound of the wind dying with it. As the last flicker of silvery gray light was dimming to black she heard it. Ever so faint. A voice. A girl's voice and she seemed to say hello, with a questioning tone like the hello someone might use when answering the telephone. It was very faint and muffled much like the sound of the wind, so hollow and far away. Ginny couldn't be completely certain that she heard the word 'hello', but regardless, she did hear a female voice. Once she had come to her senses and realized the 'window' in the mirror was black as coal, she looked around, took a deep breath and began descending the ladder. She reached the floor with flashlight, pencil and journal in hand. She switched off the flashlight and walked, as if in a trance, to her bed. She let the items in her hand slowly slip from her grasp onto the blanket while her mind repeated everything she had observed over and over again. She sat on the side of her bed and picked up the journal and pencil, switched on the lamp on her bedside table and began to write a more detailed account of tonight's observations. She wrote feverishly with as much excruciating detail as she could muster, describing every moment.
Once Ginny had finished writing, she re-read her entry to make sure it was concise and clear. The way her heart and mind were racing, it would be easy to write something incoherent and she couldn't afford to let any detail slip by. After reading it through a couple of times, she was satisfied that it was accurate and chronologically correct. This event had changed Ginny's mind about keeping the secret to herself. Someone else needs to know and Ginny's quest was now to find the right person.
Chapter 6 – The Curious Professor
Thanksgiving Day arrived and none too soon. Everyone in the Morse household was anxious to dig into the delights Mrs. Morse had been preparing all week. Everyday coming home from school, Ginny and her brothers were assaulted by the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. There were cakes, pies and other baked goods of all kinds on the counters, sealed up tight just for today. This year will be different than years' past celebrations. When Ginny and her brothers were much younger, their grandparents would come every other year for the weekend and the following year join them for Christmas. With their passing, Thanksgiving and Christmas has never been quite the same. On occasion one of the Morse relatives will surprise them with a holiday visit, but since they moved further away from Mr. and Mrs. Morse's families the visits are few and far between. This year, however, they will be having special guests in Professor Carrigan and his sister, Mrs. Parks. Though she is widowed, she kept her late husband's name.
Ginny woke to the sounds of her mother and father having the annual discussion about how much longer the turkey needed to cook. The traditional bird is nearly always perfect, but it is always a lively discussion between Mr. and Mrs. Morse about how long and at what temperature it should be cooked. Ginny's mother is constantly on her feet during the preparation, basting the turkey regularly with chicken broth, spices and melted butter. "If the bird looks good, it is good," Mrs. Morse always chimes. Ginny plodded down stairs to find Jim having a cup of coffee with Mr. Morse and Mrs. Morse cheerfully greeted her entrance with a musical "Good Morning!" Mrs. Morse was always especially buoyant when preparing a holiday meal. "Ginny," her mother began, "I've been waiting for you. I have some warm pumpkin bread for your breakfast, if you would like?" "Oh, yes, please," responded Ginny. She sat down with Jim and her father as her mother brought over a glass of milk and a generous slice of warm pumpkin bread glistening with melting butter. "So, Ginny," her father began, "today will be a little different with our guests. Your mother and I have never met Professor Carrigan's sister, so this will be interesting." Ginny responded,"If his sister is half as interesting as the Professor, there will be some great conversation and probably endless compliments on Mom's cooking!" She grinned wide looking at her mother smiling back at her with pumpkin bread crumbs stuck on her chin. "Well, if anyone can do turkey, I can do turkey!" Mrs. Morse said with a wink.
The morning passed pleasantly along with everyone busy. Ginny was helping Mrs. Morse in the kitchen getting place settings together for the family and guests. Jim and Kenneth were in the front yard helping Mr. Morse rake leaves and sweep the front path leading from the car drive to the front steps. The old clock in the living room rang out the noon hour which put Mrs. Morse in high gear. "Oh goodness, how the time has flown! Ginny, start setting the table with the linens while I give the bird one last basting. Kenneth burst in through the front door, "There are three hungry men out here! Mom is smells great!" "Kenneth and Jim, let's get washed up before the guests arrive," Mr. Morse said as he passed through the living room. "No, no, you two. Use the bath upstairs to clean up. I need to keep the sink clean for food preparation," ordered Mrs. Morse. Jim mumbled as he and Kenneth headed out of the kitchen. "Oh, Mom, we just needed to wash our hands and face?" his voice fading as they made their way to the upstairs bathroom. "Now boys, let's have a little patience with the cook", added Mr. Morse watching them ascend the stairs. The mood had gone from finishing touches to high speed last minute preparations. The wonderful smells and visually appealing dishes set on the side table and dining table had everyone anxious to dig in. Ginny could hear a car approaching the house, but it didn't sound like a normal car, but more like a large lawn mower. She rushed to the front window and peered out announcing the arrival of their guests. "Dad, Kenneth, Jim, Mom. You've got to come see this," Ginny said with awe in her voice. Ginny opened the front door and stood there, her brothers crowding over her to get a look. "Oh wow! Would you look at that!" said Jim excitedly. "Oh ho, my my. Now that's a car boys," Mr. Morse pronounced. They all descended the steps and down the path to greet Professor Carrigan and his sister but couldn't take their eyes off the antique automobile. "Hello, our holiday benefactors!" shouted the Professor as he got out of the shining museum quality car. "Professor! Wow, what a beautiful set of wheels," Mr. Morse commented. "Why thank you Mr. Morse. A fine specimen of a Ford deluxe roadster circa 1930," informed the Professor with a wide smile. He pulled the handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped the door where he had placed his hand to close it and moved around to the other side to open the door for his sister. "Elizabeth, my I introduce you to Mr. Morse and his three children Ginny, Kenneth and Jim," the Professor said. "Mr. Morse and family, my sister, Elizabeth Swift." Mrs. Morse was just arriving to the group and immediately extended her hand to the elderly woman, "So good to have you join us today and welcome." Mrs. Morse wasn't in the least bothered about the old car. "Very well kept for such an old car," was her only remark. "Professor," started Jim, "did you restore this yourself?" Professor chuckled and patted his mid-section, "Oh my no. I picked up this little beauty and estate auction several years ago, pretty much in the condition in which you find it now. I only take out occasionally to let it stretch its legs. I start it and let it run for about 10 minutes a week to keep the engine lubricated, but mostly it stays in the garage." "What kind of speed do you get out of her?" asked Kenneth. "Oh, she runs a good forty to forty five, which is about top speed for this old girl," answered the professor. "Well, I hate to break up the party over the antique car, but we have a turkey to get carved," said Mrs. Morse cheerfully, gently ushering Mr. Morse toward the house. "Oh, right, sorry dear. Yes, let's all go in and get settled in for a Thanksgiving feast!" announced Mr. Morse. Professor Carrigan and his sister, Mr. and Mrs. Morse and Ginny all headed toward the house and Kenneth and Jim lingered and gawked at the car. "Come now boys. Let's help your mother get the table prepared," called Mr. Morse. "Coming," her brothers shouted in unison.
Once inside, everyone shed their outer coats, jackets and hats in the foyer. Ginny was filling glasses with water as Mrs. Morse walked into the dining room with the prized bird. Cooked to a perfect golden brown and the aroma set mouths to watering. Jim and Kenneth hauled in the vegetable trays and Mr. Morse was bringing up the rear with carving utensils in one hand and a gravy boat in the other. Everyone settled in around the table while Mr. Morse stood at the head of the table waiting. Everyone seemed in their place and ready. The group all joined hands as Mr. Morse led a prayer of thanks for the years' blessings and the marvelous bounty before them. "Ms. Swift, white or dark meat?" Mr. Morse asked with cutlery poised over the turkey. "I'll have a little of both if you don't mind," replied Ms. Swift. Ginny was enthralled with Ms. Swift's clear, gentle authoritative voice. "Coming right up." answered Mr. Morse. The table talk was lively and varied throughout the meal. Ms. Swift, who insisted on being called by her first name, Elizabeth, was a retired English teacher. Ginny could have guessed from her elegant use of the language and her engaging tone. She shared several funny stories about her teaching days making everyone laugh. Professor Carrigan talked of his recent trip to Belgium to participate in several estate auctions. As he finished one of his stories he threw down his napkin and pushed away from the table rather excitedly. "I almost forgot, hope they didn't get too warm," he said as he quickly walked out of the house. "Oh don't worry," Elizabeth said comfortingly. "He brought some Belgian chocolate for everyone and left them in the car." Just as the last word had left her lips, Professor Carrigan came back into the dining room with a brown waxed paper box about the size of a shoe box. "Mrs. Morse," he said inquisitively," where would you like these?" "On the side board with the other deserts will be fine and thank you," replied Mrs. Morse. "Yes, thank you, Professor," Ginny and her brothers responded. The professor returned to the table and the meal continued through the desserts and the compliments piled up quick. Professor Carrigan and Elizabeth enjoyed every dish they tried and were very impressed with the turkey. Everyone was stuffed to the gills and all retired to the living room.
The conversation was never dull but began to wane a little as the warmth of the house and the full bellies began to take their toll. Everyone was thinking in unison how wonderful a nice nap would be about now. Then the Professor broke in, "Ginny? Would you mind if I took some photographs of your wardrobe?" This took Ginny by complete surprise. "Uh, sure, but why?" she asked. "Well, I think I have found someone that might give you more information about the origin of the wardrobe. While I was in Belgium, I met a young man who studies Gypsy culture, past and present, and knows quite a bit about their craftsmanship. I asked him if he would mind looking at some photos of a Gypsy wardrobe as a favor to a friend and he said he would gladly," said the Professor. Ginny was getting a little nervous. The last time she attempted to take a picture of the wardrobe, it didn't go so well. If the Professor didn't get too close to the crack on the mirror, it shouldn't be a problem. "Oh alright. It would be great if someone could find out something new and I really appreciate you thinking about it while you were traveling," she said a bit timidly. "Well, to be honest, after seeing it the first time, I've been getting more and more curious, like reading a good mystery story. Let me go get my camera out of the car," and he stood from his seat and headed outside. The Professor came back inside carrying an old, black leather covered box with a strap attached to it slung over his shoulder. "I've got my camera if you are ready?" he said to Ginny. "Yes sir, ready. Elizabeth, would like to see my wardrobe?" asked Ginny, not wanting to exclude her, though she was engaged in quiet conversation with her mom. "Oh, why yes, Ginny, I'd love to," she replied spryly. Ginny led them both upstairs to her bedroom. "What a lovely view you have here," Elizabeth said as they entered the room. "Thank you. Yes, I picked this room for the view. I like the way the shadows of the trees dance on the wall when there is a full moon," reported Ginny. The professor was opening the black leather box and pulled out a large, old fashioned film camera! The thought never crossed Ginny's mind to use a film camera rather than a digital camera. A film camera, being purely mechanical in nature, might be unaffected by the 'energy' from the wardrobe. "Let's see," said the Professor holding out a small square box, pointing it towards the wardrobe. "Hmm. My light meter doesn't seem to want to work. I just used it on my trip to Belgium and it worked fine, odd that." "A light meter?" Ginny asked. "Yes. With film cameras, especially the older ones, you need a way to determine if there is enough light in the room for the film you are using. Otherwise the pictures will be very dark. You can change the film to a more sensitive film type, adjust the aperture to allow more light in, change the shutter speed to allow more exposure time or use a flash. The light meter registers how much light is in the room so the photographer can decide which option will produce the best photograph. I think I will take several photos with different adjustments of the aperture and shutter speeds to be on the safe side," the professor explained. "Wow, I didn't know there was so much to know to take pictures," said Ginny. "It was one of my brother's favorite hobbies in his younger years," added Elizabeth. "He is really quite good with a camera," she continued. "Oh Elizabeth," he grinned sheepishly, somewhat embarrassed by the compliment. "Ginny, its really more of a science than talent, believe me," the professor assured. "Oh, he is just being modest. If you ever see some of his work, you'll see he is a little bit of an artist," Elizabeth chided. The Professor snapped away, picture after picture, making adjustments to the camera after every four or five shots. "Well, I think that will do. It will take a few days for the prints to be finished, but I will send you a copy of all the good ones, Ginny," said the professor as he placed the camera back into the leather case and hung it over his shoulder.
The afternoon yielded to a soft, autumn evening and the temperature started to fall. The Professor and his sister were ready to go after another round of dessert and coffee. Mrs. Morse had prepared them a take home tray with portions of everything from the meal and Elizabeth was very grateful. The Morse family bid them farewell and everyone settled in to watch a movie.
Chapter 6 – A Picture and a Puzzle
It had been two weeks since Thanksgiving and Ginny was anxious to receive the photographs that Professor Carrigan had taken of the wardrobe. She was also a little worried what the photos may reveal to whomever saw them. Ginny had done some research on photography and how it was used in an attempt to capture, make a record of strange things. Film cameras were used in ghost hunting, UFO discoveries, locating fairies and other such phenomenon. Unfortunately, the majority of the research revealed many people manipulating the camera or the film (or both) to make people see what the photographer claimed to see. And in a large number of cases, they were simply hoaxes. People would take pictures of all sorts of things in varying types of light to make the image appear to be the monster or outer space creature they wanted it to be. Ginny was hoping, if anything was 'odd' about the pictures taken, that the Professor would think it was his camera or the film or even the developer. He would probably apologize to Ginny for the quality of the photographs and blame himself or his equipment. If that turned out to be the case, Ginny could confide in him about the wind and the light. But she would much rather he be brought into confidence about the wardrobe when the season was right for someone besides her to see and hear it. Ginny wasn't exactly sure why she had so much trust in the Professor, but she believed him to be the sort of person to give something a good thought before dismissing it simply for lack of understanding. Whatever the outcome of the photos, she was determined to let her secret be known; if to only one person.
The Christmas season was in full swing around the Morse house. The tree had been put up the day after Thanksgiving and trimmed to the full. Presents were already starting to take up temporary residence under it and Mrs. Morse had all the Christmas decorations and knick-knacks placed around the living room, kitchen and den. Mr. and Mrs. Morse were never very keen on a showy light display. Mrs. Morse preferred the understated elegance of candles in the windows, albeit LED illuminated candles, with a colorful wreath hanging on the front door. One of the Morse traditions was to place an old tin pail out by the mailbox on the road in front of their house and it be filled with candy canes. This was not just for the postman, but for any passing by on foot to help themselves to a sweet holiday treat. It was not uncommon to be leaving the house down the road to town and see someone with one of those candy canes in their mouth and as we pass, they give a cheerful wave of thank you. One more week of school and the winter break would begin. The Morse family had no travel plans this year for the holidays. They had gone to see family last year and decided to take a year off the road and spend it celebrating with their church family and the community.
Ginny got a ride home with her brother Jim Wednesday. They walked into the house and headed for the kitchen for an afternoon snack. "Fresh cookies in the jar if you like," Ginny's mother said as she came in from the laundry room. "Hey Jim, would you like some milk with yours?" Ginny asked her brother. "Nah, I'm going to make some hot cocoa instead," he replied. Ginny helped herself to two cookies and poured herself a small glass of milk. She sat at the counter and enjoyed the still warm peanut butter cookies and cold milk. "Oh, Ginny I almost forgot. You received a package today from the Professor. I put it in your room on your bed," said Mrs. Morse very casually. "Can I take the cookies and milk upstairs?" said Ginny standing at the news of the package. "Yes, but please use the plate and don't forget to bring it and the glass back down when you're finished, ok?" permitted Mrs. Morse. "No problem, mom," replied Ginny smiling. She took the steps of the stairs two at a time excited to see the photos. She walked into her room to find a large brown mailer on her bed. The return address read 'Carrigan Antiques and Collectibles, Southbrook'. She sat the plate with the remaining cookie and the glass of milk on the bedside table and stood beside her bed and opened the mailer. She slid out the photos, which were wrapped in brown paper. Attached to the tape sealed side of the photos was a hand written note signed by Professor Carrigan:
I hope this finds you well. I've sent you prints of the best photos taken that day at your home. I received a call from the developer once he had finished the first set of prints. I expected him to call for me to proof the photos before making extra copies. Several of the photos did not turn out well enough to keep due to the settings on my camera. As you may recall, my light meter wasn't working that day and I tried several different settings on the camera to ensure at least some of them would turn out right. As you will see, several did turn out very good, but some were either too dark to be useful or overexposed revealing only outlines of the darkest features in the frame. I would like to draw your attention to the area in the photos near the upper right hand corner of the mirrored panel of your wardrobe. At first glance, I thought it was my camera or perhaps a flaw in the film. But as you will see, it is neither. I took different shots at different angles and distances, so if it were my camera or the film, the flaw would always be in the same physical place on the photo. The flaw, which I am reluctant to call it such, is always near and around the upper right hand corner of the wardrobe mirror where there seems to be a bit of the reflective coating missing from the glass. I would very much like to photograph your wardrobe again as I think there is something unique about it. Feel free to contact me at your convenience.
Ginny unwrapped the photos and immediately moved her eyes to the upper right hand corner of the mirror. It was almost like a shimmer, a wrinkle in the air around the scratch. The kind of distortion one sees on a paved road in the distance on a hot summer day because of the way the heat coming off the pavement distorts the light. Only this 'shimmer' seems to come out and sort of bloom like a flower. It is very well defined and appears like a still shot of clear flowing water. Judging the distance from the mirror and the last detectable edge of the shimmer, it looks to be hovering about four inches from the surface. The quality of the photographs were very good. Professor Carrigan's sister, Elizabeth, was right, the professor was quite talented with a camera. As Ginny studied the pictures, she wondered if using black and white film might make the shimmer more defined? She took one of the photos and took it over to her study desk where her laptop and printer were setup. She put the photo in the scanner and scanned the image and opened up her photoshop application and loaded the scanned image into it. One it loaded she used the shortcut effects icons to make the image black and white. It made an amazing difference! The lack of color made the shimmer far more noticeable with greater detail. Of course having an original in black and white would be far better. While she sat at her desk, she went on the web and looked up Professor Carrigan's business. Once she was on his site, she clicked the 'Contact Us' icon to send him a message:
Thank you for the photographs, they look very nice. I decided to call the 'flaw' a shimmer and I scanned one of the photos and changed the file to appear black and white. The shimmer is more noticeable with finer detail without the color. I was wondering, when you are back in our area, if you could take a few more pictures with black and white film instead of color?
Ginny re-read the hurried note and then clicked send. Ginny was nervous and excited at the same time. Her secret was getting out. At the present, it was only a curious oddity seen through the lens of a camera, but Ginny was sure that the Professor was thinking it could be something more. If only the season was right for him to see the silvery gray light and hear the wind. Ginny wasn't sure if she would tell him about that just yet. Perhaps with some help from his new found acquaintance in Belgium, more could be learned before the re-appearance of the light. Ginny decided to write the professor again to ask if he had sent the photos to Belgium. She was still on his site and composed another short message:
Sorry to bother you again, but I was wondering if you had sent any of the pictures to the man you met in Belgium?
Just as she had released the button on her mouse that would send the message, her email notification popped up and there was a message from 'Carrigan's Antiques and Collectibles' in the inbox. She clicked it open and began to read:
Amazing how our minds were working in the same direction! I was curious if black and white would make any difference as well, so I accomplished exactly the same task via my computer. It is quite remarkable how much of a distinct clarity the lack of color brings to the shimmer as you call it. I will be back to visit my sister Elizabeth two days before Christmas and will be spending the holiday with her. I could come by Boxing Day and take some photographs with black and white film if it is convenient for you and your family. Oh, and yes, I did send two of the best photos to the man in Belgium. I suspect you may be a little concerned about someone else noting the shimmer. Well, be assured, Mr. Wetzel will probably make the same assumption I did, that it was a bad batch of film or a bit of fuzz inside my camera lens. Miss Morse, I must say this is quite interesting, interesting indeed. I look forward to your reply regarding Boxing Day.
All the best,
Ginny was relieved that the Professor was being discreet, at least for now. Ginny needed to figure out how to ask her mom and dad if the Professor could come by and take more photos of the wardrobe. How would she be able to explain the need for more photos? Especially since the ones he had already sent were perfect?! She would come up with something reasonable; it just might take a little creativity.
Mr. Morse was home at the usual hour and everyone was called to have dinner. Ginny came into the dining room and noticed that there were only four places set at the table. "Who will be missing tonight?" Ginny asked. "Oh your brother Jim is working a little late. He should be home by nine, though," Mrs. Morse replied. "Yes, that young man is working every bit as hard as I had to. It's good to see all of you doing your best in school, but not every person has the same goals or ideas about what will make them happy, you just have to try and figure it out," Ginny's father said with a little pride. "Yeah, ole Jimbo is making us all proud," sniggered Kenneth. "Now Kenneth don't be condescending. Your father is right. Jim is working hard toward his idea of happiness, just like you will, too. Jim didn't like the idea of a four year school and besides, with his interests it would have been a waste of time and money," Mrs. Morse intoned with pursed lips. "Sorry, Mom, you're right. I was just kidding around. Dad I didn't mean to imply that Jim wasn't doing his best, it's just unusual these days to see a guy making his own way so young. Most of the friends Jim had in school are still struggling at home trying to decide what to do. At least Jim has a plan," Kenneth retorted sheepishly. "No harm, no foul, Kenneth. Everything you said is true, about his old classmates I mean, so I guess that is why I admire him. He's going out there and getting it done and maybe not the easy way, but his way," Ginny's father replied soothingly. "Dad, would it be alright if we invited Professor Carrigan and Elizabeth over to the house for Boxing Day?" asked Ginny. "Well, I suppose if it is alright with your mother?" Mr. Morse replied while placing some potatoes on his plate. "Oh, I forgot. Take a look at this picture Professor Carrigan sent to me today," Ginny said while handing her dad a photo. Mr. Morse set down the bowl of potatoes and looked carefully at the photograph as Kenneth leaned over to look, too. "The Professor might need to clean his camera, Ginny," said Kenneth. "Or it could have been a bad negative, too," inserted Mr. Morse. "Oh, the funny looking mark up in the corner of the wardrobe?" asked Ginny, trying to be casual about it. "Yeah, it looks like a flaw in the picture," said Kenneth. "Well, that's part of the reason I would like to invite them over. You see, Professor Carrigan included a note about the flaw in the pictures and wanted to give it another try. He wanted to try black and white film this time and he is sure his camera is fine," explained Ginny. "It is no bother to me, Ginny. It might be nice to have them for a visit the day after Christmas. I have a few dollars left in my Christmas budget this year unless your father disapproves," said Mrs. Morse. "Of course not. In fact I rather enjoyed Elizabeth. She is a delightful old dear," replied Mr. Morse. "Awesome, thanks," responded Ginny with a grin of satisfaction. "Enough jibber-jabber, the food is getting cold. Eat up everyone," said Mrs. Morse. Ginny was well pleased that didn't take nearly as much effort as she had expected.
Chapter 7 – Boxing Day
Christmas day was wonderful but tiring. The family was up late playing an old favorite game at the kitchen table, but Ginny woke up early. Ginny rolled over to face her windows and the sun was just starting to show itself, giving the clear cold sky a deep blue color. She let her eyes close again but sleep was not coming back. Her mind was racing. She wondered what may transpire today with the Professor coming back to take more photos of her wardrobe. Ginny's father had extended the invitation to the Professor and his sister, Elizabeth, the day after Ginny had asked him about another photo shoot. Ginny was worried about what questions Professor Carrigan may ask. She was reluctant to talk about what she has seen and heard, especially since she has no hard evidence to substantiate her story. She has the journal, but it would be of little real value unless the Professor, or anyone for that matter, were to see the light and hear the wind for themselves. The Professor seemed like a patient, methodical person, so maybe he would be willing to just wait and see if his Belgian connection could provide more information.
Ginny threw off her covers and swung her legs off the bed and let her feet touch the cold floor. She stepped gingerly to her chest of drawers and withdrew a pair of thick, warm socks and hurriedly put them on her feet. She went through her morning routine of washing her face and brushing her teeth before descending the stairs wrapped in her heavy winter robe. No one was stirring quite yet, so she prepared herself a cup of hot cocoa and setup the coffee maker for everyone else while the cocoa cooled a bit. She sat down at the kitchen counter to enjoy her cocoa and think. As the sun began warming the kitchen with its light passing through the windows, Ginny could hear the rest of the family beginning to stir. The first one down the stairs was her oldest brother Jim. "Good morning Ginny" Jim sang. "Good morning Jim. Why dressed so early?" Ginny inquired, wondering why he was fully clothed and groomed as if leaving somewhere soon. "Well, the hardware store is closed today but we need to start our end of year inventory, so I will be working a few hours today," he informed. "So you won't be here for the Professor and Elizabeth?" she asked sadly. "No, I should be home around one, so I would hope to be here for a late lunch and say hello," he replied. "Good. Maybe the Professor will drive his antique car again," said Ginny cheerily. "Yeah, that is some cool old car," Jim said as he poured himself a cup of coffee. Kenneth bounded down the stairs followed by Mrs. Morse. They both chimed their 'Good Mornings' to Ginny and Jim. "Mom, coffee is ready," reported Jim. "I've got to get going." "Well, have a good day at the store and try to be home for lunch if you can," Mrs. Morse requested. "Do you have to count all the nails and screws, too?" quipped Kenneth with a wry smile. "No, in this age of modern conveniences we can weigh them on a special scale. You just have to enter the item code and its programmed to know just how much a single nail weighs and reports the count," replied Jim with steely confidence. "Well that should save some time doing the inventory," interjected Mr. Morse as he entered the kitchen. "Good morning, dad," Ginny smiled. "Good morning all," replied Mr. Morse. "See you all around lunch time," Jim said in passing with a hand up waving goodbye as he left the house.
The morning crept along and everyone had a light breakfast of toast and juice, occupied with conversation about Christmas gifts exchanged the day before. Once the coffee pot was empty, everyone went upstairs to get dressed for their midday guests while Mrs. Morse cleaned up the kitchen. Ginny quickly straightened up her room after she had finished dressing, feeling more apprehensive as the time grew nearer to the Professor's arrival. She heard her mother returning upstairs to begin getting dressed now that the kitchen must be back in order. "Ginny?" her mother said through the door as she tapped. "Yes, mom, come in," Ginny said. "While I'm getting dressed, would you mind putting the leftover ham in the oven at 300 degrees? Set the timer for 45 minutes which should be plenty of time," she requested. "No problem, I was finished up here anyway," replied Ginny. "Thank you, dear," her mother replied closing the door. Ginny sat on her bed and put on her new Christmas sneakers and trotted downstairs to get the ham in the oven. It was already 11:30 and the Professor and his sister were to be arriving at 12:30. The phone rang and Ginny's father bellowed down the stairs, "I've just gotten out of the shower and your mother just got in. Ginny, could you answer that?" "Got it dad," shouted Ginny. Ginny picked up the hall phone and answered with a cheery hello. "Ginny, this is Professor Carrigan," the voice on the phone said. "Oh, hi professor," acknowledged Ginny. "Please apologize to your family, but we are running about 15 minutes behind schedule this morning. Your brothers were so pleased to see the old car last time I came your way, but she is being a bit of a pain this morning," reported the professor. "I'll tell them and it's not bother at all. My eldest brother Jim had to work today and won't be able to join us until one o'clock anyway," Ginny said sincerely. "Good, good. We will see you nearer one then, goodbye," and the professor hung up. Ginny waited until her father came down stairs and asked who had called. She explained the professor's delay and her father said he shouldn't be so worried about Jim and Kenneth's fascination with that old car, but in the same breath mentioned how kind it was to think of them.
Everything was prepared and ready for the Professor and Elizabeth. Table settings were laid out and the ham was sliced in the warmer as well as two loaves and Mrs. Morse's homemade bread. Ginny heard a car coming up the drive and peeked out the front window. Jim was pulling in, early it seemed. Then she heard a 'chauugaa!'. It was the Professor pulling up behind Jim in the antique car. Jim jumped out of his car smiling widely as the Professor waved excitedly. Ginny stepped outside to meet them in the drive. "Good day, Jim!" smiled the Professor extending his hand to Jim. Jim shook his hand vigorously and said, "Thanks for driving the old beauty. She really is something else." " Yes and this morning she was being very difficult. Must be the cold air, she took a lot of coaxing to get started," responded the Professor. "Hello, Ginny dear. So good to see you," said Elizabeth. "Was Santa good this year?" she asked with a wispy laugh. "Yes, ma'am, very good," replied Ginny. "Ginny, would you assist me with the camera gear?" asked Professor Carrigan pointing to the rear of the car. "Oh, sure Professor," answered Ginny. Ginny grabbed the camera case as the Professor lifted an old wooden tripod. "I thought this might help in assuring some nice steady shots," he said to Ginny. Mr. Morse stood at the door, "Welcome you two. Come on inside, everything is ready. Oh, do you need some help with your camera gear, Professor?" "No, I think Ginny and I can manage thank you," responded the Professor, sounding a little winded. Everyone made their way inside the house and Ginny and the Professor sat down the camera equipment in the living room. "Elizabeth, you look quite lovely today," said Mrs. Morse kindly. "Well thank you Mrs. Morse. This old rag hasn't seen the light of day in a while, let me tell you," said Elizabeth tugging at her dress. "Oh, but it is very nice. If you hadn't said anything, I would have thought it was pretty new," retorted Mrs. Morse. "I have a wardrobe that has seen the style return twice!" piped Elizabeth with a laugh and everyone chuckled with her. "Well, let's eat," said Mr. Morse motioning everyone into the kitchen. It was a hearty midday meal and Elizabeth regaled the Morse's with more funny stories from her teaching days. Jim and Kenneth were finished eating and anxious; Mrs. Morse took notice of it and said, "Boys, what are you up to? Did you have plans outside the house today?" she quizzed. "No, but I would like to try out my new camera by taking pictures of Professor Carrigan's sweet ride," said Kenneth. Jim jumped in and said, "Is it ok Professor, if we sit in your car for the photos?" "Of course, just be mindful of the hand brake. It's a real shin basher," said the Professor with a wink. Jim and Kenneth hurried outside to pose with the old car. "Well, I'm going to put some coffee on to go with dessert," said Mrs. Morse as she rose from the table. "Let me help clear some of these dishes," added Elizabeth. "Why thank you Elizabeth, but you shouldn't bother," protested Mrs. Morse. "It's no bother at all. You just lead the way to the sink," said Elizabeth, stacking plates as she spoke. "Miss Ginny, are you ready to take some pictures?" asked the Professor. "Oh yes, ready when you are," replied Ginny. "I think I'll go outside and make sure those two sons of mine don't try to go for a joy ride in your auto," said Mr. Morse to the Professor. "Oh, I'm sure they will be fine. But I think you enjoy looking at it as much as they do, Mr. Morse," said the Professor with a grin. "Yeah, well, you got me. It is a nice piece of yester year," confessed Mr. Morse.
Ginny and Professor Carrigan carried the camera gear upstairs to Ginny's room. Once inside, the Professor erected the tripod directly in front of the wardrobe. He then opened the camera case and mounted the camera on the tripod. He seemed to be working hurriedly, as if he were in a race to get everything done and get on with the photographs. Ginny was taken by surprise when he turned a handle on the side of the tripod and the camera began ascending up toward the top of the wardrobe. "Ginny," he spoke in a hushed tone. "I want to get a couple of frames directly in line with the crack in the mirror, from the front and from the side. But I need to hurry in case someone should join us unexpectedly. They might think it odd to take photos in this manner, you know, raise questions you don't want to answer," he said half-whispering. "Oh, I see, yes. I will stand nearer the door in case someone is coming up the stairs," said Ginny and she moved closer to the door to listen. She could hear Elizabeth and her mother chatting and plates and silverware clanking in the sink. "I don't think we have anything to worry about, Professor. My mom and your sister are washing dishes," she reported, quietly. The Professor was already winding down the camera and moving the tripod for an angled, side view of the mirror. He quickly cranked it back up into the air and took about four photos. "I think that will do," he said. "Now, Ginny, when were you planning on telling me about the magic mirror?" asked the Professor. Ginny's jaw dropped open and she was breathless.
Chapter 8 – The Confession
The Professor began dismantling and packing up his camera equipment while Ginny leaned against the door frame looking down at the floor in a panic. She knew the Professor would have questions, but didn't expect him to be so bold. It just didn't seem his style or manner and to call it a 'magic' mirror seemed out of place. "Ginny, dear, did you hear my question?" asked the Professor. "Yes, sir, I'm just not sure how to answer it. I never considered it a 'magic' mirror," she replied quietly. "Oh, no, I didn't mean it in a way to make it trivial. But you know it is very unusual. I'm just very curious how unusual it is," he said kindly, almost in the form of an apology. "Professor, I have been studying this wardrobe since I was six years old. That was when I first," she broke off her words, not sure how to continue. "That was when you first what, Ginny," asked the Professor intently. "I can't prove anything, not now, we have to wait until spring," she said frantically, feeling the room closing in on her, as if she were in a courtroom being interrogated. "Ginny, Ginny, it's alright," the Professor said as he approached her and gently put his hand on her shoulder. "There is nothing to get upset about, dear," assured the Professor. "But you said you have been 'studying' the wardrobe. What did you mean by that," continued the Professor. Ginny looked over at her bedside table and stared at the single drawer it contained. "Professor, can I truly trust you?" she said very seriously to the Professor. She sounded very grown up and in control at that moment. "Well, of course. I mean, if I had any ulterior motive, I would have acted upon it as soon as I detected the image in the first photographs. I believe this, anomaly, if you will, is important but not so important as to lose your trust and that of your family," implored the Professor. Ginny walked over to the bedside table and opened the drawer. She removed the journal and looked at it longingly. She continued to stare at it as she spoke, "Professor, this is my written record of all the encounters I have had with the wardrobe. I tried very hard to make it accurate and detailed so that one day, when the time was right, I could tell someone about its wonder," she said thoughtfully. She continued, looking to the Professor, "Perhaps you may be able to get closer to the mystery with the information in here." She held out the journal to the Professor. He stretched out his hand to her and slowly, gently received it from her hand. "Ginny, I will keep it safe and return it to you very soon. Would you mind helping me get the camera gear back to the car?" he asked. With that question, Ginny snapped out of her daze, now realizing that the secret was no longer hers alone. She helped the Professor get the equipment back downstairs and packed away in his car.
Everyone gathered in the living room for dessert, which was quickly consumed and the sighs of satisfied hunger filled the room. It wasn't long after that the Professor and Elizabeth were preparing to leave. Ginny could see the outline of her journal inside the Professor's top coat. She was wondering if she had done the right thing in letting him in on her secret. "Ginny, would you walk me to the car," asked Elizabeth. "Yes, of course," replied Ginny. After they reached the car Elizabeth took one of Ginny's hands and held it firmly between her two and said, "Ginny, you needn't worry about anything. It is all going to be just fine," she said sweetly looking over to the Professor as he was getting in the car. "That's right, Ginny, everything is going to be fine," affirmed the Professor. Again, Ginny was taken aback. Now it seemed two people had knowledge of the wardrobe's secret.
Chapter 9 – The Unveiling
The Christmas season had passed and Jim had started at the community technical college as Kenneth and Ginny returned to school as well. Ginny was continuously preoccupied with what had transpired on Boxing Day. Professor Carrigan has not returned her journal nor had he written since that photo session. The first week back in school was coming to a close and Ginny was anxious about what may happen next regarding the wardrobe. She was beginning to doubt her trust in the Professor and starting to regret allowing her secret out.
Ginny arrived home from school and when she stepped inside her mother was sitting in the living room having a cup of tea. "Ginny, the Professor sent you a package. I put it on your bed upstairs. How was school today?" she asked. "Oh, it was fine. Still trying to get back into the swing of things," replied Ginny flatly as she started up the stairs. Her heart was pounding and her mouth went dry in anticipation of what the package may or may not contain. She entered her room and rushed to the bed, dropping her back pack on the floor and snatching up the box off the bed. It looked to be about fourteen inches long about twelve inches wide and maybe two inches thick. She began opening the end thinking this was the right size for her journal and some photographs. When the end seal was open, she shook the contents onto the bed. She could finally breathe. Her journal was there, looking no worse for wear along with a thin brown packet of pictures. She quickly thumbed through the journal to make sure there were no pages missing. She was content that the journal was intact and picked up the pictures. She was amazed at the level of detail the black and white photos revealed. The Professor had taken one of the angled shots and blown up the area where the shimmer was. It was like looking through a flower made of crystal. With not much imagination, one could make out petals and the center button. It was not perfectly clear like the rest of image, as if it were in motion. All the lines of the flower shape were slightly blurred and wavy. There was a note inside with the photographs:
I am sure you have been worried and trust you are relieved to have your journal returned. The photos developed quite nicely, giving more distinct lines to the 'shimmer' as you call it. I read the journal all the way through twice and copied some of the entries that were more significant than the rest. We need to meet soon. Would it be possible to meet with Elizabeth and I next week at the library in town? If you can manage it, send me an email with the day and time that is convenient for you. I have left my schedule flexible for the entire week, so any day will be fine for me. Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. I received word from my acquaintance in Belgium and he had some very intriguing news. Looking forward to seeing you next week.
The timing could not have been better. Ginny needed to spend time at the library at least two days next week after school for an English literature project. She sat at her desk and accessed her email to reply to the Professor:
I will be at the library on Tuesday and Thursday around three in the afternoon. Let me know what day works best for you and I will be prepared for the meeting.
Ginny sent the message and within a minute a reply was in her box:
Elizabeth and I will be there on Tuesday at three thirty. We can meet at the library and go to the corner coffee shop to talk. See you then.
Ginny's mind was once again at ease, at least for now. Tuesday was sure to bring more angst, but her trust was restored in Professor Carrigan and Elizabeth. She placed her journal and the new photos in her bedside table and settled in to get her homework done before dinner.
The weekend flew by and Ginny spent a lot of free time reviewing her wardrobe journal. She had worked out, as best she could, which entries would have been 'significant' that the Professor was interested in enough to copy. She was very excited about meeting the Professor and Elizabeth hoping that the news from Belgium was another solid step toward the truth about the wardrobe. Before she knew it, Tuesday was here and she was walking from school toward the library. The public library downtown was two streets over from her father's office and she made a point of avoiding that route. She didn't like the idea of 'hiding' from her dad, but she had the feeling that soon, he would know about the secret she had kept since she was six. She approached the library front steps and the Professor and Elizabeth were standing near one of the grand columns by the entrance. "Ginny, there you are," said Elizabeth with a smile. "Hi Elizabeth and hello Professor," responded Ginny. "Good you could make it. Let's go over to the coffee shop. It isn't too busy this afternoon, so we should have some privacy," said the Professor, pointing to the corner where 'Joe's Cup a Joe' coffee shop stood. The three of them entered the quaint coffee shop and seated themselves in a rear corner booth. A waitress came up behind them as they settled in. "What can I get you folks?" the red haired, petite waitress asked gleefully. Elizabeth ordered Earl Grey tea, as did the Professor and Ginny asked for hot cocoa. "Sure thing, be right back with those," the waitress quipped as she turned on her heel and quick stepped back to the coffee bar. "Ginny my acquaintance in Belgium had some extraordinary news," quickly began the professor once he was sure the waitress was well out of hearing range. He spoke in hushed tones but very excitedly. "Apparently your wardrobe is one of a pair. They were constructed at the same time, by the same set of craftsmen. The set were payment for a large gypsy clan to occupy two parcels of land over the course of an entire spring and summer. At some point, probably due to an estate sale after the passing of the last heir to the property, the two wardrobes were auctioned off to different buyers. We could not find out who the original purchaser of yours was, but the twin unit was sold to a family living in South Africa, sometime around 1910," hurriedly explained the Professor. The waitress rounded the corner with a tray and their beverages. "Here we are," she said, placing the mugs in the center of the table. "Will there be anything else?" she said. "No, that's fine, thank you so much," answered Elizabeth. "Ok, let me know if you need anything," said the red head and walked back to the bar. "South Africa," Ginny said very slowly and thoughtfully. "Yes, Ginny. This could possibly explain the scenery you are able to see in the mirror, or should I say, crack in the mirror," said Elizabeth. "So you read my journal, too?" asked Ginny. "Well, yes, I hope it was alright?" responded Elizabeth. Ginny sighed, "I suppose so. But what now, I mean what are we to do now? We have this information, but what does it mean?" inquired Ginny. "Ginny I think your wardrobe is somehow connected to the other one. As you had learned about the Gypsy hand crafts, particularly jewelry, can stay 'attached', so to speak, to the original owner and maker, I think there is a similar phenomenon with the two wardrobes. But rather than being attached to the maker and owner, they are connected to each other," replied the Professor. He took a long deep breath and spread his hands out on the table around his mug of tea. "Elizabeth and I have talked this over many times since reading your journal. We think….that your wardrobe mirror, or the crack in it, is some sort of portal. The portal is where the physical space between the two wardrobes have been shrunk so that the only distance between the wardrobe in your bedroom and the one in South Africa is that half-inch piece of glass," announced the Professor. When he finished he let out a deep sigh, as if to say 'I know it sounds crazy, but it's the best I can do'. Ginny allowed this theory to roll around in her head for a couple of minutes, her eyes looking up and out into the café surroundings. She tried to imagine pulling a ceiling tile down and discovering another café on the other side in, say, France. She grinned and shook her head. She let out a little giggle and Elizabeth giggled, too. "Was what I said that funny? I'm trying to be serious, trying to find a reasonable explanation," huffed the Professor. "Oh, Professor, no I would say your explanation is as good as any could be. But how on earth could we possibly prove it?" Ginny said playfully. "I think it is a wonderful theory, but I'm beginning to wonder if we even have to prove it, for what purpose?" Ginny continued. "I think it is time to talk this over with your Father, Ginny," announced Professor Carrigan. "Now? Shouldn't we wait until the equinox in the spring so he, everyone can see it for themselves?" said Ginny with a little desperation in her voice. She was now more fearful of not being believed than she was about the secret getting out. "Ginny, your father is a very reasonable man. And he loves you very much. You are an intelligent young woman. You took great pains to carefully document, very scientifically I might add, every encounter with the light in the mirror. You've recorded all that you have seen and heard. You've even tried to paint the images you have seen. And with that last entry, seeing a hand and hearing a girl's voice, I think there is no better time than now," gently responded Elizabeth, trying to allay Ginny's fears. "I don't know. What if he thinks I'm crazy, all of us crazy?" retorted Ginny, a little forcefully. "Ginny, I have photographic evidence. It is reasonably solid evidence, in my opinion. I have taken photographs with two different cameras, at different times and different film. I think the photos and your journal are substantial enough without him being able to witness it for himself, at least today," said the Professor pleadingly. "His office is not far from here. We could go over there right now and give him the," he paused and rephrased," and give him our story. We will just give him the facts and let him decide for himself. I doubt seriously that he would, or for that matter could, completely dismiss it," said the Professor. "So you will go with me and help?" asked Ginny, letting her guard down slightly. "Well, of course, dear. I've brought copies of those entries of interest and two sets of photos," said Elizabeth. "Alright, I think I can do it if you two are there to support me," said Ginny. "Well, we'd better get over there, it is nearly five o'clock," said the Professor. He quickly put some money on the table and they hurried their way to Mr. Morse's office.
Chapter 10 – Telling the Tale
Professor Carrigan was leading the three down the sidewalk on Brook Avenue. Ginny's father's office was in sight. Professor Carrigan stopped and turned to address Ginny. "Ginny, I think you should lead us into your father's place of business. I don't mind getting the conversation started, but as you are his only daughter, and obviously quite fond and proud of you, you will need to carry it on." Ginny looked at him and swallowed hard as she responded, "Ok professor, thanks for being here with me. And you, too Elizabeth." "Right then, let's get on with it," said the Professor with an air of confident conviction.
The three of them strode into the office of T. Morse, C.P.A. like a troupe of distant travelers. Considering the heady and emotional journey Ginny has been on for the past few weeks, she may as well have been around the world at least once. Mr. Morse stepped into the hallway out of his office to see who had come in. "Well, good day fine folks! To what do I owe this pleasure?" said Mr. Morse, always happy when Ginny comes to call at his office. "Mr. Morse, we need to have a talk," said the Professor rather ominously. The tone turned Mr. Morse's countenance a little grim. His eyes darted between the three of them as he spoke, "About, what exactly? Ginny hasn't caused any trouble has she," he said with a half-smirk to elevate the air as the Professor's manner of speaking was so grave. "Dad, it's about the wardrobe and it is something important," said Ginny sincerely. "Alright, well it is almost five, so I can put the closed sign up and we can talk here in the receiving area where we can all be comfortable. Can I get anyone a glass of water or coffee perhaps?" "I think I may need some water, Dad," said Ginny flopping down in one of the wing backed chairs. Mr. Morse turned the sign hanging in the window from OPEN to CLOSED and locked the door. He returned with a glass of water and handed it to Ginny and sat down. "Mr. Morse," began the Professor in a less heavy tone, more like that of a reporter giving an account of an event. "Your daughter's wardrobe is quite unique," he said. "Yes, I know. You told us all about the fact that it was most likely made by a band of Gypsies," responded Mr. Morse. "Yes, but there is far more to it than that. Ginny, why don't you tell your Father about your first few discoveries regarding the wardrobe," said the Professor. Ginny began slowly telling the tale about the wardrobe, the wind and the silvery light. Mr. Morse listened intently. At first he was leaning back comfortably in his chair, but the more Ginny talked, he slowly moved into a more upright position on the edge of his seat. On his face, what started out as amusement, obviously turned to amazement as he listened. Ginny stopped telling her story just before her most recent encounter with the hand and the girl's voice. She had included all the folk lore surrounding Gypsy craftsmanship, but was hoping the Professor would pick up the tale with the information from the contact in Belgium. Mr. Morse fell back into his seat, slapped his hands on the chair arms and said "Huh, imagine that. Right inside my daughter's room," he said matter of fact, trying to conceal any of his doubts or disbelief. It was a lot to take in on a Tuesday afternoon. The Professor took advantage of his being a little off balance and picked up exactly where Ginny had hoped he would. Mr. Morse looked at him just as he had Ginny, but this time his mouth was agape in wonder. After the Professor had finished, Mr. Morse leaned forward and put his chin on his fist like the statue, The Thinker, and stared into space and said, "South Africa, in my daughter's bedroom, huh." Elizabeth finally spoke up. "Mr. Morse, I know this is a fantastic sounding tale, but be sure we have some evidence to support the story," she said as she pulled out a folio and handed it to Mr. Morse. "In there you will find copies of pages from Ginny's journal as well as photos that my brother took of the wardrobe. The black and white versions reveal the portal energy emanating from the mirror." Mr. Morse took the folio and flipped through the copies of the journal pages, looking up at Ginny a couple of times and then resuming his speed read of the documents. He then took a photograph in each hand and looked them over very carefully, glancing over at the Professor and then giving the photos another look. He placed all the papers and photos back in the folio. He tucked them to his side on the chair and leaned forward again using his hands to speak, "So you think that this scratch or crack in the mirror on the door of the wardrobe is some sort of space time portal? Do you think it is dangerous or harmful to Ginny, or for that matter, any of us?" asked Mr. Morse intently. "No, Mr. Morse, I don't believe so. In fact, I believe that if the wardrobe were moved from its present location or if the mirror were to be damaged, the portal would not be possible. Based on your daughter's keen observation about the birds and the tree's growth pattern, it would seem that the physical location coupled with the gypsy essence in the wardrobe construction is what makes the portal possible. I would imagine the previous owners of the house, or at least the person who purchased the wardrobe and put it there, knew something like we know," the Professor responded. "Hmmm, odd very odd. You know, Ginny, I noticed the tree and the birds as well, but never put much thought into it before. But if the wardrobe is holding open this portal, it would have to contain or release some type of energy that the birds and the tree are sensitive to, affecting their behavior," thoughtfully pronounced Mr. Morse. Mr. Morse looked at Ginny. "Did you ever try recording the sound coming from the wardrobe?" he asked her. "No, I never thought of it. But after that one time that I tried to photograph the light and it ruined my cell phone, I figured anything electronic might end up broken, too," Ginny replied. "Ah yes, but there are other means to record sound that are not electronic," said the Professor triumphantly. "In fact, I have an old Victor recording device that would do the trick," he said. "Yes, Professor but we will have to wait until spring to have the chance to try," Ginny said with a shrug. "Well, truth be told, I'm more worried about how your Mother is going to react to this fanciful tale," Mr. Morse said to Ginny. "Dad, do we have to tell her now?" pleaded Ginny. "I suppose we could wait until it gets nearer to spring. In the time being, we can work on our delivery of this, this whatever it is," said Mr. Morse, playfully and more relaxed. "So you believe me and mean us, Dad?" asked Ginny hopefully. "Well, how can I not? My only daughter, whom I trust and love dearly. A learned antiquities dealer, who I know to be an honest man and his sister, a retired school teacher who has read enough books and term papers to cipher out truth and fiction," Mr. Morse said with bombastic cheer. Ginny leaped from her chair and wrapped her arms tightly around her father. "I love you, Dad. Thanks for not thinking I'm crazy," said Ginny tearfully. All the pushed down fear and dread was released through her eyes in the form of tears. Mr. Morse gently coddled her and stroked her back. "It's alright, it's alright Ginny. Why don't we start heading home. Your Mother is going to wonder where we are," said Mr. Morse rising from his seat. The Professor and Elizabeth got up from their seats and walked toward the door. "Mr. Morse, you are such a sweet, understanding father," said Elizabeth and placed a light kiss on his cheek. Mr. Morse blushed, the first time in a long time Ginny has seen him do that. It put a smile on her face and made her warm inside. Mr. Morse unlocked the door to let out the Professor and his sister and motioned Ginny to join him outside. "Beautiful January day, cold and clear blue skies," said Mr. Morse and he and Ginny said their goodbyes to the Professor and Elizabeth.
Chapter 11 – The Long Winter Wait
A few days after telling her father the story of the wardrobe, Ginny slipped her journal into her father's brief case with a note:
I wanted you to read my journal. It chronicles my encounters in writing since I was nine. The first few pages cover a synopsis of the years before I could write well. And as you will see, I began documenting using the scientific experimentation method I learned in science class to make sure all the facts were well recorded. I thought it would be a good idea for you to know as much as possible before you and I break the news to the rest of the family. I know we agreed not to discuss it until spring, but this way I feel like we are communicating about it, though no words are to be spoken.
When Mr. Morse arrived at his office and found the journal, he read the note Ginny had placed inside and it made him smile. He put the journal, along with the note, inside one of his locked file drawers in his desk. He wanted to get the bulk of his work done before lunch so he could spend the afternoon reading Ginny's journal. Just as Mr. Morse pulled out a file to begin working, a wonderful thought came into his head. He and Ginny could talk about the wardrobe, just through notes exchanged by way of his brief case. He sat down the paperwork he had in his hand and picked up the desk phone to call Ginny.
"Yes, she is here in the kitchen, hold on," said Mrs. Morse as she walked over to give the phone to Ginny. "It's your father, Ginny," she said as she handed the phone to Ginny. "Hi, Dad," said Ginny cheerily. She began biting her bottom lip as her father explained his idea about exchanging notes via his brief case. She smiled broadly and blurted out, "That's a great idea," and sheepishly cleared her throat and continued, "But, I uh, think Mom was going to bake a cake or something," she said quickly to steer her mother clear of the real nature of their conversation. Her father was a little confused on his end of the phone, not realizing that Mrs. Morse may have still been in the room listening. "I'll ask Mom what she thinks about going out for ice cream after dinner," said Ginny looking at her mother. "Sure, if that's what your father would like," she said with a chuckle. Mr. Morse realized what was going on. Ginny's mother would have asked 'What's a great idea?' had Ginny ended her part of the conversation with that exclamation. Ginny was relieved not to have to answer that question. Her quick thinking avoided being completely untruthful with her mother and she would be getting ice cream to boot!
The next two months were long, but very special. Ginny and her father exchanged letters almost every day of the five days of the week he was at the office. Ginny would be up early placing her letter in one of the pockets of his brief case and in the evening she would retrieve his reply. One morning in late February she got caught placing a note in his brief case. "Ginny, what are you doing in your father's brief case?" her mother said standing behind her with her hands on her hips. Ginny was startled and dropped her dad's brief case as she whipped around to face her mom. "Uh, I was just, ah, putting a note in there for Dad," she said nervously. "May I see it?" her mother asked. "Uh, well, sure," Ginny stammered. She bent down to open the case and handed her mother the single piece of pale blue paper that was folded in half. Her mother unfolded the note and began to read. "Oh, Ginny," her mother sighed and hugged Ginny. "It has been years since you gave your father a love letter, how sweet," she said as she swayed with Ginny in her arms. That was a close call. Fortunately, Ginny's letter today only said 'I love you, Dad. You are the greatest.' Should it have been one of her earlier writings, the cat would have been out of the bag.
Later that morning, Ginny called her dad to tell him about what had happened that morning with mom. "Dad, I think we should put a hiatus on the note swap. We are almost to the finish line, so to speak, and I would hate to spoil it now," she said very seriously. "Agreed," her father replied. "It won't be much longer now, but I'll tell you it has been fun," he said. Ginny could hear him smiling on the other end of the phone.
The first day of spring was March 27th on the calendar and according to the Farmer's Almanac, it would be safe to beginning planting hearty crops by the 23rd which meant another long hard frost shouldn't happen after that. The days had been slowly getting longer, the earth moving along its elliptical orbit around the sun soon placing the Northern Hemisphere in alignment for warmer weather. There had been the usual snow fall this year, but not a particularly cold one. Some days in mid-February the mercury rose to just above fifty degrees. When the sun was shining, those were pleasant days to be outside. The third week of March started off with miserable weather. Two days of incessant drizzling rain and the thermometer didn't get above forty those days. Spring break was coming late this year because the school had been closed for nearly an entire week in January due to a broken water main which deprived the school of water. Ginny didn't mind as long as the make-up days didn't impede on the summer. She was anticipating her father to tell her when he was going to 'break the news' any time now. Ginny had one more research paper to finish for science class before the end of the week and decided to spend some time in the library after school on Wednesday. Because her father had been rather quiet about the upcoming family meeting to reveal the wardrobe's secret, she decided to go by his office after she finished her research.
Ginny walked into Mr. Morse's office and headed down the hall to his office. She stuck her head around the corner of his open office door, "Hi Dad!" she exclaimed. "Goodness, Ginny, I didn't hear you come in," he responded visibly startled. He sighed deeply and said, "So what do you think?" and he swiveled his computer screen around so that both of them could see it. Ginny sat down in the chair opposite his desk and adjusted it so she could comfortably view the screen. Her father had worked up a slide presentation of the wardrobe! Mr. Morse clicked through the presentation just enough to get a big grin out of Ginny. "Dad, it's awesome! Are you going to present this to Mom?" she asked excitedly. "Yes, we are. I thought I would open our little show and tell with a brief introduction and some photos of the wardrobe. I will give the bit of the story related to its history and include some of the lore on Gypsy handcrafts. Then you will pick up with the next set of slides and talk about the wind and the light. I've invited the Professor and Elizabeth to join us on Friday evening and the Professor will give his information about the wardrobe twin and his theory on the portal," announced Mr. Morse. "That's great, but shouldn't we wait until the light begins to appear again so that we can have 'absolute' proof?" inquired Ginny. "No, I think this will be quite enough for them all to take in on the first go round. Based on your journal entries for the past few years, the light doesn't appear exactly on the same hour, same day of the seasonal change over. It would be much better to let them mull this over mentally, let it sink in a bit and then once the cycle starts it will be less of shock to the system, so to speak," Mr. Morse replied. "Ok, makes sense to me," said Ginny, relieved to have her father's support and understanding. "I'm done here, would you like a ride home?" asked her father. "That would be great," answered Ginny and Mr. Morse gathered his things.
Chapter 12 – Show and Tell
Friday arrived without much fanfare. Mr. Morse arrived home and Mrs. Morse greeted him at the door. "Hello dear, good day at work?" asked Mrs. Morse cheerfully. "Oh yes, fine day. By the way, we will be having Professor Carrigan and his sister, Elizabeth over after dinner for some coffee," he informed. "Well, that will be nice. I've just taken a nice lemon pound cake out of the oven. We'll serve that with the coffee. Any special reason for their visit?" Mrs. Morse asked. "Yes, I would say so. Ginny and I and the Professor will be making a presentation to the family tonight," he said as they both walked to the kitchen. "What sort of presentation? You know Kenneth will be going over to a gaming party tonight and Jim has to work late," she said. "You will have to wait and see. As for the boys, well, I'll have to let them in on it tomorrow," said Mr. Morse seating himself at the kitchen table. Ginny pounded down the stairs, a little light on her feet anticipating the show and tell. "Hello, Ginny. Good day at school?" asked Mr. Morse. "Yep, last day until April 2nd," she responded. "Short spring break, eh? At least they aren't making you return on April Fool's day," said Mr. Morse with a chuckle. "Would you like to help me set up the projector in the living room?" he asked Ginny. "Sure, Dad, are you going to hook up your laptop to it?" Ginny asked. "That's the plan. I need to show you how to work the remote for advancing through the presentation. There's nothing to it," her father said. "Oh, yeah, I'm sure. I've already been schooled on giving computer presentations in speech class, so I shouldn't have any problems," said Ginny with an air of confidence. "Good, maybe you can teach me a thing or two," responded her father as he got up from his seat and headed to the garage to get the projector.
Ginny and her father had just about finished setting up the projector and computer when Mrs. Morse announced from the kitchen, "Supper's ready you two. Chicken and rice tonight," she sang out. "Mom that is one of my favorites," said Ginny bounding into the kitchen. "Did you two get everything ready for the mystery show?" asked Ginny and Mr. Morse. Ginny and her father looked at each other and struggled to contain a laugh. "What did I say that's so funny? I mean you two have been acting like a couple of secret agents planning to go to Mars the past few weeks. You can't fool me, I know you two having been cooking up something silly. But I've enjoyed watching you two grow closer with this little project and I must admit I'm dying to know what all the fuss is about," said Mrs. Morse. The grins on Mr. Morse and Ginny's face remained but they felt a few butterflies in their bellies once they realized that Mrs. Morse noticed their unusual behavior. Ginny thought that her and her dad had been very careful about everything leading up to this night, but I guess moms always know when something is up. Ginny thoroughly enjoyed the meal and once finished, she began helping her mother with clearing the table. "Ginny, if you will rinse the dishes and load the dishwasher, I can get a couple of plates made up for Jim and Kenneth," said Mrs. Morse. "Sure thing, Mom," replied Ginny. Once the cleanup was done and meal plates were in the oven for Ginny's brothers, her and Mrs. Morse joined Mr. Morse in the living room to relax and wait on their guests.
The hall clock rang out seven o'clock and Ginny heard a car pulling into the drive way. "I think the Professor and Elizabeth are here," she said peering out the window pulling the curtain aside. "I'll get the coffee brewing. Ginny, you get our guests settled will you?" said Mrs. Morse. "Are you ready for this," whispered Mr. Morse to Ginny. "As ready as I'll ever be, I guess," she whispered back. Mr. Morse opened the front door just as Elizabeth and Professor Carrigan arrived on the steps. "Hello Professor. Hello Elizabeth, won't you both come in?" greeted Mr. Morse. The Professor extended a hand for greeting Mr. Morse as they both crossed the thresh hold. Everyone took a seat and Mrs. Morse walked into the living room smiling, "Coffee anyone? I have some fresh lemon pound cake to go with it if you would like?" she said. "Oh that would be lovely, Mrs. Morse, but a small piece for me," replied Elizabeth. The Professor's sister, Elizabeth, was a petite woman and very proper in her manner, just as one might imagine an old school teacher. When she and the Professor had been to visit and food was offered, she always had some of everything, but just small portions. Ginny's mother said 'she didn't eat enough to keep a bird alive', jokingly of course. When everyone was three quarters of the way through their coffee and cake, Mr. Morse left his seat and powered up the projector and his laptop. "It will take a few minutes for the projector to warm up," announced Mr. Morse. He returned to his seat to finish up his cake. When finished, he rubbed his hands together like he was preparing to go to work, slapped his palms on his knees and stood in front of Mrs. Morse. "Beth," he said sweetly, acting as if he were about to propose, for a second time, to Mrs. Morse. "Thomas," Mrs. Morse said back, wondering what in the world he was about to say or do, as she gently sat down her cup and saucer. Mr. Morse began, "Beth, you are a little outnumbered tonight, I had not anticipated the boys being out of the house for this, but bear with me. Relax, keep an open mind and don't forget who is telling this story, your husband of 26 years and your daughter," he said carefully and intently. "Alright Thomas," she said softly. Her body language made it very obvious that she had resigned to trust Mr. Morse. Mr. Morse picked up the remote for the computer and started the presentation. "Now what we are about to tell you may be a little difficult to understand, much less accept outright. I would ask Beth, that you listen to the entire presentation carefully, without interruption, though you will be sorely tempted to. Once we are finished, questions will be entertained and we will do our best to answer them. Ok, so the first slide is showing Ginny's wardrobe, not much to see, an ordinary old fashion wardrobe that was in the house when we moved in. With the help of Professor Carrigan we learned a few interesting facts about the wardrobe's origins," said Mr. Morse, with a matter-of-fact business style that was easy to absorb and pleasant to hear. He continued the history lesson about the wardrobe's makers and included some points of Gypsy folk lore surrounding their handcrafted objects. Mr. Morse also talked about the unique building methods employed by the Gypsies and the curious way in which the wardrobe could not be dismantled without practically destroying it. Once he had finished this part of the presentation he looked at Ginny and smiled, giving her a cue that she was up next. "What I have told you so far is really inconsequential compared to Ginny's experience with the wardrobe, however, the facts presented up to this point are important. With that, I will give the lectern to Miss Ginny Morse," Mr. Morse announced and began a golf clap. The Professor and Elizabeth joined in, as did Mrs. Morse, though somewhat reluctantly. Ginny moved into the space where Mr. Morse had been speaking and her father gave her the remote. It was obvious to Ginny, that her father had been rehearsing this for weeks and he would soon find out she had done the same. She had re-read her journal ten times and formulated a short version of the entire set of entries by picking out the most significant moments, basically anytime something new happened or she gained more understanding. "We had been living this wonderful home for a year before I first heard it," Ginny began, "The wind woke me from my sleep. At first I thought it was a storm coming in, but when I would turn my head towards the window, it was plain that the sound was coming from the wardrobe." Ginny wound her way through the early years explaining how her inspection of the wind and the light were limited by her size and accessibility. She then explained the real reason for asking for the ladder. "I thought that I would get more understanding of the light if I could see it better, head on, instead of looking up at it from the floor. That was when I was intent on making sure that I documented everything as carefully as I could. These slides show some pages from the early entries, before I could write very well and these show the more recent entries where I've used a scientific record keeping method. Being able to stand level with the silvery light proved to be a big help in gathering more new information," Ginny continued. She carried on her tale of the wardrobe's wonders and detailed the reaction her eyes had to staring at the light too long and what had happened with her cell phone when she attempted to photograph the light. Mrs. Morse had her fingertips over her lips during this part, showing a mother's concern for her daughter's eyesight. She finally took them down when Ginny explained there was no serious, permanent damage, otherwise she would be probably needing glasses, which she did not. Ginny stopped short of the last significant event involving the sighting of the hand and hearing the voice. "Mom, the journal is yours to read whenever you like. I would now like Professor Carrigan to tell you about the discoveries made with his photography," and she held out the remote to the Professor who was getting up from the couch to retrieve it. "Thomas, this is a little fantastic, I'm not sure I can hear anymore without giggling," said Mrs. Morse. "Now, Beth, I told you there would be a question and answer time once we were finished. It is important to hear all of it, especially the Professor's input," said Mr. Morse imploring her to be patient. Mrs. Morse groaned a little and sat back in her seat and gave her attention to the Professor. "Mrs. Morse? Fantastic, yes, I should say so. However, not, in my opinion, outside the realm of possible. There are many physical, tangible wonders in this world that cannot be explained, completely. The northern lights, ball lighting, Stonehenge are just a couple of examples of things that exist but cannot be, at present, fully understood. Ginny's wardrobe is just such another phenomenon or anomaly not unlike those," stated the Professor with great enthusiasm. His salesman side was showing in all its glory. He dramatically pushed the remote to advance the presentation to a black and white photo of the wardrobe, from a side-angled view. "Mrs. Morse, if I could draw your attention to the upper right hand corner of the wardrobe's mirrored door. You will notice a blur, or as your daughter calls it, shimmer. Do you see it?" and he jerked his head around to get a response from Mrs. Morse. Mrs. Morse slowly shook her head up and down, indicating yes and as she leaned forward to get a closer look, she shook it more affirmatively. "Oh, my, how odd," she said. "Yes, well," the Professor continued advancing to the next slide. "Here we have a close cropped view of the same photograph and you can see the shimmer with greater detail," said the Professor. He then regaled Mrs. Morse with the story of the twin wardrobe. This piqued her interest greatly and more so when he revealed that the twin had been tracked to South Africa. The Professor then slowly, as if walking on thin ice, explain his theory (and made it plain that it was just a theory) on the wardrobe being a portal. He paused for a long moment, rubbing his chin as if deciding what to say next. He blinked his eyes hard twice and then said, "I believe that is all, thank you," and he returned to his seat, the look on his face as if he had lost something but couldn't find it. "Well, Mrs. Morse, do you have any questions?" asked Elizabeth, drawing out the question dramatically. Mrs. Morse stood to her feet and turned to Mr. Morse, "I would like to see the wardrobe, now," she said and trundled off toward the stairs. They all followed behind her into Ginny's bedroom. "So this part here, then, where there seems to be some reflective coating missing from the glass?" Mrs. Morse asked rubbing her finger over the upper right hand corner of the mirror. "Yes, Mom that is the spot," answered Ginny. Mrs. Morse then walked over to the set of bay windows and pulled back the curtain staring out at the tree with the limb that grew straight up. She turned to everyone in the room and folded her arms across her waist. She started pacing the floor as she spoke, "So I'm guessing that everyone here has been waiting until now to share this story to coincide with another cycle of the appearance of the light. The spring equinox is just around the corner. I suppose we should tell Jim and Kenneth as soon as possible, otherwise they will have us all committed when they find us in Ginny's room in the middle of the night staring at a wardrobe," she said with a wry smile. The Professor and Elizabeth both began laughing. Ginny and her parents quickly followed suit, imagining the two older boys' reaction to four adults and their younger sister standing in their pajamas at three in the morning, silently gawking at an old wardrobe.
Chapter 13 – Sight and Sound
Saturday morning, Ginny awoke to hearing her brothers Jim and Kenneth exclaiming from downstairs, 'No way!' and 'Are you serious?!' Mr. Morse was explaining the wardrobe story using just his laptop presentation. Ginny hurriedly got up and dressed to head downstairs. She rounded the corner into the kitchen just as Kenneth was saying, "That is so cool!" He stood up in front of Ginny and put a hand on each shoulder and looked intently at Ginny. "Sister, you are the coolest! To keep this secret for so long, I mean, wow! It couldn't have been easy to keep this under wraps all this time," he exclaimed. "Actually, the longer it went on, the easier it got. But I was at a standstill in getting any more understanding, so I had to get someone else involved, which happened to be the Professor," said Ginny. "So when do we get to see it?" asked Jim. Kenneth had released Ginny from his playful grasp and she was at the counter preparing to make some hot cocoa. She didn't turn to speak to Jim, she was feeling a little shy being the center of all this attention. "You must mean the light? Well, it will happen soon and as soon as it makes its first appearance of the season, I will get everyone up to check it out," she said smoothly with her back still to her father and brothers while she continued to get her cocoa ready. Once she had a steamy cup in her hands, she turned and leaned on the counter, crossing her ankles, trying to be casual about the news. "Why don't Kenneth and I just campout in your room on the floor, that way we will be there in the room when it happens," suggested Jim enthusiastically. "Oh, come on Jim," interjected Mr. Morse. "That's a little extreme, I mean your sister's room is just down the hall and she is every bit as anxious about everyone in the family seeing it to provide proof-positive about the wardrobe," Mr. Morse continued. "Yeah, Jim, the secret is out so there wouldn't be any reason not to alert everyone. Besides, it is important to me that all of you are witnesses. All these years, I've taken for granted that the wind and the light will always come to visit twice a year, but there is nothing to say that it won't stop at some point," Ginny said thoughtfully. Her declaration about the appearance of the light possibly being uncertain, at some point, changed the mood of the room. Mr. Morse had never considered this possibility before, that the wardrobe's phenomenon could simply cease to occur. Mr. Morse got up from the kitchen table and stood beside Ginny with his arms folded across his chest. "Ginny, I do hope it happens this year. I know it is very important to you, a way to affirm your experience. But you must have realized at some point, that multiple witnesses won't necessarily 'solve' the mystery. We may never fully understand or unravel it," said Mr. Morse in a gentle, persuasive tone. "Yeah, I know, Dad. I never really thought about how I would feel if the wardrobe's mystery were never revealed. But I guess it could be thought of no differently than the beauty of a spring flower. You see it, admire it and tomorrow it will probably be gone," responded Ginny with a faraway look in her eyes. "And besides that Ginny," interjected Jim "unanswered questions are what drive us to learn and understand." "Your brother is right. Like your flower, Ginny, I think just letting it be, so to speak, is the best approach," Mr. Morse concluded.
After the morning conversation subsided, Ginny went back upstairs to her room to get dressed for the day. As she finished dressing, she longingly looked at the wardrobe and almost spoke what was on her mind. 'I just need you to show yourself just this one more time, please,' she thought to herself. It was a pleasant day. Ginny had one of her girlfriends from school, Elsy, come over to spend the afternoon listening to music and looking at new hair designs on the web. Elsy, one of Ginny's longtime friends from elementary school, stayed through supper before her mother came to pick her up. Ginny and her brothers wound down the day by playing some scrabble at the kitchen table. The emotional angst that was heavy that morning had melted away with the day's activities and Ginny had not thought of the wardrobe for several hours. Her father's words (let it be) had hit home and put her mind at ease. It was nearly ten once they finished their second round of the game and everyone was yawning, ready for sleep. Jim put away the board game while Kenneth and Ginny picked up the snack plates and cups. Everyone said their good nights and headed to their rooms. Mr. and Mrs. Morse had retired early to catch a movie in their bedroom, but all was quiet now. Ginny was more tired than she realized and left her clothes on the floor where she had taken them off and haphazardly put on a pair of pajamas. She slid under the covers and sleep came quickly.
Ginny's eyes snapped open. She could hear it, the wind from the wardrobe. She sat up in her bed and looked over at the wardrobe and the silvery gray light was shining. Ginny jumped from her bed, out of her room and down the hall. "Ok, everyone up! Come see, come see the wardrobe!" she shouted. Kenneth came bursting out of his room nearly falling down. Jim came casually walking into the hall rubbing sleep from his eyes. Ginny started back to her room, her brothers following close behind. She could hear her parents stirring, getting out of bed. They entered the room and all stood in a semi-circle facing the wardrobe. Not a word was being said and not one of them turned to take notice of Mr. and Mrs. Morse entering the room. Ginny's parents stood behind, on either side of her. Ginny looked over at Kenneth and then Jim, both their faces dimly aglow with the light from the wardrobe. "Oh, I need to get the journal," Ginny said and squeezed her way through her parents to get the journal from her bedside table. She then proceeded to get the ladder. She stopped just behind her father, "Dad?" she said and Mr. Morse stepped aside while tapping Jim on the shoulder to allow Ginny to move the ladder into position. She set it up in the usual place that allow direct viewing of the sliver of light. "Jim, would you mind taking the first observation? Just tell me what you see and I'll take notes," asked Ginny. "Oh sure," said Jim with a little apprehension in his voice. He climbed up the ladder and peered toward the light, moving ever closer to get the best close up view. "Well, I can see something of a landscape, at least that's what it seems like anyway," he reported. Ginny took bullet notes of his remarks and then turned to Kenneth. "Kenneth, would you mind taking a look?" asked Ginny. "Oh yeah! This is so cool!" he answered, obviously anxious to investigate the light. Kenneth took Jim's spot on the ladder and leaned into the light. "Wow, this is something else," said Kenneth in awe. Suddenly, he jerked away from the mirror and shouted, "Whoa, what was that?" His sudden pulling away made the ladder wobble and Jim grabbed hold of the frame to stabilize it. "Easy, brother. What did you see?" asked Jim. "I, I think it was a, a hand?" said Kenneth and moved in closer to get another look. "Did he say a hand?" Ginny's mother said to Mr. Morse excitedly. "Yes, I believe he did," Mr. Morse replied with a grin. "Did you not read the journal, Beth?" asked Mr. Morse. "Yes, but not all the way through. To be honest, I was waiting for this to make me a true believer," she whispered to Mr. Morse. "Oh, Beth, did you think we were putting up an elaborate hoax?" he replied with a joking tone. "No, but come on Thomas, I mean look," and she pointed toward the wardrobe. "The sound of wind, a dim gray light emanating from a mirror on a wardrobe. A little surreal don't you think?" Mrs. Morse said with a voice of childlike wonder. "Yeah, I guess under different circumstances, this would be a little eerie," said Mr. Morse. "There it goes again! It's like someone is waving or running their hand across the crack in the mirror," exclaimed Kenneth. "Ginny, does it look like the light is fading to you?" asked Jim. "Yes it does, but it has been nearly four minutes. It doesn't usually last more than five," replied Ginny. "Well, now that the cycle has started, we should call the Professor," said Mr. Morse. "Right now, Thomas? It is nearly three in the morning," responded Mrs. Morse. "It is pretty late, or early but I'm sure the Professor would like to know so he can prepare for tomorrow, I mean tonight's appearance," said Ginny. The light slowly faded to black and the sound of the wind diminished to silence with it. Ginny switched on her bedside table lamp and placed the journal on her bed. "Dad, here, use my cell to call the Professor," said Ginny, handing her father her phone. Mr. Morse took it and dialed Professor Carrigan's home number. It rang four times and finally the Professor answered. "H-hello," a groggy voice croaked on the other end. "Professor Carrigan, this is Mr. Morse. Sorry to disturb you at this hour, but I thought you would want to know that the wardrobe anomaly has begun again," said Mr. Morse. The Professor cleared his throat and replied, "Oh, no trouble. I will get things prepared today and come your way this afternoon." "Fine, Professor. Why don't you and Elizabeth be here around five and have dinner with us," suggested Mr. Morse. "That would be wonderful and thank you. See you later then," and the Professor ended the call. Mr. Morse handed Ginny back her phone "Well, let's all try and get some more sleep. It won't be long before the sun is up," said Mr. Morse placing his arm around Mrs. Morse and they shuffled off to their room. Jim took down Ginny's ladder and placed back where Ginny kept it in the opposite corner of her room. "That was so cool," said Kenneth and headed out of Ginny's room. "Yeah, Ginny, that was something to see," said Jim as he left for his own room. Ginny sat down on the edge of her bed beaming. It was official. She wasn't crazy and everyone didn't freak out! Ginny picked up her journal and completed the entry:
March 29th 0230
The light returned for the spring cycle. Everyone in my family was able to witness the phenomenon for themselves. My brother Kenneth observed the hand moving across the crack. It occurred twice during his viewing. My brother Jim perceived the same features as I had, that there appears to be a landscape, though obscured and no detail noted. There wasn't a voice tonight, however, with side line conversations and commentary, it may not have been heard. The sound and light lasted four minutes and forty three seconds. Note: I may have missed a few seconds when gathering everyone to my room. Professor Carrigan was notified by phone and is planning to be here for the next appearance.
Personal note: I'm so relieved, so very pleased that the secret is out and confirmed. I have a wonderful and understanding family. I'm not sure my mother would have been able to accept the story fully, had she not seen it with her own eyes.
Ginny placed the journal in the bedside table drawer and fell asleep feeling very happy.
Chapter 14 – Old Things
The Morse family started stirring mid-morning, trying to regain the lost rest from the early morning appearance of the light from the wardrobe mirror. Once everyone was downstairs around the kitchen table enjoying breakfast, the talk about the mirror was lively. Ginny didn't have much to say but was thoroughly enjoying the feeling of vindication. "So, Ginny, why does the Professor have to witness it? I mean, now you have four people that have seen and heard?" asked Kenneth. Ginny took a little exception to the tone of his questions, as if the Morse's had some sort of ownership over the phenomenon. She thought carefully about her response. "Well, Kenneth, I see it as another level of proof. I mean, we are all family. When I was doing my research on photography, after the Professor's first photo shoot, I found out that a lot of hoaxes, using trick photography, were done by family or closely associated groups. Like the UFO photo hoaxes were most often accomplished by UFO buffs and the same with other unexplained phenomenon, so by having a person not related to us adds more weight to the truthfulness of it, in my opinion," replied Ginny. "Kenneth, I agree with Ginny's point of view," added Mr. Morse. "Ginny, by having the Professor and Elizabeth see it, as another level proof, you aren't going public with this discovery, are you?" inquired Jim. Mrs. Morse's countenance took on a look of disgust and she interjected, "I should hope not. I would not enjoy a band of thrill seekers trapesing up and down in and out of the house to see the mirror like some cheap circus oddity." She said this with a detectable tone of indignation. "No I have had no intention of this being made public. In fact, after we had talked about the real possibility of the appearance of the light being temporary, I think its best that we leave it between the seven of us," replied Ginny.
Professor Carrigan and his sister, Elizabeth arrived just before dinner. Mr. Morse got them comfortable seated in the living room while Mrs. Morse was finishing up the final meal touches. "This is so exciting, Ginny," said Elizabeth. "Yes, it is such a relief to have someone else see what I have seen," Ginny replied. "Brother, I think you should tell us all the additional information you have received from your Belgian contact," Elizabeth said placing her hand on the Professor's forearm. "Yes, well, apparently there is a plantation outside of Cape Town. And in the main house sits a wardrobe, in the receiving room, what we refer to as a living room, facing a panel of large windows," reported the Professor. "What? You are saying that the twin was actually located?!" exclaimed Mr. Morse. "Yes, indeed it has," replied the Professor pulling a single folded sheet of paper from his top coat. He unfolded it and splayed it out with his hands on the coffee table. "I just received this email from my Belgian contact this morning," he said. The page was a print of an email message and a poor quality photograph of a wardrobe that looked identical to Ginny's. Another smaller inset photo was of a large set of picture windows with gauze sheers. Ginny picked up the paper and stared at the inset photo intently. "This would explain why the landscape I see from the crack in the mirror is so obscured," Ginny said, continuing to study the photo. "Wonderful deduction, my girl," said Elizabeth whimsically. "But this is so bizarre. Why would your Belgian contact go to such lengths to search out the location of an old wardrobe?" asked Mr. Morse. "The rarity of twin, antique, Gypsy made artifacts such as these wardrobes probably drove him to it. To find the mate to the one here in the U.S. may not make headline news, but definitely a good story to tell; at least amongst antiquity dealers," chuckled the Professor. "Alright everyone, dinner is served," rang out Mrs. Morse from the kitchen.
After dinner the Professor stood from the table and asked, "Mr. Morse, would mind helping me unload some things from the car?" "Of course, Professor," replied Mr. Morse, rising from his seat and tossing his napkin on the table. Both men set out from the house to the Professor's car. "I see you didn't bother with the antique today?" noted Mr. Morse. "Well, with the late night call and preparing some items to bring over here today, I wasn't interested in coaxing the old iron today," replied the Professor. Professor Carrigan opened the trunk and it was loaded quite heavily with what looked like a lot of old equipment. Mr. Morse only recognized an old movie film camera and some film cans, the rest was a mystery. It took two trips to cart all the equipment inside and up the stairs to Ginny's room. Everyone with the exception of Elizabeth and Mrs. Morse were in Ginny's room gawking at the equipment. "Professor, I recognize the old movie film camera, but what are these other items?" asked Mr. Morse. "Yeah, what's this big horn?" asked Kenneth. "That my boy is a Victor recorder. The horn, as you call it, is the audio tube. The tube is placed as near as reasonably possible to the sound source. The sound travels through the tube to this etching stylus. A hard wax or thin copper platter is placed here. The design principles are similar to that of the human ear. The spring mechanism allows the etching stylus to gyrate while the platter is turning, thus imprinting a mechanical representation of the sound waves captured," explained the Professor. "So this is how they recorded records a long time ago?" asked Jim. "This is a very rudimentary unit, but yes, very similar setup would have been used," replied the Professor. "You are going to record the sound and the light?" asked Ginny. "Yes. We will use the moving film camera to capture the light and the Victor will record the wind," said the Professor. "Now, we won't be able to capture a significant amount of detail with the camera, such as a close up of the crack, but for an anecdotal record it is sufficient for our purposes," added the Professor. Mrs. Morse and Elizabeth were coming up the stairs. "Professor," Mrs. Morse said as he peered into the room, "I've set you and Elizabeth up in one of the spare rooms." "Oh, how kind of you, but I could just stretch out on your couch," said the Professor. "I wouldn't hear of it. Besides, I had prepared the room expecting guests during the spring break, but they cancelled, so it was no bother," responded Mrs. Morse. "I see you have all your toys set up, brother," jeered Elizabeth. "Now, Elizabeth, you know these are not toys. True they are old and rarely used, but toys they are not, but tools," amusingly rebuffed the Professor. Elizabeth and Mrs. Morse departed to the guest room and as they left Elizabeth said, "It has been a long time since I've seen my brother this happy. It's good to see him enjoying himself."
Everything was setup in Ginny's room for the next event. The Professor and Elizabeth retired early after all had a light supper at nine in the evening. Ginny and the rest of the Morse family headed off to bed at ten thirty, but Ginny had a difficult time getting to sleep. She was not anxious about the light appearing, but her room had never been so cluttered. There was a movie camera, one stanchion of lights, the Victor machine, a modern video camera (set back away from the other equipment to capture the entire 'scene') and a couple of chairs. After an hour of restlessness, her mind finally gave in to sleep.
Chapter 15 – Lights Out
The clock on Ginny's bedside table reported a quarter past two in the morning. Ginny was awakened by the returning of the sound of the wind. She jumped out of bed and shouted down the hall to get everyone up. Within a few seconds, Professor Carrigan was in the room with Elizabeth quickly behind him. He rushed to the light array and switched them on. The lights put off a very dim, yellowish glow on the corner of the room where the wardrobe stood. He positioned himself behind the camera and after flipping a few mechanical switches and removing the lens cover, he began turning the film advance crank to start filming. The light was extraordinarily bright on this occasion and the wind seemed to be producing more sound than usual. "Elizabeth, would you please take over here," Professor Carrigan said. Elizabeth took his place behind the camera and the Professor hurriedly wound up the Victor device, set a copper plate on the platter and lowered the etching stylus onto it. He gently repositioned the sound tube to maximize the effectiveness and Ginny observed the stylus scribing fine, wavy lines around the plate. Mr. and Mrs. Morse had come in the room with Jim and Kenneth falling in behind him. "Oh, I nearly forgot," said the Professor and quickly stepped over to the video camera mounted on a tripod. He looked through the eye piece and had begun taping, as the red 'record' light was visible from the front of the camera. "Hey are we.." started Kenneth, but was quickly cut off by the Professor with his lips pursued, a finger laid up and down his nose and boisterous 'shhh' being issued from his lips. He stepped over next to Kenneth so as not to speak too loudly, "Kenneth, I don't want to record anything other than the wind, if possible," said the Professor in a calm speaking voice, slightly subdued and very near Kenneth's ear. "Oh, sorry, sure," responded Kenneth in a whisper. Only a couple minutes had passed when the light and sound coming from the wardrobe quickly went away, with a loud whooshing sound as if someone had closed a window during a wind storm. The only sound was the click-click-clack of Elizabeth operating the moving film camera. Everyone stood death still, waiting. The moments passed by and Ginny looked over at her bedside table clock. It read two thirty five. "It's over," she said with a sigh of resignation. "That seemed a little short, didn't it?" asked Jim. "Yes, it was. According to Ginny's journal entries, we should have had at least seventeen minutes of continuous observation before it expired," said the Professor rubbing his chin in angst. Mr. Morse walked over to the door and switched on the overhead light fixture. The room was flooded with bright, incandescent light and everyone squinted and moaned allowing their eyes to adjust. "I think that was the last time," said Ginny, this time with an air of certainty. "Why do you say that, Ginny?" asked Mr. Morse and continued, "There are several journal entries you have made over the years when the observation period was inconsistent. There are some entries where they appearance was longer than usual," said Mr. Morse, trying to console Ginny. It was plainly obvious that she was mildly upset by what she was thinking was the last she would hear the wind or see the light. Her facial expression was downcast and mopey. "Dad, it's ok, really. But I've never seen the appearance disappear like that before. It didn't gradually fade as before, it just shut down," Ginny said, her voice not in keeping with her countenance. She was working hard to maintain her bravado, but it was clear she was disappointed. "Regardless of whether it returns or not, we have considerably more physical evidence of the manifestations. Here, listen," said the Professor as he replaced the etching stylus with a playing needle and replaced the arm tube on the Victor. He gave the device a few turns of the handle and placed the needle onto the copper plate. It was an excellent sound recording of the wind, including the unusual and rapid cessation. "That's cool, Professor," reacted Kenneth. "Let's see about the video footage," the Professor announced and moved over to the video camera. He unlatched it from the tripod and rewound the tape. He pressed the play button and moved in closer to the group with the LCD screen visible to everyone. "Ah, yes, you see. It isn't superbly visible, but you can just see a glow coming from the wardrobe mirror," the Professor said momentarily pointing at the flicker of light. As the footage progressed, the picture became very grainy and distorted, along with the audio. The timing of the deteriorating video seemed to coincide with the rapid cessation of the light. "Ah, no worries. I'm sure the film camera did a fine job. I will know in a couple of days. I will have to send the film into the city, as there are no services here for development of moving film," said the Professor reassuringly.
Everyone settled back into their rooms to continue their rest, what little they would get as it was Monday morning.
Chapter 16 – Farewell and Hello
By Wednesday, the Professor had let the Morse family know that the film turned out well and was having it dubbed to DVD for convenience and would be sending a copy their way. Unfortunately, it seems Ginny's premonition about the light not returning was correct. There should have been at least three to seven more appearances, but after that one event, in the early hours of Monday morning, there had not been another. Mr. Morse was the one that had spoken to the Professor over the phone about the film result, but didn't mention anything to him, nor did the Professor ask. Thursday evening at the dinner table Mr. Morse suggested that Ginny contact the Professor and let him know. "Ginny, I think it would be fair to let the Professor know, that way he or his contact in Belgium won't expend unnecessary energy on bringing some closure with the unit in Africa," said Mr. Morse. "Yeah, I know, Dad, but I wanted to wait at least until Sunday. That would be a full week of no appearances, which, to me would be a good sign that it's over," said Ginny. Her voice did not give a hint of disappointment or sadness. Ginny was actually somewhat relieved. The roller coaster ride she, and everyone else for that matter, had been on over the past few months was fun, but strenuous. She was content with what she had learned and understood about the wardrobe, the wind and the light. She had given it some serious thought over the past couple of days and had decided that if the light never appeared again, she would be fine with that. Mr. Morse finally answered Ginny's reply, "Well, I can see that logic. Ok, so I will leave it to you."
Sunday afternoon, Ginny lay stretched across her bed with her cell phone on her chest. She lay there, staring at the ceiling, preparing herself to call the Professor. She picked up the phone and dialed the Professor's number. "Hello," the Professor answered. "Hi Professor Carrigan, it's Ginny Morse," greeted Ginny. "Oh, well, hello Ginny. I hope you are well today? You should have received the DVD by now, but if not, I'm sure it will be first thing Monday," said the Professor. "Oh, no, it hasn't arrived yet, but no worries. I'm calling to let you know…the light has ceased," she said staggering through the words. "Oh, really? Well, that's a shame. What makes you think it has 'gone', I guess is the right word?" asked the Professor. "Well, there should have been a few more days of appearances this season, but nothing. I think it is safe to assume it is over and I didn't want you or your friend in Belgium to waste any more time on tracking down the sister wardrobe," said Ginny, somewhat resigned. "Well, Ginny, you sound disappointed, as I guess you should, however" continued the Professor, "my Belgian contact did proceed with making a connection with the other wardrobe in South Africa. In fact, we have the name, mailing address and email contact." Ginny sat bolt upright on her bed at the news and responded excitedly, "What!? You know who has it and how to talk to them?" The Professor chuckled, "Well, yes. You will be pleased to know the individual you can communicate with is not so unlike yourself. A fifteen year old girl, Dutch origin, but very good English" informed the Professor. "Oh my, that is simply astounding. May I have the email address, please," asked Ginny. "Well, to avoid any problems, what with junk mail and such, I wanted to make sure you were interested, so I will send the third party an email and put you in copy. That way, they will know it is ok, alright?" said the Professor. "Oh yes, of course, thank you," answered Ginny. "And don't be so glum about the cessation of the event, it may still occur next season. I will say goodbye and get this message off. You may not receive anything back until tomorrow due to the time difference." Ginny gleefully replied, "Thank you again, bye." Ginny leaped off the bed onto the floor and hurried downstairs to inform the family of the exciting news.
"That is so cool, Ginny. You now have a pen pal in Africa," said Jim. "How exciting, dear. It should be quite fun trading stories about your experiences with the wardrobe," said Mrs. Morse. "Yeah, but what about this weird connection? I mean, basically someone in South Africa has been spying on Ginny for sixteen years. Kind of creepy," said Kenneth. "Oh Kenneth, don't be so melodramatic," said Mr. Morse. "If their experience was anything like Ginny's there wouldn't have been any spying because there just isn't enough of a view to really see anything anyway. I'm far more curious about how the wardrobes seem to be working like a transmitter, a two way radio," remarked Mr. Morse. "Yes, Dad, that is the real mystery here. The Gypsies who built them, must have known something we have yet to uncover or understand," responded Ginny dreamily. "We may never know. Time for me to get some dinner on. Ginny, would you help me in the kitchen," said Mrs. Morse rising from the sofa and heading to the kitchen. "Sure mom," answered Ginny, following her mother into the kitchen.
Ginny woke early the next morning to check her email. There were two new messages, the one where Professor Carrigan had made the initial contact and copied Ginny and another one from thaus . She opened the 'thaus' message:
My name is Theresa Haus and was very pleased to receive news of your magical wardrobe. I suppose I should begin with my story of our wardrobe….
Ginny reveled in the story of Theresa's wardrobe. Their stories were quite different. The wardrobe in South Africa sits in their main dining hall facing four large pictures windows which look out onto the front of their property. Her father was the one to discover the anomalies, twenty years ago. Theresa was kind enough to send a couple of pictures attached to the mail. One was of the wardrobe with Theresa standing next to it. The wardrobe was identical to Ginny's, with the one exception that the scratch on the mirror was on the upper left side rather than the right. The other was a picture that must have been taken at about the height of the scratch facing the windows. It was obvious to Ginny what she was perceiving all this time through her 'looking glass'. The windows were draped with lacey sheers and beyond those, the dry grass hills of Africa. The letters at first were just focused on the wardrobe experiences, but as the weeks passed, Ginny and Theresa began learning about each other. They wrote about their families, school and hobbies. They became quite good long-distance friends.
Ginny had gained so much with her magical wardrobe. A rekindled relationship with her father, new friends both near and far, and a new zeal for science. It may take a lifetime to understand the connection between two pieces of antique furniture, hand crafted by Gypsies, but Ginny would continue her search for understanding and knowledge.