Katy really hated going to Great Aunt Agatha’s. It used to be fun when Great Uncle Bertie was alive, full of light and colour. The gardens were masses of colour, there were forget-me-nots over half the front lawn, and morning glories growing along the fences in white, pink, purple and blue. Then, ten years ago, Uncle Bertie died, and everything changed.
Now, there was nothing but shades of purple. Lilacs, violets, larkspur, pansies, purple tulips, no other colour, just purple, some such a dark shade it was almost black. And inside, it was dark and dusty. The shades were drawn or shutters closed to block out all the light, with only dim bulbs in a few lamps. You could hardly see your way past the furniture, and most of it was covered in dark cloth, unusable. Katy sighed. Today Mother had to come, because Aunt Agatha wanted to change her will. And there was no school today, so Katy had to come too.
Mr. Carter was already there, with a lady he said would be a witness. Mother went with them to Great Aunt’s sitting room, and Katy headed for the back door. At least in the back garden, there would be sunlight. True, the only colours would be shades of purple and green, but some of the flowers had beautiful scents, and she could hear and see some birds.
She wandered along the paths, reaching to smell the lilacs, brushing a finger along a petal here and there, and remembering. Uncle Bertie would walk here with her, before the big rhododendrons were planted, and they would look for fairies, hiding among the blossoms. Then, you could see the sidewalk and road, and the people and cats and dogs going by. Sometimes they would stop and chat with Uncle. The place felt full of life. Now, even with all the healthy growth, it felt dead. Katy sighed again. No fairy would, or could, live in such an environment.
“Katy,” Mother called. “You must come in now, Great Aunt Agatha wants to see you, and we have something to tell you.”
Katy walked back to the house, and fallowed her mother, along the dark hall and into the dim sitting room. There was a lamp on a table with a pile of papers, the only really bright spot in the room. Mr. Carter was standing by the table, with the lady who came with him, and Mrs. O’Malley, great aunt’s housekeeper.
“Hello, Katy, we have some good news for you.” Mr. Carter said. “Your Great Aunt wants to be sure this house stays in the family, so she has willed it to you. She still owns it until she dies, of course. Until then it will be in trust with your mother and me as the trustees. It will be yours when you turn twenty one. Or, if Mrs. Wilson lives another seven years, it will go to you on her death.” He smiled, looking at her waiting for her reaction.
She glanced at her mother, and then at Aunt Agatha. Aunt Agatha looked proud, and as if she thought she had given Katy the most wonderful gift in the world. Mother just looked apprehensive. This great, dull, dismal place, hers? She knew she couldn’t let Aunt Agatha know how much she didn’t want it; she had to put on a good act.
“Thank you, Aunt Agatha, that is a most wonderful and unexpected gift. I hope I have to wait many years before it becomes mine.” That part she meant with her whole heart.
After everyone had had a small glass of wine, it was time to go. Katy kissed Aunt Agatha and said how grateful she was, again, and then she and Mother were out on the street.
“Mother!” Katy wailed. “What am I to do with that dark, dismal old house? I don’t want it, I don’t even like being there for an hour. Can I sell it when I inherit?”
“You could, and it would bring a good price, and Uncle Bertie mad sure it was kept in perfect condition. But, I know you don’t like it the way it is now. Aunt Agatha was so heart broken when Uncle Bertie died that she really didn’t want to live. That is why she did away with all the cheerful colours, and uses only a few rooms.
“But Katy, when she is gone, and it is yours, you could redecorate, open the shutters and put up the blinds. You can let the sunshine in, and plant roses and daffodils, and all the colourful flowers that used to be there. You could even have the rhododendrons removed. Though I think they are beautiful, and with the traffic blocked out, the garden is much more restful. You have time yet. Remember how it was when you and Uncle Bertie used to wander there imagining all sorts of thing. Then, when it is yours, you can redesign it your way.”
Katy walked in silence for a while, and then looked at her mother, smiling. “You’re right, Mother, I can. I am going to draw out designs, starting today, until I get it exactly the way I want. Thanks, Mother, now I can look forward to my legacy, whenever it comes. Not for at least ten years, though. I want Aunt Agatha around for as long as possible. I do love her, and I’ll try to be more understanding. I am growing up; I’m not a little girl anymore.”
Her mother smiled, and sighed. Katy was right; she wasn’t a little girl any more. In too few years, she would be a woman grown.