Sonntag, 20. September 2015

The Team is Now Complete

By now Eleanor and I with her know Hill House mostly from the outside: it's six miles of bad, up-hill road from the next (inhospitable) little town, it's surrounded by a veranda and a drive-way, it's sort of hidden (lurking?) by the hills behind it and around it and the woods covering the area from the house to the gate.

Ah. The gate. 

It isn't mentioned any more at this point of the story, but has already been established as a difficult barrier to cross to get into Hill House: sturdy iron, two locks, one locked chain - without Dudley the Disgruntled no car gets in or out, and the Dudleys have left, and will leave every evening.

So, since this is a Haunted House story, it's really just a question of time till people try to flee from the house, and, following Murphy's Law, probably at night. It may be possible for someone very determined on getting the heck out of Dodge to climb the gate, or the wall. But that would leave them with a six mile hike to Hillsdale. (Where people aren't nice to strangers, and Dudley would probably grumble about how he told them all along, but would anyone listen to him, no, city folk who think they know everything, ... until someone hit him over the head with a shovel.)

The inside is mostly unexplored so far: past the door with it's iron knocker is a hallway, with double doors leaving to the left and right, and a staircase leading to the second story. Up there isa long hallway with rooms to both sides, and at the left end another staircase, presumably a service staircase.

Beyond that Hill House is, as of yet, "Here There Be Dragons" territory. The blank piece of map to fill is a (rather uncomfortable) sitting room where Eleanor, Theodora, Dr. Montague and Luke Sanderson (obligatory family member and heir presumptive) begin to get to know each other. The atmosphere is a an interesting contrast between light-hearted chatting and joking between the four protagonists and the oppressive, dark room over-decorated in purple.

Other rooms are introduced:
  • a billiard room, right next to the entrance hall
  • a dining room which can be entered through the billiard room
  • a conservatory next to or at least connected to the purple room they are in
The team also learns from Dr. Montague (who had access to a map of the house and knows some of the rooms), that some rooms are entirely interior rooms, without windows, and what windows there are tend to be shrouded in curtains inside and shrubbery outside. For more darkness and shadows, the doors in Hill House have a habit of shutting themselves, and (Nelly and Theo already experienced this) Mrs Dudly has a habit of removing any props used to keep doors open. Expect the word "shadows" to turn up very, very often.

In the evening, the story of Hill House is reluctantly told to the three assistants (Dr. Montague's term for Theo, Eleanor and Luke), beginning with the fact that yes, the gate is locked and no-one leaves, and last person who tried leaving Hill House at night died on the way to the gates - 18 years ago at the exact at the corner of the way were Eleanor first saw the house, and had an immediate impulse to flee.

The house was build by Hugh Crain, who intended to have a large family of children and grandchildren there. Sadly, his wife died when her carriage overturned on the driveway.

 An interesting aside:
The information is only, that his wife died minutes before she was to set eyes on the house. Now, the house is visible from the last turn before the house - if you are in a car. A carriage doesn't have front windows; you'd have to stick your head out of the small side windows to see what is up ahead. That and the driveway of a rich man's a newly build house should be in pretty good condition. So I do suspect that the carriage overturned at the same point where decades later a rider was crushed by his horse, and another 18 years later Eleanor Vance had to squash the instinct to flee.

Hugh Crain re-marries two times, but both his wifes die (a fall, and Tb, then called consumption). The house is left jointly to his daughters, the elder of which remains unmarried and inhabits Hill House, first alone for a few years, then with a companing - an unnamed girl from Hillsdale. This companion / nurse later inherits the house, is immediately sued by the surviving sister (who also comes up with accusations of negligence or foul play in the death of her sister) and, after winning the law suit, pestered by her until she finally commits suicide in Hill House. Cousins of the companion inherit the house: The Sandersons, parents to the current proprietress and grandparents to Luke Sanderson. Miss Crain tried to pester them from the first day on, but they simply called the police on her, which shut her up - what a shame that the nurse didn't have the nerves to do that!

Two interesting things: the fight about the inheritance reminds me a bit of Eleanor's sister trying to monopolize their commonly owned car. And the companion / nurse is a clear parallel to Eleanor herself who nursed her own mother to her end, inspite the absence of love or gratitude.

So begins the ownership of the house by the Sanderson family. They intend to live there, installed plumbing, electricity and telephones, but change their minds after a few days, setting a pattern that would last: the house was rented out a few times, and every time the inhabitants discovered quickly that for reasons of work or other, they had to be far away, somewhere else, and cleared out. Dr. Montague is very definite on it: the house has influenced every inhabitant from Hugh Crain onwards.

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