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Millie Haworth's Life and Afterlife: Part Four

Short stories are at the heart of why Phyllis loves to write. Her father left her a legacy of the art of storytelling.


Continued from Part Three of Millie's Life and Afterlife.

Willard Preston

The evening had started in an amiable way because the twins did not want to upset their mother, yet it quickly turned into a tense situation. The contention started at supper when Simon seated his mother and Willard started to sit at the head of the table.

"Oh, no Mr. Preston. You are our guest and should sit to the right of mother." Simon pulled out the chair next to Millie and said, "Please, sit here, sir."

Willard hesitated then walked to the chair Simon indicated but was clearly annoyed. Millie reached out and placed her hand on Willard's when he sat down. Simon then sat at the head of the table where his father used to sit.

"Simon's rightful place where Father would sit. Don't you think so, Mother?" Seth smiled graciously at Millie who gave a slight nod.

"I am astounded you would treat me in such a rude manner after all I have done for your mother," Willard addressed Simon with an indignant tone.

"My apologizes, Mr. Preston," Simon said. "It is not my intention to be rude. I am only following proper custom and tradition. You see, in our family the head of the house should always sit here, as Father did. You are a guest, sir, not the head of the household. That must be made clear and adhered to."

"I agree wholeheartedly with Simon," Seth said. "You should be honored as our guest, Mr. Preston, and we would like to have you join us once a week for dinner."

"Once a week!" Willard stood up, his anger startling Millie. "I have been attending supper here with your mother every night since your father passed and I intend to continue to do so! With Millie's approval, that is." He turned to Millie and bowed.

"Well, I ... uh ...," Millie was not sure how to reply. "Simon?"

"Mother, I think it best for all of us if Mr. Preston spend one evening a week with us. We need to establish our routine and traditions as it used to be when Father was here, before Mr. Preston ...,"

"Before I began to interfere in your little world, Simon?" Willard shouted. He picked up his wine glass and drank the contents. "Is that what you mean, Simon? Because I might take your place as head of household? What are you afraid of, Simon? I took over the bank and own it now and if I take over the family by marrying your mother, where does that leave you? Nowhere!" He was shouting, his anger boiling over.

Millie stood up. "Willard! Willard, please. Let us sit and calm down." She put her hand on his arm. "Please, Willard."

Willard shrugged her arm off and pushed Millie back. She tripped on her gown and stumbled backwards, fell and hit her head on a marble statue which knocked her out. The twins started to rush to Millie's aid, warning Willard to get away from her and leave the house immediately.

Millie Saves Simon

Willard pulled a gun from his jacket. "I have no intention of leaving this house!"

Unawares of everyone, the butler and maid were listening through the door that led to the kitchen. "Send Billy for the sheriff immediately," the butler whispered to the maid.

The twins stopped and stared at Willard who pointed the gun at Simon. When Willard stretched his arm to fire the gun Seth lunged and pushed Simon away. Seth was shot and fell into Simon's arms.

"I'll get rid of the two of you just like I did your father then it will all be mine, the bank, the house, your mother. It will all be mine!"

"You killed Father?" Simon cried and sank down to the floor, holding on to Seth.

"The arsenic I put in his brandy worked faster than I thought it would. No one even guessed I poisoned him. Now when Millie wakes up she will see her twins dead and I will say you both attacked me and I shot in self-defense. She will believe me. She believes everything I tell her."

"You are insane! Evil, you are evil!" Simon yelled.

Willard raised the gun and pointed it at Simon. No one noticed Millie had come to and stood at the end of the table. She grabbed a lit lantern and threw it at Willard. The glass lantern shattered in Willard's face and burst into flame, consuming his whole body within seconds.

She rushes to her sons and kneels by Simon, crying with great sorrow.

End of Part Four. Watch for Part Five coming soon.

© 2022 Phyllis Doyle Burns