Slipping through the window, Jim dropped to the floor; breathlessly he listened for his pursuer. The watchman had spotted him climbing the fence, and gave chase. Dashing through the dim moonlight, Jim had evaded the guard. Now he waited. Outside of the window footsteps approached, stopped, and then retreated.
“That was close,” Jim muttered, surveying the room. It was a mess; books piled on the floor, drawers emptied, wall safe open. “Someone’s already searched this room,” he whispered.
Ignoring the mess Jim studied the wall. He knew that Albert wouldn’t have hidden anything important in his desk, or his safe – No, Albert was too clever for that. Ghostly shadows danced across the walls, taunting Jim, daring him to find their secret.
“Where did you hide it, Uncle Albert? Where?” he muttered, as he carefully inspected the woodwork. At the sound of footfalls in the hall, Jim’s heart raced. Whispering, no chanting, “Work the problem, work the problem.” he searched the other wall. In the hall, the footsteps grew closer. Jim took a deep breath to clear his head and then saw it. No more than a faint line in the woodwork. Was it loose trim, or could it be – it had to be.
Now the footfalls stopped outside the door. Jim searched the wall for the trigger – nothing. Then he noticed the gargoyle, sitting on a shelf above the crack. Suddenly keys rattled outside the door. Jim pulled on the shelf – nothing. Then he pushed it upward – still nothing. With a sickening click, a key slid into the lock. Jim twisted the gargoyle, the wall moved. It was a door, a hidden door. He slipped into the dark chamber, mere moments to spare.
Ahh, the hidden door. Classic. Perhaps it leads to a secret chamber, a passage, or maybe a concealed staircase. These staples of mystery stories are everywhere; Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Scooby Do, Young Frankenstein, Clue, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, the list is endless. As a plot device, the hidden passage is akin to the Star Trek transporter; it can suddenly whisk you to any place in the house.
Nothing says mystery like a secret door. Just think of the intrigue, the suspense. Honestly, haven’t you always wanted to find one? Perhaps you’ve dreamt of owning a house with a hidden passage? Who hasn’t? I know I have.
Hidden by several gnarled old trees sets an old brick house. Three gables face the road, each with a high gothic window. In the autumn moonlight, tree branches cast eerie shadows across the walls, warning trespassers to stay away. Who lives in this mysterious house?
I do, but search as I might, I can find no hidden doors, no secret passages, and no hidden nooks. It is a lovely house, albeit a small disappointment for this old fan of mystery stories. So this week I did it. I put in a hidden door.
Granted, it’s nothing marvelous. Does it protect a secret passage, a concealed stairway, a great mystery? No, my door, which hides the sewing room, has a common purpose. The old door opened into the dining room, its swing created an awkward table arrangement. With a little effort, basic skills, and sweat, I replaced that door with a built in bookcase. To the casual diner, that is all it is, a built-in bookcase. However, lean on it, and it slides inward to reveal the sewing room.
Okay, so it hides no mysteries, but it is a hidden door. How cool is that?
Read about Olivia’s Story: Protector of the Realm