Miss Minerva Tomgallon's great-grandfather, Paul Tomgallon, issued the Tomgallon House to be built. An unknown carpenter constructed it. Paul held the carpenter to the contract, although the price was far more than he (the carpenter) had expected. This ruined the carpenter, and he cursed the Tomgallon House.
On the first night the Tomgallon House was occupied, during the housewarming celebration, Paul Tomgallon fell down the grand-staircase, landed on a tiger rug in the hall, and broke his neck.
- "This house was consecrated by human blood."
- —Minerva Tomgallon
Lydia Tomgallon, the aunt of Minerva, was the only red-haired Tomgallon. One night, in the north room, her hair caught on fire from a candle. She dashed shrieking from the room. She was extremely beautiful, proud, and vain. She did not burn to death: however, all of her beauty was lost. Lydia never exited the house after that, and left orders that her coffin was to be closed when she died, so she would not be seen.
Minerva's sister, a widow, (first name unknown), returned home after her husband's death. She died from a stroke in a rocking chair.
Minerva's sister's daughter was scalded to death in the kitchen with a pot of boiling water.
Eliza Tomgallon, Minerva's would-be half aunt, disappeared when she was six years old, and was never seen again.
Eliza's mother — Minerva's step-grandmother — once had been very cruel to an orphan niece of Minerva's grandfather, who was being brought up at the Tomgallon House. She locked the girl up in a closet for punishment on a hot summer's day, and when she opened the door to let the child out, the lass was dead.
The sword hanging at the head of the stairs was a British sword, given to Minerva's great-great-grandfather, an officer in the army. The land on which the Tomgallon House was built was given to him as a grant for his services—on which he never set foot. His wife, the mother of Paul Tomgallon, lived in the house for a few weeks, but died shortly thereafter. She did not survive long after her son's tragic death.
In one room of the house, Minerva showed Anne two statues who seemed to be scowling at each other from the opposite sides of the fireplace. Ronald and Reuben, Minerva's uncles, were twins who hated one another. They quarrelled from birth—which darkened their mother's life. During their final quarrel, in the self-same room where their statues stood, there was a gigantic thunderstorm. Reuben was killed by a lightning bolt—and Ronald never got over it.
Ronald's wife swallowed her wedding ring, and Ronald thought it very careless and wouldn't have anything done. She always felt so unmarried.
The Tomgallon house was a large, gloomy house big enough for four families. It had great chimneys, green shutters, and was very well-kept.
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