It was a mansion in its day, today it's only a big empty house. At least for you, who had lived in these types of buildings - and who hasn't? They're everywhere on this side of the continent - it's just another old Loyalist house that has yet to be renovated and split up for possible buyers. It’s long, with three stories counting the cellar, and has the sea and islands behind it to give the estate a splendid background.
But of course, there's more to it than that.
These old houses have a history to them. Some funny, some weird, and some more… sinister. Sure, this one may lack that typical ‘haunted house’ gothic style, but the people here know not to judge a place by its pure white paint. Many folktales of this house have arisen over the years, the first one from Grandmama before she died last year. You devoured as many books as you could find on this house and have finally deduced your own version. So it goes:
The Old Kennedy House was built for the rich family of Captain Thompson, a Loyalist who settled in the area after the Revolutionary War caused his family to cross the border into present-day New Brunswick. He built his new estate with the motto “Septem Generationem”, Latin for 'Seven generations'. The reason was his desire for his family and name to last many generations, and because seven was his favourite number. His wish, however, was foiled twice. Once when his only granddaughter married a Scotsman and the house's name changed from the Thompson House to the Kennedy House.
The second foil was when the family line ended. It started around the time when Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy's great grandson was owner of the house. His wife died in childbirth during the 1920s. Mr Kennedy was completely distraught at losing his kind wife. Fortunately, God had granted him mercy: His infant daughter survived.
He named her Elizabeth though most called her Beth. She was said to look just like her mother, with bright brown eyes and a dimpled smile framed by brown hair. She was Mr Kennedy's and the servant's pride and joy, always curious, chatty, and polite to everyone, no matter their class. The father and daughter would walk around town, a cane in his one hand and the other holding the girl’s, and greet every passerby. Although Mr Kennedy knew she was happy, he wanted to give her a mother figure, a woman to love her and take over the house should he pass on early.
Eventually he found a rich widow of a neighbouring town by the name of Lady Marie. They became acquainted in the spring and married before the summer's end. While both Mr Kennedy and Beth accepted her with open arms, everyone else was more apprehensive. Grandmama noted how the woman had this air around her that gave everyone the ‘heeby-geebies’.
Unbeknownst to Mr Kennedy, Lady Marie was rumoured to be a Witch who had a hand in her late husband's mysterious death. Of course, no one dared point their fingers. In this area witches were more or less tolerated, with more attention paid into not offending them, lest someone gets bewitched.
Despite Beth's best attempts, Lady Marie remained cold towards her unless Mr Kennedy was present. Even then, the woman would stand over Beth and critique her ‘unlady-like’ interests. Grandmama, one of the servants of the house, told you how Lady Marie went on spiels of when she was Beth’s age and how she had to live back then or get punished. Grandmama told you of how Beth would sigh and look down to the floor in defeat every time, with her or the other servants offering support when they could.
Most people today believe that Lady Marie’s hatred was due to Beth being the heir to the Kennedy fortune. Some say that Lady Marie simply disliked kids or wanted Mr. Kennedy's love for herself, others say there was more than one reason, possibly another. Whatever they were, Lady Marie wanted Elizabeth out of the way.
It is said that late one foggy and overcast night one of the servants - a Mlle. Éve Thibert, Gandmama´s friend - was travelling through a hidden passageway. When she stepped into the main hall, she saw an ominous light from the upstairs parlor. Upon sneaking closer, Mlle. Thibert heard muttering. Curiosity had got the better of her and she peeked in. There, she saw the cloaked back of Lady Marie, quietly chanting with candles, incense, and a skull in hand. she crept away and checked her trembling. It was said that she never spoke of this incident until she left the house, which was not too long after.
Not even a month since that night, it was Beth's birthday. Lady Marie surprised everyone by giving Beth a gift: a brown teddy bear. It was soft, with a heart-shaped nose, shiny, black beaded eyes, and a handmade sea blue shirt. It was Beth's favourite gift and she took it wherever she went - to bed, the dining table, the piano, a friend’s house, everywhere. Beth probably thought she finally won Lady Marie’s love, the poor girl.
As the days passed by, the servants and Mr. Kennedy noticed a change in her behaviour. The joyful light in her brown eyes dulled. The servants reported complaints of fatigue. She ate, slept, and spoke less each day, still with Teddy by her side. Mlle. Thibert would tell Grandmama how that bear seemed to stare at her whenever she was in the same room as if it was ‘watching... Waiting’. Mr. Kennedy asked around, but no doctors could explain this behaviour, priests only told him to pray for her, and Lady Marie suggested she was just going through a phase, like all young ladies.
But still, the man fretted for his daughter and would pick at his cane every time his eyes caught her pale face. His fears soon became realized: one rainy night, Grandmama checked in on Beth to find her bed empty. The house was alerted and everyone went out to search for her. She was found soaking wet in her nightgown, Teddy smiling innocently up at her. It's said that when the third servant Mr. O’Brian tried to bring her in, he touched Teddy by accident. Beth, before she passed out, shot him a glare he stated took several years off his life. Nonetheless, Mr. O’Brian put on his brave face and took her back to the house. Teddy was dropped and left outside.
Beth caught pneumonia but recovered after two weeks and returned to her cheerier self. A fine dinner of lobster was prepared in celebration, with the servants invited to eat at the table with the family. Mr. Kennedy made sure to spend more time with Beth and allow her to play in his study sometimes. The Kennedy House was once more a welcoming place.
You wish you could say 'the bear was never seen again, Lady Marie disappeared, and they all lived happily ever after. The End', turn around, and leave.
But that's a lie… for one day, Lady Marie approached Beth with Teddy, now dried clean. It's said that the second Beth touched the bear and looked into its glinting, black eyes, her own turned dull once more. The next morning, Mr. O’Brian found her bed vacant. Again they searched the house and estate. All they found was her small, muddy foot prints and Teddy by the rocky cliff behind the house.
She was only seven.
Like all folktales, there are gaps people have tried to fill with theories. Both Lady Marie and Mr. Kennedy disappear from the archives here on out, most assuming they left the area. Some write that he learned of Lady Marie’s true self and fled, either to another part of Canada, America, or the United Kingdom. Most assume he died, alone and depressed over the loss of his family, possibly by suicide. Other, more optimistic folklorists write of a Kennedy that became a priest or another who found a wife and died in peace. And yet, some people who had ventured into the Kennedy House have reported that they’ve seen a man of dark burgundy hair with a worn cane. He’s always gazing out at the sea with tired eyes, to the cliffs where Beth is said to have taken her final steps.
Lady Marie also most likely left the area, of course not without a search for her - some folklorists dare call it a witch hunt. She possibly - hopefully - died soon after, although people have tried tacking her to other known Maries of that period. The most popular is Marie Boucher who has a missing childhood and lived in present-day Miramachi until the Second World War.
Since Lady Marie's last name has yet to be discovered, there’s no telling if and how long she lived after the incident. Either way, she never got the Kennedy House or Fortune, which people state was her true goal, even those who suggest that Lady Marie might have truly loved Mr. Kennedy. Most speculate that her spirit returned to the house, so she could at least have it in death. There have been multiple reports over the decades of strange orbs of light and muttering in the old parlor at night. Kids of families have cried out of seeing a ‘scary shadow’ in the house, a reason no one owned the house for long.
The spirit of Beth herself has reported sightings. She usually appears to children or fathers, who have described her as ‘wet and shivering’, ‘harmless’, and ‘in an old nightgown’. Sometimes she talks to them, asking who they are, why she’s so cold, or where her father, step-mother, servants, or Teddy is. Pictures on various regional Paranormal websites show little footprints by the cliff, stating these to be Beth's final steps.
A scarier tale that's emerged is when people look from the canopy towards the sea on rainy nights, the silhouette of a little figure crawls up from the rocky cliffs and limps like a zombie towards the house. It’s not a surprise that the town owns the estate, with no idea what to do with it.
It's said that the Kennedy Bear still sits in that house, mysteriously appearing when children are around and disappearing afterwards without a trace. Despite a story of a priest exorcizing the place and another one of a mother burning a bear after finding it by her child's body, people still reported their children finding an old bear in that house. Worse is that anyone who holds it, especially children, get terrible nightmares, antisocial behaviour, and other disorders, some even dying afterwards. In fact, seven child deaths are linked to the Kennedy Bear in the last sixty years. You can’t help feeling it just adds to the irony of Captain Thompson’s motto ‘Septem Generationem’ in some twisted way.
You walk up the curved and cracked stone steps and peer into the dusty window. For just a second, you see a silhouette of someone pass by. Perhaps a cold and greedy widow, a man weighed down from despair, or, just maybe, a little girl with brown eyes and curly hair that frames a dimpled smile.
… Or the not so innocent shadow of a possessed toy.
Sure, technically you're still a minor, but you’re not a little kid anymore who’s too scared to check under the bed. This is the best time when no one would be around so you can sneak in, plus not waste the last week spent practicing on picking old locks. A couple of bags of salt, crosses, a knife, and holy water are tucked into your red book bag just in case, along with your camera and sleeping bag. It’s time to stop stalling and begin your on-field investigation. You’re sure you’re old enough to put up with some possibly cursed toy, right?
Only one way to find out: your hand reaches for the doorknob…