Rebecca's Revenge by Nancy Eddy
Barnabas Collins paused as he approached Eagle Hill Cemetery upon catching sight of movement within the wrought iron fence. From the darkness, he watched as a cloaked figure knelt beside a weathered headstone, head bowed, a long-fingered hand reaching out to trace the lettering. A chill went through Barnabas as he easily recognized whose grave it was: that of Jerimiah Collins, his boyhood friend and uncle, whom Barnabas had shot in a duel over Josette. Why would anyone be visiting Jerimiah's grave? He wondered. Jerimiah had been dead for a hundred and seventy-five years. He was the only one left to mourn for a life needlessly cut short.
Barnabas moved cautiously nearer, was able to come within ten feet of the figure before he stepped on a twig, breaking the silence. The woman-he wasn't sure why he believed the cloaked figure to be female, but he was-rose and started to leave without looking around. "No," Barnabas said. "Don't go."
She went still, and turned for a quick glance at him, as if he had said something to surprise her. He couldn't see her face, as it was hidden by the shadow of the deep hood.
"Who are you?" he asked.
She shook her head and left, this time ignoring his pleading. Barnabas was suddenly aware of a sweet fragrance. Not jasmine, as Josette had favored, but gardenia. Looking down, he felt himself go pale at the single, wax-like bloom that lay on Jerimiah's grave. There was only one woman he had ever known who had used that scent-and who would have left a gardenia bloom on Jerimiah's grave. But she had been dead since shortly after Barnabas had gone to Martinique. When Barnabas looked in the direction that the woman had taken, he wasn't surprised to find there wasn't any sign of her.
As he was returning to the Old House, Barnabas didn't bother pausing before crossing the drive, not expecting anyone to be arriving at Collinwood at this late hour. As he reached the center of the pavement, he found himself fixed in the glare of headlights as a car sped toward him. He barely managed to jump out of the way before the car reached him. He rolled in the leaves on the edge of the road, then came to his knees as the car left the road and ran headlong into a tree.
Torn between fury at the apparent insanity of the car's driver and concern that that person might be seriously hurt, Barnabas rose on shaking legs to run to the car. The driver was slumped over the steering wheel, unconscious. The door had popped open on impact, and Barnabas recognized the cape that the woman in the cemetery had been wearing. Barnabas didn't smell any gasoline, so he hoped that there was no chance of fire. He hesitated to move the woman in case there was a serious injury, but neither did he want to leave her alone until she had regained consciousness. He heard a soft moan. "Miss? Are you all right?"
She pushed herself away from the steering wheel, the hood of her cape falling back to reveal dark hair. Barnabas heard himself gasp as he looked at the aristocratic features, the slightly pointed chin, full lips, -slightly uptilted eyes that Barnabas was certain would be a dark as a moonless night when opened. There was a nasty cut on her forehead and a bump was already beginning to form. She moaned again, bringing Barnabas out of his shocked daze. "Rebecca?" he asked in a quiet voice. There was no response. "Can you hear me?" Still no response. He knew it was dangerous, but the idea of leaving her to awaken alone and in pain was troubling to Barnabas. So he reached carefully around her and unfastened the seat belt that had possibly saved her life, then slid his arm beneath her. She moaned once again, then went limp. Cursing silently, Barnabas lifted her from the car and turned toward the Old House.
Willie was putting out the parlour candles when he heard the front door open and Barnabas calling his name. "Willie!"
Hearing the tone of his employer's voice, Willie didn't linger. He went to the entry hall. "Barnabas? What happened?"
Barnabas heard the panic in Willie's voice. "There was an accident. Go to Collinwood and get Julia."
"Is she all right?"
"I don't know. That's why I need Julia. Go, Willie." He went up the narrow stairway as the door closed behind the servant. Amy came from Josette's room, putting on her robe as she did so.
"What on earth-? Barnabas?"
"She lost control of her car near here."
"I thought I heard something," Amy said, following him into the guest room across from the master bedroom and turning back the bedclothes so that he could lay the woman down. "What happened to you?" she asked, looking at him more closely as she lit some candles. "You've got a scrape on your hand-"
"I fell-trying to avoid being caught up in the accident," Barnabas lied. No sense in worrying Amy by telling her that the woman who she was now taking such pains to take care of had tried to run him down.
"Were you hurt?"
"Just a few bruises. Nothing serious," he assured her, removing his coat before returning to the woman's bedside.
"Has she been awake at all?"
"Not since the accident."
"She's very beautiful," Amy commented.
"Yes," Barnabas agreed. "She is."
"Did you send Willie to get Julia?"
"Yes. But it will take them at least fifteen minutes to get here."
"I'm going to get a basin and some water to clean that cut on her forehead," Amy decided.
Barnabas remained where he was, looking down at a face that he'd never thought to see again-that he'd almost forgotten about, it had been so many years. He could still recall the letter he had recieved soon after his arrival in Martinique. It had been from his mother, informing him that Rebecca had died-that she had taken her own life, apparently jumping to her death at Widows' Hill. Barnabas closed his eyes at the pain that the memory of that letter had brought him. Not pain for himself, but for Jerimiah. The young woman couldn't possibly be Rebecca, he told himself.
Amy carefully wiped the cut clean and winced at the bruise already beginning to form. "What's that scent she's wearing?" she asked Barnabas.
"Gardenia," he responded, looking up as he heard the front door open.
"That's probably Julia," Amy said. "I'll go down and bring her up." She seemed to sense that Barnabas would prefer to remain at the young woman's bedside.
Julia entered the bedroom, frowning. "Willie said there was an accident?" she questioned, her eyes searching the younger woman's face.
"Yes. On the drive. She-apparently lost control of her car and ran into a tree." He wasn't able to meet his friend's eyes, and instead focused on the girl he was quickly beginning to think of as Rebecca.
Julia's lips thinned. "Amy," she said, not turning from her patient.
"Could you go and ask Willie to fix me some tea?"
As the door closed behind Barnabas' ward, Julia's expression set. "You're not telling me the truth, Barnabas."
"Of course I am, Julia. I can take you down to the car-"
"Oh, I'm not doubting that she had an accident, but I can tell when you're trying NOT to tell me everything you know."
"She seemed to be trying to run me down," Barnabas finally said, looking away at last.
"What? Why would she do something like that? Have you ever seen her before?"
Barnabas knew she wasn't going to be happy to hear his next words. "Earlier this evening." She looked up at him as he paused, as if expecting him to continue. "She was at Eagle Hill- " her lips thinned again, but Julia didn't say anything, didn't begin her usual lecture about his spending too much time at the grave of Angelique.
"Did she say anything that would explain why she would want to harm you?"
"She never said anything at all," Barnabas told her. "She was at-Jerimiah's grave."
"Jerimiah Collins? Why would a young woman visit the grave of a man she couldn't possibly have known?"
"I tried to ask her, but she ran away. Then, as I was crossing the drive on my way back here, her car appeared out of nowhere and I barely managed to escape. She wasn't as lucky."
"Lucky? Barnabas, you need to call the police. As it is, I'm going to have to transport her into the hospital in Collinsport for x-rays-"
"Is that necessary?"
"She could have broken bones, a skull fracture-any number of things that I can't possibly diagnose without a full examination, Barnabas. Barnabas, why are you so intent on protecting someone who tried to kill you?"
"I can't explain it, Julia. There are simply-reasons."
Julia's eyes narrowed. "She reminds you of someone, doesn't she?"
Barnabas looked up, prepared to deny her accusation, but found he couldn't. "Someone who died while I was in Martinique. Rebecca Logan."
"I don't believe I've-wait a minute. There was a mention of a Rebecca in one of Joshua Collins journals dated before you left for the West Indies. But I don't recall what it said."
"I'm surprised Father even mentioned her at all. After her death, he never spoke of her-certainly not to me."
Julia was struck by the quiet sadness in his voice. "Who was she, Barnabas?"
"Sarah's governess, and the woman that Jerimiah truly wanted to marry."
Hiding her surprise was impossible for Julia. "What happened?"
"Could we discuss this later, Julia? At the moment, I'm more concerned about whether or not she's going to be all right."
Julia re-examined the woman. "I don't know. I still think I should send for an ambulance-"
"And the police would become involved."
"Come now, Julia. A young woman has an accident on a private road-with no reason for being there-"
"You don't know that. She might have very good reason," Julia tried to say. But she saw his set expression and sighed. "I'll give her until morning to regain conciousness, Barnabas. If she doesn't, I'll have no choice but to admit her to the hospital."
Barnabas stood at the window overlooking the front of the house, glancing from time to time at the bed where Rebecca lay. Julia checked her patient's pulse once again, and then examined the pupils. "Any change?" he asked.
"No. Her pupils are responsive, her pulse is normal." Julia came to join him at the window. "Are you going to tell me about Rebecca?"
He looked at the bed. "Calvin Logan was a captain of one of the ships owned by Collins Shipping," Barnabas said. "His ship ran into a storm one day out of port and all aboard were lost. Rebecca was born almost nine months to the day after his death."
"How did she end up as Sarah's governess?"
"Mrs. Logan had been with child at the time of her husband's death. Father paid her a reasonable widow's pension, which she supplimented by working as a seamstress. She died when Rebecca was thirteen."
"And you were-?"
"Eighteen. Jerimiah was twenty-one. He married Laura that year as well. Rebecca had no family, and Mother was concerned about what would happen to her after Mrs. Logan died, so she convinced Father to bring her here to live. She began helping Mother take care of Sarah, and simply stepped into the position of Sarah's nurse. Sarah adored her," he said, looking down at Rebecca. "But then, so did everyone else. Even Father seemed to have a soft spot for her."
"You said that Jerimiah wanted to marry her," Julia prompted.
"After Laura's death, Jerimiah seemed to gravitate toward Rebecca's company. They spent a great deal of time together, and fell in love."
"But they never married."
"No. My father-disapproved."
"What was his reason?"
"Rebecca had no family-no dowry, nothing to bring to a marriage to a Collins. He forbade Jerimiah to continue to pursue the idea."
"Did he listen?"
"I don't think so. Jerimiah confided to me just before I left for Martinique that he was going to convince Rebecca to elope with him. I fully expected to recieve a letter from my mother with the news that they were married. But when her letter caught up with me in Martinique, it was to inform me that Rebecca was dead."
Julia frowned in surprise, her gaze moving to the woman on the bed. "Dead?"
"She was apparently so distraught over not being able to marry Jerimiah that she jumped to her death at Widows' Hill."
"Was she buried at Eagle Hill?"
"No. Her body was never found."
"Then how did they know that she died?"
"One of her handkerchiefs and a shoe were found on the Hill. The assumption was that she was washed out to sea."
"Is it possible that she didn't kill herself?" Julia wondered. "That she faked her death so that she could leave Collinwood?"
"Why would she want to have done that, Julia? She loved Jerimiah as much as he loved her." There was a tap on the door and Willie stood there. "Yes, Willie?"
"I got her things from her car-" he began.
"Put them here," Barnabas told him, indicating a bench a the foot of the bed.
"She's still not awake yet?" Willie asked Julia.
"No. Thank you for bringing her things, Willie."
"Thought it might give you some idea who she is," he told them. "I'll go make some more coffee."
"Thank you." Julia saw Barnabas hesitate over opening the suitcase. "Would you prefer I do it?" she asked.
He picked up the purse instead. Removing the wallet, he found the driver's liscense with the woman's picture on it, then paled as he read the name. "Rebecca Logan."
Julia took the wallet. "It's a coincidence, Barnabas. It must be. According to this, she's twenty eight years old. And the address is in Charleston, South Carolina."
"I don't care what it says, Julia. She's Rebecca. Somehow, she didn't die-"
"But why would the Rebecca that you knew want to try and kill you?" Julia asked him. "I got the impression that you and she were friends, at least."
"We were. Sarah once commented that I should marry Rebecca so that they could be sisters."
"You weren't in love with her?"
"I suppose I might have been-if I hadn't seen how Jerimiah felt about her. I didn't stand a chance with her-It was Rebecca who suggested that I begin my correspondence with Josette."
Julia opened the suitcase. "There are only clothes here-as well as some art supplies-"
"Art supplies?" Barnabas echooed. He came over, looked at the pastels and drawing paper. "So. She still likes to draw."
"Your Rebecca was an artist?"
"She had talent, but all I ever recall her doing was sketching things, people-she did a few portraits. She gave Sarah lessons-there are probably still some of her sketches in the attic-" his eyes narrowed. "Including of of herself that she gave to Jerimiah."
The briefcase had a combination lock, which Julia decided not to try and open unless absolutely necessary. "There isn't anyone listed anywhere in her identification as next of kin," she told Barnabas. She has several credit cards in her name, and some business cards from some art galleries, but nothing else."
"A couple." She held them out. The first was of a smiling Rebecca and a young man. They were peering into each other's eyes, and Barnabas found himself frowning without knowing why. The second was of an elderly woman, sitting formally, her dark eyes glaring into the camera. On the back, in a small, neat hand, were the words, "Aunt Belle, May 6, 1974. Taken the day before she died."
Barnabas ran his finger over the words. "I can remember Rebecca's hand, Julia. It could be hers."
"Could be. Barnabas-"
A low moan from the bed drew both of their attention. Julia was at her patient's side immediately, lifting her wrist to check her pulse. "Can you hear me?"
Dark eyes flickered open, blank at first, then filling with fear as they moved around the room. "Where-where am I?" Her voice was soft, laced with a southern drawl. "Who are you?" her eyes moved from Julia to Barnabas.
"I'm Dr. Hoffman," Julia said.
"Doctor?" she winced. "My head-" she lifted a hand to her forehead. "What happened?"
"You were in an accident," Barnabas told her. "Do you remember?"
"Accident? What kind of accident? Are you a doctor too? Is this some sort of-hospital?"
Julia heard the hesitation. "No. There was a car accident," Julia told her.
Rebecca's eyes narrowed. "I remember being in my car-" her eyes closed. "It happened again. I must be going mad."
"Calm down, Miss Logan," Julia said in her most reassuring tone. "Tell me what you remember."
"I remember driving north from Portland-I don't even know why I was there to begin with. I don't know why I've done anything of the things I've done over the last three months. I don't even remember most of them."
"Perhaps I can help-"
"The only thing that can help me, Doctor, is a good psychiatrist. You wouldn't happen to know one, would you?"
Julia smiled. "I do, as a matter of fact. Me."
Rebecca looked doubtful. "Really, Dr-"
"Hoffman. Julia Hoffman. Is there anyone we can contact about your accident, Miss Logan?"
Her eyes grew sad again. "No. There's no one left who would care. I seem to have made certain of that over the last few months. How do you know my name?"
Julia gave her the wallet. "We looked inside to see if there was any information. Now, I need to do an examination." She looked up at Barnabas. "In private," she said.
"You said you weren't a doctor," Rebecca pointed out. "Who are you?"
"Barnabas Collins," Barnabas informed her, searching her features for any sign of recognition.
The dark eyes were filled with that fear again. "Collins? Where am I?" The question seemed filled with urgency.
"The Collins estate. Collinwood. Do you know it?"
"Not-really. I don't know. I'm not sure what I know anymore. My head really hurts-"
"If you'll excuse us, Barnabas-?" Julia asked, pointedly looking toward the door.
"Later, Miss Logan," he said, bowing slightly. In the hall, he paused, then turned toward the attic stairway. He had an idea where the drawings he had mentioned earlier might be.
Julia began her examination, assuring herself that there weren't any further injuries to Rebecca. "Beyond a few bruises and the bump on your head, you seem to be fine."
"Why am I here, Doctor?" Rebecca asked. "Why wasn't an ambulance called?"
"Barnabas thought it best not to do so until he spoke to you and found out the reason behind your accident."
"But I've told you. I don't even remember the accident," Rebecca insisted.
"What about being at Eagle Hill?"
"What's Eagle Hill?"
"A cemetary on the estate. Some of the Collins family are buried there."
Rebecca shook her head, then winced. "I've never been there."
"Barnabas said he saw you there earlier-at a grave."
"The grave of Jerimiah Collins," Julia told her, watching for recognition.
"Jerimiah. This is crazy, Dr. Hoffman. Why would I visit the grave of a man I couldn't possibly have met?"
"Then you have heard of Jerimiah Collins?"
"It's very possible that Jerimiah Collins is an ancestor of mine, Dr. Hoffman," Rebecca said quietly.
"Perhaps you should explain that," Barnabas Collins said, opening the door.
"Eavesdropping, Barnabas?" Julia asked, clearly angry.
"I probably saved Miss Logan's life," Barnabas reminded her. "That gives me a right to be curious about her. About why she tried to run me down just before losing control of her car."
Rebecca shook her head slowly. "I couldn't have-you lying."
"Why would I lie?" Barnabas asked. He was holding a portfolio filled with yellowed papers. "I found these in the attic, Julia. Look at the first one."
Julia took the book and opened it. The black and white sketch was titled "Self Portrait-1794" in a hand very similar to the one on the back of the photograph in Rebecca's wallet. The face was almost exactly that of the woman sitting in the bed. "What is it, Dr. Hoffman?"
Julia turned the book around to give Rebecca a chance to see it. "It might be you."
Rebecca's hands were shaking as she took the book. "Yes. But-it's very old. And the date-" She dropped the book, covering her face with her hands. "It can't be."
"Do you know who the woman in the drawing was, Miss Logan?"
Julia asked softly.
"I-have an idea. But if I'm right, doctor, then I really am going mad."
"You've never been to Collinsport before, have you?"
"Not that I recall. I'd never been farther north than New York until this trip. I was born and raised in Charleston."
"Why are you here now?"
"I told you that I don't know, Mr. Collins. I wasn't planning to take a trip at all until a few days ago--"
Julia looked at Barnabas, her expression warning him to remain silent. Jaw tightening, Barnabas crossed to the window and looked outside as his friend sat beside Rebecca. "Why don't you start at the beginning, Miss Logan?"
"I'm not sure what the beginning is, Dr. Hoffman."
"You said you were born in Charleston. What about your family?"
"My parents died when I was ten. I was raised by my great aunt. She was the last of the Logans except for me. She died two months ago."
"Was her death sudden?"
"Not really. She was well over ninety. And she had a bad heart. The doctors all said it was a miracle that she lasted as long as she did. It was the reason she'd never married, she once told me. I was upset by her death, but I think Aunt Belle had prepared me for it."
Seeing Rebecca's sad smile, Julia smiled as well. "You must have loved her a great deal."
"I did. She was always telling me stories about the family. The Logans had been textile merchants for generations-practically ever since the first Logan had settled in the area."
"And when was that?" Barnabas asked, ignoring Julia's look of disapproval.
"Around 1805. James Logan and his mother arrived in the Charleston area in that year from somewhere up north."
"What was his mother's name?"
"Barnabas-" Julia warned.
"It's all right, Dr. Hoffman," Rebecca assured her, finally looking up at Barnabas. "The same as mine: Rebecca Logan."
"Rebecca Logan died in 1795," Barnabas told her. "She committed suicide."
"No," Rebecca said. "That was what she wanted everyone to think. But in truth it was a plan devised by her-and Joshua Collins."
Barnabas frowned, not wanting to believe her. "Joshua Collins would not have been party to such a thing."
Rebecca's features changed subtly, the darkness of her eyes deepening. "Joshua Collins was capable of a great many things of which those around him had no suspicion," she said. Julia observed her carefully, making mental notes of the transformation in her. She had seemed tired, ready to give up, but now, Rebecca was wide awake, and angry.
"How do you know about this, Rebecca?" Julia questioned. "Do you have any proof?"
"Oh, indeed I do. Locked securely in my breifcase-where is it?"
Barnabas lifted the black leather case. "Here. What is this proof you speak of?"
"A journal. Written by Rebecca Logan. It was started the day she moved into this house. No one ever found it because she hid it after she moved south."
"Why would Joshua Collins agree to such a plan? Surely it would have been simpler for him to order Rebecca to simply leave Collinwood-"
"So that Jerimiah would follow her? He would have," Rebecca insisted. "Jerimiah Collins would never have let her go."
"Then why would Rebecca agree to do it? To let the man she loved believe her dead? Why not just let him follow her?"
Rebecca's smile wasn't pretty. "Because while it might have been standard practice for cousins to marry in those days, marriage between a man and his neice was frowned upon."
Frowning, Barnabas shook his head, not wanting to understand her words. "What are you talking about?"
"Quite simple, Mr. Collins. Rebecca Logan's father was Joshua Collins."
"You're lying," Barnabas said, trying not to think about his father's attitude toward Rebecca-or her mother before her death. Recalling that event, Barnabas remembered that his father had been more distraught than he might normally have been-even if he had managed to hide it from most.
"It was entered in Ruth Logan's Bible."
"That Bible was lost. I-recall having read in my ancestor's papers that Rebecca was quite upset at not being able to find it after her mother's death."
"It was taken and hidden by Joshua Collins until the day that he tried to bribe Rebecca to leave Collinwood, to get her away from Jerimiah. When she refused, threatened to leave with the man she loved, Joshua told her the truth: that she was his child, the result of a brief affair between himself and Ruth in the days after her husband's death at sea. Rebecca didn't believe him, accused him of lying to keep her away from Jerimiah. Joshua brought out Ruth's Bible, showed her the entry. Rebecca had no choice but to believe him. She realized that she couldn't tell Jerimiah the truth, so she devised the plan of her death."
"Jerimiah was devastated," Barnabas told her. "The difference between the man -my ancestor knew before departing for the West Indies and the man who was here when he returned was marked. Surely it would have been better for Rebecca to have told him-"
"That she was his brother's love-child?" Rebecca suggested. "No. Especially since she already knew that shew as carrying Jerimiah's child."
Barnabas sat down in a chair near the bed, missing the look of what Julia could only call triumph on Rebecca's face. "James Logan was-Did Joshua know?"
"Not until just before his death. He went to Philadelphia on business and happened to see Rebecca coming from a store. He followed her back to her cottage and found her son there. James bore a striking resemblance to his father, and Rebecca couldn't deny anything when Joshua asked. James was a smart as a whip, smarter than most boys his age. Joshua wanted her to come back to Collinwood-raise James there. She asked about Jerimiah- and Joshua told her that he was dead. He told her a great many things, Mr. Collins."
Barnabas' head came up, his hazel eyes narrowing. "Such as?"
"Oh, that your-ancestor was responsible for Jerimiah's death," she yawned delicately. "I'm growing rather tired-all the excitement, I suppose. Would you mind if I slept for awhile?"
"I need to ask some questions, Miss Logan," Barnabas insisted, but the dark eyes were already closed. Clenching his fist in frustration, Barnabas looked down at her.
"I'll have Amy sit with her," Julia told him quietly. "Meet me in the study. We have to talk."
"Yes," Barnabas agreed. "We do."
He was looking up at the portrait of his father that hung over the mantel in the study. "How could we have been so blind not to have realized," he wondered aloud when Julia entered the room. "That he would bring her here, make her a servant-"
"Was she? From what you told me earlier, he didn't treat her like one until he realized what was happening between her and Jerimiah."
"Would she have written everything your father told her about that winter in a diary, Barnabas?"
"I have no idea. I thought I knew her, Julia. I thought I knew my father. It seems strange to realize that I didn't know either one. That woman upstairs is the Rebecca I knew, Julia. And I'm certain she knows the truth about me. About what I was. The question is: what does she intend to do about it?"
"I'm not so certain that she is that Rebecca, Barnabas."
"Come now, Julia. You heard her. The way she spoke-"
"That's exactly my point. You were listening to her, Barnabas. I was watching her. She-changed. When you mentioned Joshua Collins, it was as if a switch had been flipped. One moment, Rebecca was on the verge of exhaustion, ready to collapse. Then suddenly, she was filled with anger. Almost as if she were two entirely different people."
"Or if she were possessed by the Rebecca that I knew in this house almost two hundred years ago." He shook his head. "But why would she come back here now? Everyone who knew her is dead."
"Except for you."
"She didn't know I was here-that I had been released from my-exile," he said, recalling her start of suprise in the cemetary when he had spoken to her. "And upon discovering that I was here, she decided that I had to be gotten rid of for some reason."
"Because you were the only one who could recognize her and stop her-from doing what?"
"I don't know. But I'm going to find out." He started for the door, Julia close behind.
"Barnabas, be careful. If she's the present day Rebecca-"
"Shall I go and get Julia?" Amy was asking as they approached the door.
"No. I'm still so tired. I'll probably go back to sleep." Julia met Barnabas' eyes, shook her head. The voice was soft, uncertain. "She seems very nice, your Dr. Hoffman."
"She is. Is there anything I can get you?"
"No-yes. My sketchbook and charcoal. If you don't mind."
"Not at all." Amy was placing the items into Rebecca's hands when Barnabas opened the door. She looked up, smiling shyly.
He could tell immediately that she wasn't the same woman who had taken such delight in telling him the truth about his father's feet of clay. "I'm sorry I fell asleep," she apologized.
"Perfectly understandable, considering what you've been through today," Barnabas managed. "Are you an artist?" he asked, indicating the sketchpad, as Amy left the room.
"I dabble," she told him. "I've sold a few canvases back home." She allowed Julia to check her pulse and heart beat.
"You're certainly looking better," Julia informed her.
Rebecca picked at the cotton nightgown she was now wearing. "Amy helped me change. She thought I might be more comfortable. I tried to tell her that I didn't want to be any bother-rather anymore than I've already been-"
"You haven't been a bother," Barnabas assured her quickly. Was this his Rebecca playing a game, he wondered, or was this the real Rebecca Logan. He gave himself a mental shake. Either way, he was confusing himself.
Willie hovered in the doorway. "Uh, Barnabas?"
"Yes, Willie?" He saw Rebecca's gaze move to the servant.
"Well, it's getting light outside, and I was just wondering about Miss Logan's car-"
"Of course. I'll call a garage in town and have them come tow it in for repairs."
"The police will ask questions, I assume," Rebecca said. "And you told me that-"
Barnabas cut off Rebecca's reminder of his having told her that she'd been trying to run him down. "You simply lost control of the car on an unfamiliar road. The turn in the drive can be dangerous at night."
She smiled, grateful. "I would help, I suppose if I could just remember what happened."
"You still have no memory of the accident?" Julia asked.
"None. Nor of going to that cemetary you mentioned."
"It's possible that the concussion could have caused temporary amnesia-"
"That doesn't explain it, Dr. Hoffman. At least, not the things I did before I left home."
"Why don't you get some more rest, and we'll talk about it then?" Julia suggested.
"I am tired. Thank you. Both of you."
Barnabas looked at her. "Would you be willing to let me read your ancestor's journal, Miss Logan?"
Rebecca's eyes widened. "How do you know about that?" she asked, moving her hand down to the briefcase beside her bed, the long artist's fingers moving over the latches to assure herself it that was still secure.
"You told us about it," he said, ignoring Julia's attempt to stop him.
"No. I didn't. But I suppose-since you did save my life, I could let you read it-" She lifted the case onto the bed and opened it, pulling out the cloth bound book. Fingering the spine, she looked uncertain again. "You will give it back, won't you? Or maybe I should ask you to burn it. Everything seemed to start when I found it."
"I'll take very good care of it, I promise," Barnabas told her, waiting for her to hand it to him. When she did, their fingers touched, and Rebecca gasped, pulling her hand back as if she had received a shock. "May I see some of your work?" he asked her, trying to bring a return of her smile.
She shook her head, keeping the sketchpad away. "It's not some of my best. Since Aunt Belle died, I haven't been able to draw the things I used to."
"Would you let me see them, Miss Logan?" Julia asked. Turning to Barnabas, she said, "Why don't you go and make the arrangements for Miss Logan's car, Barnabas?"
He knew she was trying to get rid of him, but Barnabas knew as well that he wanted to get away, to read the journal in his hands. "Very well. Later, Miss Logan."
She watched to door close. "He's a nice man, isn't he?"
"Too nice, sometimes," Julia told her.
Rebecca looked down. "I suppose you think he should tell the police the truth."
"Not at all. If you don't remember what happened, what use would there be in accusing you of it? Now, I asked if I could see your work."
She slowly held out the sketchpad. "Maybe you'll know what to make of them. I certainly haven't been able to."
Julia opened the cover and just managed to hide her surprise. The drawing was of the Collins Mausoleum at Eagle Hill Cemetary. The same mausoleum in which Barnabas had been chained inside a coffin by his father for what they both had thought would be forever. The others were of the cemetary itself, but with far fewer graves than Julia recalled being there. There were also sketches of people, dark, somber, frightening. "Interesting. You said these aren't your usual style?"
"I never liked working in charcoal. I prefer pastels or oils. Bright, cheery pictures. Flowers, children at play. I would never have thought about drawing a coffin or cemetary before Aunt Belle died."
"Have you seen any other doctors about this?"
"One, back home. He said it was a reaction to Aunt Belle's death-a morbid fear of dying and that I would come out of it before long."
"Tell me, Miss Logan, did this begin immediately after your aunt died?"
"No. I told you that it seemed to begin when I found that journal."
"Where did you find it?"
"From the time I was little, I can remember the huge old armoire in Aunt Belle's room. She told me it had been brought to Charleston by our ancestor Rebecca when she'd moved from up north and had been handed down from generation to generation. That since I was the last of the Logans, it would be mine some day. I love antiques, doctor, and was delighted at the idea that I would own something so old, with a tie to the woman who had established our family in Charleston. The day after Aunt Belle's funeral, I was cleaning out her things and found a hidden compartment in the bottom. The journal was there. At first I thought it might have been Aunt Belle's-but as I started to read, I realized that it wasn't hers, but had belonged to the first Rebecca Logan."
"Did what you read in it trouble you?"
"It was certainly a tragic story, but I recognized that there was nothing I could do about it after so many years-I mean, so what if I might be related to the Collins family of Maine? The connection was so old, and certainly wasn't a legitimate one."
"But you were all alone in the world, having even a distant family might have been nice," Julia suggested.
"I thought I was going to have a family in Charleston," Rebecca said sadly. "I was engaged to be married."
Julia remembered the photograph of Rebecca and the young man. "What happened?"
"He broke it off. His family had been in Charleston almost as long as ours had-and he decided that he couldn't afford a wife who-"
"Who what, Rebecca?"
"Who tried to seduce his father," Rebecca said so softly that Julia wasn't sure she had heard correctly. "What made it worse was that I had convinced Brad that we should wait until we were married to-and then he found me half undressed in his father's arms-" Rebecca blinked away the tears. "The worst thing is that I don't even remember how I got there. One minute I was downstairs in the parlour, waiting for Brad to come down, and then I was hearing Brad call me all kinds of horrible names."
"Didn't you tell him what you've told me?"
"I tried. That's when he told me it wasn't the first time he'd found me with another man. He suggested I get some help."
"And you don't remember those other episodes either?"
"No. I went back home and considered ending it all. Brad and I had known each other all our lives, doctor. It was terrible-"
"What stopped you?"
"I wish I knew. But I found myself making plans for a trip- without knowing where I was going or why. And here I am." She tried to smile, but missed the mark. "So, Doc. Am I certifiable?"
"I think there's an explanation for what's happening, Rebecca, but I'm not sure you're ready to believe it."
"You think I'm possessed by the first Rebecca, don't you, Dr. Hoffman?"
Julia had been looking away, but at the change in tone swung her gaze back to the woman on the bed. "I know you are. The question is: Why? Why would the Rebecca Logan who left Collinsport in 1794 want to come back almost two hundred years later?"
"To claim what's due her, perhaps, Doctor."
"She wasn't owed anything."
"But she was. She was a daughter of the Master of Collinwood. That in itself was due some consideration. She didn't deserve to be ignored by her father-or by history."
"But Joshua didn't ignore her. In fact, she might have been the only one of his children that he truly did care about, if what the first Barnabas Collins wrote is true."
She smiled. "The first Barnabas Collins. Don't you mean the only Barnabas Collins, Dr. Hoffman?"
"I'm not sure what you mean, Rebecca."
"Oh come now, Doctor. I've seen how close you are to Barnabas Collins, seen the looks that have passed between you. You know everything there is to know about him."
"Why did you try to run him over?"
"He was the only one who could possibly have recognized me. And I didn't want that."
"Why? Why would his recognizing you possibly matter if you planned to come back and claim your place as a member of the family?"
"I'm very tired, Doctor. I'd like to sleep now, if you don't mind."
"Very well, then. I'll simply wait and let Barnabas ask the questions later. And he'll be far less gentle than I am."
"Barnabas? Less gentle? Barnabas was the gentlest person I've ever known, Dr. Hoffman. Besides Sarah, that is."
"He's changed. But you'll see that for yourself." Closed the door behind her and went to find Willie. She wanted him to keep an eye on Barnabas' guest.
Barnabas closed the journal, having scanned the passages for the dates he considered important. If Jerimiah had known the truth, even about the child, would it had mattered, he wondered. Would he have let Rebecca leave Collinwood without a fight, or would he have left with her, living in veritable exile from his family? How different things might have been had Jerimiah not been here to marry Josette. And what if Joshua had claimed Rebecca, admitted to Naomi and everyone that he had erred. No, Joshua could never have done that. His pride, his fear of damaging the family's good name would have prevented it. But he, Barnabas, should have known. Should have recognized Rebecca as his sister. Certainly, it would have made a difference in his feelings for her. As it would have to Jerimiah if he had known before he had fallen in love. Why was she back? He knew now that Julia was correct: the present day Rebecca Logan was possessed by the spirit of her ancestor. A vengeful, angry spirit, wanting-what? Vindication? Acceptance? Or something more sinister?
He looked up as Julia came into the room. "It happened again," she told him. "She admitted that she's using Rebecca for some ends-"
"Did you question her?"
"She claimed tiredness again. But she does know about you, Barnabas. She expected that you were still chained in the mausoleum and therefore wouldn't be here to recognize her."
"She didn't write that truth in here," he told her, indicating the journal. "The version she tells is similar to the one that you included in the family history last year: Josette arrived to marry me, married Jerimiah instead, I challenged him to a duel and married Angelique soon after his death. She and I left for England shortly thereafter and Josette took her life." He looked at Julia. "Did you find out anything more from Miss Logan?"
Julia smiled. "It is rather difficult to know which one we're talking about. But yes. She's frightened, confused. Apparently Rebecca's ghost had totally destroyed any chance of happiness she might have had in Charleston, left her with no choice but to leave that city and go elsewhere." She told him the story that Rebecca had related to her. "I'm not certain that she's aware of anything regarding the first Rebecca's memories-at least, not conciously."
"We have to find out what Rebecca wants."
"She says it's to claim her place with the family."
"Then why try to run me down? I could back up her story, make her acceptance much easier, if that's all she wants."
"She might think that you would try to protect Joshua's memory."
"If she were someone trying to prove that he was really a British sympathizer or spy, I might. But I can't cover up the truth when there's no one left that telling it would hurt."
"Except for you."
"I know that you and your father weren't close, Barnabas. But I also know that history has painted Joshua Collins as a man of honor, who would never have done anything like have an affair that produced a child he refused to claim."
"But he did claim her-in his own way. He took her in, gave her a home, a place in his family. I recall once when he was angry with me about something-I can't remember what now. But as soon as Rebecca came into the room he was very different. Even Sarah never had that effect on him. I should have known that she wasn't dead. Mother's letter never mentioned a word about his being overly upset as he was when Rebecca's mother died."
"She thinks she can get around you, you know."
"She always could. It was often like talking to Father when she and I spoke. She was a very strong young woman. That's why I was surprised to get Mother's letter about her death. Rebecca wasn't the type to give up."
"Apparently she hasn't. Can she still get around you?"
"We'll see, won't we?" he said, his tone firm.
David picked Amy up around eight so they could drive back the college at Ellsworth together. Amy was in her first year, David in his second. During the week they shared an off-campus apartment, returning to Collinwood on the week-ends.
Barnabas assured her that he would say her good byes to Rebecca, then breathed a sigh of relief that the girl was out of the house. It would be much easier settling matters with Rebecca without worrying that Amy might overhear their conversation. Julia also left soon after, promising to return as soon as the staff meeting at Collinsport Hospital was over. As Chief of Staff, Julia was unable to beg out of attending.
Barnabas was putting out the candles in the parlour when Willie came down the stairs. "I have to go into town, Barnabas," he said. "Amy being here over the weekend left the cupboard kinda bare-and with Miss Logan here-"
"Go on, Willie."
"But, Julia said I should keep an eye on her. Said she didn't trust her."
"I'll be quite all right, Willie. Go on and take care of your errands."
He wasn't sure how he knew when he was no longer alone in the room. Willie's car had faded into the distance minutes ago, and Barnabas had gone to stand before the fire, staring thoughtfully into it. Some sixth sense told him that he was being watched, and he turned to find Rebecca standing in the doorway. Only she was no longer wearing the simple cotton nightgown from earlier. She was dressed in a black satin sheath that left little to the imagination. "Miss Logan," he began, then met her eyes. This wasn't the frightened, confused young woman. "Rebecca."
"Daydreaming again," she accused gently. "Always daydreaming, making plans." She entered the room, looking around. "It's not the same, is it? Close, but there are subtle differences. That portrait. Only you would be vain enough to hang a portrait of yourself there. And such a close imitation of the one I painted of you."
"Which is hanging in the foyer at Collinwood. I had this one done soon after I-arrived from England."
"From England? Oh, of course. That's where our dear father told everyone you had gone. Rather ironic, don't you think? He arranges a fictional death for me, and then ships you off to England." He could smell the gardenia in the air, sweet, almost sickeningly so.
"Why did you leave?"
"What choice did I have? Stay and have my child, knowing that Joshua would never allow Jerimiah to marry me? Or do you think I should have told Jerimiah the truth? That he had bedded and wanted to marry his own neice thanks to his brother's duplicity?"
"He had to protect Mother," Barnabas said.
"Naomi would have accepted the truth," Rebecca insisted. "She was stronger than most of you gave her credit for being. She had to be, married to him. No. The only person Joshua Collins wanted to protect was himself. Oh, I could have threatened to tell everyone the truth, married Jerimiah anyway. But Joshua would have found some way to destroy it. He was very good at that."
"He didn't know about the child?"
"No one did. I had planned to tell Jerimiah, but Joshua called me into the study and offered me a king's ransom to leave Collinwood and never see Jerimiah again. When I refused, told him I was going to marry Jerimiah even if it meant leaving-I wouldn't have. It was a bluff. I knew that he didn't want Jerimiah to leave, would do anything to keep him at Collinwood. That's when he told me the truth."
"I read the journal."
"Yes. I couldn't stop her from giving it to you."
"Why are you here, Rebecca? If it's recognition of your place as a Collins, I can help you. Without your doing any further harm to-"
"Such concern for the child. And she is a child. Far more of one than I was at her age. By the time I was twenty-eight, James was ten years old and we were settling into Charleston."
"It must have been hard for you, raising him alone, taking care of things-"
"Not really. I suppose there was more of my father in me than I wanted to admit. I learned quickly how to take care of myself, to use other people to get what I wanted."
"Just as you've planned to use the Collins family to get what you want?"
"I'm a Collins too," she reminded him, coming closer. "Perhaps I've misjudged you, Barnabas. Things are different now. Maybe you could help me after all."
"I'd be willing to back up the journal with writing of my own ancestor-confirming that Rebecca is indeed a descendant of Jerimiah and Rebecca Logan," he offered, gazing into those bottomless dark eyes.
"Oh, I want much more than that from you, dear Barnabas," she said, her dark eyes shining as she traced his lapel with a long finger. "You always envied Jerimiah, didn't you? Always wished it was you that I was attracted to instead of him."
Barnabas refused to give in to the sensuality of that voice. "That was before-"
"Before you knew the truth? But as you pointed out a moment ago, this isn't really my body, is it? It's dear little Becca's. That's what they called her, you know. Becca. Sounds rather like a servant, don't you think? You could find out what you missed all those years ago-" she said suggestively, pressing herself tightly against him.
"You were always a beautiful woman, Rebecca. And there was a time when I might have taken you up on what you're offering. But not now. Not while you're using Becca. I never thought you cruel, Rebecca."
"Cruel?" she repeated, sliding an arm around his neck, another flat against his chest. "How can you say such a thing? When I'm offering you something you always wanted."
Barnabas' arms went around her, pulling her even closer. It was madness, he admitted, but something about her-The dark eyes grew flat for a moment, then closed. "Rebecca?"
She went rigid within his arms and opened her eyes. Confusion, then embarrassment were easily read as she realized where she was and what she was wearing. "Not again," she begged, tears making her eyes glisten in a far more appealling way than all of Rebecca's sensuousness had done. She pulled away and turned from him, her steps unsteady.
"Becca," Barnabas said, coming behind her. "Let me help you."
She paused, obviously distraught, unable to look at him. "I'm so embarrassed. I don't know what came over me-I don't even remember getting out of bed or-putting this on," she told him, glancing down at the negligee.
"It wasn't your fault," he assured her. "Look at me, Becca."
"I can't," she whispered.
Barnabas lifted her chin with a gentle finger. "You didn't do anything wrong."
Her eyes searched his face. "What's happening to me, Mr. Collins?"
"Do you know anything about possession, Becca?"
She closed her eyes, and for a moment Barnabas was afraid that he would find himself confronted by Rebecca again when she opened them. But instead, he saw a look of resignation. "I've been afraid that's what was going on. I've never believed in ghosts or things like that. But ever since I found that journal I've done such strange things."
"Such as what just happened?"
She nodded. "And maybe worse. There are huge gaps of time that I can't account for. What if she-I-"
"You aren't responsible for anything she's done," Barnabas told her. "Now come on. I'll walk you back to your room."
"Maybe I shouldn't stay here, Mr. Collins. It might happen again-"
"No. It won't. And at least here, you'll know that there's someone to watch out for you." She let him put an arm lightly around her shoulders and guide her up the steep stairway. At the door of her room, she smiled up at him.
"Thank you, Mr. Collins."
"Please, call me Barnabas."
"You've been very kind, considering that I tried to-"
"I told you that you're not responsible for things she's done," he said, cutting her off. "Why don't you go and get some rest?"
"I'm not really sleepy, just a bit shaky."
"Willie should return soon. I'll have him prepare something for you to eat."
"That sounds good. I can't recall when I ate last. I think it was last night, but-"
"I'll have him fix something light. He doesn't look it, but he's really a very good cook."
"We had a cook like that when I was little," she recalled. "She looked like someone who lived on the streets, but she made the best chocolate chip cookies-"
"You like chocolate chip cookies?"
"It's my one vice, I suppose," she said, smiling more naturally at him than he recalled her ever having done before. "Brad-" her face fell again.
"Your ex-fiance?" Barnabas prompted gently.
"Yes. He bought me two dozen of them on my last birthday. Said he was going to have to buy a bakery to keep me supplied in them."
"It would have been worth it. And the man was a fool."
"I can't blame him for breaking it off. His family's reputation is important-"
"More important than the health of the woman he supposedly loved?"
"Are you saying that you would have reacted differently?"
"I wouldn't have thrown you to the wolves," Barnabas told her. "I would have suggested we wait a while, find out why you were acting so out of character."
"But he didn't think I was-acting out of character. He thought I'd been that way all along and simply been keeping it a secret from him with Aunt Belle's help. With her gone, there was no one to protect me from myself, so to speak."
"I still say he's a fool."
There were tears in her eyes again, and Barnabas reached up to wipe them away as they fell down her cheek. He lifted her chin and paused, his hazel eyes meeting her dark ones. They were dark and clear. "Oh, Becca," he sighed, wanting to feel her lips against his. Instead, he lifted her hand and brought it to his lips, heard her gasp softly. "Julia will be back before long. If you're sure you're up to it, why don't you change clothes and join me in the parlour?"
"I'll be right there," she told him.
Barnabas picked up the journal and read the last few pages, an account of Rebecca's arrival and setting up housekeeping in Charleston. He was trying to find out what had changed her. The young woman he had known had never seemed promiscuous. She had never appeared to have eyes for anyone except Jerimiah. He leafed back through the journal to the years between James' birth and the unexpected visit by Joshua. There had been other men. Wealthy men who weren't adverse to spending time and money on an attractive widow with a young son to support. She had learned how to take care of herself-in one of the few ways open to a woman in those days. But she had always chosen her sponsors very carefully. It was as a result of those liasons that she was able to move herself and James to Charleston, to start over.
"You have a lovely house, Mr. Collins," Becca said softly, then smiled at his expression. "Barnabas."
"Thank you. It was the original Collinwood."
"I know. She lived here, didn't she? In this house-"
"Is there any mention of her in the family histories?" she asked hopefully.
"Only a mention by-her father. When she apparently died," Barnabas told her. Becca's face fell. "But there was more in the papers of my ancestor-the first Barnabas."
She looked encouraged. "What did he say?"
"That she was a beautiful, intelligent young woman. I think he thought himself a little in love with her, but she was in love with his uncle."
"It must have been terrible for her, finding out the truth, knowing that she was going to have Jerimiah's baby."
"By all accounts, she was a very strong woman."
"I wish I were that strong."
"But you are. Anyone else would have just given over to her completely. You've managed to retain your own personality."
"For all the good it does me when she takes over." She shivered.
"Are you cold? I can build the fire up-"
"No. I just-I'm scared. What's going to happen? Every time she takes over, it's more difficult for me to get back. What if one day, I can't get back at all?"
Barnabas reached out to take her hand. "That won't happen. Would you like a tour of the house? Are you up to it?"
"I think so."
"I want you to let me know if you get tired."
"I will," she assured him.
Willie was bringing a tray back to the kitchen from the study when Julia returned. He wasn't exactly smiling, but he seemed more at ease than he had been earlier. "Where is Barnabas, Willie?" she asked.
"In the study with Miss Logan."
Julia looked at the tray in his hands. "Did she eat?"
Willie nodded. "Some soup."
"She's apparently much better, then."
"Guess so. Barnabas gave her a tour of the house while I was out-" he stopped, recalling his promise to Julia to keep an eye on her patient.
"You went somewhere?"
"I had to go into town," Willie explained. "Barnabas said he'd keep an eye on her. And I guess he did, 'cause she seems fine."
Julia heard the soft, feminine laughter mingling with a sound she heard entirely too seldom: Barnabas' laughter. He was standing by the fire and glanced up as Julia entered, and for a moment Julia thought that she'd never seen him look so young and happy. "Julia. How did your meeting go?"
"As boring as usual," she told him, returning the smile Rebecca gave her. "Willie told me that you'd eaten some soup."
"I was starving-especially after touring this wonderful house. Barnabas tells me that you're the Chief of Staff at the hospital in Collinsport."
"Yes. You're feeling better, then? No more episodes?"
Rebecca glanced at Barnabas, uncertain. "There was one," Barnabas admitted. "But it was several hours ago."
"Barnabas explained what's happening, Dr. Hoffman."
"Is that so? And what did he tell you?"
"That the reason I've been acting as I have since finding that journal is that the spirit of the first Rebecca Logan is trying to take control of me. I just wish I understood why she's doing it."
Julia heard the fear in her voice, saw Barnabas lean over to place a comforting hand on her arm. "We'll find out the reason, Becca," he told her.
- Author's note: Since writing short stories has become almost impossible for me these days, I will continue this saga when time permits and some of my other projects are completed.--N.E
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