(An excerpt from The Blythewood Curse)
When William, Amelia, and Rowland reached the minister, he got a quizzical look on his face, as William shook his hand.
“Do I know you?” the minister asked. “Your face seems a bit familiar, but I do not recognize your family. I am Reverend Lewis Edwards.”
“Reverend Edwards, it is very nice to meet you. This is our first time attending. This is my sister Amelia Levin.”
Amelia offered her hand. “Good to meet you reverend.”
“This is her son, Rowland.” The minister took his little hand and shook it.
“And I am William Romilly.”
“Oh my, you are Markham Romilly’s son and daughter.” He paused and blinked twice. “Forgive me, you do have a strong family resemblance. My condolences on the passing of your father. He is buried in the back of the church. Have you been to his grave yet?”
William and Amelia exchanged looks of surprise. “Why, no,” answered William. “Of course, we assumed he had been buried locally, but we were not sure where that might be. The solicitor did not say for some reason.”
“I received a letter with directions from your father’s London solicitor, and a check paying for his headstone. It was finally completed by our local stone cutter and erected last Sunday. I admit, it seemed a bit odd to me, but I had the carver follow the instructions. If you just follow the path around, you will find his grave toward the back wall.”
William seemed still startled to learn this news, but Amelia was quicker to respond and seemed less distracted. “Thank you, reverend. We will go to see his grave now. It was very nice meeting you. Thank you for a lovely sermon. I am sure we will see you again.”
They descended the church steps. Amelia took Rowland’s hand and laced her other arm around William’s, more so to steady him as he seemed still stunned to learn this news. They ambled along the path and slowly approached the back wall until they came to their father’s headstone. It read, “Markham Elystan Romilly,” and underneath were carved his dates of birth and death, “B. December 4, 1831 – D. May 1, 1890.” All known, but it was the epitaph which was odd. “Blessed in birth and cursed in death.”
William and Amelia, once again exchanged puzzling looks.
“What on earth is that supposed to mean?” he asked.
“It is truly an odd thing to have carved. Perhaps you can contact the solicitor and ask him what was meant by it? Surely he would know more than anyone.”
“I most certainly will,” responded William, a bit affronted.
Rowland did not comment. He didn’t know what it meant, but he knew his mother and uncle William were upset by it. They turned away, went back to the wagon and rode back to the house in silence.