great aunt bertha fussbudget's mirthless legacy: part one

Once upon a time (because that's usually when these stories take place), there lived a young lady named Evangeline who only had the bare necessities: food, water, shelter, clothing, and joy in her heart. She happily went down to the river every morning to wash. She fed herself on the bounties that the forests and the fields provided her. She slept in a simple shack with a bed covered in a quilt she had made and a wood stove which kept the shack warm. She had sewed herself a few plain garments --enough, not too many. All of this was sufficient for Evangeline's contentment.

Then, one day, the lawyers came to visit (if you are familiar with lawyers, you know that this never leads to anything good ...). 

"Evangeline, your Great Aunt Bertha Fussbudget has passed away. She has left you a small legacy," they informed her.

"How lovely!" said Evangeline, as she was prone to say about just about everything. "What's a legacy?"

"Why don't you come along with us to our offices, and we will explain in more detail?" the lawyers requested, and since Evangeline was an agreeable sort of person, she agreed.

She piled into a large town car with lawyers, marveling at the new car smell as she did. Off they drove, into the City, which Evangeline had heard about but had never visited as her parents weren't into that kind of thing.

Once there, she and the lawyers piled into an elevator (a real elevator!) and headed to the top floor where their offices of shiny chrome and leather and glass stretched as far as the eye could see. It was like a bright summer's day, but with cold metal substituting for the brilliant heat of the sun.

"Please have a seat," they invited her, once they had entered a meeting room with a sizable glass table with steel legs.

"Oh, thank you!" she declared, plunking herself down into a leather chair that immediately tilted and slid away from her slightly, bridling at her enthusiasm. "Oh my! Well, this is a fun chair! I should say before we find out what a legacy is, that I am terribly saddened by the passing of my Great Aunt Bertha. I didn't really know her, to be honest, but passings are sad things --therefore, I think I must be sad about her passing. Yes, I must be. I'm sorry to interrupt. Please don't let me keep you from your work! So, what is a legacy ...?"

"Well," one of the lawyers began, once he could get a word in edgewise, "the legacy your Great Aunt Bertha left you is a large sum of money, as well as the use of a large, well-appointed Victorian in the City."

"How lovely!" Evangeline exclaimed for the thirty-sixth time that day. "Money is something that makes people happy, right? And although I'm not certain who this large Victorian is who has been appointed to me, I'm sure we'll be able to work well together ..."

"Yes ...," continued the lawyer tentatively, not certain whether Evangeline was being deliberately ditzy, and not wanting to insult someone who would be paying his fees either way. "Anyway, there is a stipulation on the terms of the legacy. In addition to the money and the house, your Great Aunt Bertha has left you a brooch. She states that, in order for you to keep the money and the house, you will need to keep the brooch on at all times --you may never take it off. If you do, the rest of the legacy will be forfeited."

"Hmmm" said Evangeline as thoughtfully as she could (she did not ordinarily do a great deal of thinking --such a happy soul she was), "...Well, if she wanted me to have the legacy, and she wanted me to wear the brooch, why not? What could possibly go wrong?"