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Peace By the River
The Original Story

Chapter I

Have you ever gotten the feeling that something terrible was going to happen? No, not that feeling you get when you fail an algebra test. The feeling you get when something horrible is going to change your life. Or at least it seems horrible at the time. Dana Neilson got that feeling one hot July day as she stepped through her front door.

“Dinner’s on the table!” Terese Neilson’s voice came from the kitchen, and Dana could here china clinking as her mother set the table. Terese was a preschool teacher at the local church. She loved kids. “Wash up honey, we’ll eat as soon as your father gets home.”

Dana scampered up the stairs to her room with her packages. She had been busy back-to-school shopping with her friends. After dumping her packages on her unmade double bed, she checked her answering machine. No calls. Dana had the whole second floor to herself, as she was an only child. There was her bedroom, specially decorated in 1960’s style, her bathroom, and her parent's office. She shared her phone line with the computer, so it was basically hers. After a quick look around, Dana headed back down to dinner.

The Beatles were on the stereo and bars from “Here Comes the Sun” filled the kitchen. Dana hummed along without realizing. Her mother and father were 60’s nuts, and she had inherited the love for classic rock and roll, vintage cars, and hippie styles. She was ecstatic that the old clothes were back in style and planned on raiding the attic in store of her mother’s 60’s attire. Actually she planned to do that tomorrow, since school started in a week and a half.

Anyway, back to the feeling. It had momentarily gone away, but returned with a sickening dread as her father walked into the kitchen. “Sit down and eat Dana. I have something to tell you.”

Terese switched the stereo off. She knew what Kevin had to say, and didn’t want to have to see Dana’s reaction. He had phoned her earlier in the day with the news, and insisted that Dana be told right away, but she had saved herself a few hours by being at the mall.

For with this piece of news, Dana’s life would be changed forever.

Kevin sat down at his place at the table and served himself. He was trying to put off telling his daughter. He knew the news would break her heart. He filled his plate with ham and potatoes and watched his wife and daughter do the same. After a few minutes of quiet chewing, Dana asked her father: “What was it that you wanted to tell me?”

Kevin did not know how to begin. He decided to approach the issue from a different standpoint than he had when he told Terese. “So you’ll be going to a new school this year, Dana?” He looked at her. She nodded. “High school. I remember my first day of high school. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die by the end of it. “

“It won’t be that bad, dad. I’ll know the whole gang. Just because they’ll be a few new kids from the other side of town doesn’t mean they’ll make it a bad day. Jefferson High School will be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I mean, I already plan to try out for cheerleader, but I don’t think I’m really the type, it’ll be fun anyway, though.” Dana was rambling because she didn’t know what her father was getting at.

“That’s just the point, Honey. You won’t be going to Jefferson. I got a promotion today. I’m going to manage a new band. To make things convenient, the company has decided to transfer me to where they live. We’re moving to Glen View, Missouri next week.”

Dana dropped her fork. It landed with a clank on the tile floor. Her mouth dropped open. “You’re not serious. This is all a joke!” Then she saw the look in their eyes and knew it was true. Dana burst into tears and ran up the stairs to her room.

Kevin got up to follow her, but Terese caught him and told him to let her cry it out. “You didn’t even tell her the worst part, yet. Let her at least get over the initial shock.”

So ten minutes later Kevin found himself beside Dana on her bed. She was still crying. Kevin patted her back and told her it was all right, even though it wasn’t, because that’s what parents do. Finally, Dana sat up and asked her father to tell her more about it, like where they would live, what kind of band, what her school would be like, and all of that. So Kevin had to tell her.

“The band is a group of teenagers, I don’t remember what they call themselves, but they’re young and just starting out. They live with their parents outside of Glen View, Missouri. Out in the boonies, you might say. They have a lot of money, old money, and live miles from anyone. The father died when they were very young and they were raised by their mother with the help of some tutors. Their one tutor, who played in a small hippie band in his youth, introduced them to music. They bought some instruments, learned them, and started playing around Glen View, which, despite the surrounding country, which is the boonies, is a fairly good-sized town. One of Mr. Richardson’s sons, David, was on vacation when he heard them play in Kansas City. By that time they were pretty well-known locally. He told his father and they went together to check out the group, discovered that they had potential and decided to sign them. Only, the mother is bedridden and they refused to leave her, even to pursue their dream. Their agent is a favorite uncle who lives with them, which helps out the arrangement.

“Since I will be the advertising/publicity coordinator for the group, their uncle, Mr. Morris, arranged for us to live near them. They have a guest house on the property where they have agreed to let us stay. Its fairly good-sized, I heard. Two-stories, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, family room, garage, just been remodeled. You can decorate any way you want. Its about a fourth of a mile from the main house, which isn’t much bigger, just lots of out buildings. You’ll make friends with the group, I heard they’re really nice.

“As for school. This you might not like. They live a ways from town, sixteen miles to be exact. And the school is even farther away. The group has been home-schooled their whole life and their tutors have agreed to teach you, too. You’re about the same age, I think. I’m not sure about how old they are, but they’re not much older than you. You’ll like it, I’m sure you will if you give it a chance. I know it will be different, but you’ll get used to it.”

Dana had heard enough. This day was getting worse and worse. Not only would she have to move her first year of high school, but she wouldn’t even be going to high school! She’ll be stuck in a room with a few rich geeks who just might end up famous. Lovely. She told Kevin that she had heard enough and wanted to think a while. He said he understood, but Dana didn’t really think he did. She just wanted to be alone.

After another good cry, Dana found herself looking around her room. Its was too perfect to leave! She had decorated it just last summer. The walls were covered with vintage posters and she had two lava lamps that flooded red and blue light on the big flowered wallpaper that was straight from the 1960s. On one wall was her bulletin board. It was filled with pictures of all her friends. The friends she would leave behind. She decided to call Hollie, she was supposed to anyway she might as well get it overwith. Dana’s fingers were twitching as she dialed the number. Hollie answered on the second ring.

“Hey Dane! How’s it going?” Hollie sounded too cheerful.

“Not too good.”

“C’mon! Be happy! (Hollie was also a 60s nut) No worries, right?”

“Actually I have a lot.”

“So which guy is it and how did he turn you down?” Hollie knew Dana was always obsessing over guys.

“Its not a guy,, I guess.”

“Worried about JHS? Don’t be, it’s gonna be DA BOMB!!!”

“That’s just it. I’m not going to JHS. My dad got a promotion.” Dana proceeded to tell Hollie the rest of the story.

“Hmmm....I wonder what band it is and if they are cute.” Hollie was even more obsessed with guys than Dana was.

“Hollie! That is SO not the point!” Dana had had it up to here with her friend.

“I know. I’m sorry. When do you leave?”

“Next week. Over Labor Day.” There was a pause. “I guess I’ll go start packing now.”

“Bye.” Dana hung up the phone. She felt so alone. Hollie couldn’t sympathize with her, she wasn’t the one moving to the middle of nowhere to live with a rich, geeking, nothing of a band. Dana flopped back on her bed and sighed.

Chapter II

Dana looked down at the plaid book in her right hand. It was all the adresses and phone numbers of everyone she knew. She had brought it to the open house. Hollie had given it to her as a going away present, as long as she promised to write. She had nearly filled the little book up. She was surprised when everyone not only wrote their digits, but little personal messages, too. When she asked Hollie about it she just smiled and said “So it’ll be easier to write back.” Dana had promised to write anyway.

In her left hand was a photo album. Jason and Tina put it together for her. It was filled with pictures of her life in Austin. She had flipped through it a little at the open house, and promised to look through it on her way to Misouri. The Neilsons got free first class tickets through the company and were flying to Kansas City and then driving to Glen View. There would be a car waiting for them there. They wanted to check out the house before the van got there.

Dana took a last look around the house where she had grown up in. So many memories took place here. With tears in her eyes, Dana walked out her front door for the last time. She piled into the back of the cab with her parents. Their car would met them in Glen View. Dana twisted around to have the last glimpse of their house. As the taxi turned the corner, the house faded from view and out of their life forever.

Dana turned around and sighed. Terese put her arm around Dana. “We’ll all miss Austin, dear. But you have to learn to move on. Glen View will be a big change for all of us.”

“You can finally have a dog, Dane. He can run around the hills. Did I mention Glen View is deep in the Ozarks? Lots of country hicks, but they’re nice folk. You can have two dogs if you want, and a cat, too.” Kevin also was trying his best to cheer up Dana.

“That’d be nice. I’ll take care of them, too, I promise.”

The ride to the airport was soon over and the Neilsons frantically tried to find their gate. They got there just as Delta flight 103 to Springfield was calling for its first class passengers to board.

“No hurry,” assured Kevin. “We still have plenty of time. They board first class first.”

After checking in to the desk, the Neilsons boarded the plane. It was a MD-88. Kevin’s company had purchased three first class seats, two aisles and a window, all on the same row. Dana quickly took the window seat, 3D, and Terese sat down beside her. Kevin sat across the aisle.

Dana had only been in an airplane a few times before, when they went on vacation, but never in first class. She stowed her knapsack under the seat in front of her and ran her fingers over the blue leather seat. She closed her window blind once, and opened it again. Men in orange vests were running about the plane and driving little carts full of luggage. She reached up and turned her reading light on and looked to see what was in the seat pocket in front of her. Safety rules, barf bag and a Sky magazine. She opened up the magazine and flipped through it. Boring. She thought. It had mostly business stuff in it. Suddenly she felt a thump as the plane lurched backwards and looked up. A stewardess was collecting glasses. She introduced herself as Kylie, and was very perky. Too much cafiene. Dana thought. Another stewardess came on the PA system while Kylie demonstrated how to buckle the seat belt and where the exits where located. Dana reached down and buckled her safety belt and Terese did the same. Soon, the plane was in the air, and Dana reached into her knapsack and pulled out her discman and the latest issue of Seventeen. The flight would last under an hour, but Dana was prepared to make the best of it. After a few minutes she was in her own world and Terese had to elbow her when she started to hum along with the Smashing Pumpkins.

Chapter III

Barely and hour later, the plane touched down in Kansas City. As the Neilson’s stepped into the terminal the first thing Dana noticed was the guy in the business suit holding up a sign that said “Welcome Neilsons.” Kevin noticed too and hurried over to the man. They exchanged a firn handshake and the man introduced himself as George Morris. He wasn’t the Uncle Morris that managed the band, but his brother. He was young, and thin. He wore no wedding band. His hair was sandy brown, hs features strong. He was quiet, and didn’t talk again until the Neilsons and their luggage were in the limo. Yes, limo. Dana didn’t know what to think. The band must be rich. The limo was black, with a white interior. Dana leaned back to enjoy the drive as she listened to Mr. Morris talk.

“Its a two hour drive to Glen View. The house is ready for you. The boys and I fixed it up for you. When do you suppose your furniture will arrive?”

“The movers said sometime tomorrow morning.” Kevin answered.

“Perfect, then. You’ll have all tonight to check it out, make it ready. There are a few pieces left over from when the house was used for a guest cottage, but that was long ago. The family has been losing money recently, especially since Charlotte fell ill. It’s a good thing the boys can help earn a little money by performing. I think this record deal could be the best thing that could happen to this family, money-wise.”

“Where had all the money come from?” Terese wanted to know.

“My great-great-great-grandfather came to this country a begger. Alphonse Moriso landed at Ellis Island in 1857. He had barely a penny. His family settled in Brooklyn and made a meager living for 15 years. When they had saved up enough money, he took his two sons and his wife and moved to Independance. The Trail had long since vanished, but the town was still growing. he started a diner and made pretty good money. His oldest son secceeded him and changed the family name to Morris. John Morris was as American as they come. He wanted in on the oil bsiness, so he sent his brother, a bachelor, to Oklahoma to get a company together to drill for oil.

“At frist, Joseph’s letters home told of failure and great loss of money, both Alphose’s and John’s life savings. Finally, with only twenty-five dollars left, Joseph struck gold. Black gold. Oil. He started a company on credit, in John’s name, but Joseph died before it got off the ground. John left his newlywed wife and their infant daughter back in Independence, and came to Oklahoma. His poor wife, Emily and daughter, Charlotte, lived in poverty. The couple exchanged letter regularly.

“The company soon was up and running, drilling oil. The money poored in and John wrote of his return home with thir new fortune, but it was too late. Charlotte, only fourteen months old, was dead of the fever. There was dispar in the Morris house. John was twice a failure. His greed for money had killed both his brother and his daughter. He took Emily, who was pregnant with their second child, and built a house in the mountains, miles from the nearest town. He wanted to be alone with his greif.

“The company, Morris Oil, despite its rocky start, was a great sucess. The money came rolling in, and the Morris family lived in extravigance for many years. The fortune was always passed on to the eldest child. The family and the company did extreemly well until my sister. She married a man named Roger Darcy. He gave her four lovely boys. He was a wonderful father, but a poor businessman. He sold the company to an enterprise for far less than it was worth. Thinking he was a lifetime failure, he killed himself when his youngest was only three.

“The Darcys lived off of the fortune for a few years, until even it was exhausted. Charlotte worked for a bit, but the boys needed someone to look after them. My brother and I moved in with them to help out, but we worked, too, and weren’tof much help. Four years ago, the worst happened. Charlotte came down with an incureable case of cancer. She slowly deteriourated and is now bedridden. But expenses come with illness, and Robert and I cannot support four boys. Things looked worse than ever.

“Then Robert discovered the boys playing with old instruments one day. A grand piano sat in the parlor and the boys were often playing on it. They were good, espcially the eldest. Robert spluged on Christmas gifts that year and baught a drum set, keyboard and guitars. He had them sing. They were good. We had found our way out.”

“How tragic.” Terese was dabbing tears away. Kevin agreed. Dana thought so too, but wasn’t really moved by the story. It sounded fairy tailish to her.

An hour later, the limo drove up to a huge, rambling mansion. “The Morris Estate,” George announced. “Only, with Charlotte as the heir, it became the Darcy home, bt always will be the Morris Estate.”

The house was breathtaking. An architecht’s nightmare. Dormers and turrents and towers and chimneys abounded the roof, and there were additions galore. Porches stuck out every which way and there were more door than Dana could count. The house was in a state of disrepair, though, it neaded a coat of paint, and a few repairs. In the distance, George pointed out the guest house, a somewhat smaller version of the big house, without all the additions. It was gloomy, and Dana could not see how she could live there.

“Why don’t we drop off your suitcases at the- your house and have a look around.” George suggested.

“No.” Kevin argued. “I promised Robert that we would check in with him here first. Anyway, I want to meet the four young stars. I’m sure Dana will, too.”

“Yes, off course. That’s right. Peter is just your age, I think. He’s the singer.” George opened the car door and helped Dana out. “He’s been waiting to meet you, too. At least, the others have.”

Chapter IV

p> Anthony Darcy heard the car pull up and called his brothers. Paul and Stephan raced to the library window to watch their guests arrive. “Where’s Peter?” Anthony wanted to know.

“I don’t know.” Paul whistled. “Look at her! She’s gorgeous.”

“Paul she’s too old for you!” Stephan cried. “She’s at least Peter’s age.”

“You just want her for yourself!”

“C’mon guys, I bet they want to meet us,” Anthony was always breaking up his brothers. He was the youngest and somewhat quiet.

“You mean you want to see if they brought any dogs!”

“No, I want to see if they’re dog people.” Anthony made his brothers laugh, as he usually did without realizing.

The doorbell rang and the first bars of The Entertainer flooded the hall. The fancy bell had been installed in the forties, and was now considered a pain in the neck. The three brothers ran down the curved stair case and hugged their uncle.

“Where’s Peter?” George wanted to know.

“I’m here, I’m here.” Peter desecded the steps slowly. He had been taking care of his mother and it had depressed him. He gave the Neilsons a nod and stood behind his brothers.

George began introductions. “This is Stephan Edward. He is seventeen.”

“Call me Stephan. I play the piano, or the keyboard in the band.”

“Peter Timothy, 15, he sings and plays lead guitar.” Peter nodded again. George went on. “Paul Andrew”

“Hello and welcom to the middle of nowhere. I’ll be one of your hosts today. I’m 13 and play bass giatar. I’m more of a comedian than a musician.”

“And last but not least, the animal lover, Anthony Patrick.”

“In my veiw, they’re dog people, but they like cats, too. I’m 11 and I play drums.”

“Boys, this is your publicity manager, Kevin Neilson.”

“Pleased to meet you, boys. It’s a pleasure.” Kevin proceeded to shake their hands. “This is my wife, Terese, and my daughter, Dana, who is fourteen.”

“Hello boys,” said Terese. “You four must be very talented. Wisely, the four Darcys remained silent after that remark. “Dana?” Terese meant for Dana to speak.

“I-I didn’t know you were so young,” Dana paused. “I’m really pleased to meet you.” She finished in a hurry.

“We’re please to meet you, too. I hear you’ll be studying with us.” Paul had taken a likeing to Dana.

“Dana looked down, as she didn’t want to show her disapointment. “Yes, I will be taught with you.”

The adults wandered into the parlor to talk some more. Robert Morris, the boys agent and their uncle, would be home shortly to discuss the matter further. They shut the big mahogany doors against the five children.

Dana looked at the boys. Stephan was sort of handsome. He had auburn hair that was kind of longish. He was very thin and looked almost sickly in body. he did have a nice mouth, though. Peter was shy. She could tell that straight off. He had dark hair thatwas a little longer than Stephan’s, but it was just past his ears. He kept looking at the floor, so she couldn’t really tell about his face, but, even when he spoke, which she now knew was rarely, his voice had an amazing quality.

Paul was loud. His dirty blonde hair was messy, his clothes were loud and his features were loud. He was cute in a loud sort of way, but Dana didn’t really like that. He was being the nicest towards her, and she asumed that he had a crush on her, which he did. Anthony was cute. he had dark hair, too. He always said the weirdest things. She thought he was all right.

Suddenly Robert Morris burst through the front door. He immediately scooped Dana into a big hug and introduced himself. She smiled. “You must be Dana! I didn’t know you were a sweetheart! Isn’t she just the cutest thing you ever saw? Where are your parents?” Dana didn’t like his compliments too much, but she knew that Robert Morris was all right. She pointed at the parlor and Robert made another grand entrance. She heard gasps of surprise from her parents. Soon they came out again and Robert took Dana by the hand. “We’re going to introduce you to Charlotte. She’s been waiting for you.”

They climbed the curving staircase slowly, the boys in the lead and Terese and Kevin bringing up the rear. Paul lead them to a large set of double doors. He knocked once and solemnly entered. They all followed him. There, in the middle of the bright, airy room, stood a brass bed with a lace canopy. In the bed was a frail woman. She opened her eyes when they entered. Paul walked over to her and gave her a kiss. “Mother,” he said. “These are the Neilsons.”

The woman coughed. “Excuse me,” she said politely. “I’m Charlotte Darcy. Pleased to meet you. Who is this beautiful young lady?”

Dana was scared of Charlotte. The whole house scared her. “My name is Dana Elizabeth.” Dana could barely speak the words.

“No need to be scared Dana. I’m quite comfortable and I’m not contagious.” Charlotte smiled.

“We’ll leave you alone now Charlotte. The Neilsons just wanted to meet you. We have some business to discuss now.” Robert gently led Dana out of the room and left her with the boys. Kevin came over and whispered to her.

“Be brave, my Dana. The boys are going to show you around the Estate. I’m sure you’ll like it. I’ll see you in a little bit.”

Dana gulped. “I’ll do the best I can.”

Chapter V

Dana followed the four boys through their mansion. They showed her the original house first, then all the additions. There were so many rooms! The upstairs ones were all on different levels, since they had been added on top of different size ceilings. It was very interesting, and Dana said so. It was also gloomy, since there were a lot of corrodors. She was wondering if the house was haunted when Paul said something that really interested her.

“Lets show her the secret passage!”

Dana was intriged, and, since the tour had gotten boring, she perked up her spirits.

Peter groaned. “That’s our special place, though. Even Dad didn’t know about it.” This was true. The passage was sort of “passed down” from one generation of Morrises to the next. It was the family secret, but a fun one. Of the four boys, Peter was the one who was most often in there. He was always in search of a place to have for himself. He did not like the idea of sharing it with a stranger.

Paul grabbed Dana’s hand and led her down a small flight of stairs. The other three followed, shaking their heads. It was obvious Paul liked Dana, especially since he was showing her the passage. Peter sighed as Paul turned the lion figureine at the end of the hall.

The wall began to turn.

In side was a steep staircase made of stone. By the time they were at the bottom they must have been in the basement since there had been so many stairs. Indeed, it was dark and Stephan lighted a few oil lamps. The room was smallish and sparshly furnished. There was a an open trunk filled with books that Paul ran over and closed quickly, locked and covered with a blanket. Stephan was blushing and Dana did not ask questions. There were some chairs and a sofa and a wide door at the end of the room. Peter led them to the door. He opened it with some difficulty and said “We might as well show her the rest.”