After a summer bonfire, newly coupled teens Josh and Sandy found themselves walking hand-in-hand on the moonlight beach in front of the old Jacob mansion on the hill.
“I bet I can hit one of those windows,” Josh picked up a rock and lifted his arm.
“No, please don’t,” Sandy pleaded. “That mansion has a very special history. My mother told me the tragic love story of the woman in the dark tower.”
The ornate Victorian mansion was a perched on a hill above the beach with two distinct turret widow towers which can be seen vividly from the sea. Owned by the wealthy Jacob family shipping magnates, it was easily the largest home in the small New England town. Edmund Jacob had two twin daughters, Susan and Sarah.
Jacob was widowed when the twins were ten years old and dove into building his empire, ignoring the girls, so they became very close and raised each other. Susan was vivacious and outgoing, while Sarah was creative and introverted. They were yin and yang but relished in their differences and loved each other deeply. When they were eighteen, their father decided to choose husbands to ensure their future.
Jacob betrothed Susan to a young congressman. She acted as her father’s host for many parties and dinners for prominent guests and clients and he thought her social skills would prove to be beneficial on the arm of an up-and-coming politician.
He promised Sarah to a young executive, who he was grooming to take over his company someday. As the husband of a Jacob, Edmund thought the young man would be accepted as his successor.
Susan was an obedient popular girl who loved the social scene and dutifully agreed to marry the congressman and move to Washington, DC for an exciting life as a politician’s wife. But Sarah had no interest in marriage or the young overly-ambitious executive who her father considered a surrogate son. Sarah ‘s only interest was painting. Day after day she roamed the quaint seaside town searching for inspiration, plopping her palette and easel at the exact point of muse and painting interesting landscapes from sunup to sundown.
One day as she was painting the intricate ocean waves, she met Daniel, a sea hand who worked for his father’s shipping company. Daniel romanticized the ocean and took great interest in her work. For months, they walked around town as she listened in amazement to the poetic detail as he spoke of the beauty in everything around them. She was smitten by his keen artistic intellect and sweet gentility. He returned her affection and appreciated her mind, heart and great talent. He was very observant and encouraged her creative vision.
The young shipping executive was very different. He thought both she and her art were silly and useless endeavors and made it clear, when they were wed, her job was to have babies and hold dinners for his clients and influential people in town; a life that Sarah considered a hopeless prison.
Susan loved her sister and was sympathetic for her perilous situation and her love for Daniel. She tried to help them meet in secret, by crafting a signal. Susan would turn on the lights in the home’s towers as a warning to the couple. She light both tower lights when their father was home and one tower light if the coast was clear.
But one day, their father came home unexpectedly and caught the lovers. In punishment, Jacob and his aide sent Daniel away on a ship.
Sarah was forced to spend her life in a loveless marriage to the young magnate. In protest she bore him no children and refused any outward pretense of happiness. Instead, she locked herself in her tower studio and sadly lived out her days painting thousands of watercolors of the sea, hoping for Daniel’s return to rescue her miserable existence. She kept one light on in her dark tower studio as a signal to show him the way, but he never came back.
Susan lived a society life and helped her husband climb the political ladder and navigate his way to become a powerful senator, while Sarah wasted away on a forlorn dream until she died at age 100.
Looking at the dark towers in the big abandoned mansion as they left, Josh and Sandy suddenly saw a light brightly illuminated in one tower.
© Copyright 2021, Suzanne Rudd Hamilton