SANDWICH - It was the hussy after all.
We had spent two days speculating about who took out Seamus O'Toole, the central figure in a murder mystery weekend sponsored by Bed and Breakfasts of Historic Cape Cod Bay and written and performed by the Cape Cod Cabaret. At Sunday brunch "Shameless" Shaughnessy, his mistress, confessed - in a limerick, no less.
For us the weekend was a chance to experience the Isaiah Jones Homestead, a bed-and-breakfast we've been meaning to visit for some time, and to check out several other inns in the area that were giving out clues.
Set in a residential neighborhood, a block from Sandwich Village but away from the traffic of Route 6A, the Isaiah Jones Homestead was built in 1849 by Dr. Jonathan Leonard, a local physician. It was purchased in 1861 by Isaiah Jones, a tack and nail maker, who raised his family there. Innkeepers Katherine and Don Sanderson, who lived in Hawaii for more than 15 years, bought the property a year ago and made it their home. They are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the inn's history.
The boxy Victorian exterior opens into a surprisingly expansive interior. Guests pass through a cozy den in sage green with a DVD library and old postcards into a huge parlor warmed by a crackling wood fire. A massive china cabinet holds stemware that guests are welcome to use. Vases of fresh flowers sit on marble-topped tables. Portraits of former homeowners hang on the walls, along with sailor's valentines of shells and a framed letter from Isaiah Jones dated Dec. 5, 1861, asking for the hand of Hannah Weeks in marriage. In the breakfast room some of Jones's original iron nails and fasteners are on display.
In the Lombard Jones Room on the second floor, named after the Joneses' oldest son, the decor is floral but not feminine. A black carpet over wide-board floors is embroidered with roses. The pattern is repeated in the valances on the tall, deep windows hung with white sheers and - that godsend to late sleepers - light-blocking shades. The queen bed was topped with a beige quilt, black comforter, and pillows with an almost geometric design. There was an antique desk and chair, small flat screen TV/DVD player, glass-front freestanding fireplace, and an upholstered settee, which was not particularly comfortable. Fringed lampshades, antique glass doorknobs, and ornate metal grates in walls and floors completed the Victorian look.
The bath down a short hallway in the room gave it the feel of a suite. We especially liked the leaded glass transom windows at each end of the hall. The spacious bath offered a whirlpool tub, waffle robes and slippers, thick towels, and a wide assortment of toiletries, including lip balm and bath gel; all were packaged with the inn's label, though, so we couldn't tell who made them. Everything was spotless.
In late afternoon the smell of baking drew us downstairs to the breakfast room, where Kathy had just set out a loaf of Irish soda bread. The Sandersons provide fresh-baked treats every afternoon, and complimentary coffee, tea, soda, and bottled water are always available. Guests can store their wine or leftovers in the guest refrigerator, where they can also help themselves to ice. Port and sherry in crystal decanters are set out in the parlor.
Breakfast is served from 8:30 to 10, so we didn't feel we had to arrive at a specific time. On Saturday we had juice, apple crisp, a feta cheese omelet garnished with asparagus spears, and sausage Kathy's father had made. Sunday morning's meal was just as abundant, with raisin bran muffins, fresh fruit and yogurt parfait, an Italian strata, and bacon. Don served with humor and charm, managing to remember everyone's name, juice preference, and coffee choice. Tables are set with fresh flowers, lace tablecloths, linen napkins, and elegant accessories: I must admit this was the first time I had seen a crystal knife rest.
By the end of our stay, we were so well fed and mellow we really didn't care who took out Seamus O'Toole. We were just glad we had discovered the Isaiah Jones Homestead.
Ellen Albanese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.