Books and Libraries – Book Scene

The Williams House; Chapter 3: At the Library; Pgs. 69-73

.     The next morning, Lilly’s eyes slowly opened before closing sluggishly again. Margaret’s voice seemed to come to her from far away, calling her name and telling her to wake.
.     “We’re going to the library,” said Margaret as she started to shake Lilly from side to side.
.     “Whatever you say,” said Lilly sleepily as she rolled over in bed. “Just make sure you’re dressed warm enough.”
.     “Lilly, wake up!” Margaret insisted. “I said we’re going to the library. Mummy wants us all to be dressed and down for breakfast in fifteen minutes.”
.     Lilly slowly arose and looked at the sunlight streaming in through their window and alighting on their mantle clock. She looked over at Ann across from her who seemed to be just rising as well. Margaret had already bounded out of the room.
.     “Did she say the library,” Ann asked as she stood up.
.     “I think she did,” said Lilly. “We’d better hurry.”
.     They both started their morning work upstairs. As Lilly crossed the boys’ room door, she could hear William and Johnathon fishing around for their carry items (which they referred to as “pocket stuff”).
.     “You have my knife,” she could hear Will telling Johnathon. “I had left it right here on the stand.”
.     “No, I don’t,” said Johnathon. “See, this is my—” He stopped as he looked at the handle. “That’s funny,” he said, handing it to Will. “I know mine is around here somewhere. Where is it?”
.     Lilly heard no more of the conversation as she ran to get ready. Timothy must have already finished, for he was eating breakfast with the “youngers” (meaning Margaret, Susan, and Maria).
.     Their mother’s voice could be heard from the stairs calling out for the “olders” to hurry. “Come on,” said Will to Johnathon finally as Lilly passed them again. “You can find it later.”
.     They all scrambled downstairs and noticed that the younger children had finished and were playing for a few minutes. “I’m afraid it’s cold muesli and canned fruit, today,” said their mother. “We have a busy morning and afternoon.”
.     Will and Johnathon poured their muesli and milk. (If you haven’t had muesli, you should try it. It’s a mixture of raw oats and other grains, fresh fruits, dried fruits, and can be sweetened by sugar, honey, cream, or anything else that you think might taste well.) Then the olders started eating and generally stared blankly around the room, yawning fiercely every few moments.
.     Soon, the breakfast was cleared away. Their mother came out to tell them all to put on their shoes and get ready to head out. Her fluffy golden hair was tucked in a clasp behind her back, and she had on a peach colored hat with a ribbon around it. Everyone soon found themselves ready to leave the house and was soon making their way to the family bus.
.     The family bus was a huge vehicle, and altogether unnecessary, but the Williams family loved it. It had been christened “The Flying Carpet” a long time ago by Mr. Williams, and resembled one very much with its spacious room to move about “in flight.” For the average viewer, it was a long and wide bus with a seating capacity probably for thirty and several internal and external compartments. The windows were shaded on the outside yet provided an incredible view for its passengers. There was a little space between the cushioned benches and the seat where the driver sat, and there was one front passenger seat next to it. Mrs. Williams would always sit there when Mr. Williams was with them, but when Mr. Williams was absent and Mrs. Williams driving, the olders would sometimes take turns sitting up there, reading a book or just looking out at the great expanse. Yet many times, no one would sit up there, which would allow all the children to play some game in the hull of the bus (which would normally be a game of “telephone” or “I spy”).
.     A wind was starting to pick up, and many clouds were starting to roll in as everyone jumped the few steps into the bus. Sunlight was flashing in and out between the coming dark masses, and the air smelled of coming rain. “It will be storming today,” Will noted.
.     The great bus started up, and with a slow rumble and a puff of diesel exhaust, it left their driveway and pulled out into the country road, riding smoothly despite the patches and small potholes. All the children sat on the right side with two people per bench. Luggage had been placed on the other side to balance the weight (and all the children were quite used to shifting bags and crates around when needed). The seats were soft, and the floor was clean, despite a few crumbs here and there.
.     At first, the children started up a game of telephone (have you played it—it’s where one person whispers something to the next, and they take it down the line of people until the last person announces the message and sees how different it became in the telling), and then later on they spread out a little more to enjoy the view, some moving over to the left side and shifting the luggage. The remainder of the trip went fairly quietly, with some of the older ones attempting to read and some of the youngers playing games amongst themselves. As they pulled into town and turned down the road of the library, the first raindrops of the day were just starting to patter against the roof and windows.
.     “We will need the umbrellas,” Mrs. Williams said.
.     Ann and Will fished around in the luggage until they found a bumper shoot and four larger umbrellas that two people each could easily fit under. As the bus pulled into the library parking lot, they undid the straps and covers that bound the umbrellas closed.
.     “Here we are,” said Mrs. Williams. “Everyone watch your step.”
.     The older children exited first with the umbrellas and helped the younger ones down. Rain was pattering down around them, and in the distance could be heard crowds of people talking and vehicles running. When they all entered the library doors, most of the sounds disappeared or muffled, yet rain continued to dash against the automatic sliding doors once they closed and could be heard as they went further in.
.     A large reception hall was the first thing visible, with a checkout line to the left. To the right, a large flight of stairs led up to the children’s section. Farther on past the checkouts was a small coffee shop, and beyond that were several more rooms of books and records, help desks and study areas. The children led the way up to the second floor, which they knew by heart.

Audio Continuation of Story (Skipping ahead); Pgs. 77-80

You may purchase this book here at Xulon or here at Amazon

Subscribe to my email list and receive my free eBook, titled Rhymes for a Child’s Picnic Lunch, plus email updates, writing news, and more!

Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!


Leaves, Leaves, and More Leaves – Book Scene

The Williams House; Chapter 4: The Bentley Family; Pgs. 99-104

.     The rain continued to fall. October was soon over and November begun, and still more days passed, the rain becoming more sporadic but still falling every few days. The air grew colder still, though not cold enough to snow. Thanksgiving was a little under three weeks away, and most of the trees were now bare, with leaves, leaves, and more leaves piled along the ground.
.     There were so many leaves that the Williamses knew they must rake them all away, lest all the grass die underneath. It was on a Saturday morning, feeling briskly in the air, when some of the olders had gotten up before the youngers and were currently eating a quiet breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup. Morning sunlight was streaming through the large window by the small breakfast table they were currently using.
.     “Mum’s gone to the store,” said Lilly to Johnathon who had just gotten up and reached the table. He had a pile of pancakes on his plate, and the syrup was running all over it.
.     “I suppose Father won’t be up for a while,” he said as he sat down. “He had a late work night last night.” “
.     We’ve been ordered to clear the leaves,” said Will.
.     “All of them?!?” exclaimed Johnathon.
.     “Yes,” said Will, “but we will be gaining some help soon. The Bentley’s will be coming over in about an hour to help, and then afterwards we’ll be going over to their place to help with their yard.”
.     “That shouldn’t take long,” said Johnathon.
.     “Yes,” said Ann as she sighed, “but this will take a while.” She pointed outside.
.     “Well, we’ll just have to make the best of it,” said Will. “We can plow into it long before the Bentleys arrive. It shouldn’t take more than half the afternoon. Then we can go over there.”
.     Johnathon cut up his pancakes and started eating. “Will Father be helping?”
.     “No,” said Will. “He had more work to do. He’ll be helping with the Bentley’s place though. I think they’ve invited us over to dinner.”
.     Will got up and took his plate to the sink. “It’s a true clear day, at last,” he noted. “And with no rain yesterday, the leaves should be dry enough.”
.     Johnathon continued eating. The pancakes were hot and warming down to the toes, and the syrup was extra sweet. There were sausages on the side, still steaming from the dish. Nearly everyone else was done in five more minutes, and Johnathon had to hurry. He was still done before Timothy or any of the youngers were up, and quickly he slunk into his room and changed his clothes, putting on a plaid checkered pattern shirt for the workday.
.     When he reached the outdoors, Will and Ann were raking away. Lilly was helping the youngers, who had just gotten up, with breakfast. Johnathon joined. Then soon Lilly joined. And before long the rest were out.
.     Back and forth and back and forth the Williams children raked, never seeming to stop or rest. The Bentleys soon arrived, and the children were dropped off to help. And again back and forth they now all raked, the sound of thousands upon thousands of leaves being crunched together. More and more leaves were piled together, and some were blowing in the wind.
.     Downhill they raked, and over several grasslands, scraping and shoving the leaves, now sweat drizzling down their cheeks. Piles and heaps of leaves seemed to be everywhere, with trails of leaves in between. Maria and Susan and Daisy and Gloria were all jumping up and down in several of the piles (Margaret was wanting to but was helping Will at the moment carry a pile on a tarp to their dump).
.     It approached noon, and the Bentley children were invited in to eat lunch, which consisted of what the Williamses called a ploughman’s lunch of cheese and apples and buns and milk. No one said a whole lot. They were all too tired and hungry to speak, and their thoughts generally remained on the remaining leaves that needed to be picked up.
.     “We plan to burn the leaves,” said Will, “outside of a couple piles we will leave behind to play in or use for other purposes. Father will have to help us with that, but there are still plenty of leaves to pick up. We’ll have to work hard.” He finished his milk and stood up. Everyone else followed, though Maria and Susan were allowed a longer rest.
.     “Put these on,” said Johnathon to Derek, handing him some gloves. “We’ll be going through a briar patch shortly.”
.     Then everyone went back out to face the leaf wars again. It at least was a calm day in the sky, with hardly a cloud or a breeze. The sun warmed the air into the mid-fifties, and some rolled up their sleeves. Timothy’s suspenders were caught once or twice on stray limbs and branches, but he managed to pull them back out before they unbuckled or snapped.
.     “Come along, everyone,” Will called. “It’s nearing two o’clock, and we want to be starting the burning at about 2:30.”
.     A few of the younger children sighed, and some of the olders took a deep breath. Sarah and Kurk plunged forward and ahead to finish up the piles they were currently working on. Others saw their enthusiasm and likewise plunged ahead, working hard to finish their leaf piles and plunge into the last area that needed to be raked. Most were wishing they had eaten one more slice of bread and cheese for lunch, and Lilly seemed to have read their thoughts, for she gave each of them a bun from a bag she was carrying, saying “this should help with the last leg.”
.     Everyone perked up slightly, and before the time to 2:30 was completely up, Will and Timothy were shoving the last of the leaves to burn on the huge gigantic pile.
.     “I say,” said Timothy as he set down his rake. “That is big.”
.     Will lowered his rake, which had been propped on his shoulder, and let out a relieved sigh. “I should think so, Tim.” He stared at the pile for a moment, and the others all gathered around. Maria, who had been resting the last half-hour, came running up and started to climb the monstrous mound.
.     “Careful up there,” warned Ann as she started to climb up after her, and soon Margaret and then several of the Bentleys followed.
.     Before long, everyone had climbed the mound and was sitting down around its peak, looking out as though lords and ladies of a great castle. No one said much, but they were all proud of their achievement.
.     “We should notify Father,” Will said at last. And then he shouted, “hurray!” as he bounded down the leaf mountain. Everyone followed him and was soon gazing at the pile while Will went to the house for their father.
.     When Mr. Williams looked at the pile, all he could say was “well done,” and that they all deserved an ice cream Sunday. Everyone cheered, yet he said they would have to wait till he had burned the leaves. Then he took some time preparing the fire and then set the whole thing ablaze. Orange and yellow light shot up in the air, and smoke billowed out. High reaching the flames rose, as though to reach the sky, yet there was nothing else close to the flames except the leaves, and they were soon dwindling.

Audio Continuation of Story; Pgs. 104-107

You may purchase this book here at Xulon or here at Amazon ~ from Author Joshua Reynolds

Music in the Attic – Book Scene

The Williams House; Chapter 6: Winter Wonder; Pgs. 138-142

.     It was near a full moon, and its rays beamed down through the attic windows and alighted on the carpet. Clouds were blowing in the sky, and the moonlight was shaded every few minutes by a cloudy finger that would cover its light, darkening the outside world nearly completely. The old murky lamps were on in the attic, showing some form of life in the top of the house.
.     William had just sat down with Kurk right beside him. All the girls were talking in a group, and the other boys were scattered throughout, some standing and some sitting. It was then that the children remembered the symphony that they had listened to the previous night, and the themes entered their hearts once more and played in their minds.
.     “I say,” began Timothy, “Christmas is just a few weeks away, now.” His head was under a wooden chair as he lay near a sofa with his arms fiddling with some crack in the chair’s underside.
.     “I’ve had Christmas music in my head for the past week,” said Kurk. “It is good to be back in the season.”
.     “Back in the season!” repeated Will. “I’ve just had a brilliant idea. Why not make a symphony? There should be enough of us to play various parts, and we have plenty of instruments here.”
.     On that snowy December evening, with everyone well-exercised and very much in the spirit of winter, a symphony bounced off all of their hearts and sounded a grand idea. The air was only softly blowing; not a sound could be heard outside. With the quietness and deadness of the winter atmosphere, the children needed to awaken their hearts with a cheery harmony within the walls of their abode. Heat was radiating from the stone chimney and warming their fingers for the work.
.     “I’ll play one of the cellos,” said Will as he walked over to the instrument corner. “A couple people can take the pianos, and we have several violins and violas as well.”
.     Soon, music started to lift itself up within the wall of that attic where the Williams children created so much. The violins and cellos blended perfectly, and the piano’s notes were kept simple but rapid, furthering the melody and aiding the rhythm.
.     “What about the lights?” said Johnathon.
.     “We need to be able to see the music,” said Derek, who could sight read easily, but had nothing memorized.
.     “Enough candles should do the trick,” said Will.
.     They brought out several candles and lit them close to the piano, the light dancing around the room and making the instrument strings gleam. The first tune was Good King Wenceslas. Some of the girls sang, and even some of the children danced.
.     “We should write a medley,” said Sarah.
.     This began a lot more conversation, and several suggestions were made. Will started writing them all down, pulling up a candle to his pen and paper. He started listing tunes they would play. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Joy to the World, Angels We Have Heard On High, Good Christian Men Rejoice, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Away in a Manger, Silent Night . . .” And so he continued.
.     “What order shall we play them in,” asked Johnathon.
.     This took some discussion, and more tunes were thrown in the mix as they talked. Many were practicing several of the tunes by themselves, and they all came together for the first tune haphazardly without anyone announcing the start. Then more joined in, playing magnificently, until the music rang through the walls and out into the fresh night air. It sounded down the stairs to the parents, who were forced to stop their conversation briefly to listen. It sounded down the hill and pricked up the ears of more than one stray cat or leashed dog in the surrounding countryside. And it sounded very, very faintly within the walls of a couple other houses some distance away where a few children could hear a faint noise echoing towards them, almost that of a faint memory of a Christmas tune they had just heard over the past week.
.     Johnathon and Derek took the piano, and their duets were flourished with finesse as Derek took the higher range keys and Johnathon the lower. Timothy played on a low Irish flute, and he was quite good at it as he gave traditional Irish roll-cuts and flourishes within the melody.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come:
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,

2017-10-20 08_57_49-Start

God Rest ye merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray;

.     The moonlight gave a sudden burst of rays out from the blowing clouds. It cut through window and glass to dance with the children in their delight. Johnathon and Derek suddenly started blasting at the piano keys, their syncopation timed exactly around the melodious song. Will’s cello pulsed out with vibrant bursts, humming a harmony that joined with Ann’s cello melody.
.     Then there was silence. Everyone looked expectantly at each other. Softly, barely audible, Will started playing a few linked notes. The notes then became more distinguishable. They were the cords of Carol of the Bells.

Audio Continuation of Story; Pgs. 142-143

You may purchase this book here at Xulon or here at Amazon ~ from Author Joshua Reynolds

Winter Wonder – Book Scene

The Williams House; Chapter 6: Winter Wonder; Pgs. 134-137

.     The day was to be a break from school. Many families were to come over for a declared “snow day” to whet the appetite for the coming Christmas vacation in a few weeks. It was also a badly needed break from exercising the mind so much and using the cramped muscles that had been kept indoors so often over the last several weeks. The Williams children had to hustle through their morning chores before heading outdoors. Lilly and Ann helped dress the youngers, and their mother made sure they were all suited warm enough before they all headed outside.
.     “Now,” said Will, “everyone line up, and follow me around to the back of the yard.” He paused as he took on quite a different air. Then he began narrating. “The general is leading his unruly subordinates out to the battlefield.”
.     “Unruly subordinates?!” repeated Johnathon and Timothy in distain, but there was a gleam in their eyes.
.     Will pretended to take no notice of them. “He marches bravely forward,” he continued, “and the lazy soldiers behind him could hardly keep up.”
.     “Lazy?!” exclaimed Johnathon and Timothy, and at the same time, Lilly and Ann shouted “Soldiers?!”
.     “We’re the queens of this castle,” said Lilly.
.     “And anyway,” said Johnathon, “subordinates or no, the soldiers do not take kindly to the label of laziness.” He picked up a snowball and casually tossed it into the back of Will’s head before anyone could say “knife!”
.     Will laughed. “It’s just for fun,” he said, “and you both can be the generals tomorrow and call me whatever you like. So remember to play along for today. All right girls, you can be the ‘Molly Pitchers’ if you will. Come along, everyone!” And he flung himself forward.
.     Everyone started pushing a lot of snow with their hands and arms, making a sort of wall. “It’s hard, Will,” said Maria as she collapsed after about five minutes of hard pushing.
.     “You can rest,” said Will. “The Bentleys will probably be here in another ten minutes. Let’s try to build another barricade for the snow wars we will be having shortly.”
.     “Come along, Susan,” said Ann. “Don’t drag so— isn’t this fun? It’s the first big time we’ve had out in the snow this season, with the exception of the cousins. But that was only a few inches.”
.     Will led the group around to a slight slope. Sunlight was beaming down on all eight of them as they pushed several loads of snow with their coat-covered forms. Soon, several of them were taking off some of their snow gear, and just about that time, other voices were heard yelling at them, and they could see that the Bentleys had arrived.
.     The day went splendidly. There is nothing like several rounds of snow fights in the morning to stir ones blood and bring health and liveliness to one’s face. Several families soon arrived after the Bentleys, and the children greeted them all in turn with a snowball barrage. Boys were laughing heartily and girls were cheering merrily, the sound of dozens of voices in perfect harmony rising around the little hillside.
.     At about 11:00, some of the girls went in to rest, with some of the younger boys. (Timothy stayed out.) Hot cocoa was served to those who entered, and those who stayed outside called themselves the “hardy stock,” refusing to acquire their warm drinks until lunch time. It had been ages since the Williamses had used their muscles so hard, and it was badly needed, for Johnathon could not remember using his energy so much since they had cleared the leaves away, which had been close to a month ago.
.     When lunch was served, everyone else traipsed indoors, and the Williams’s house became filled with snow suits, waterproof coveralls, hats, mittens, and gloves, ski masks, large boots still dripping with slush, and many, many hot faces that were red from the hard play outdoors. The meal, in keeping with the winter season, was the best chili that you could possibly imagine, with steaming hot meat pies, and warm chocolate fudge and sugar bread cookies for dessert. The “hardy stock” now enjoyed their hot mugs of cocoa, and the conversation buzzed for an hour or so as everyone filled themselves after their morning excursions.

Audio Continuation of Story; Pgs. 137-138

Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!

A Summer Afternoon – Added Scene

.     “Do you remember that time when we dug for treasure with the Bentleys?” Ann asked as she sat on a wicker chair that had been moved out of doors.
.     “Oh, quite well!” said Lilly. “That was the day we found out they were moving.” She stopped her work for a moment (which was darning a dress that had been torn the day before, but that is another story) and looked up at the sky. “It was, in fact, a very similar day to how it is now.”
.     “I know,” said Ann. “That’s what made me think of it.”
.     A soft summer breeze was blowing in the air, and many of their flowers were in full bloom, and the apple trees were growing. They could see the trees in the distance, though they were among the gardens. The sunlight had just been covered by a thick white cloud, though it would soon shine down among them again.
.     “I was just thinking,” said Ann after a while, “Will said that the treasure pieces he found after that seemed to belong to a collection, and though he could not find any more, he didn’t dig much deeper.”
.     “True,” said Lilly, “but the place he was digging has been all covered up again now, and anyway, we have a whole chest full in the chamber beneath the cellar.”
.     “Not full,” said Lilly, “for we still haven’t replaced the amount we used for our trip to England. And the whole could be re-uncovered.”
.     “I suppose we must have a look at it then,” said Lilly, “though we can only try if the boys will help.” Ann saw the smile behind her eyes because she had been darning for nearly two hours and her eyes and fingers needed a rest from the work.
.     “Hurray!” said Ann, “just as if the Bentleys were still here and we were treasure seeking.”
.     “What’s the excitement?” said Johnathon from around the corner.
.     “Can you get the spades, brother dear?” asked Lilly. “We’re all going treasure hunting, and we need your help.”

If you want to know more about this story and read The Williams House, please purchase it here or look it up in my bookstore.

A Stormy Night in April . . . Book Scene

The Williams House; Chapter 10: The Williams House; Pgs. 171-179

.     It was raining hard over the Williamses’ house. But it was a warm rain, showering the plants and vegetation with life and health. Thick clouds had darkened the sky, and all the birds had tucked themselves deep within their nests. The sun would be still shining at this time, but the thick clouds had blocked it and darkened the sky prematurely. The Williams children were alone in their house, their mother and father gone somewhere for the evening. They would not be back until late that night.
.     “It would be raining, wouldn’t it?” said Timothy as he stared out a large set of windows on the ground floor.
.     “Yes, but I love April rains,” said Ann as she sat in a corner, watching the rain come down on one of their freshly planted gardens.
.     “Tis been nearly a month since we’ve gone to the park,” said Timothy. “And it was mostly covered with snow then.”
.     “Over a month,” said Johnathon. “But we’ve played out here a lot, and there are always things to do indoors on exciting evenings like this!”
.     “Like what?” said Timothy. He already knew several of the answers, but his mind was slightly gloomy after the long day at school.
.     “We could go up to the attic by candlelight,” said Johnathon. “Or we could have swordfights and pretend this entire house is one grand ship, armed and loaded with cannon and guns! Or we could all play a grand game of hide-and-seek. I say, we can just about do anything, and we could use the entire house now that there isn’t Mother or Father who needs quiet.”
.     “Johnathon’s right,” said Will. “We all know it’s easier to play when there are no grown-ups watching. For some reason, the games always seem sillier when they are.”
.     “I don’t ever think they’re silly,” said Timothy.
.     “You will when you get older,” said Will.
.     “I am older,” said Timothy obstinately.
.     “Come,” said Lilly. “Johnathon is right, anyway. We can do all sorts of things. Just listen to the spring thunder. That should put us all in an adventurous mode.”
.     The thunder was rumbling every few moments, a soft quiet rumble. Trees were swaying gently in the wind, their boughs rustling and sounding of creaking wood. Rain was pounding the soft earth and moss, and the outdoors smelled very earthy, with many growing things adding to its richness. After a few moments of the children all observing this, they were put in quite a new mood. They wanted to do something, rather than just stay and let everything live and move around them.
.     “I say,” said Will, “let’s all explore this house from top to bottom! It should look different in the storm lightning, and we could pretend it is a very queer and mysterious house that we have never seen before—like in all the stories. Come on, everyone. Let’s start with the attic. We can get some candles there, and Johnathon, you can get your maps of this place to see if we have left anything out.”
.     Lightning was flashing eerily from the windows as the children ascended the stairs to the second floor. They kept all the lights off as they continued to journey down the hall, everyone with their hands linked up much like when they were exploring the library basement. Trees could be heard creaking outdoors, swaying in a living and breathing tempest. The land was alive around them and made the house settle and nearly turn into a living thing itself.
.     Then the children approached the back hall on the second floor where the attic stairs twisted up and away from them. The steps were noisy, as usual, but as they ascended, they could hear the wind more, as though they were in a small tunnel with it all around them (which was nearly the truth). In the attic, Lilly pulled out four candles, one for each of the four olders, with brass holders as well.
.     “Take these,” she whispered. “And Johnathon, what about the maps?”
.     “Yes,” said Will, “we may pretend that it is the chart given to us by some former owner who knows all of the house secrets.”
.     Johnathon quietly removed the blueprints they had written from his safe, being careful to take them all. He handed some of the papers to Timothy so they all could look at them. Then the great expedition began.
.     “We needn’t explore the attic much,” said Will. “There are no doors to open or passages to walk through. Let’s go down the other set of attic stairs though, leading to the other end of the house to explore first.”
.     Everyone followed Will’s lead. Halfway down this spiral set of attic stairs was a short inlet cut into the wood, as though a short window was there but was made of wood paneling instead of glass. The children had seen this many a time, but they stared at everything as though it was brand new and something they had never before seen in all their lives. In this little inlet were a few brass goblets, rather plain looking but kept clean and shiny. A painting also hung on the wood of a Cavalier in strange looking attire. His eyes glowed out ghostly in the candlelight.
.     Will’s feet reached the thick carpet again on the second floor, and they started slinking down the back hall. Several artifacts were there, some on bookshelves and some on stands—cases of shining metal things, old bookends made of marble, chess sets made of wood or pewter, crystal trinkets that flashed in the lightening, etc. Several old and dusty books lay on several of the shelves.
.     “Come on,” said Will. “Let’s look in every room and open every drawer and cupboard.”
.     They could all hear the rain pattering on the windows as they looked into all the rooms, starting with the one nearest them. It was filled mostly with books, with a couple cabinets near a corner. Johnathon and Margaret opened these up and felt around their bare wooden walls. Only a reel of tape and a bit of ribbon lay in a corner of one of them. Nothing else was in the room except the windows, with thick curtains at either side. Susan and Maria together worked at closing and reopening the curtains (something that is always a marvel if you do not do it often).
.     Several rooms were similar, with all sorts of items that would seem quite random if they were listed but were actually quite organized to those who knew the place. In the second to last room were three greatly sized beds, and it was one of the guestrooms of the house. And the last room had one large chest of drawers filled with things Mr. Williams had collected slowly over the years. The children were always fascinated by the last room because of the many mirrors that hung along the walls. There were mirrors with brass frames and silver frames, mirrors with wooden designs around them and plain long mirrors that one could see their whole self in, and much of the room besides. However, everything looked spooky in the candlelight with lightning flashing every once in a while, and so the children moved on.
.     “Let’s look through the great rooms now,” said Will. “There must be fifty cabinets to open there, especially close to the guest dining room.”
.     “Fifty-four, to be exact,” said Johnathon as he looked over the map he was holding. “Well, fifty-four doors that is,” he continued, “though some of them lead to the same cupboard.”
.     They all rounded a corner and came to Lilly and Ann’s room, only briefly going in before coming back out. Then they went down a short hall with several paintings hung on either side. This hall led into the great rooms, sprawling out with wide expanses of carpet. Several crystal bowls and cups and other sparkling things gleamed the wavering yellow light of the candles back in a thousand beams of light. Several of them started opening the cupboards while others just stared out the windows or at the several gleaming things in the room. Will looked at all the contents in the cupboards, viewing the dishes and utensils and also several things one would not expect to see near a dining room, like craft materials or light bulbs.
.     When all the great rooms were gone through, the children went through the more seen guest rooms, as well as the boys’ room and the younger girls’ room. Then they headed down the flight of stairs to the first floor. And the first floor was much more like an ordinary house, only much bigger, with the kitchen and pantries, great rooms (where the main dining room was), back halls with coat racks, their mother and father’s bedroom, the schoolroom, and other smaller rooms off to the side. The children had gone through it all and were congregating in one of the back halls, where many coats were hung.
.     “That covers the main two floors,” said Johnathon as he looked over the maps. “This short flight of stairs leads up to the utility outside door, and of course, this door leads to the many stairs of the basement—cellar, I mean.”
.     Everyone looked at the short flight of stairs with cheap and rough red carpeting that led to the outside (you will remember that the house stood on a slope and the doors at the front of the house were higher in elevation than the door leading to the back). Then everyone looked at the door that would lead them to the cellar. No one needed to suggest opening the door. It had been so long since any one of them had ventured down there that they were all eager to see it again, though they were only allowed to reach the short landing at the bottom. They all slunk down the stairs with the older ones tightly holding their candles in their hands. The wall to their right opened up, and a dim dark light came to them from the one high window to the basement. They could not see very far in its light, but they could hear all sorts of noises, like that of water rushing through pipes or air blowing through vents. At the landing, the left wall opened up (with a door that was open) into a large utility room where Mrs. Williams did all the laundry. It was completely dark in there, though their mother must have started a batch in the washer or dryer just before leaving, for they could hear machinery running.
.     “Let’s sit down and recap,” said Will as he plopped down on a stair. “Thus ends the expedition. Johnathon, can I have the map?”
.     Lilly and Ann sat down on stairs too, and Susan and Maria plopped down on the landing with their backs against the opposite wall, facing the stairs.
.     Now, I must tell you plainly that not even the Williamses knew of all the secrets to that large country house. For around three and a half years they had occupied it, and the children had thought that they had mapped out every inch of it. Yet they hadn’t, and they would discover this to be true this very night as they all sat on the basement stairs and landing.
.     Maria was playing with the carpet where she sat, and she found a corner of it pulled up and away. Lilly started to tell her not to mess with the carpet, but then she saw a small something underneath. “Let me look at that, dear,” said Lilly as she walked over.
.     The small wooden thing turned out to be a wooden latch that had been hidden underneath the carpet. Everyone started speaking all at once, and they huddled around the carpet with their candles in their hands. Just then, one of the clothes machines went off with a loud buzz and nearly made some of them drop their candles.
.     “I say,” said Will, “that was a fright. But where does this lead to?” His voice quivered with excitement and his hands visibly shook.
.     “Be quick about it, Will,” said Johnathon, “or let me have a look.” His voice shook too, and the others were all glad to remain silent to hide their eager surprise.
.     Then the latch seemed to come undone all in one moment, and with a snap and a creak and a cringing screech, a rectangular portion of the cement wall facing opposite them seemed to vanish, rolling away to the side. The children were staring into a doorway of blackness, and all their mouths were gaping open.

Story Audio Continuation: Pgs. 179-180

Purchase this book here:

Learn more about this book here:

A Friendly Visit – Book Scene

The Williams House; Chapter 4: The Bentley Family; Pgs. 91-97

.     “Come in, come in!” Mr. Williams was saying, piling most of the raingear on Timothy to take back to their already crammed coatroom.
.     Johnathon and Will soon descended the stairs to the main landing also, coming from the attic and smelling of old books. Everyone was talking at once, and it was difficult to distinguish conversation. Maria could hear Will greeting Mr. and Mrs. Bentley before talking with Kurk and Derek. Several of the olders were soon in a conversation that the youngers could not understand (though they kept hearing the name “Washington Irving”), and many of the youngers soon went up the stairs to the second floor to play. Supper would not be ready for another half hour.
.     Timothy carried all the wet things down into the back hall where he flopped them on a clean part of the tiling to dry. A small puddle had already formed around the pile, and Timothy had to go to a back closet where several towels were folded. He took some of these back and placed the towels around the coats to let them sop up the flowing water.
.     When he got back, the olders were all talking around the fireplace, with the fire a roaring blaze. The last parts of the supper were cooking, and the place was a mixture of wonderful smells and cheery lights, and pleasant conversation, driving out the sound of rain and wind.
.     When supper finally was ready, everyone sat down to a great feast. It was more of an English/Irish tradition, and there were meat pies and soda bread, green beans and baked potatoes, pastries, and iced sherbet and chocolate truffles for dessert, with iced and sweetened tea. Everyone had as much as they could eat, and there was still plenty left over.
.     Then the children asked to be excused and they all traipsed upstairs to the second floor. Kurk was telling a story he had not finished from the meal yet about a trip they had just taken to Maine, and some were listening with eager eyes and attentive ears.
.     “Fort Western? You visited Old Fort Western?!” Will asked in delighted surprise. “I’ve just made a study of it in history.”
.     “Yes,” said Kurk. “Built in 1754, or was it 53, I forget now.”
.     “No, you were right,” said Will. “1754, the oldest wooden fort that is still in existence in this nation.”
.     “Rather small,” said Kurk as he reached the upstairs landing, “but it was a good history lesson.”
.     “And did you see the coast?” asked Johnathon.
.     “Ah, yes,” replied Kurk. “The great Atlantic! It was too cold for us to swim, but we waded a little.”
.     “We haven’t seen it since our arrival here in America,” said William. “Susan and Maria do not even remember it.”
.     “I remember it,” said Timothy. “Very big and blue.”
.     “Of course you do,” said Will. “It was only three years ago.”
.     “Anyway,” Kurk continued the narration, “on a clear day, we took a boat ride out of a harbor for a day trip along parts of the coast.” By this time many had ventured to the creaky attic stairs, spiraling up to their right and disappearing into the dark.
.     “Shall we venture,” spoke Will as he started to ascend the steps.
.     Many of the olders followed and so moved up the creaking boards of the attic stairs and reached the top. Everything was pitch-black except for a very dim and faint glow coming from the windows. The rain could be heard much better, hitting the roof and sides, and when lightening flashed, it lit up the attic from end to end with a great silvery blaze.
.     “Here,” said Will in a hushed voice, almost in a whisper. “Sometimes we come up here and light a few candles to see by, looking over old books and papers.”
.     “Shall we,” asked Kurk.
.     The storm was raging and gave a haunting air to the large attic, the windows from the three walls testifying to the tempest. Will walked over to a corner in the dark, his feet shuffling and creaking on the floor. In a few moments, he had lit a few candles and placed them in small shiny candlestick holders.
.     “Do you still have the fire extinguishers up here,” asked Kurk.
.     “Oh, yes,” said Johnathon. “We have them up here, and only the older ones are allowed to hold a candle.”
.     “Where are the youngers,” asked Derek.
.     “I believe they’re somewhere on the second floor,” said Lilly. “Let’s not disturb them.”
.     “Shall you unlock your safe, Johnathon,” asked Will.
.     “Yes, let’s,” said Johnathon, as he walked over and shuffled through a few things before pulling out a set of keys and unlocking his small safe box. “Do you want to look at our maps?”
.     “Over the past couple months,” explained Will to the Bentleys, “we’ve been making several maps and blueprints to this entire house. We’ve measured nearly every floor now and have outlined the details to nearly every closet door, window, and cupboard. It’s sort of an extra-school project that we’ve decided to do on our own.”
.     “Fascinating,” said Kurk as he and the other Bentley children crowded around several papers that Johnathon had pulled from the safe and spread out on a couple bins. “That should be quite a task with this place, I should think,” continued Kurk. “Have you discovered any secrets?”
.     “You mean any hidden passages or secret rooms or doors,” asked Lilly. “No, not one.”
.     “We thought maybe we would find some passage by finding a room measured too short,” said Will, “you know, like what is in all the stories. But not a single thing have we found. All the rooms are the right size and none of the bookshelves have hidden doors behind them.”
.     “That is a shame,” said Kurk, “this being such a grand place and all. It’s a beautify piece of work in any case.” He passed round the papers to the others.
.     “Have you tried that wall?” asked Derek.
.     “What wall,” said Will.
.     “That one,” said Derek as he pointed, “the one without the window in it.”
.     “It didn’t appear to be too large,” said Johnathon, “and there’s no latch or anything in it either.”
.     “Are you sure,” said Kurk.
.     “Quite,” said Will. “We’ve been over every inch of it.”
.     “Shall we all play a game, then,” said Ann. “How I . . .” she was going to say how she didn’t like dark rooms, but caught herself in time. “I mean, we might as well bring the others up and include them.”
.     Will and Lilly blew out the candles and turned on the lights, and immediately the austere power of the storm seemed to diminish, becoming a thing outside the windows and above the roof rather than in the midst of the room. Yet they could still hear it tolling from over roof and around the walls. The stone of the chimney was radiating warmth into the room.
.     “What will we play?” asked Rachel (you will remember she was the Bentley girl between Kurk and Derek).
.     “We could play Capture the Fort,” suggested Timothy. “It’s always better with more people.”
.     “Yes,” said Johnathon, “But the game is better outdoors if you have as many people as we do.”
.     Many people had sat down now, and some of the girls were playing a board game on the floor.
.     “It is nearly good enough for a large game of tag,” said Will.
.     “In the dark,” added Johnathon. “Let’s play tag in the dark.”
.     Kurk was “it” first, and he had a hard time adjusting to the surroundings and finding where everything was. Margaret was in the bed sheets, struggling to hide while Kurk approached. His footstep creaked ever so slightly, and Margaret made a dash for the other side. Just then, a stroke of lightning split a tree less than a quarter mile away, and Kurk could see Margaret scampering, like a rat being chased by a cat. He ran after her, but tripped over someone else’s foot and toppled to the ground. When he got up, he could not see or feel anyone close by, but could hear laughter down towards the far end of the room.
.     “Well that’s that,” Kurk thought, “Time to change tactics.”
.     He slipped forward quieter, his feet making not a sound, and crept along several objects to hide when a flash of lightning would ignite. Then when he neared the far end, he took a toy block and threw it down towards the other end where he formerly was. It could be heard, clattering to the floor, and he hoped it would give the others a false position of where he currently was. Voices were whispering close by.
.     Then another burst of lightning lit up the night sky and gleamed into the windows, and Kurk could easily make out the form of Johnathon leaning against the side of a sofa. Kurk sprang from his position, and several shrieks rang out in the dark as everyone tried to scatter.
.     Most everyone did; Johnathon was not so lucky. He was caught mid-stride, Kurk’s downward blow with his hand finding its mark against Johnathon’s shoulder.
.     “Ah!” said Johnathon in defeat, “good job.”
.     Johnathon was immediately deemed “it,” and the game began again. How many rounds of tag or how long the game continued I do not know, but when it was over, everyone was panting hard. Someone turned on the lights, and everyone sat down on the carpet or the sofas or chairs (and someone on one of the toy bins).

Continuation of Story ~ Pages 97-99:

Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!

An Evening Watching the Rain – Bonus Scene!

The Williams House; Chapter 4: The Bentley Family; Pgs. 89-91

.     On this evening, wind was whistling through the trees. Thick and dark clouds were massing, and rain was already pelting the earth. Thunder was echoing in the distance and sounding slowly louder with every boom; lightning split the stormy sky. The Williamses’ house was caught in a tempest, water flooding off the sides of the roof and splashes drizzling on the windows. Smoke was trailing up from the chimney, but quickly fading in the falling rain. Dogs could be heard howling in the far distance. The evening was dark, and as good as nighttime.
.     Margaret sat by a large bay window on the second floor, watching the rain flood the ground and run down the slope where the house sat. It would all trickle and race into their gully down at the bottom, where a small pond would form. Currently, it was dashing against the stone walls of the house in the wind and spraying into the very glass where Margaret sat and watched.
.     “I wonder if it could ever come through,” she thought, as she looked at the droplets running down the windowpane, snaking their way to the bottom and disappearing below.
.     The room around her lit up with lightning, and, for a moment, she could see many of the objects in the great room etched out—countertops, chairs, wide expanses of carpet—before everything darkened again. Her face reflected the ghostly, pale blue light of the flash for a hundredth of a second, before it disappeared again with everything else into the dark. Her eyes continued to look out at the falling rain, trying to stare past it towards their driveway where she expected to see a flash of a vehicle soon to appear.
.     Some of the children were in the attic, and some were in their bedrooms. Still others were on the ground floor, waiting for the company to soon arrive. They had just spoken with the Bentleys four days ago, on Sunday at church, and were currently awaiting their arrival to come and visit. The children on the ground floor could smell the cooking in progress for the coming feast, and they wandered over several rooms as they waited. The schoolroom was dark and would not be needed for this evening. All the bins with schoolbooks had been closed earlier in the day, and papers graded and handed back early.
.     Timothy was wandering through a small back hallway that led to one of their pantries, looking at a long wall coatrack with several coats hanging on every peg. He took one of the coats and put it on, slipping his feet into one of the many pairs of boots tucked away on the floor. Then he began walking up and down the tiled flooring, hearing the thunder and seeing lightning flashes from a window at the far end of the hall.
.     Just at that moment, Margaret saw headlights flash against their house and heard distant voices calling out that the Bentleys had just pulled in. She looked for one more moment at the falling rain dashing against the window before quickly running out and down the halls that led to their main staircase. Susan and Maria met her down one of the passages, and the three of them continued to the top of the landing. The Bentleys had just come in the front door, and Lilly, Ann, and Timothy were welcoming them in and helping them off with their raingear. The youngers descended most of the stairs towards the landing at the front door, but it was too crowded at the moment to actually reach the landing.

. . .

Added scene

.     “Do you remember that evening?” asked Will as he sat back on the long, cushioned couch. “I thought they would never arrive.”
.     The attic lights were dimmed, and two lit candles stood atop the piano. The hat stand could be seen in the flickering light; Will’s top hat hung from it. Moonlight streamed in through the windows and revealed a clear summer night. Ann sat by the window.
.     “Yes,” said Timothy, “but I’ve wanted to ask you a question ever since. Who is Washington Irving?” [You must read more from the above chapter to understand this question.]
.     “Who?” asked Will aghast. “Why, have you never read his writings? I suppose Mother hasn’t come to them yet. She will shortly. Then you’ll know.”
.     “‘Tis been a while since we’ve seen the Bentleys,” said Lilly. She sat on the piano seat, and though she had never been particularly good at it, played a few simple half-tunes as they sat and thought.
.     “I have an idea,” said Margaret suddenly. “Let’s play tag – like we did that evening! Remember when Kurt was it? It took him forever at tagging someone.”
.     “Alright,” said Will, “and I say Johnathan is it.”
.     “Why me?” asked Johnathon.
.     “Because I’m older than you,” said Will, “and I say so. And besides, I was it first last time.”
.     “Very well,” said Johnathan with a laugh, and the game began.

Greetings Traveler to the House of the Williams Family

“Oh, you come from afar? Well then, welcome, and please come in to this our stone house! Timothy will take your coats, and Will will usher you over towards the fire. I think Lilly and Ann are in the kitchen helping Mrs. Williams, and as for the rest of the children, they must be playing in the attic. I myself have just come from the cellar, or the basement as you would probably prefer. Please sit down and enjoy yourself to a cup of tea. It is English tea. I’ll tell you the whole story of how the Williamses came here in the first place.” ~Mr. Williams

The entire purpose of this blog is to discuss those characters, places, and events that occur in the novel The Williams House. If you have not read this book, then I highly recommend that you do. You can purchase it here at the Xulon Press bookstore, or here at Amazon. I myself am the author of this work and desire this blog to make this work timeless. So please relax for a moment with a cup of tea and enjoy this blog as you hear tales regarding the Williamses that are in the story, and others that are not. . . .

For more information about me or my published works, please visit my Conservative Cornerstones website here: