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.
. . .
. “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.