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!

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