Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer...okay, on with the story. :)
Slowly, Alice turned the door knob and the little group tiptoed into the house; Nora stifling giggles. Closing the door softly behind them, Eliza noticed that there was a curious carving on the door, a sort of flower with scrolls about it. It was strangely familiar, but she couldn't think about it just then because Alice was beckoning her up a narrow flight of stairs. "Servants staircase," thought Eliza. "We're just like characters in a book, sneaking up the back stairs...oh I do hope no one catches us!"
In spite of her fears, Eliza was quite excited, for she was in the spirit of a great adventure about to happen. Sneaking about was splendid, especially with the only danger being servants. She looked about her. They had reached the top of the stairs, and were now in a spacious hallway with paintings on the walls. Against one wall was a small table ornamented with a heavily embroidered cloth. Sitting on the table were a vase with dried flowers, a small oriental bowl, and a picture frame containing a photograph. It was a young man and woman on what appeared to be their wedding day.
"That's Mum and Daddy at their wedding." Explained Nora, noticing Eliza's interest.
"They look very happy. Where is your mum now?" Eliza had heard only of their father, and was growing quite curious, as well she might.
"She's in heaven." Alice replied sorrowfully, looking at Nora, who added,
"Yes, Dod tooked her away, and now Daddy is sad."
"Oh, I'm so sorry." said Cass softly, secretly wishing that she could just pick up Nora and hug her tight.
For a moment the girls stood there thoughtfully, neither Cass nor Eliza wishing to break the silence. Suddenly, Nora gave a little jump and said "Oh! We're stupposed to take you to Daddy! Tum this way." And with that she marched off importantly in the direction of the end of the hall, the rest of the party close behind. Reaching the very last door in the hallway, Nora knocked softly, "Come in." said a man's voice.
"Daddy, it's Alice an' me!" Nora announced, opening the door, "Oh, an' our friends fum the garden" she added, causing Eliza to smile at being called a friend so soon.
"Your friends from the garden?" He asked, bewildered; then rose as Cass and Eliza entered the room.
"Yes," Alice explained "we were walking to the far end when we saw them standing by the fountain. They wanted to know how to get out, so we brought them to you."
Surprisingly calm, he said, "I see. Alice, Nora, will you please leave us for a moment?"
Though curious, the girls obeyed their father and shut the door behind them. Eliza could hear their chatter fade away as they walked back down the hall, and she wondered what their father would say, and what she should tell him.
Clearing his throat, he motioned for the two girls to sit, and asked, "So, my daughters found you two in my garden?"
Eliza shuffled her feet and glanced at Cass merely to find the latter staring nervously at her. Clearing her throat she said,
"Yes sir. You see, we're not quite sure what happened and, and -" she hesitated, not daring to look at his face, "Oh bother! You wouldn't believe us if we told you!"
"What reason have I to disbelieve you?"
"Well -" she faltered, "If you were the one telling me, I wouldn't believe you!" She looked up desperately and was surprised to find him looking at her very kindly.
Eliza was rather taken aback. "Well, it's too - too fantastic!" She stammered
"Suppose you tell me what happened?"
Cass took a deep breath, "Well, it's worth a shot. You want to tell him," she asked Eliza, "or should I?"
"Go ahead." agreed Eliza, only too happy to rid herself of the awkward duty.
"You see, sir," began Cass, "Eliza and I live in a small town, Eberton, Washington. This morning, or maybe it wasn't this morning, I don't know. Anyway, we went to our library..." As Cass talked, Eliza had a chance to view her surroundings. The room itself was small. In front of her was a large wooden desk with papers and other small items scattered over it. Behind the desk, at the very back of the room was a bookshelf full of books. Eliza wondered vaguely what type of books it held in its great depths. Hung on the wall to her right was a large world map, and on her left there was a window viewing from the front of the house. Sitting on the bookshelf, in front of the books, were several small knick-knacks, souvenirs from distant countries, perhaps. Eliza felt herself strangely attracted to this room, maybe because it held a sense of travel, mystery, and a story to be written; she couldn't say. However, she had a feeling that much more would occur before the two of them saw home once more.
Glancing at the man, she noted that he was listening intently, as though he understood, and she wondered what he could tell them about their strange experience. As she pondered all of this, Cass finished her story, saying, "and then the girls brought us to see you, and here we are now!"
"I see," he said again, then proceeded. "I suppose you would like to know the truth behind all of this mystery?"
Both girls nodded vigorously, and Eliza said, "Oh, yes, please sir!"
"Very good. But I haven't offered you anything to drink! Would you like some tea?"
Cass looked at Eliza, then said, "Sure. I mean, yes please!"
He smiled kindly, then rang a small bell, causing a maid to stick her head in the room.
"You rang, sir?"
"Yes, Tilly. Would you be so kind as to bring up tea for these young ladies and I?"
Obviously a little startled by seeing complete strangers in the room, and two young girls at that, it took her a moment to respond. "Oh, yes sir, right away!" She exclaimed, then shut the door quickly behind her.
"Very well then, shall we begin?" And with that he leaned back in his chair, and began.
So, what did you think? Please let me know! I could give a lot of disclaimers, but I'm just gonna let you say your say. :P