They picked up their suitcases and started up the front walk. It was
a little like walking into a forest. Bushes grew wild on all sides and the
grass beside the path was high and thick. The wind blew a breeze through
the trees overhead and whispered in the leaves as Jennifer and her mother
passed underneath. The house seemed to sense their approach. A curtain blew
out through a downstairs window and waved as they came up the walk. The
front porch creaked as they walked up the steps. When they stopped in front
of the door, Jennifer heard a soft, friendly sigh from somewhere far away
Daylight was darkening quite quickly now and the porch was filled with
shadows. Jennifer noticed some movement out of the corner of her eye. She
glanced over. A large raccoon was looking at them through the window.
"Maybe it's the wrong house," she told her mother uncertainly.
"Maybe we shouldn't be here at all."
Her mother shook her head and pointed at the two numerals that hung
rather crookedly next to the door.
"43, " she said, then she picked up the big brass door knocker
and let it fall.
The sound rumbled off into the house and Jennifer was sure she could
hear it rolling down through the hallways and all through the rooms. Two
more animals appeared at the window as if in answer to the call; first a
fat groundhog, then a small baby skunk. A slim and rather elegant lizard
slid down from the eaves trough and hung there by its tail while it looked
over Mrs. Jones' shoulder with obvious curiosity. A spider dropped down
on a silky thread just in front of her head. But Mrs. Jones didn't seem
to notice at all. She was already knocking on the door again.
"Boom-boom" went the knocker on the door.
"Boom-boom-boom!" came an answer from somewhere inside.
"Did you hear that?" asked Jennifer.
"Quite an echo," agreed her mother.
But it didn't sound all that much like an echo to Jennifer. It sounded
more as if the house were knocking back. She wondered if it might be trying
to have a conversation with them. She glanced up at the lizard. He stuck
out his tongue and waved it at her. Jennifer stuck out her own tongue and
wiggled it back in a friendly sort of way. The lizard responded with a waggle
of his head. Then he slipped up onto the roof and disappeared. Strangely
enough Jennifer knew just where he was going.
"He's going to tell him we're here," she said.
"What's that, dear?" said her mother.
Jennifer didn't know what to say. She couldn't tell her mother she'd
just had a conversation with a lizard She decided to shrug her shoulders
instead and look confused. It wasn't too hard to do. It was just how she
Her mother knocked on the door again. "Boom-boom-boom!" went