After breakfast Jennifer decided to explore a bit while her mother was
out at the store. She found that the house was really quite large. The more
she explored it, the more it just kept on going, on and on, room after room,
almost as if it made itself up as Jennifer came walking through. It always
knew just exactly what she was looking for before she knew herself. She
had only to say "now where do you suppose the dining room is?"
and she'd find it. Or "I wonder if there's a library?" and there
it would be behind the next door. It was almost as if the house was asking
her how it could best adjust itself to make things more comfortable.
Jennifer got the impression that her great-grandfather was definitely
comfortable. From the way things looked he took great care to be as completely
comfortable as he could possibly be. He certainly never put any of his things
away, especially not his clothes, Jennifer found them lying all around.
There were pants in the pantry and undershirts under the couch. There were
used hockey socks on top of the clock and an old Maple Leaf sweater hung
out to dry on the chandelier.
There were plenty of animals around as well. They were so much at home
they were hard to see, they blended right in and seemed part of the house.
An owl scowled down from the plate rail in the diningroom. A family of chipmunks
were camping out in the window seat in the livingroom. There were frogs
in the fireplace, crows on the mantle and the groundhog that slept under
Mrs. Jones' bed was on the sofa now, dozing his way through his morning
nap posing, perhaps, as a pillow. There seemed to be rabbits everywhere.
They were under tables and under chairs, underfoot and overfed, hopping
around and looking quite dumb as they bumped into walls and each other.
When Jennifer opened the door to the front hall closet a number of chestnuts
came rolling out. There were lots more where they came from on the floor
in the back, and a black squirrel was sitting beside them. He was not at
all pleased to see Jennifer and he chattered at her angrily. The noise woke
a bat that was hanging amidst the hangers. He opened one eye and stared
at Jennifer in a lop-sided way, then he yawned and went back to sleep.
And that wasn't all, there was a penguin in there too, a real penguin.
If he was stuffed, it was just with fish. He stood there quietly in the
shadows, lost amidst the forgotten galoshes and fallen scarves, blinking
in the sudden light from the open door as if he were trying to think of
something peculiar. Jennifer closed the door and left him in peace. It seemed
like the decent thing to do. Then she went out into the back yard to see
if there was something going on out there. There was. A small boy about
six years old was creeping through the trees.