May 28

The Meeting Scene

It was Winnie who first noticed the two figures standing on the doorstep of the house numbered 37, for Adelaide had been too interested in their conversation about jam. “Who are they?” she whispered into Adelaide's ear. “I don’t think I’ve seen either of them before.”
“I suppose those are our new neighbors.”
“And you didn’t mention them to me before? How rude.”
“Sorry,” she said, laughing. As they continued towards number 37, Adelaide saw that the two strangers were speaking with her mother, and they didn’t seem to be leaving, which sent Adelaide into a slight panic, for she had not had an opportunity to prepare for making the two new acquaintances. The two girls slowed down. 
“Goodness! You can practically see through the shorter one, can’t you?” As Adelaide looked more carefully, she saw that Winnie was right - the boy was so incredibly fair that she was surprised that he was a real flesh and blood human, and not some kind of spirit. 
“Yes, I suppose you almost can!”
“Well. I suppose you’ll have lots of fun meeting them,” Winnie continued.
“Don’t you want to stay and meet them too?”
“Of course, but I’ve got homework. My father says that if I don’t ace these exams he’ll double my chores over the summer, and I wouldn’t be able to bear that, you know.”
“I suppose you’re right, Winnie. See you tomorrow?”
“See you. And remember,” she said, nudging Adelaide, “you could make a very important new friend today, so be on your best behavior,” she winked. 
“Oh, hush,” Adelaide giggled. “I’m sure the boy’s perfectly horrible.”
“I have a nose for these things, and I don’t think you’re right.”
“Well don’t go telling Suzannah and the others that we’re in love, alright? I haven’t even met him yet, and you haven’t either!”
“I wouldn’t do such a thing!” cried Winnie. Adelaide looked at her smugly. “Oh alright, fine, I would. But I won’t.”
“Good.”
“Alright, Ada. I’d better be off now.”
“See you at school,” said Adelaide, rolling her eyes at the prospect of going back.
“Good luck,” Winnie hissed. With that, Winnie trotted down the steps towards her house, and Adelaide was left to meet the strangers alone. She took in a rather impressive amount of air, and headed for the porch. 
“Excuse me,” she said, once she reached the two figures on the porch, who promptly moved out of her way.
“Oh, Adelaide, dear, come in and meet Mr. Crawford! He and his son have just come to say hello.” 
“Oh, please do call me Peter,” said the man.
“Of course. And this is my daughter!”
“How do you do? My name is Adelaide,” she said once she was inside the door, standing next to Frederick.
“Quite well, thank you. Delighted to meet you, Miss Adelaide. This, as you may have guessed, is my son Edwin, whom I believe is about your age,” said the man, gesturing to the boy beside him. The boy said nothing, only nodded.
“Now, Mr. Crawford, are you sure that you wouldn’t like to come in?”
“Thank you, but we should really get more settled in.” The adults continued to chatter about things that Adelaide would, on another occasion, have taken interest in, but she took the opportunity to watch the boy. She regarded him with slight suspicion. He was blond, with delicate, well-crafted features. She did not mark the color of his eyes, but made a note to find out later. He was about the same height as she was, but looked smaller. It was his scrawniness that made it so, she decided, as well as the tinge of timidness in his face. He wasn’t terribly handsome, but not bad looking either. He seemed nicer the longer she looked at him, a characteristic which few people she knew had. Even so, she decided that he would not become one of her close mates. He looked as if he had never so much as set foot out in the sun, and for Adelaide that simply would not do. The Walker family lived by the ocean for several reasons, but an adoration for staying inside was not one of them.

Something in the boy’s expression shifted, as if he had read Adelaide’s thoughts on her face. He looked momentarily hurt, then ashamed. Adelaide realized she had been staring at him very intently while the adults continued their new neighbor talk. She looked away, mortified. But soon, curiosity got the better of her, and she looked back, but the boy was staring at the ground. 

Soon enough, the Crawfords left the doorstep of 37 Wickham Lane, and went on their own merry way. “Well,” said Mrs. Walker, as the trio retreated into the back parlor. “They seemed lovely.”
“What do you make of the boy, Mummy?” asked Frederick, who, having stayed silent for longer than previously thought possible, startled Mrs. Walker.  
“I don’t know, really. He didn’t say much,” she sighed. 
“Well, Ada certainly took an interest in him, didn’t you!” Frederick smirked.
“I did not,” she argued.
“Ah, that’ll be Beatrice,” said Mrs. Walker, hurrying to the door.
“I saw you staring,” muttered Frederick.
“No you didn’t!” 
“Yes I did! I think you like him.”
“He’s never said a word to me, how should I know if I do or not?” Frederick paused.
“Yes, I suppose you’re right, actually.”
“I know I am.”
“Still think you like him, though,” whispered Frederick, as he took off towards the stairs, cackling all the way.