The Glory of a Rainy Day...

(Part I of Kit and the Magical House)
          Raindrops splashed on the ground in great big sploshes, and as Kit danced in a puddle, there were a fair number on her head as well.  The glory of her outfit made splashing a requirement; for what other actions would rain boots and slicker coerce a young girl into?  Kit pranced and stamped, splashed and danced about, too distracted to notice the disapproving stares of passersby.  And she was much too absorbed with the cascading water and its pools to see curtains pull back from a house and a pair of crinkled eyes which bore witness to her delightful shenanigans. 
It was an old pair of eyes that looked out the window, eyes that had seen much of life.  They looked on the dancing child with an unmistakable twinkle, desperately hoping that the girl would dance outside the window frequently in the puddles and in the sunshine, for that was, the old woman felt, all that should make up a childhood.  And the glory of witnessing such splendor was all that should make up old age—and, of course, venturing forth to have a good splash oneself.  It could not be denied that the elderly woman saw in the young girl a kindred spirit and hoped she’d come again.

The old woman got her wish, and more besides, and sooner than she would have hoped.

If it had not rained so very hard the next day, or if Kit had not splashed, or maybe, still, had splashed with a little less ferocity, perhaps the two would never have met.  But it did, she did, and they did; and it was the day Kit's whole world changed.

The rain came down in a torrential downpour that second day.  Great sheets streamed as though the sky were a giant waterfall.  Kit danced through the water delicately at first, for she had received a very great scolding from Mrs. Hendricks, Father’s housekeeper, the day before.  It was too delightful not to kick at a puddle or two and watch the water swoosh away and come back again.  One kick, however, led to another and another, until her raincoat’s hood had fallen off and her boots found themselves filled to the brim as the water danced all around her.  It was marvelous.  Until, of course, Kit realized just how wet she was.  All the glory came to a crashing halt as she wrung her hands about in the agony of wondering how she was going to get out of this mess.

Then she saw it.  A house.  It was the kind of house that when one looked at it, one felt only good things.  It reminded Kit of hot apple cider and daffodils and Christmas all at once.  She shouldn’t have knocked on the door.  She knew from story books only too well that the draw of a nice house did not lead to nice things.  But there was something different about this house.  It wasn’t a desperate desire to eat from a roof made of candy—an impossibility, she thought with grave rational logic, because quite simply the roof was not made of candy—and it wasn’t because she felt a strange and daunting scary lure from the house.  On the contrary, everything about it was warm and inviting.  And that something else… was the fact that this house thrilled her.

And now was as good a time as any to get inside it.

It was a resolved knock that the old woman inside heard at the door.  As she opened it, she saw, standing small beneath the porch’s awning, a very wet, rather miserable child.

‘I’m sorry to bother you, ma’am,’ said Kit with a sniff, as she fought the impolite impulse to bolt into the house in front of her and take a good look around—it was easy to fight because her bones, now that she had stopped dancing vigorously in the puddles, were slowly growing frozen with chill—‘I don’t suppose you have a spare pair of socks, by any chance?’ 

Kit looked up at the old woman who answered the door, and thought she remarkably kind eyes.

The old woman had to admit she had not expected this particular request, but she did happen to have a spare pair of socks, and that would serve as good an introduction as any to this delightful child

‘Come in, dear, come in, or you’ll chill to the bone,’ said the woman.  She had a delightfully raspy voice that trembled only slightly, and it made Kit feel like she was very much wanted—it was a new feeling.  ‘Come in, and stand by the fire.’

‘Thank you, ma’am,’ Kit said politely and followed the woman into the house.  Kit looked all around her, and everywhere she looked, the house made her happy.  Cheerful colors, and picture frames filled with exciting-looking people gave it the kind of character she had hoped the house would have on the inside.  The old woman gestured to the fire

‘Not at all.  Stand over by the fire, dear, and that will warm you right up,’ the woman said as she turned away to find the socks.  She hesitated a moment, then turned back to Kit.  ‘Also, dear, don’t mind the house.  It likes to get up to all kinds of things if I don’t keep a watchful eye,’ she said and left the room.

Kit’s eyes went wide, as she looked around her.  It was a positively delightful sitting room, with lots of vibrant cushions and couches that looked as though they’d like you to sit in them.  The smell of cocoa and cinnamon wafted around her like a warm hug.  The fireplace held the coziest fire Kit had ever seen, and she held out her hands to its inviting warmth.  It didn’t seem like the house was going to get up to anything. 

Suddenly she felt a tug on the back of her rain coat.
'Tsk,' said the old woman coming back into the room holding a pair of cushy socks.  'None of that, now,' she said as though she were scolding someone.  Kit looked about her, but she didn't see anyone.  ‘Well, then dear,' said the woman as if nothing had happened, 'I think you’ll find you’re quite dry.  Come sit and have a cup of cocoa with me, and tell me all about yourself.'

Dry enough to sit down?  The old woman had to be batty; Kit had just stepped inside.  But as Kit gazed down at her clothes, her mouth dropped open.  They were dry!  Kit touched the fabric.  Completely dry all the way through!

Kit’s eyes looked one way, then another, and then something inside her gave a thrill.  It was the house.  There was something wonderful about this house, and she was going to find out everything about it.

(to be continued…)

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