Mrs. Francis Reveals a Secret...

(Part II of Kit and the Magical House) 
          ‘Please, call me Mrs. Francis, dear,’ said Mrs. Francis sitting down on a very lovely embroidered cushion that sat on a wooden rocking chair by the fire, and gesturing to Kit to do the same in a very comfy armchair that had two red cushions.
‘I’m Kit,’ said Kit in a small voice that was rather unlike herself.  But a house had just dried her clothes, and she was feeling slightly unsettled.
‘Well, now, Kit, that’s a delightful name.  Short for something, I’ll bet.  And, I’ll bet, you have a very good story about why you’re here, my dear.  I would love to hear it,’ Mrs. Francis said as she smiled encouragingly.
How did she know, thought Kit?  But it didn’t really matter.  She had long desired to unburden herself about the horrible Mrs. Hendricks, and, perking up with the delight of scathingly reporting on her enemy, she took a fortifying swallow of cocoa from the cup that sat steaming alongside the table at her arm and set to.  It was easy to point out all of Mrs. Hendricks’ horrid flaws; she was everything Mrs. Francis wasn’t.  Where Mrs. Francis was plump and jolly, kind and funny, Mrs. Hendricks was thin as a stick and menacing.  Kit found, as she talked and looked at Mrs. Francis from under her eyelashes, that she liked the way Mrs. Francis’ eye twinkled as she listened.  Mrs. Hendricks’ eye never twinkled.  And she never listened.
‘And then she promised that I would get a great big wallop if I came in looking like a drowned rat again.  So I thought if I had some dry socks…’ Kit trailed off as she came to the end of her tale and took a big swallow of cocoa.
Mrs. Francis had nodded in all the right places, and looked on her little charge with tender concern.  ‘Let me tell you something, Kit,’ she leaned toward Kit conspiratorially, ‘I splashed quite a bit in puddles when I was your age too, and sometimes,’ she made her voice go still lower and grinned, ‘I still do.’
Kit’s serious face broke and she laughed delightedly.  ‘Oh, I’m so glad!’ she said.  ‘I was afraid that growing up meant I had to never do it again.’
Mrs. Francis considered the thought for a moment, then said, ‘I won’t lie to you, dear, it does get a bit trickier… if, that is, you’d like your neighbors to take you seriously.  But,’ she said with a casual flip of the hand, ‘I’ve never been too fussed in that regard.’
Kit smiled.  Then she looked at her cocoa.  It was sprinkled with cinnamon, but that is not what struck her rather suddenly.
‘Mrs. Francis…’ she paused.  She didn’t know how to say it.  First her dry clothes, then the cocoa… ‘Mrs. Francis, how did this cocoa get here?’  For she had just realized that the cocoa was definitely not there when she had sat down, and Mrs. Francis had never left the room.
Mrs. Francis looked a bit guilty, before she said, ‘Well, dear, I suppose I had hoped I’d get a chance to get to know you a bit more before I told you.  You see, I had hoped that I would meet you some day; I hoped it when I saw you dancing in the rain.  It made me think you might understand, and I’m not as young as I once was, and there’s no one else to… but I understand if you wouldn't want to...’ she paused, as though she didn’t know how to continue.  She tilted her head from side to side as though it would jigger the words.  ‘You seem like the type of person who might want to get to know the house,' she finished simply.
‘Mrs. Francis,’ said Kit, very slowly and just a little warily, ‘Is this house…’ she leaned in and said the next word in a whisper, ‘Magical?’
Mrs. Francis' lips puckered and moved to the side.  ‘Would you like it to be?’ she asked as her brows furrowed slightly.
Kit hesitated a moment; it was perhaps the most important question she had ever been asked and she wanted to make sure, for she had a feeling that if she said yes, her whole world would change.
‘Yes,’ she said quietly, but firmly.
Mrs. Francis nodded to herself, as though she had made a decision, then said, ‘Indeed, my dear, it is.  Would you like to be introduced?’
That was the day Kit’s world changed.
(to be continued…)

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