Sometimes my hospitality can get me into a little bit of trouble. My friend Corrine Dollanganger asked if she and her children could come by for a visit to which I said of course they could because I am, at my core, a generous person; its just my nature. But when Corrine arrived with those beautiful children of hers, she said something had come up and she needed to leave them with me for just a short while and promised to be back for them straight away. Certainly everyone knows I love children as much as the next person so I said that would be lovely and set about showing them a glorious time.
Those children have a few strange ideas on how to conduct themselves whilst in company, however. Like me, they lost their father when they were too young and live with their grandmother over at Foxworth Hall. Foxworth is a lovely home and you would think the children would be delighted to live there but they act as if they have never seen the interior.
I introduced them to Adele. Being such precocious children, they asked all the regular child questions of one another: “How did you all get such blonde hair?” “Where did you learn French?” “Is your skin actually translucent? “Does your room lock from the outside?” “Why do you all look exactly the same?” “How is it you and Mr. Rochester have the same forehead?” – silly child’s play. Adele attempted to engage them in a game of marbles but they merely sat in a circle and winced when a marble came their way. I asked had they never played marbles before? Cathy, the oldest girl, replied that they preferred to avoid objects being shot at them. I asked them what they liked to do; did they bang a ball against the wall at least? Chris replied that they were able to work in a little banging from time to time.
I thought a nice stroll in the garden would do them well but the sun seared them as soon as they set foot outside. Seeing a need for a little exercise, I took them on a tour of my lovely manor. I pointed out the Sun Room, the Music Room, the Library, the Buttery and the Playroom, which held their attention. When I suggested we go upstairs, enthusiasm waned a bit. Still, everything was fine, for the most part, until we go to the third floor. It was upon coming to the door upstairs that things fell apart. One of the twins, Carrie, pointed to the door wordlessly. I smiled and said “That? Oh that just leads to the attic,” at which point the Dollanganger children ran like chased mice in four separate directions. Adele and I were shocked. I mean Bertha is no Lily Langtree when it comes to welcome but I think the only people she actively wants to dismember bear the name Rochester. It took absolutely ages to corral those children. I finally lured them into a sense of calm with a nice bushel of vegetables.
Yes, I said vegetables. No, I am not thick; I know children like cakes and cookies but when I offered the children some doughnuts – because everyone likes a nice beignet as a comfort – they began screaming again until little Cory threw up in the ficus. Honestly, I don’t know how Corrine controls them.
I had Grace bring in some art supplies so we could try turning this seemingly endless visit around. I suggested the children make their mother a little something. Well, you know children and their odd little senses of humor; they made a collage of skulls, bones and what looked to be demons heads – kids! I asked if maybe we could make something a little prettier and in ten minutes my salon was covered in paper flowers. Covered, literally – not a surface left unadorned; poor Adele’s allergies acted up on suggestion alone. It was so festive and, well, flowery. At one point I had to stop the flower production as we had run out of paper and they were beginning to cut up my doilies. So I put everyone on the sofa and said to stay there until their mother came back for them. Such protests; you would think I intended to hold them prisoners! I explained that I thought it better than whipping about and to my astonishment, those children fell utterly silent and still. Not a word – you see, some children do respond to reason.
So here we are… still sitting on the sofa, waiting for Corrine to return… staring at those darn flowers. I do hope she will be back soon.