Well, I actually mean The Daughter’s Inn, of course. But it reminds me so much of Sillington House from E.L. Konigsburg’s The View From Saturday that I had to pinch myself, then my best friend, to make sure we weren’t dreaming. (She pinched me back, so we’re even, and I’m doubly sure we’re awake).
There was the gingerbread trim, the wrap-around porch, the long trestle-table dining room from the house to the back. It felt so familiar that I peered around for the four children drinking tea, a paraplegic, and a dog. No four children, no paraplegic, no dog. But was there tea? I asked the Innkeeper, and she smiled and said, Tea time is always at four. So I’m keeping my hopes up.
Sillington House/The Daughter’s Inn is a homey, rambly place with a homey, rambly porch, so we ended up reading on it, with all the green around us and the town happily hidden from view. (Both of us being from the country, we starve for want of natural colors once in awhile). Internet connection is limited to the town, so we basked in the quiet of our minds.
But you don’t like tea, Meij said to me. Most of our conversations start a little like we’d been conversing telepathically. I prefer coffee and hot chocolate, I corrected. I was drinking their homemade mocha at the moment. We read for a few seconds more. But you don’t look for tea, she said.
So I had to tell her about the bed-and-breakfast at Sillington House, and how Julian Singh had hidden clues in Alice in Wonderland to invite three others to tea at 4. This place looks like Sillington House, I concluded, so there must be tea at 4. She gave me one of her you’re-geeky-weird looks. I agreed, and we went back to reading.
as half-past-three rolled around, 4 children, around 11 years old or so, came around the corner and up the path to The Daughter’s Inn. They were not quite the perfectly diverse set that the 4 in The View From Saturday had been, but there was no perfectly-same skin tone or hair style among them. 2 boys, 2 girls. I watched them come up, ignoring my book. When they caught my eyes, they smiled directly into them. Then they greeted Meij and offered us each an Alice in Wonderland book. You’re invited, they chorused, and shot inside.
I went into a state of bliss obvious enough that Meij’s looks into be-glad-I-love-you kinds. At one minute to 4, exactly, we stood up and entered the house.
The 4 kids were standing at the sort-of front of the room, the kitchen behind them. Like I had noticed outside, they had barely any shyness in them. From where they stood, they glanced at each guest with a tiny smile that was greeting in itself. I could feel the…the togetherness in them, the collective unity, so that they seemed one entity.
Welcome to The Daughter’s Inn, one began. We always have tea on Saturdays, and tea time is always at 4…