The first thing that caught our eyes was the porch–a gigantic, wraparound porch like the one in Secondhand Lions. Which shouldn’t have surprised us, I guess, since The Daughter’s Inn’s first life was a farmhouse. We instantly wanted to drown our sorrows in deep armchairs and iced tea. Not that we had any sorrows. We liked the tower room too much. They stuffed all three of us kids into it, since we all wanted the room. Pearl grabbed the window seat, Em got the trundle, and I happily got the bed. It had the most pillows.
We had something like ten books between all three of us, so the first order of the day was to read at the window seat as the sun crept in. It simply had to be done. I ran around taking pictures to post on Facebook later. Much, much later as it turns out, since the Inn had no Wi-fi, and was a happy dead spot for almost all kinds of signal.
We had deliberately brought our prettiest (read: HEAVIEST) books, like classic-style versions of Les Miserables or The Count of Monte Cristo. Pearl was re-reading Dracula for the umpteenth time, although I complained that the red-and-black cover didn’t fit the decor. That was my usual line, so she gave her usual response, which was to ignore me and keep reading.
Later, we met four really cool kids, right before tea time. One was named Eoin (pronounced “Owen” but written Irish, like Eoin Colfer, Eoin Macken–Pearl asked if that was the spelling, trust her to know). His twin sister was named Tara, like the seat of the Irish high kings. I figured it out all by myself! Thank you, Gone With The Wind. The others are Kevin, the owner’s son, and Sakura, a half-Japanese girl who didn’t mind my greeting her in Korean. Or maybe she did.
They knew most of the books we were reading, and sat wherever we’d piled them to browse through. We were startled but ecstatic, the same way people are ecstatic when wild animals come fearlessly near. The nice kinds of wild animals. “Look!” Kevin said to the others, holding up Pearl’s copy of The View From Saturday. “This place is very like Sillington House,” Pearl said.
The four children nodded solemnly. “We’re the Souls,” Tara said. “Souls of The Daughter’s Inn,” she clarified immediately after. Her green eyes have little lights in them. “You are,” Pearl agreed. “But I’m not Nadia,” Tara said. “I’m Tara.” “That’s true.” I couldn’t tell if Pearl was trying not to laugh, but she sounded absolutely serious. Tara relaxed. “Sometimes people think we’re copying,” she explained.
“We’re sort of copying,” her practical brother said. “We’re following their footsteps,” Kevin said. “That’s different. Tea and kindness. Kindness and tea.” “It’s almost tea-time,” Sakura said. The other three picked themselves up at once. Owen turned to us and bowed, old-fashioned and charming. “Tea time is always at four.” We said we’d come down soon, and started stacking the books. As they went down the stairs, we heard Owen ask Sakura, “Did I bow right?”