This is the start of my story. It's about a girl who lives in England in the early 1900s.
| Young Eleanor Williams lived in a stately white house on a stately street. The house had large windows and a little balcony. It was furnished quite magnificently, so that whenever Mrs. Williams invited the neighbours over for tea (as she was often inclined to do), the ladies would gasp and admire the chandeliers and the armchairs and the china-cabinet.
Now, Mrs. Williams was not a show-off by any means, and I shouldn’t like you to think her one. She was a fine woman. The picture of humility. Her grace, manners, kindness, and beauty endeared her to all that was lucky enough to cross her path. Her only fault was perhaps her lack of attentions for her daughter; but I shall get to that shortly.
Mr. Williams owned a highly successful shipping company. He was rather intelligent and would often brood over the queerest things, such as cannons and the colour of the sky. Once he and Eleanor had spent a whole evening trying to work out how the telephone operated. He was quiet and immensely awkward in social situations, and preferred to let his wife do most of the talking, which was fine with her. She had plenty to say.
Early every morning, the family would sit to breakfast. Mr. Williams would read the newspaper and share interesting tidbits with Eleanor, and Mrs. Williams would go over her schedule for the day. When the meal was finished Mr. Williams would rise and fold his paper neatly in half. Mrs. Williams would give him a kiss on the cheek, and then he would rush to the shipping office.
Mrs. Williams would go about her business, and Eleanor would stay home and be tutored in languages, etiquette (a subject which she thoroughly detested), and the arts. In the evening the family would eat supper and sit by the fireplace together, laughing and chatting about their day. Mr. and Mrs. Williams would read books of poetry aloud. Sometimes a guest would join them.
Hardly anyone who met the Williams could say there was a nicer family in all the world, and I am quite of the same opinion.
One crisp autumn evening, Eleanor was practicing her piano in the sitting-room. It must be noted, reader, that she was not very talented in music, although she could appreciate it as well as anyone. Her clumsy fingers stumbled and tripped over the keys. Ms. Baxter, Eleanor’s nurse, shook her head in despair. The child was hopeless.
At three-quarters past six, Ms. Baxter finally stopped her. “Alright, then! Well done. Now hurry upstairs and change; we have a guest arriving in half an hour.”
“Oh, who?” Eleanor asked curiously.
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
Eleanor raced up the staircase, almost bumping into her poor mother, who was just coming down. “Really, Eleanor!” Mrs. Williams scolded gently. “That’s no way for a young lady to behave.”
“Sorry, Mother. I won’t do it anymore,” Eleanor said, although she would probably forget and do it all over again in twenty minutes.
Her mother laughed; a happy, tinkling sound. Her dark brown hair fell in gentle curls. “No harm done, dearie.”
Eleanor walked the rest of the way to her room.
Immediately Eleanor noticed the spotless floor and the books on her shelf, which were in alphabetical order yet again. Ms. Baxter must have cleaned her room. Fresh yellow sheets lay on her queen-sized bed, and dark wooden furniture shone like the sun. Eleanor walked to her window, which had been left open so the room could air out a bit.
The cool air blasted Eleanor as soon as she stuck her head out the window. Her hair might get tousled a bit, but no matter. She was searching for something. She craned her head and squinted her eyes, until she finally found what she was looking for.
The first star of the night glittered like a diamond. Eleanor leaned forward and closed her eyes.
“I wish for… adventure.”
Eleanor’s eyes snapped open and she glared at the ground. A rather handsome lad in a suit smirked arrogantly up at her. Eleanor suppressed the urge to moan. It was that impudent neighbour boy again.
“Yes, adventure. Pray tell what you find so amusing about that, Mr….”
“My surname is Jones. But please, call me Conall.” He swept her a bow and smiled brightly. “I am amused, milady, because the chances of finding adventure here are very poor, indeed. Your being a girl doesn’t help much either”
“I don’t see what that has to do with anything,” Eleanor said coolly. She slammed the window shut and drew the curtains tight.