Of course, before Edward returns, Elsa will have to hide the drawings. They emphasize too strongly the hollows beneath his eyes, the crease of concern across his forehead; they will no doubt surprise him. "It's strange to say," Edward has remarked several nights earlier, "but you do make me feel so much younger." He is fifty-five and has never been married. An elderly woman has kept house for him for years, but the presence of two new women in his home clearly unnerves him. Each day, he consults Elsa about the curtains, the wallpaper, and the house itselfWe shall arrange everything to suit you, Miss Pendleton. (Please, she reminds him, try to call me Elsa.) Edward seems as uneasy in this house as she is. It belonged to his parents, and fell into his hands as the only child when his father died. For the past fifteen years he has lived amid the brocade curtains and the china and the glistening cutlery of his childhood. But rather than growing accustomed to what has for so long surrounded him, he seems a guest in his own home. Only now, with the arrival of Elsa and Alice and their crates of pinafores and hats and yellow-back novels, does Edward realize he is not a visitor. He is the host, and his new role absorbs him. Anything Elsa touches or appears to avoid, he notesThe mahogany side table, I see, is not to your liking; of course it can be replaced easily enough. And perhaps you think the table linens should be a cheerier shade?as though women were yet another foreign culture of which he has embarked on a study.
Excerpted from Easter Island by Jennifer Vanderbes Copyright© 2003 by Jennifer Vanderbes. Excerpted by permission of Dial Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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