Chapter 1: Scout Arrives
This was desolate country, which suited Scout just fine.
When she'd started looking for a job, she'd wanted something as far off the beaten path as possible. She'd never dreamed she'd find something in England, in Cornwall. It was so Agatha Christie, so evocative of another time. The green hills rolled to meet the dark blue sky, and she could see the grass waving in the strong wind which whipped it everywhere.
Every once in a while she'd see her reflection in the window of the hired car; her pale blue eyes, the smattering of freckles, the shaggy, overgrown brown bob. She found it ironic that now, at the age of twenty-four, she probably looked as much like her namesake from the 1962 movie as she ever had in her life.
She'd been born with the very feminine name of Clarissa Marie Lawson, and her baby pictures showed a little girl covered in lace and bows, the more pink the better. Just as soon as she'd been able, though, Clarissa had taken the scissors to her curls, and had begun dressing in overalls and shorts. It was her older sister, Susan, who'd noticed her resemblance to the character in To Kill A Mockingbird, and begun calling her Scout, and the nickname had simply stuck. Her poor mother had simply ceded to the inevitable and thrown away her hair ribbons and barrettes, and replaced her ballet slippers with roller blades.
Scout had sailed through life in Connecticut as a happy tomboy and attended Yale, where she'd gotten an MFA in Library Science and Antiquities. She loved books, and could think of nothing better than a life spent among them.
While at Yale, she'd dated a little, but hadn't really had much success or interest in boys until she'd met an assistant professor named Will Frye, who had twinkling brown eyes and a beard, and was smart and loved books as much as she did. He'd told her she was beautiful, and that he loved her. Scout thought she loved him, and she'd slept with him, and spent a year sharing his life and his bed, planning a future with him and being deliriously happy.
Then, after Will got his doctorate, he told Scout that, wonderful as she was, she was also, unfortunately, the wrong religion and they would, sadly, have to part ways.
"Besides," he said on the sunny morning that he gave her the news, "you're too skinny, anyway, you're built all wrong, you'd have all kinds of trouble." He pushed his glasses up his nose and blinked at her.
"What?" Scout stared at him and wiped her eyes, not sure she'd heard him correctly.
He gestured at her body.
"You hardly have any breasts at all, I doubt you could produce any milk," he clarified. "And your hips are so narrow. You might have to have a Caesarean section," he said.
"Are you talking about childbirth?" Scout asked incredulously.
"Of course," he said as if surprised she had to ask.
"Look, Scout," he said gently, putting his hands on her shoulders, "you have a lot going for you, and I'm sure you'll find someone. But I have to think in terms of a family, a Jewish family, you understand?" He smiled at her, a smile which she used to find mesmerizing, but now just found vapid.
Scout shook her head.
How could she have been so stupid?
So she collected her Master's degree, looked around for a job, and found one, as far away as she could.
In Cornwall, England. Organizing and restoring a library for some musician named George Wilder. Apparently, this guy, George, had been married to some supermodel, Tessa Richardson-Wilder, and they'd been this wildly successful and beautiful super-couple together, traveling the world, partying and buying diamonds or whatever it was that people like that did. Then she'd died in some terribly tragic way, some fall, right there in his house, and he'd just holed up there, not seeing anyone, grieving for her. He'd turned into some kind of recluse or something, which suited Scout just fine. She didn't care if she never saw anyone again.
She let her gaze drift out to the windswept landscape once more, and finally closed her eyes.
George looked out the window and huffed out a breath of irritation when he saw the car pull up. The blasted librarian was coming today? Of all the fucking inconvenient times. Though, if he was being honest, all times were equally inconvenient, or convenient. It wasn't as though he was doing anything.
He'd chosen to stay here at Farraway Mist because he didn't want to see anyone, dammit, not even librarians. The house was pretty much as far away from people as it was possible to get, equidistant from both seaside villages, built right out on the edge of the cliff next to the sea. Sometimes, during rough weather, the spray from the waves hit the huge windows, rattling them in their frames. It created a melancholy sound.
He downed the rest of his drink, carefully set the glass down, and opened the beautifully carved, dark wood door, hoping his face looked neutral and friendly. He struggled to keep the look on his face as a thin young woman in jeans and a Ramones T-shirt got out of the back seat.
The driver quickly got three pieces of luggage out of the back and brought them to the porch, smiled at her, and drove away.
She walked toward him, a tentative smile on her face.
"Hello," she said, holding her hand out. "I'm Scout."
"You're a girl," he said, surprise making him blunt. "And you're American."
She bit her lips together.
She looked at him.
"Yes on both counts." She took a deep breath. "Not what you were expecting?"
He blinked at her, looking her up and down. "Uh, no, to be perfectly honest." He jammed his hands into the pockets of his jeans.
"Is it going to be a problem?" she asked. "Should I try to get the driver back? Though in my defense, I know my application did mention both those facts," she said frankly.
"Oh, I have no doubt," he responded curtly. "I'm not always the most observant. I probably just saw your name and photograph and assumed you were a man--" And oh shit, had he said that out loud? "I mean, not that 'Scout' couldn't be a woman's name--and I didn't mean that you look like a man, not at all, but you know--it sounds like it might be an um--like it might be--oh fuck." George ran his hand through his hair and looked up at the sky.
"It's okay," she reassured him. She looked around, deeply embarrassed, trying to figure out how to change the subject and get both of them off this extremely uncomfortable hook. "And, um, you hired me yourself?" she asked in surprise.
"Yeah? Why?" he asked curiously, obviously relieved.
"I don't know. I just figured someone like you had people to do that sort of thing for you, you know?" she responded, taking a deep breath.
"Oh. No. I try to keep my life simple," he replied, with an attempt at a small smile. "At any rate, let's take this inside, shall we?" He picked up two of her bags, leaving the pull case for her to deal with.
She observed him covertly as she followed him inside.
First of all, he was younger than she thought. He looked like he was maybe mid-twenties. His hair was blond, and long enough to tie, though she couldn't tell if that was because he liked it that way or he just hadn't bothered to get it cut. His eyes were dark blue, not pale like hers, very striking with his hair. No wonder he'd been able to transition from music to movies so easily. He was beautiful. And, reclusive or not, he definitely had some exercise equipment on the premises somewhere, because he was fit.
George led Scout through a large, tiled foyer and into a very grand hall, which contained a gorgeous staircase. They climbed it, and Scout could see that the stairs kept going to presumably the third and possibly a fourth floor, but they stopped at the second and went down a hallway that had rooms that faced the ocean.
George opened a door and let Scout enter first. She stopped just inside the room, too surprised to speak.
"Something wrong?" George asked. "Do you not like it? You can change if you like."
"No, not at all," Scout reassured him. "It's gorgeous, honest."
And it was. It was a comfortable mixture of the modern and the old-fashioned, with a beautiful four poster bed and thick curtains, but with a flat screen TV in the corner and an en suite bathroom through the open door.
"Well, I'll leave you to settle in for a bit, then you can come down and find me in the kitchen, and I'll show you the library where you'll be working, then, if that suits you?" George asked uncertainly. Obviously he'd spent a lot of time alone recently, and his social skills were rusty, even more rusty than hers.
He left, his relief evident, and she spent a few minutes unpacking. Thankfully, she'd be spending most of her time alone, in his library. She wouldn't have to spend time with George Wilder, the sad widower, who no longer remembered how to talk to people, or indeed how to be with them at all.
As she turned away from the dresser where she was putting away her clothes she felt something cold blow by, like a draft from an open window, though both the windows were firmly closed. The curtain was moving gently, too, as if from a slight breeze, though again, there was no way anything could've moved it at all.
Scout gave a little shiver and pulled on a sweater before going downstairs to find her taciturn host.
Chapter 2: Call Me George
Scout looked around carefully as she left her room and descended the beautiful staircase, trying to learn the layout of the huge house. She felt a little like Jane Eyre, or the nameless heroine in Rebecca, wandering the halls of Manderley, lost and alone. In spite of the fact that the main room containing the staircase was two full stories tall, it was full of light because of the wall windows. She wondered who cleaned them, since it seemed like George Wilder lived here all alone. Of course, when you were as rich as he was, you could probably afford to have people come out to clean your shit, maybe even on a daily basis.
She walked across the expanse of the marbled floor, taking a stab at guessing which doors led to the kitchen. She pushed open the wide, double doors and walked down a hallway toward the back of the house, going through yet another set of doors to finally wind up in a surprisingly modern, black and white kitchen, complete with granite countertops.
The master of the house was sitting in a cozy and bright nook, drinking tea, with two dogs curled up at his feet as he tapped away on his laptop. The dogs, a Border Collie and some kind of shepherd mix, rose and came to greet her, tails wagging.
Scout promptly sat, hands out, making sounds of happiness. "What are their names?" she asked as the dogs climbed all over her. She laughed as they licked her face eagerly.
George just watched in astonishment.
"The collie's called Bandit and the mix is named Jess," he said.
"Hello, Bandit and Jess," Scout said as the three of them rolled all over the floor. "Hello hello hello!
"I love dogs," she added unnecessarily, smiling at the dogs and George.
"I see that," George said, smiling back.
"I had a dog," she continued, finally sitting up, one arm around each dog, scratching behind their ears. "His name was Gerard Way. He lived with me until last year."
"Really?" George asked, tickled. "Like the lead singer of My Chemical Romance? For real?" He looked at Scout with renewed interest.
Scout nodded at George, smiling, and George noticed that Scout looked nothing like a boy when she smiled. Her mouth turned up at the ends, and her pale blue eyes sparkled with life. Bandit turned and licked Scout on the neck, which made Scout laugh, which sounded like bells ringing to George.
"Bandit! Stop, that tickles!" Scout laughed, pushing him away as she fell over on top of Jess.
George laughed at the three of them as he asked, "What happened to him? Gerard Way?"
"I had to send him to live with my parents," Scout said. Will had been allergic to dogs. Scout had apologized to Gerard Way over and over when her father had come to pick him up, and she'd cried as her dad had pulled away and she'd watched him drive away with Gerard Way's head hanging out the window.
"He got hit by a water delivery truck when they let him out to go to the bathroom one day," Scout said briefly.
"Oh no, I'm so sorry," George said, aghast.
Scout shrugged, hugging the two dogs close to her as she sat on the sunny kitchen floor. "I'm fine," she said briefly.
"Would you like some tea?" George asked, gesturing.
"Sure, but I can get it myself," Scout responded, rising smartly from the floor.
She found the tea bags and mugs and sat down across from him. He showed her how to click on the kettle and two minutes later she was sipping the best tea she'd ever had in her life as Jess rested her head on Scout's foot.
In the bright light of the kitchen, George was even better looking than before. His dark blond hair had streaks of lighter blond in it, and Scout wondered if he paid someone to put them in or if they were natural. He was already tan, which made his dark blue eyes pop even more. And, even though there was a bit of a chill in the air, he was barefoot, in shorts and a T-shirt which showed off his very toned body.
George Wilder was the whole package, and he definitely didn't abuse his body. No late nights or over indulging for him, at least not on a regular basis. This didn't exactly jibe with what little Scout had read about him after she found out she'd gotten the job.
According to her information, especially after he'd married Tessa Richardson, they'd become one of the most sought after couples in the world; a globe-trotting, jet-setting duo who could make or break an event simply by having their names associated with it. In fact, Scout seemed to recall reading something about one of them getting arrested over some drug use or something; however, she'd been sleep deprived and somewhere over the Atlantic when she read that, so perhaps she'd been mistaken. George certainly looked clear-eyed now, nothing impaired about him at all.
"You get used to the temperature," George said with a slight tilt to one corner of his mouth.
He knew she'd been checking him out.
Scout pulled her sweater around herself, feeling ridiculous as she did so. George had been married to one of the most beautiful women in the world, and was in love with her still, nearly a year after her death. He certainly wasn't checking out a twenty-four year old librarian who looked like a ten-year-old boy with a bad hair cut.
"Would you like to see the library?" he asked.
She nodded, so they rose, and she followed him out. Jess and Bandit, of course, went with them.
Again, Scout tried to commit the layout of the house to memory, but she got hopelessly lost by the time they arrived at the library.
"These books came with the house, as did most of the furniture," George explained as he opened the massive doors. "We only redid the bathrooms and kitchen, really. Always meant to get the books organized, and I'm just now getting around to it," he said apologetically.
He walked over to the windows and pulled the heavy draperies. "I've had people in to clean and that, but I tried not to touch anything in here," he said. "I heard that it's best not to disturb anything? I don't think there's anything in here really valuable, you know? Just some old stuff, fun, if you get my meaning." And here he turned to look at Scout.
Scout was looking at the shelves. There were many first editions, original printings, European editions, hand printings. "Oh wow," she murmured, pulling random books out, touching them reverently.
She finally looked over at George after a few minutes of this. "Yes, exactly right," she said, smiling, eyes shining. "Nothing really historically significant, nothing that should be archived or preserved or anything, nothing we should feel guilty about keeping from a museum, just lots of really fun things, like you said." She nodded again. "I agree with you completely, completely. This is going to be so much fun."
She walked over next to the window so she could examine the binding of the book she held in the light. He leaned over curiously, trying to see what she was looking at.
As they bent over the book together, the curtain rod gave one warning rattle and crashed down, catching Scout across the forehead, opening up a flap of skin as she smashed her head on the sill.
George yanked the curtain and the offending rod off of Scout as the dogs scurried for cover.
"Scout! Scout! Are you okay?"
She blinked up at him from the floor, nodding, trying to focus. She raised a hand to her temple, but George grasped it and held it away, shaking his head.
"No, don't touch, there's blood," he murmured.
Jess and Bandit came back, sniffing at her worriedly, making her smile in spite of the circumstances.
"Make sure none of the blood gets on the books," she said, carefully placing the book up on the windowsill.
George smiled at her words as he helped her up.
"Well, I intend to have some very strong words with my staff about how they replaced the curtains after they cleaned them," he said as he led her from the room.
"You have a staff?" Scout said asked in an amused voice.
"Well, okay, I guess 'staff' is rather a grandiose word for Alfred and Sunil from the village," George admitted. Scout was surprised at how relaxed and friendly George sounded. It was a different side to the silent and kind of sarcastic, frightening person she'd met earlier.
They entered what looked like a guest bathroom, and George sat her down on the counter next to the sink so he could delicately dab at a fairly bloody but not deep gash on her temple with a bit of tissue, much to her embarrassment. The dogs hovered and watched.
"I can do this myself," Scout said, laughing.
"Don't be silly," George said, holding the tissue out of reach when she reached for it. "What if you were to become faint at the sight of your own blood and pass out cold, falling off the counter in the process?" He stopped talking so he could look in her eyes, staring from about an inch away. He could feel her warm breaths on his face, and backed up a little.
"When I was ten I rode into a mailbox on my bike while I was turned around yelling something to my friend Kenny, and I had to push my bike home for nearly a mile with my lip torn away from my cheek. It was over an inch long," Scout said conversationally. "I had to hold the skin closed the whole way. I needed seven stitches. You can still kind of make out the scar, see? I was fine, honest."
But George insisted, and Scout finally gave up and let him minister to her, drawing in little hissing breaths as the antiseptic touched the raw wound. He finally stepped back, blowing on it. "Okay, all finished. I think you'll survive. And you might even have another romantic scar."
He looked critically into her pale blue eyes. "Do you have double vision or anything? I'm a bit concerned about concussion, if I'm honest. I wonder if I should have a doctor out here to examine you?"
"No, I'm sure I'm fine," Scout protested.
"Not feeling sleepy?" George persisted.
"Well, a little, but that's probably just jet lag, don't you think?" Scout said. "I promise I won't fall asleep."
George looked at her.
Scout hopped down off the counter and stood before him, a slight figure, standing straight.
George finally nodded.
"How about this, then?" George proposed. "We'll make some coffee, go sit down, and talk until dinner. If you seem fine, that is to say if you're not drowsy or slurring your words or anything, then no doctor, okay?"
Scout nodded too. "Okay," she agreed. "I guess you wouldn't want anyone dropping dead in your beautiful house," she joked.
He just looked at her for a moment before leaving the bathroom.
She took quick steps and put a hand on his arm.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Wilder, I really am. I'm always shooting off my mouth and waiting for my brain to catch up," she said contritely.
He looked at her hand, then her eyes before giving her a small, crooked grin.
"It's all right." He took a few steps before turning back.
She looked at him.
"Please call me George."
Chapter 3: Fireside Chat
Scout kicked her loafers off and tucked her feet up under her, reminding herself not to put her feet down on Jess or Bandit, who were jockeying for position directly under her chair. It was a beautiful room with French doors that opened directly onto a flagstone terrace that faced the sea. Narrow stairs had been cut into the cliffs and led directly from the terrace down to the rocky beach below.
The room was large without feeling cavernous, filled with bulky, dark furniture. A gorgeous, mahogany grand piano anchored everything in place, filling the corner, shiny and permanent. And, even though it was June, Scout could tell that the sunlight was illusory, and she'd be glad for the fire that crackled in the fireplace before the afternoon was over.
George sat, eyes hooded, staring broodingly into the fire. He didn't look like he wanted to talk. In fact, if Scout hadn't seen the lighter, more human side of him when she'd been in the kitchen with him and the dogs, she'd be seriously rethinking even remaining here. Even for the amount of money the job paid, the discomfort of being in his surly presence wouldn't have been worth it.
However, he had smiled and been kind of human, it was a pretty place, far from the eastern seaboard and a certain Dr. Frye, and his dogs were lovely. She could do this. She took a sip of the coffee, which was delicious.
"So," George said suddenly, startling her, "what do you think of the place?"
"Oh, um, it's really beautiful," Scout replied, nodding. "I'm from New England, so I'm used to this kind of architecture, but this is the real thing, you know? Authentic?"
"Yeah," he said musingly. "When I bought it I wanted something exactly as you're describing, beautiful and authentic. My friends were all buying places in London and New York and Paris? But I wanted an English estate on the coast. Nothing too ostentatious, but something with history and character, you know? And a little charm?" He stared into the fire. "The library and the piano really did it for me, though. Man, the smell of the old books, I'll never forget it. And all the wood in this house is original, brought over by boat from Indonesia by the man who built it."
Scout found the enthusiasm in his voice and on his face charming. She smiled at him, and he returned her smile for a very brief moment before carefully tucking the escaping ends of his personality back in.
George regarded the woman who sat in front of him, a woman unlike any he'd ever encountered before. He was pretty sure he'd never be forgiven for mistaking her for a man, ever. Even lesbians didn't like people getting their gender wrong, did they? He got the feeling she was one of those very capable women who didn't need a man for anything, especially sex. She probably had a really successful girlfriend back in America named Annabelle or Gertrude or whatever, who was a high-powered human rights lawyer or something. Which was really too bad, because she looked like she had a really cute, athletic figure under her shapeless, ill-fitting clothes.
He looked away before she noticed he was staring at her, looking outside, where the mist was starting to rise.
"Now you'll see where the house gets its name," he said.
"Oh?" Scout said curiously.
"Most days, even in high summer, even if it's started sunny, by late afternoon, the clouds and mist will start to roll in and things will get quite wet," he commented. "Visibility can get pretty bad, so you'll want to be very careful, especially if you're walking along the cliffs, all right?" He gave her a sober look. "The man who built this place was named Farraway, and the word 'Mist' got added on after because of how the fog and mist always rose at this particular point on the coast, where the cliffs jut out into the sea. A couple of people have fallen to their deaths, just out there, on the rocks, in the late afternoon and evening. It can be quite treacherous. Please, please, be careful. I can't stress this enough."
Scout nodded and gave an involuntary shiver at the morbid turn the conversation had taken. She lowered her feet, remembering the dogs just in time. She rubbed her feet on them, causing them to roll around and smile, eyes closed. Their master smiled too as he watched, his first smile since he'd entered the room, Scout noticed.
"I don't think I've ever seen them take to someone so well, so quickly," he commented.
"Really?" Scout replied, continuing to rub the dogs, warming her feet on them at the same time. "They're dogs, though, they're predisposed to love everyone, aren't they? I mean, it's not like they're cats, you know? Cats are like, 'prove I should relate to you, buddy', you know?" She looked at George, who nodded.
She rubbed the dogs some more, who were now in paroxysms of bliss from Scout's feet, twisting to and fro on the floor in front of her, causing the two humans in the room to laugh.
Again, Scout felt an errant draft blow by. It caused the fire to gutter and flicker a little. Weird. These old houses were so persnickety. She remembered her nana's house in Maine used to make a sound like a dog howling whenever it rained. She pulled her sweater closer.
"Are you chilly?" George asked. He didn't sound particularly concerned, merely annoyed.
Scout shook her head, but George rose and put another log on the fire anyway. Scout wondered whether or not she was supposed to say thank you in that situation? Had he done it for her? Or in spite of her?
Scout noticed that while they'd been talking it had indeed gotten progressively wetter outside, with drops of moisture clinging to the windows. The visibility had slowly gotten worse, too; when they'd come in, they'd been able to see a couple of miles out to the blue sea, but now they couldn't see past the flagstoned terrace, and the window panes rattled with the occasional gust of wind.
"How are you feeling?" George asked, and Scout realized he was referring to her forehead.
"I'm fine," she said, nodding reassuringly.
"No headache? No blurry vision?" He prodded.
She shook her head.
George rose abruptly and went to a glass cabinet, returning within moments and setting something down on the table between them.
"Scrabble?" Scout said.
"Yeah," George responded. "It'll pass the time, and keep you thinking as well, I thought. Unless you don't care for it? Or are you bad at it?" He looked at her carefully.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Scout cocked her eyebrow at him. "My family plays Scrabble for blood, George, and I'm the youngest, and the best. No offense, but I'm going to kick your English ass all over this well-appointed room."
George cocked his eyebrow back. "That's the problem with you Americans. You lack confidence," he commented drily.
Unfortunately for George, Scout's confidence in herself wasn't misplaced, and he was no match for her graduate level, Ivy League education.
"Ablution? That's not a word!" he declared. "Ab-so-lution, that one I've heard of."
"Ablution: the act of washing ones self, usually in a ceremonial context," Scout recited. "You're just lucky we're not playing tournament rules, because challenging a word that actually exists would cost you your turn."
George quickly pulled out his phone and began typing.
"Are you looking up 'ablution'?" Scout asked. "Seriously? You're questioning me? Dude, do you know how much money you're paying me to fix up your shit in there?"
George grinned at her. "Well, considering how much I'm paying you, you'd think you could come with a better word than 'shit', wouldn't you? Hm?" He put his phone away. "Doesn't matter, can't get a signal anyway." He rose, going to one of the shelves. "That's another thing you should know. Service is notoriously dodgy out here, so don't count on being able to use your mobile, ever."
He sat down, holding a fat book.
"Wow, that's a mother of a dictionary," Scout said admiringly.
George didn't answer, flipping through, finally running his finger down a densely printed page, stopping and reading before raising narrowed eyes to Scout's smug face.
"Find it?" she asked with a smirk.
George shut the book and set it aside, giving her another look. "Smart ass," he said.
Two moves later he pulled the dictionary over again, this time to look up "hirsute".
Scout waited patiently, making a show of looking around the room, scratching the dogs' heads, getting up to noodle around on the piano. It was a beautiful instrument, a concert length grand in dark African wood, impeccably maintained. Scout imagined it must sound amazing lifted, with the French doors open to let the sound out.
George looked over when the strains of Chopin filled the room.
Scout raised her eyebrows, and George nodded in response.
"I didn't know you played."
Scout nodded and continued until he put the dictionary back.
She returned and sat across from him.
"Hirsute: shaggy or covered in hair, right?" she asked with a smile.
He blinked at her. "Right," he responded.
"Where did you learn to play?" he asked, after contemplating the board for a while.
"What do you mean?" She stared at him. "We have piano teachers in America, you know."
He raised his hands in a placatory way. "Whoa! That's not what I meant! I know you have piano teachers in America, Jesus. What I just heard, though, that's not just lessons once a week. I'm a musician, believe me I can tell." He pulled his hair tie out of his hair and re-tied it, higher and tighter. "I had those, trotted off to Mrs. Bellamy every Wednesday after school and tortured the entire neighborhood." He gestured toward the beautiful Steinway. "What you just did was real music." He stopped, and Scout realized he was waiting for her to say something.
She finally shrugged. "My grandma was a classical pianist. She gave it up when she got early onset arthritis in her forties, but she was really something, and she taught all us grandkids. I remember seeing her perform when I was really young, in New York City," Scout continued, surprising herself. She didn't usually share herself with people. "Anyway, we all got pretty good."
George was giving her an inscrutable look.
"Well, please feel free to play, any time. As I said, I play, but very poorly, and it's a gorgeous instrument, it deserves someone like you," he said.
She nodded, pleased.
They finished their game of Scrabble, with Scout beating him soundly, and George finally allowed her to retire, exhausted, to bed. She noticed as she crawled into bed that the fog and wet weather had completely surrounded the house, and the wind made the panes rattle in their frames.