It was a dark and stormy night. The wind whistled eerily outside. Ariel Roderick rushed all around her mansion (left to her by her mother and father) closing windows and lighting candles (She didn't like electricity). Her dogs rushed around too, casting eerie shadows on the wall. She had 44 dogs, all hounds. Ariel looked out the window as lightning flashed and thunder boomed. She shivered and ran back to the dining room, the only room with gas lamps, to finish setting the table. Ariel was expecting company, and had the dinner all ready for them. She hastily peeked out of the window at the garden walk, to see if they had come yet. Yes, there was a carriage, and a couple coming up the path. She rushed downstairs. Let's see, Ariel thought, I invited the Stephensons , the Smiths, and the Farris's. I won't have to think of any interesting conversation, that's for sure. The doorbell sounded in 20 different tones. The Smiths entered first. "Hello, Ariel dearie!" Mrs. Smith's cheerful voice came over a crash of thunder, "I said a big storm would come, and look now, it did, didn't it? Well, I've got so much to tell you..." They went into the sitting room until the other guests arrived. Ariel smiled patiently as she heard about Mrs. Smith's opinion on everything-or just about- all in five minutes. As they talked, the Stephensons drove up. They entered the big house, their nineteen mischeivous children looking about in wonder at the twenty-four foot ceilings and the stained glass window with its elaborate draperies. "Thanks so much for invitin' us, Miss Roderick," drawled Mr. Stephenson. "Yes, we really don't have a lot to eat- besides potatoes- at our house," said Mrs. Stephenson nervously, wringing her hands as if there was something wrong. The children, having gawked long enough started running about.You could hear voices in different parts of the house, shouting things like, "Hey, did you look at this?" or "I wonder if this breaks when you do this... oops, it does." or "Let's go climb that ladder looking thing," and crashes, banging, and cracking. "Uh... children... be careful... no.. don't touch.. oh, no, you broke it!... I'm sorry, Miss Roderick," cried Mrs. Stephenson, rushing about. "That's perfectly fine," smiled Ariel. She loved children. "Oh, and please, call me Ariel."
When the Farris's arrived, they went into the dining room, Ariel was kept busy with serving food, cleaning up spilled drinks, and keeping the children from beating marks in the beautiful oak table. "I don't know why you don't employ servants," Mrs. Smith remarked loftily, " they save a great deal of trouble." Ariel smiled uneasily. "I don't like servants. They're too sneaky. Plus, I have my dogs." she finished. "Yes, but they are better company than dogs, especially now..." Mrs. Smith turned away and started cutting her steak. "Now?" Ariel inquired, "Whatever do you mean?" Mr. Farris broke in. "She means, there's a dangerous burglar on the loose!"
Thunder crashed outside. "Did you say a burglar, Mr. Farris?" Ariel inquired. "Yes, and a dangerous one!" he said, nodding his head. Suddenly one of the Stephenson children screamed. "There's the burglar, I saw him!" Everyone looked toward the window and saw... a shadow cast by the rose bush. It did look rather like a man's head. Ariel swallowed and breathed a sigh of relief. Mrs. Farris sighed too. "Well, that burglar was last seen in Meadow Field, so he couldn't come here so quick." she remarked.
After everyone had gone, Ariel checked all the doors and windows to make sure they were locked. Then she paused. Do I hear noises coming from the other room?
She did hear noises. They sounded like someone opening drawers, cocking a gun, shooting... Pull yourself together, Ariel, She told herself. Ariel didn't know what to do. Should she go investigate herself? Send one of the dogs? I'll call the police! Ariel thought, I don't know why I didn't think of it before. She crept downstairs and called on her newly installed telephone. After she called, Ariel waited anxiously until they arrived, lights flashing, and knocked on the door. "I heard the noises upstairs," She told the officer. They tiptoed upstairs and with a flourish, the officer swept the door open. There, standing in the room, was....
...a dog! Ariel was very surprised. When the police left, Ariel fed her dogs and went to bed.