THE house in the hollow was "a mile from anywhere"-so Maywood people said. It wassituated in a grassy little dale, looking as if it had never been built like other houses but hadgrown up there like a big, brown mushroom. It was reached by a long, green lane andalmost hidden from view by an encircling growth of young birches. No other house couldbe seen from it although the village was just over the hill. Ellen Greene said it was thelonesomest place in the world and vowed that she wouldn't stay there a day if it wasn't thatshe pitied the child.Emily didn't know she was being pitied and didn't know what lonesomeness meant. Shehad plenty of company. There was Father-and Mike-and Saucy Sal. The Wind Womanwas always around; and there were the trees-Adam-and-Eve, and the Rooster Pine, andall the friendly lady-birches.And there was "the flash," too. She never knew when it might come, and the possibility ofit kept her a-thrill and expectant.Emily had slipped away in the chilly twilight for a walk. She remembered that walk veryvividly all her life-perhaps because of a certain eerie beauty that was in it-perhapsbecause "the flash" came for the first time in weeks-more likely because of whathappened after she came back from it.It had been a dull, cold day in early May, threatening to rain but never raining. Father hadlain on the sitting-room lounge all day. He had coughed a good deal and he had not talkedmuch to Emily, which was a very unusual thing for him. Most of the time he lay with hishands clasped under his head and his large, sunken, dark-blue eyes fixed dreamily andunseeingly on the cloudy sky that was visible between the boughs of the two big spruces inthe front yard-Adam-and-Eve, they always called those spruces, because of a whimsicalresemblance Emily had traced between their position, with reference to a small apple-treebetween them, and that of Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge in an old-fashionedpicture in one of Ellen Greene's books. The Tree of Knowledge looked exactly like the squatlittle apple-tree, and Adam and Eve stood up on either side as stiffly and rigidly as did thespruces.Emily wondered what Father was thinking of, but she never bothered him with questionswhen his cough was bad. She only wished she had somebody to talk to. Ellen Greenewouldn't talk that day either. She did nothing but grunt, and grunts meant that Ellen wasdisturbed about something. She had grunted last night after the doctor had whispered toher in the kitchen, and she had grunted when she gave Emily a bedtime snack of bread andmolasses. Emily did not like bread and molasses, but she ate it because she did not want tohurt Ellen's feelings. It was not often that Ellen allowed her anything to eat before going tobed, and when she did it meant that for some reason or other she wanted to confer aspecial favor.