Andover Abby didn’t have a conservatory, and Sarah had always wanted to visit a house that did. She just hadn’t imagined finding one of such incredible size. Why, it had to be at least one hundred yards long, and the width . . . perhaps twenty or thirty? Thinking herself alone and lost in her attempt to calculate an accurate square footage, Sarah instinctively leapt at the sound of a very loud grunt, startled by it to such a degree that she let go of Snowball, who tumbled to the ground and, as one might expect from a curious hamster, chose not to sit and wait for Sarah to pick him up again but raced off along the path as fast as his tiny legs could carry him. Forgetting the sound she’d just heard, Sarah hurried after him, desperate to catch him before she lost him forever in the small jungle.
“Snowball?” Sarah hissed, as if the creature would actually come walking back to her when summoned. Pushing past some wide leaves, she finally spotted the little fellow, sitting quite happily on the edge of the pathway. Heart pounding in her chest, Sarah dropped to a crouch and eased her way forward, desperate to prevent him from leaping off between the bushes. Good heavens, she’d never find him then! With measured breaths, Sarah moved with the silence of a wraith—at least to her own way of thinking—and as tedious and strenuous as the endeavor proved, she knew she had to avoid startling Snowball at all cost. Eventually, she reached him, her hand moving toward him, ready to snatch him up, just as another grunt shook the air.
Snowball darted off beneath a fern, and Sarah swore with vigor. Hands clenched into two tight fists, she prepared to rise and give whatever creature it was that had produced the sound a proper set down, when a voice spoke, saying, “Aren’t you a bit too old to be crawling about on the floor?”
Sarah froze. If the grunt had belonged to a pig, she might have understood. A pig would not have been clever enough to know what Sarah was trying to accomplish, but then again, a pig would not have been roaming around a conservatory either. Her irritation grew. Of course her efforts had failed because of a man. Brilliant!
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