When we entered the kitchen, she pointed at a few, of what appeared to be, tiny cookie crumbs on the floor near the stove. Within inches of the crumbs there was a very faint, damp, rapidly fading expression of a bicycle tire. She observed, “In a poem Emily Dickinson asked,
‘Is there not a sweet wolf within us that demands its food?’”
I answered, “Emily’s right, but she forgot to mention that her sweet wolf has a greedy appetite, and too, it likes to eat between meals!”
It should be recognized that some bicycles, those rare ones with a high Homo sapiens content, are very cunning and entirely remarkable. One never sees them moving by themselves; they sometimes unaccountably disappear, and sometimes are unexpectedly met in the least accountable of places. I looked directly into her green eyes and asked, rhetorically, “Did you ever see a bicycle leaning against a cupboard in a warm kitchen when it is pouring rain outside?” “I did,” I said in answer to my own question.
“Not very far from the stove?” she frowningly wondered.
“Near enough to the family to hear the conversation,” she inquired further.
“I suppose so.”
“Not a thousand miles from where they kept the eatables?”
I responded with a “I didn’t notice,” Then, I suddenly understood the meaning of her questioning, “Good Lord, you don’t mean to say that you believe that bicycles eat food?” I admonished her, “They have never been seen doing it; nobody has ever caught them with a mouthful of seedy cake.”
“All I know is that food disappears,” she told me confidentially.
“This is not the first time I’ve noticed crumbs in front of the wheels of some of these gentlemen. . . .”
It is quite true, I had not noticed that the crumbs were significant, nor had I attributed to them any attributes of spookiness. Only she had a bit of apprehension of what was going on in this fearsomely infractional house.