It distinctly sounds as if someone just shut and locked the door of the little guest bathroom but the door is still slightly ajar and the light is off. Sometimes there's the sound of a shower but nobody's taking one. In fact everyone else is asleep and anyway there's no shower in there. Now and then there's a crunching of leaves as if someone were walking past, an occasional snap-thud in the tree as if the fruit were being picked. The kitchen door seems to do the click-shut thing during the day as well – working at the dining table, I often think the maid has just come in but then look up to see her still outside.
As someone who will spend a fearful night under the blanket after hearing the most childish ghost story in the day, I should be a paralysed ball under the bed in the face of these awful portents. Instead I walk through this vast old villa late at night and don't even switch on the lights. I go indifferently past that mysterious bathroom to the kitchen to look in the fridge. I've even stepped out into the garden thinking "oh how pretty, it's a full moon" braving – actually not remembering – werewolves, vampires and The Descent. I actually didn't notice the portents until about three weeks after I got there.
It's because of a Jack Russell called Lisa. Having grown up with dogs, I think I'm used to automatically taking my cue from them, so if Lisa does not fear whatever's going bump in the night, then neither do I.
She's only about as long as my arm (I come from the German shepherd/retriever/Labrador school) and spends every night tucked under the comforter with her owners but she inspires an unquestioned sense of security. A long line of Jessies, Bimbos, Sandys, Caesars, Shebas, Dylans, Ruffs, Rudolphs, Trishas, Tracys and Oscars, and the parents' general attitude that the dogs were adequate babysitter/chaperone/trail guide have conditioned me very thoroughly: no unsuspected dangers can lurk in a house with a dog.
Floorboards can creak, wind can howl, ghostly feet can pace the garden, the more fastidious ones can take ghostly showers all night long. That's fine, there's plenty of room for all of us, as long as Lisa feels safe enough to sleep through it.
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