Alberta regretted agreeing to have those Pevensie children for the summer. They were her sisters’ children and yet somehow she had never felt easy with them. During the last few years that unease had only grown. They were so…fey. They had strange fancies. They refused to look at anything rationally.
And they had such reactionary attitudes—although somehow the old-fashioned idea of deferring to one’s elders appeared to be optional when it came to her and Harold! They were never overtly disrespectful, but somehow they made it clear that they didn’t think much of their aunt and uncle’s politics, or their taste, or their cooking.
If it weren’t for Eustace she wouldn’t mind so much. She worried about the Pevensies’ influence on her son. Maybe she should have put Edmund in the spare room with Lucy, instead of having him share with Eustace. But of course that wouldn’t do. One didn't have a boy and girl that age sleeping in the same bedroom, even if they were brother and sister. Undoubtedly it would affect their psychosexual development, and not in a healthy way.
Now Eustace was up there in the spare room with them. She could hear the voices of all three children. What were they talking about? Maybe she should go fetch Eustace, make him come downstairs. No, she ought to trust him to be strong enough in his own convictions to resist his cousins’ influence. Her boy wasn’t perfect, but he had a good head on his shoulders.
Earlier she had typed up her notes from the most recent meeting of the Cambridge Vegetarian Society, and now she sat down at the kitchen table and tried to concentrate on writing up a summary to be read at the next meeting.
The voices went quiet, and she heard footsteps in the upstairs hallway. Somebody was coming downstairs. She was certain it was Eustace. Lucy and Edmund had a tendency to rattle around the house, running, skipping, making so much noise, making the house their own. So disruptive. Lucy was always singing, and Edmund liked to whistle. It nearly drove her mad. But this was a measured tread. It must be Eustace. Still, it made her nervous. Why was he pausing after each step? What was taking him so long?
Finally Eustace came into the kitchen. He had a defiant look on his face, a defiant posture: his chin lifted, his shoulders back. Alberta’s heart sank. For a moment he seemed like a stranger. She couldn’t put her finger on the difference, but she felt instinctively that he had changed.
“Is that lentil soup? It smells good,” he said.
That made her feel a little better. She hadn’t lost him completely. Not yet.