A/N : It's me, "Miri" as some of you know me from your reviews. This is my first fanfic: please read, enjoy, and review. =)

Starr Kent raced to her gate to keep a tryst in the gathering darkness. Her gate, sunken in a little marshy hollow, a stone's throw away from the Disappointed House. The silver chorus of the frogs were beginning to sound as she gained her post, and from faraway, the tolling of the White Cross bell floated athwart, faint, fairy-like. Starr leaned on her swinging gate and felt it creak open into nowhere-in-particular. She was a-thrill with the promise of her reasonless gate.

"A gate is always a mystery --it lures--it is a symbol." She quoted to herself. "And a gate removed from prosaic necessities — one wonders what lies beyond."

It was June, and the Kents were all together at their Island summer home, The Disappointed House: Teddy, Emily, Ilse Juliet, and Starr. But not for long – somehow Starr's family had never spent a whole vacation together at the Disappointed House. Her father always had art exhibitions to hold in Toronto, or New York, or Chicago, or in Europe. This year, he was taking Starr's older sister, Ilse Juliet, and her best friend Emily Beatrice Miller to Munich in July and August. Mother and Starr had declined to go.

Mother loved the Island with passionately; Starr knew that whenever she could avoid a speaking tour or book-signing she liked best to spend her summers writing stories and letters under Mona Lisa's smile in the dim grey parlour. Starr loved the Island just as deeply – nothing delighted her more than prowling about the thousand Blair Water haunts of her mother's girlhood. "Emily's Bower" at the timeless New Moon garden – the three intriguing roads, "The Yesterday Road," "The Today Road," and "The Tomorrow Road" in Lofty John's Bush (really Mother's bush), and rugged, abandoned, romantic little Tansy Patch.

Starr was her mother's daughter in sensibility, but physically they little resembled one another. Like Emily, Starr was black haired and dark eyed – but while Emily was tall and aloof, Starr looked diminutive, fragile, elfin. She was far prettier than Emily had ever been, for she was crimson of lip and her cheeks were always russet-stained. Starr's pointed ears were really her sole inheritance from Emily – she did not know it, but all else she inherited from her beautiful, unhappy grandmother Aileen Kent whose name was seldom crossed the Kent family's lips.

"Why do we call our cottage 'The Disappointed House'?" Star had asked Emily and Teddy on the drive there. "A house as loved as ours has no right to be disappointed." But she had second thoughts the moment she said it – she loved it and Mother loved it – but what about father, who never stayed there long?

Mother told Starr the romantic little tale of Fred Clifford building the house for a bride who jilted him "at the altar." Starr found it delicious.

"But who finished it, Mummy? How did it come to be ours?"

Father's face turned a little white. "It was a wedding present for Emily and I." he said stiffly.

"Mr. Priest gave it to us." Emily said, quietly. "We furnished it together, once, before it was disappointed a second time. But Teddy and I furnished it in our imagination, long ago." She added with a laugh.

"How was it disappointed a second time?" Starr persisted.

Emily was silent for a space. She stroked Starr's hair, but her eyes were fixed on Father's hardened features. Then suddenly, when Father's attention was fixed on a sharp turn, she pulled Starr close and whispered quickly in her ear.

"Ask Mr. Priest."

Emily was pensive for a while. Three turns later, when they neared their own gate, she whispered to Starr again.

"But not if it hurts him."