I was thirteen when she appeared and she was about a year older. I knew straightaway there was something wrong, that she belonged to a different world to me and the sisters, a world that somehow threatened us.
La Maison Rouge spooked her, she said. She didn't like the way some of the rooms came and went. I'd never questioned that - it was just part of the way things were. For all I knew, everyone's house was like that. I hadn't been to many other houses. I didn't go to school - Henriette was my teacher and the only other child I knew was Albert the gardener's son. Hs house, which I'd been to a few times, seemed like the Red House only smaller.
So I thought Claudine was making a fuss about nothing. When I said that, she said: 'You know you're as weird as them.'
'This whole place is like haunted or something.'
'Haunted?' I thought of the silly ghost stories I'd come across in Henriette's library. 'Well, I've never seen a single ghost.'
'I sometimes think you are one,' said Claudine. 'All of you. I'm going to phone my auntie to take me back to Paris as soon as she gets back off her holidays.'
'You can't use a phone here, they don't work.'