First checking that no one was watching him, Henry took a deep breath and knocked on the door. In fact, he was being watched by a neighbourhood cat (who felt nothing but pity for him), but he failed to notice this. I hope this was worth it, Henry thought, waiting for a reply. Inside the house, Karen waited for a second knock. Henry’s persistence was one of her favourite qualities. Henry shifted nervously and counted off the seconds until he got to thirty, then knocked again.
With a joyful yelp, Karen sprang from her chair and ran to the door. The crash it made as she flung it open was audible from one end of the street, where Mr Jameson was pensively watering his flower-beds, to the other, where Mary Simmons was lying in the bath and contemplating mortality. And so it begins, Mary thought to herself as Karen mentally browsed wedding dresses and Henry found his mouth growing dry. Three hundred miles away, Henry’s mother was unaware of any of this.