Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 861
Enter Melanie—and Marshall
Melanie Ross, who, like April, is eleven years old, arrives at the Halls' apartment a few minutes before noon on that same day. The friendly little girl does not know much about Mrs. Hall's granddaughter, but she hopes that she is close to her in age, and...
(The entire section contains 861 words.)
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Enter Melanie—and Marshall
Melanie Ross, who, like April, is eleven years old, arrives at the Halls' apartment a few minutes before noon on that same day. The friendly little girl does not know much about Mrs. Hall's granddaughter, but she hopes that she is close to her in age, and that they might become friends. Melanie is quite surprised, however, when the newcomer opens the apartment door to her knock. April has her hair stacked up in a pile on her head; she has an ostentatious "fur thing" wrapped around her shoulders, and is wearing clumsily-attached pair of ludicrous false eyelashes.
Recovering from her initial shock, Melanie introduces herself, explaining that she has come to bring April up to her family's apartment for lunch. Casually, she asks if her new acquaintance will be staying with her grandmother long, but April responds dismissively that she will only be staying a short while, just until her mother, who is traveling with a band right now, is finished with her tour. Melanie recognizes that April is "showboating," but concludes that she is acting that way because she is homesick.
Up in the Rosses' apartment, April meets Melanie's mother and four-year-old brother Marshall. Melanie's mother is a sharp, neat-looking woman, and April senses that she is one adult who will not be easy to fool. During lunch, April talks a lot about Hollywood, where she most recently lived with her mother, and about the movie stars she has met. Afterward, Mrs. Ross, unfazed by the visitor's braggadocio, suggests that April might like to look at Melanie's books, to see if there is something she might be interested in borrowing.
Melanie is an avid reader, and has quite an extensive "library" in her room. At first, April feigns indifference, but in reality, she loves to read and is quickly caught up in the fascinating selection of items in her new friend's bookcase. By chance, she discovers a collection of what appears to be paper dolls in a particularly dull-looking book. Melanie, who uses them to represent players in an imaginary game in which she makes up complicated storylines for characters she creates, at first fears that April might laugh at her for playing with paper dolls at her age. April, however, is charmed with the idea and the two girls spend the rest of the afternoon concocting exciting escapades for the paper doll "families."
When it is time to for her to go home, April's attitude of affected haughtiness returns, but Melanie does not allow herself to be put off by her friend's behavior. She tells April, "none of my friends know how to play imagining games the way you do," and April replies, "imagining games are just about all I ever play because most of the time I never have anybody to play with."
The Egypt Girls
April and Melanie hang out together all through the month of August. They play in each others' apartments, watch Marshall while Mrs. Ross attends classes at the university, and sometimes go to the library. It is at the library that April one day finds a new book about Egypt, which she passes on to Melanie. It is not long before the girls have unearthed and read "just about everything the library [has] to offer" on the topic, which is one that has long intrigued both girls. By the end of the month, the two have developed a system of hieroglyphics for writing secret messages, and, at the library at least, they are beginning to be called "the Egypt Girls."
There is one thing that mars these halcyon days, however, and that is the imminent beginning of school. April knows from experience how difficult it is to be the "new kid" in class, and begins to have nightmares about it. In addition, she has heard almost nothing from her mother; she has received only one very short postcard from Dorothea during the whole time she has been with her grandmother.
Melanie, on her part, is worried about how her new friend will adjust at Wilson School as well. She has found April to be "the most exciting friend [she] has ever had," but she also sees that the the one thing that April does not know much about is getting along with others. With Melanie, April is herself, but with other kids she immediately reverts to her "Hollywood" facade, acting "terribly grown-up and bored with everything." Melanie is afraid that the kids at Wilson will not stand for her fakeness, which they will recognize immediately if she wears her false eyelashes. Melanie tries to talk to April about the eyelashes, but her friend is defiant. Desperate, Melanie begins to develop a plan to prevent her from wearing the outlandish eyelashes to school on the first day.
On the Saturday before school begins, April and Melanie return to Egypt. Pretending that they are being watched by Syrian spies, they take a number of elaborate, evasive actions along the way. When they arrive safely at the fence surrounding the Professor's yard, they are refreshingly out of breath, and excited to continue their adventures in their imaginary world of ancient intrigue.