Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 747
Near the end of September, a new girl named Elizabeth Chung moves into the Casa Rosada. April and Melanie are urged by Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Ross to welcome the newcomer, but while April is generally sympathetic, she is quickly overcome by a sense of insecurity and jealousy. She...
(The entire section contains 747 words.)
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Near the end of September, a new girl named Elizabeth Chung moves into the Casa Rosada. April and Melanie are urged by Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Ross to welcome the newcomer, but while April is generally sympathetic, she is quickly overcome by a sense of insecurity and jealousy. She feels threatened by the idea of letting Elizabeth in on the Egypt Game. Melanie suggests that they should get to know Elizabeth, who is only nine, before making that decision. April agrees that they should help the new girl get adjusted to school and find some fourth grade friends, but she is adamant that the Egypt Game should be kept a secret.
The next morning April and Melanie go down to meet Elizabeth for the walk to school. Elizabeth is "amazingly tiny" and wears her thick black hair pulled back into a ponytail. She also has a winsome smile that makes her seem like an "enchanted ivory princess." Elizabeth's "gentle friendly shyness...[makes] other people feel important," and it is not long before even April is wondering if it would be all right if she and Melanie bought their new friend into the Egypt Game. The question is settled once and for all when the two older girls catch a glimpse of Elizabeth's head from the side one day. With her delicate, slender neck and her hair pulled back away from her face, Elizabeth in profile looks very much like the statue of Nefertiti.
Prisoners of Fear
Although she does not yet know much about ancient history, Elizabeth turns out to be a perfect addition to the group. She receives all of April's and Melanie's ideas with boundless admiration and enthusiasm; she is "just crazy about every part of the Egypt Game." The children start a new chapter in the game, with Marshall as the young pharaoh Marshamosis, Elizabeth as the queen, and April and Melanie as priestesses, both evil and heroic. Then, one day, the game is abruptly ended, when Mrs. Ross is heard calling for the children with an uncharacteristic tone of urgency. Something serious has occurred.
When they arrive back at Melanie's house, Mrs. Ross says only that there has been "some trouble" in the neighborhood, and that until further notice, everyone is to stay inside. By the next day, it is general knowledge that a little girl who lived just a short distance from the Casa Rosada has been killed. The victim had been on her way to the same drugstore where April had purchased her false eyelashes, and had never returned. Her body had later been found in the marshland near the bay. To make the situation even more ominous, the same thing had happened to a little boy from the area about a year earlier, and the murderer had never been found.
An atmosphere of terror reigns in the neighborhood for several weeks. None of the children in the area are allowed to play outside, and rumors abound as to whom the killer might be. It is not long before suspicion is directed at the Professor. No one knows for sure that he is guilty, but at the same time, "no one [knows] anything about him that would make them believe he [is] innocent." Only the Egypt gang maintains that the Professor is not a criminal; in their hearts, they know that if the reclusive old man really is guilty, their game will be ruined forever.
During this time, the children try to play the Egypt Game indoors, but they cannot replicate the magic of their original environment. They decide instead to spend their free hours making costumes and props to use when they return. The wait is especially hard for April, who has not heard from Dorothea for over a month. When a letter finally does come, the child learns that her mother is back in Hollywood, and has a new job in a nightclub. No invitation is extended for April to come home.
Time passes, and gradually, children are allowed to play outdoors again. Mrs. Ross, Mrs. Chung, and Mrs. Hall, however, are especially conscientious as parents, and the Egypt group continues to be stuck inside long after other children's restrictions are lifted. Frustrated, April, Melanie, and Elizabeth can only peek in at Egypt on their way home from school. They see that it remains just as they left it, except that, oddly, the flowers on Nefertiti's altar have stayed fresh much longer than would be have been expected.