“Ahoy! Caroline!” called the crazy old man upstairs.
“Oh, hello,” said Coraline.
She could hardly see the old man through the mist.
He walked down the steps on the outside of the house that led up past Coraline’s front door to the door of his flat. He walked down very slowly. Coraline waited at the bottom of the steps.
“The mice do not like the mist,” he told her. “It makes their whiskers droop.”
“I dont like the mist much, either,” admitted Coraline.
The old man leaned down, so close that the bottom of his moustache tickled Coralines ear. “The mice have a message for you,” he whispered.
Coraline didnt know what to say.
“The message is this. Dont go through the door.” He paused. “Does that mean anything to you?”
“No,” said Coraline.
The old man shrugged. “They are funny, the mice. They get things wrong. They got your name wrong, you know. They kept saying Coraline. Not Caroline. Not Caroline at all.”
He picked up a milk bottle from the bottom step, and started back up to his attic flat.
Coraline went indoors. Her mother was working in her study. Her mothers study smelt of flowers.
“What shall I do?” asked Coraline.
“When do you go back to school?” asked her mother.
“Next week,” said Coraline.
“Hmph,” said her mother. “I suppose I shall have to get you new school clothes. Remind me, dear, or else Ill forget,” and she went back to typing things on the computer screen.
“What shall I do?” repeated Coraline.
“Draw something.” Her mother passed her a sheet of paper and a ballpoint  pen.
Coraline tried drawing the mist. After ten minutes of drawing she still had a white sheet of paper with MTSI written on it in one corner, in slightly wiggly  letters. She grunted and passed it to her mother.
“Mm. Very modern, dear,” said Coralines mother.
Coraline crept into the drawing room and tried to open the old door in the corner. It was locked once more. She supposed her mother must have locked it again. She shrugged.
Coraline went to see her father.
He had his back to the door as he typed. “Go away,” he said cheerfully as she walked in.
“I’m bored,” she said.
“Learn how to tap-dance ,” he suggested, without turning round.
Coraline shook her head. “Why dont you play with me?” she asked.
“Busy,” he said. “Working,” he added. He still hadnt turned around to look at her. “Why dont you go and bother Miss Spink and Miss Forcible?”
Vocabulary & Phrases
 ballpoint [?b?l?p??nt]n. 圆珠笔
 wiggly[?w?gli]adj. 扭动的；蠕动的
 tap-dance[t?pdɑns]vi. 跳踢踏舞