Situated at the end of Chincoteague’s downtown is an unassuming three-story, pale yellow house. Painted blue flowers cascade down the white front porch pillars. This is Miss Molly’s Inn, the b&b where Marguerite Henry stayed when she began writing her now famous, Misty of Chincoteague. While a literary pilgrimage to Chincoteague is not complete without staying in this comfortable, decently located, charming b&b, you’ll soon discover that it comes with a set of characters and peculiarities all its own. A stay at Miss Molly’s Inn was not quite the relaxing writers’ retreat I had imagined it to be. It was more like staying in a victorian household under the charge of a regimental nanny. The Innkeeper keeps the place ship-shape, and as guests, you are her charges- who she also expects to toe the line.
Here’s a few tips for surviving The Innkeeper’s rule:
- Make sure you’ve memorized the combination to the side-door from your registration email. Otherwise, you will find yourself on the doorstep with your luggage, digging for your iPhone, desperately hoping there’s service, and scrolling through emails to find the right one. While you’re struggling, the Innkeeper will be waiting patiently on the other side of the door ready to welcome you when at last you open the door.
- The front door is to remain locked at all times. No Misty fans wanting to view Henry’s room will be tolerated here. This is NOT a tourist attraction, paying guests only. However, now that you’re part of the privileged insiders, you may sit straight-backed in the Victorian-furnished parlor and smirk at the hopeless fans outside the front door as they sadly try the door and then longingly try to peer through the decorative glass of the door pane. You, however, if you’re not lucky enough to be staying in the room, will be able to head up the stairs and peek into the room labeled “Marguerite Henry” if the door is open while it’s being cleaned.
- Breakfast is at 9am. Not before, not after. 9am SHARP. Upon arrival, you will sit in the dining room as assigned by your room name. Swapping places is highly discouraged. Food will be prepared based on your food tolerances and switching seats may result in your ending up with someone else’s breakfast. You would not want to take another guest’s dairy free meal or find nuts on your plate when you’re highly allergic.
- If you decide to depart for an early morning tour or beach walk, be sure to let The Innkeeper know the night before. She will be severely put-out should you fail to show for breakfast.
- You’ll want to finish your breakfast and conversation before The Innkeeper arrives with her daily instructions. As any good nanny, she’ll tell you exactly which nooks and crannies specific to your room to check that nothing has fallen into. She’ll provide helpful ideas for activities you might do with what’s left of your day.
- Mind your behavior on the back porch, the innkeeper will be watching your every move with her eagle eye from the kitchen window. Here you may choose to pop in for a cup of coffee, grab a cookie, or store beverages in the fridge, however make sure you’ve only used the space allotted to you. Although the porch is roofed and screened, mosquitoes still find their way in, and in the heat of the summer the ceiling fans just can’t keep up, so you’ll probably want to limit your time outdoors in favor of your air-conditioned room.
- Never use the door into the kitchen from the back porch, this is not permitted. Your presence may make the kitchen unsanitary.
Should you be able to follow these rules to the letter, you’ll be granted access to trolley tokens, beach supplies, and bicycles which will make your stay in Chincoteague more enjoyable. These are borrowed on the honor system, and you wouldn’t want to disappoint after all your good behavior!
Finally, should you visit during Pony Penning Week, The Innkeeper will be your best source of information about the auction because she happens to be involved in one of the Pony Buy-Back organizations.
I wonder if Marguerite Henry had stayed at Miss Molly’s Inn today, if her book might just have included a few extra characters…