When breakfast was over and the children had gone to school, there was often a peculiar noise to be heard in the nursery. It was a scritching, scratching sort of noise, and it could mean only one thing.
Lettie Scribbles had come to make trouble.
Lettie Scribbles was a mouse, and not a highly regarded one at that. She spoke like a chimney sweep, leered, and bragged of her short-lived career as a pickpocket, glorifying a life of crime while conveniently omitting the fact she was no longer in possession of a tail.
It would take a fortnight to recount the scurrilous deeds of Lettie's past, including the time she nearly shut down Parliament because of her penchant for the prime minister's personal stash of cheese.
But of the vast spectrum of shenanigans attributed to Miss Scribbles, there was none from which she derived greater pleasure than this: vexing the dollies of Tollipop Place.
Oh, the capacity for mischief within one errant mouse!
For it was she who left droppings upon their fine china, she who nibbled their stockings, she who made crude gestures when the dollies speculated as to the affections of one Sir Timothy Hastings.
Sir Timothy Hastings was, of course, a bumblebee. He was soft and furry, the color of sunflowers on a perfect summer day. Maybe he did have just one wing and was, for the most part, generally acknowledged to be dead. But he was the closest thing to a suitor the dolls had ever known and they were terribly fond of him.
"Rawther," said Eleanor, the frosty twin,"I'm more inclined to favor strychnine."
"Don't mind if I do," smirked Lettie, flouncing into the nursery and flashing her bloomers for all to see.
"Have some respect, Miss Scribbles," breathed Lady Beatrice, "You are in the presence of a gentleman."
"Wot? That old thing?," cried the mouse, "And him, deader than a doornail?"
"Hold your tongue, you strumpet!," burst forth Quiet Bunny, the color rising in her cheeks, "Being past one's prime is not the same thing as irretrievably dead."
If her deep and abiding affection for the bee had been a secret, the cat was now out of the bag.
"I should say not," agreed the dolls, nodding one to another as Quiet Bunny's nostrils flared at an alarming rate.
But Lettie was off to the pantry and missed this concensus against her. What did it matter, anyway? What did she care for the opinion of some stuffy old dolls? She had matters of greater concern, such as the possibility of cats and the fact she would be going home to an empty nest that night, lined only with the silk from Quiet Bunny's stockings.