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Calamus Quill & Lucy (Part 1)

To this day I cannot seem to remember how I found my way to the cottage on Lollipop Lane, let alone recall how I came to be asleep curled up in a ball in a tent on the nursery floor!

My first recollection of that morning is the sound of kitchen utensils being clanged busily about in another room, setting up a comfortably familiar din. Normally that would not have startled me nor made me pay any particular attention whatsoever. But on this morning it seemed rather strange as I clearly remembered falling asleep in a room in the Laurel Hotel several floors removed from the establishment’s kitchen.

Cautiously I opened one eye, then the other. Though the light was dim through the little tent, I could plainly see the brightly colored silk fabric stretched just above my head. Strips and patches of the most festive hues had been hand stitched together to create a rich and busy pattern. The little doorway, hardly half my height, was framed in long, hanging tassels, and the fabric itself smelled of lavender and vanilla. The feather duvet on which I had been lying was not particularly thick, and the unforgiving nature of the floor had taken it’s toll upon my bones!

I rolled first to one side and then the other in an effort to sit up, but realized quickly there was nothing for it but to wriggle out the door through which, in fact, my shoes were already sticking. It was then I realized that I was not only fully clothed, but dressed in my evening coat as well. Things were getting more and more curious!

Rolling over on my stomach, I raised myself to my knees and began backing out of the little tent. As I did so I heard light footsteps running from the room and a young child’s voice announcing loudly, “She’s awake! She’s awake!” Whether boy or girl I could not tell.

As my head cleared the tent, I rose somewhat unsteadily to my feet, stretching out the kinks and gently prodding tender spots here and there. The room itself was depressingly dim and dowdy. I turned and took a step toward what little light was slanting in through the hallway door, tripping as I did so on what could only have been a toy or a shoe. I would have fallen face first upon said object had not two strong arms appeared in that hall light, catching me in my unceremonious tumble, while a smaller body brushed quickly by and into the room. At the same time I heard a slap, slap, slap from behind me as a window blind was tugged and released and rolled to a stop. My eyes squinted to adjust to the bright light suddenly spilling across a faded Cabbage Rose carpet and a mélange of toys, books and clothes.

Recovering my balance, I blinked and looked around, first at the jumble of items strewn across the floor, then at the face of my rescuer as he steadied me on my feet. His eyes, large and smiling, were the most amazing sky blue. The creases at their corners fairly dribbled down his face and pooled on either side of his wide smile. His abundance of hair, the color of wet summer sand, curled in tight, tiny ringlets all over his head.

“Allow me,” he said, nudging the offending toy out of the way with the toe of a scuffed boot. His demeanor was so calm and good natured that I simply forgot to be embarrassed by my clumsiness.

“Excuse me,” said I, recovering my voice, “but where am I?”

His smile grew even wider, if that were possible. “You are at 3216 Lollipop Lane,” said he proudly, and this is Marzipan Manor.

Befuddled, I replied, “But how did I get here?”

“You were the answer to my prayer!” he said very simply, as if it explained, entirely, the whole matter.

“Oh!” was all I could think to say.

“May I take your wrap?” he asked, tugging at the sleeve of my evening coat.

I hesitated but briefly. “Yes… Thank you,” I replied, not knowing what else to say, his impeccable manners all the more baffling under the odd circumstances.

As he disappeared out the door with my coat, I took a moment to glance around the room and noticed for the first time the two young girls, one sitting on a bed, the other standing by the window. It was obvious they were twins.

“Good morning,” said I, for lack of anything more sensible to say. “That is if it IS, indeed, morning.”

“Good morning,” they echoed, their small faces alive with curiosity. “Are you the new nanny, then?”

twins 2“Nanny?” I asked, struggling to grasp their meaning even as I took in their appearance. Most of their long, curly ginger hair cascaded over their shoulders in unruly waves having escaped from pink sateen ribbons tied quite ineptly at the back of their necks. There was no mistaking whose daughters they were, for my rescuer’s eyes peered back at me from the two young faces. Their frayed nightgowns, which I could only guess had once been white, were far too long for little girls, and puddled in heaps on the floor at their feet.

Before I could respond, before I could even regard what they had asked, their father reappeared in the doorway. Over one arm was a white linen apron, and in his hand he carried a starched, white, ruffled dust cap, the kind worn by the servants in our home.

“Here you go, then, Miss… Miss… Oh, I do beg your pardon, but what ARE we to call you? What IS your name, my dear?”

Really! This has gone on quite long enough, I thought to myself.

“Excuse me, again,” I said, repeating my earlier question, “but how, exactly, did I come to be here?”

The quiet twittering that had been going on between the two girls now huddled conspiratorially on the bed erupted into high pitched laughter. The man with the beautiful blue eyes cast them a look only a father could give! They quieted immediately, but surmising that no serious conversation was likely to take place in their presence, he admonished them to TRY to dress themselves for the day, and, begging MY pardon, asked me to follow him to his study.

I admit that I was surprised to hear him say he HAD a study! His own somewhat tattered appearance certainly did not give the impression that he was any kind of gentleman. Nor did the disarray of his daughters or the state of their nursery. I would have expected, rather, that he was the gardener! I was glad to be following along behind as my face was quite flushed with the error of my presumption. I was thinking like my step-mother again!