Alice Wetherby Pimms had a penchant for collecting governesses. Of her many peculiarities, this was perhaps the most curious, for in the first seven and three-quarter years of her young life, shipping magnate Roderick Pimms’ only child had procured precisely eleven of them. Rounding up, this would make it an average of 1.5 nannies in a twelve month period that had been employed to entertain the girl’s every whim. Imagine half a nanny. It conjures a frightful image, does it not? Nonetheless, many have attributed the ladies’ dismissals to Alice’s love of P. L. Travers fictitious character Mary Poppins.
This may clarify the child’s constant dissatisfaction with them; however, it does not explain their disappearance once they’d been terminated.
Now I’m sure you’re questioning how on earth a mere child, since being little more than a babe in nappies, could be responsible for the shelving of a qualified chain of caregivers. The truth is, the girl had a confounding way of wrapping her dear father about her pudgy little pinky ever since overhearing a distraught Mrs. Pimms suggest that her newborn’s wee digits resembled a squirm of meal worms.
Indeed, once Alice’s mother was completely out of the picture, it wasn’t solely the whimper, the wail, and the pout that caused the young tycoon to cave on his child’s every wish, but the single tear that Alice managed to conjure into a miniscule pool in the corner of one blue eye (it didn’t really matter which one either). There it would linger just the right length of a moment before proceeding to glide down her rosy cheek and disappear into the crease at the very edge of that pout. Although, upon witnessing it once myself, I am certain it was the plump pink tongue that flicked the droplet away that clinched the deal.
The first to be sacked was Nanny Miller. The retired soprano sang “Rock-a-Bye-Baby” one time too many while tucking baby Alice in for the night. It seems the child had no use for nightmares of cradles crashing from treetops.
Second, was Nanny Pitchforth. After the Miller debacle, the portly matron was axed once Alice had outgrown using the woman’s ample bosom as a bed. It seems Nanny Pitchforth’s thighs were not plush enough to complete the transition.
Soon afterwards, Ms. Diggleswit was dismissed for having a wandering eye. Not one of a physical nature, but one for Mr. Pimms, whose own eye for Alice’s welfare had turned blind shortly before the twenty-something-year-old had moved out of the nursery and into Mr. Pimms’ study.
The list went on, and on, and on:
One being booted for first reprimanding Alice for lighting matches in the mansion’s library, and then extinguishing the fire under the Steinway in a timely fashion…
Another let go for releasing Alice’s tutor from the walk-in freezer before first removing the Darjeeling from the teapot, thus allowing it to steep far too long and turn bitter…
The next was given her marching orders for raising her voice when she stumbled upon Alice throwing building blocks at passers-by from her second story bedroom window…
And one was even made redundant for not properly starching the child’s favorite frock.
Miss Petherbridge, who insisted upon not being called Nanny but Ms. P, lasted the longest. I’m inclined to believe that it was the intoxicating lily-of-the-valley vapor hovering over her pale skin which stirred memories of Alice’s mother that gave Ms. P the edge. Not to mention, her crimped auburn plaits that tickled Alice’s nose whenever she leaned over the child to point out spelling errors during lessons.
And yet, the young woman’s braids might just as well have been the impetus for her short-lived length of employment.
Indeed, judging from Miss Petherbridge’s new position…
it would appear the latter was the case.
Thank you to Marjorie Ford’s Pinterest collection of antique dolls for helping to round out this little ditty. Alice Wetherby-Pimms is turning out to be quite a character.
Thank you too, my dear Reader, for stopping by this week.