Alice Wetherby-Pimms had a peculiar penchant for pickles. Be they sweet, sour, or dill, the child was mad about brined cucumbers. Chips, chunks, cubes, finely chopped relishes, halves, slices, spears, sticks and whole, no matter their shape, Alice craved them all.
So given the mysterious disappearance of the Pimms’s famed horticulturist Horace Hornby, one would expect her new governess to have jumped at the chance to avoid a similar end with regard to the child’s transports of delight, instead of ignoring what Alice deemed the grand theft of a not so grand cuke. Indeed, the ruckus which ensued over a petit cornichon – an ordinary gherkin, at that – was hardly worth giving it the time of day. Or so it seemed.
The incident took place on a blustery day in May, as many Alice inspired episodes had. Gale force winds churned the sea that morning, whipped up stiff peaks of foam by afternoon, and just after sunset, flung the salty surf’s froth against the towering Victorian’s beveled glass windows like an inept novice pâtissier hurls buttercream dollops on a sheet cake. The Pimms’s recently renovated abode, perched atop a jagged bluff, shook with every crashing wave that slammed against the cliffside. Or so it appeared.
Nanny Merriweather pounded up the first flight of the grand six-story staircase. “In all my years spent molding rude, ill-bred urchins into polite, upstanding young women, I’ve never heard of such a kerfuffle over the disappearance of a simple pimpled and pocked slice of produce before!” Her footfalls, like a stampeding herd of bison, reverberated throughout the imposing manor. From the vestibule, depending on the angle and the last time she’d taken a razor to her lower limbs, her broad bottom bore a resemblance to at least one, if not two of the beasts’ buttocks.
In other words, and in the interest of a PG rating, the chignon coiffed middle aged governess was built like a bramble veiled brick outhouse, and looked like one, too.
“It’s a family heirloom!” Alice stomped from one end of the cavernous Persian carpeted hallway to the other. “Aunty Brinley bequeathed it to me on her deathbed!” The ten-year-old dropped to her dimpled knees. “Where is it?” She pummeled the rug with her porcine fists. “WHERE CAN IT BE?” Tears flowed. “It’s been stolen! I’m sure of it!”
Waves of sonic sniffles overtook the child, but only until the deluge of mucus cascading from her dainty nostrils could no longer be contained. If this were an episode from 1001 Tales of Arabian Nights, the runner would surely have rolled the child up into itself and flown out the filigreed french doors, depositing Alice in some far off wonder land where she would never be able to defile its woolen display of fine craftsmanship ever again. Rainwater puddles, clumps of snow, clods of muck and mud aside, pools of snot would surely have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. A rather apropos idiom for a Silk Road treasure, wouldn’t you say?
With a stifled haarrrumpf, Nanny Merriweather managed to stop herself from saying what she’d have said prior to the Pimms’ posting. Unlike her predecessors, the quinquagenarian did not take rumors lightly, believing that there is always a grain of truth to every whisper said behind another’s back.*
“Calm down child.” Nanny Merriweather pulled a lace handkerchief from her fitted sleeve. “Dry your tears. No gourd, blanched, baked, boiled, preserved, pickled or otherwise, is worth all this hullabaloo.”
“Gourd?” Alice snatched the delicate hanky from the nursemaid’s outstretched hand, gave her nose a few swipes (not that it helped), and rose to her feet.
The carpet buckled.
“You mean my pickle?” Alice’s eyes grew to the size of another favourite – sliced, kumquat soaked in sugar syrup.
The rug curled in at the edges.
“It’s the case! My pickle holder! I ate the pickle before it was STOLEN!” Alice’s fists balled.
Mrs. Merriweather patted the sides of her pleated skirt like a bird preparing to take flight until, reaching into a deep pocket, the left one, she pulled a sight for Alice’s red-rimmed eyes. “This?”
“It was you!” Alice’s face turned the color of Peter Piper’s pickled peppers. “You stole it!”
The runner crumpled.
“No. I found it.” Mrs. Merriweather took two dainty steps backward. Quite an accomplishment for a woman her size. “In the library.” Her knees attempted to knock. “Under the Steinway.” She stuttered. “In exactly the spot where you play when Mr. Pimms is—”
Had it not been for her wealth of padding, the nanny-of-the-month would surely have broken her neck when she tumbled down the staircase, and ‘The Case of the Purloined Pickle’ might well have been titled ‘The Unfortunate Demise of
yet another the Dutiful Governess.’
Have there been any mischievous characters rambling around in your head lately?
Share in the comments. We’d love to be introduced.
❤ Alice and I thank you for stopping by today ❤
~ Be well ~
*List of Alice’s Antics to date: