The Adventures of Cake and Crumb: Beginnings.
First came Cake. He knew this for a fact because he watched the Lady make Crumb. And of course even if he hadn't seen the making of Crumb with his own bead eyes, he had logic to support him. Cake had a brain of the wooliest sort, but even so he was very keen on logic. And logic told him that there could be no crumbs without a cake to make them. So he had been first.
Cake did not know how long he was before Crumb. It might have been days or weeks that passed while he sat quietly on his table and watched the Lady with her needles. Sometimes she used a needle which was very slender and barbed and flashed up and down, up and down so rapidly that it became a blur. Cake did not particularly care for this needle; he wasn't sure why though he suspicioned it had something to do with a vague memory of his own creation... which he gathered by watching had involved a pile of wool fiber, some wire, thread, and this needle.
He saw many little creatures come into being from the Lady's hands and this needle, but he couldn't help but observe that most of them were quite small and humble compared to himself. And then the lady took them away after a day or two, so Cake stopped bothering to introduce himself. Most of the little bunnies seemed uncommonly dull, anyway. "Good morning," Cake would begin, "and what might your name be, my good fellow?"
"I'm an orange bunny," faltered the tiny thing, in a pinched, squeaky voice. Its black wool eyes stared wide up at Cake, whose proud heart was full of embarrassment for the piteous, nameless little creature.
"Ah, well; it's not so important you have a name, you know, my dear fellow, when -- when -- " Cake's wooly brain struggled madly for some platitude. "When you're such a very nice shade of, er, orange you said? And so soft, with such a soft, fluffy tail," he finished weakly. The little bunny blinked at him in what might have been a contented sort of way and Cake did not attempt any more conversation with the smaller rabbits.
There were two sheep who stood a ways down the table from Cake. These sheep had been there some time, perhaps even longer than Cake, though the Lady didn't seem particularly fond of them. Once in a while she picked one up and turned it about in her hands, or held a little hat to its head. But then she would set it back again. And she never stroked their ears. Still, Cake was a social being and felt he must soon make a friend. So he called to the sheep, "I say, good morning, you two! It's a very fine morning, don't you think? I'm Cake the Rabbit. And who might you be?"
The sheep seemed to consult together. Then the one nearest fixed its beady eyes on Cake and said "Baaahhh." The other nodded, as if in agreement. Cake looked at the sheep, waiting for the white sheep to finish clearing its throat and answer him. The sheep blinked at each other and then at Cake but remained silent. "Yes, my dear fellow," cajoled Cake, "you were saying?"
Again the sheep looked at one another, then back at Cake. "Baaahhh,"offered the white one again, though this time a little more apologetically in tone. "Bah," the second sheep agreed, matter-of-factly, as if to settle the matter.
"Oh, er, oh, I see," flustered Cake confusedly. "Yes, I see now... very nice to meet you and the other, very nice... I'm very glad I'm sure... capital weather we've been having and all that... capital... I always say...." But happily the sheep had by now turned away and edged a little farther down the table, making low, unintelligible noises to one another, and Cake was spared the effort of trying to think of whatever it was he always said.
Cake had heard that sheep were brainless creatures, but he had not imagined this level of idiocy. He hoped he would never have the misfortune of trying to converse with one again; it was really quite degrading. That's what it was. Degrading. Cake was so pleased with this word that he didn't think of the silly sheep again for the rest of the morning.
One week the Lady came in and picked Cake up and carried him to a new room. A sunny room with south windows and yellow walls. She set him on a low table where Cake could look out the windows and into other rooms, and where he could watch the Lady, sitting in a big, overstuffed armchair. She worked with two long, thick needles that clicked together and pulled a thick thread through their points. Out of these the Lady worked all week to produce a steady stream of little round caps.
The caps were not for Cake. She never tried them on his head, and he could see that there were no ear holes. Cake had never seen his ears, but all the same he had been given the impression that his ears were quite nice, as the Lady liked to pet and pose his ears in different positions. So he held his ears proudly in the position the Lady liked best, and dearly hoped that no harm would come to them, from tiny knitted caps or anything else.
Another week the needle was so small that Cake had trouble seeing it with his little black eyes. These times, the Lady would purse her lips and lines would form between her brows as she squinted at very small pieces of fabric. While she sewed she would sigh and Cake was very glad that the Lady had not yet tried to make clothes for him. They looked quite uncomfortable and he couldn't help but notice that the little animals who were given clothes quickly disappeared from the studio, he wasn't sure to where.
And so things went for Cake didn't know just how long. He spoke to no one regularly and had no reason to keep track of the days. He wished the Lady would talk to him more often, or stroke his ears or turn him to face the window. But she was always busy with her needles, and lately, she seemed different. Cake couldn't say what it was, exactly. But she seemed tired and a little preoccupied. She often set down her work and hummed little tunes and rubbed her belly, which Cake really thought seemed to get bigger every day. He had never seen anything like it. Though he was stout, his own belly stayed the same shape and size from one day to the next. And he could swear that sometimes he saw the Lady's belly moving. As if there was something inside trying to get out.
One morning the Lady came in and picked Cake up and smiled at him and said "Cake, it's time you had a friend... it's time you had two new friends. I'm going to make one for you today, and the other, well, the other will be here soon." She tugged his ears gently and squeezed his plump paws and then set him down so he could look with one eye out the window and with the other at the work table.
Cake was to have a friend, then. And soon two friends. But first was the one the Lady would make for him. By heaven he hoped she wasn't going to make a sheep! Cake adopted his most intelligent expression and tried to communicate this to the Lady, who was straightening up her work space. She picked up the two sheep and placed them on the other side of the table and laughed. "Don't worry, Cake," she said. "Your friend isn't to be a sheep. They can be tiresome creatures. No; your friend is going to be a mouse. Mice are quite clever, don't you think?"
Cake had never met a mouse before but did not like to say so. "Now what color shall our mouse friend be?" the lady asked, more to herself than to Cake. Truth be told, Cake did not know very many colors, and those he did know he had picked up from the somewhat disjointed and inane conversations of the tiny Easter bunnies. If Cake had been pressed to name a color, Crumb would have ended up either orange, pink, or something called "awkward-marine," which was, in Cake's opinion, as fluffy a color as its name suggested. So it was a relief when the Lady answered her own question. "I think we'll have a brown mouse, just a humble brown mouse with sweet little whiskers and soft pink ears and clever, beady eyes."
He liked the sound of this mouse, though he couldn't help but hope the Lady didn't make this mouse friend too very clever. Cake never could stand a creature who was full of his own cleverness, being so humble himself. He hoped this little mouse friend would know its place. Yes, its place. He always said - said - what was it he always said? Ah, well, just so, thought Cake, and fixed one eye on the Lady's needle, which flashed quickly in and out of the warm morning light.