The Adventures of Cake and Crumb: Cake's darkest hour
Cake was feeling low. The Lady had neglected to repair his snaggy coat for months now, and he was quite literally at loose ends. He didn't feel like writing, he didn't feel like reading. He was hardly talking. He had spent the last three days drooping around in front of the window, watching the fog and heaving large sighs. Crumb was not sympathetic. She was still sore about his being chosen as Nellie's special bedtime animal for two nights the week before, though she wouldn't admit it.
It had, of course, been an honor, and Cake had never been happier than those nights spent snuggled in the child's arms. But Miss Nettie was a restless sleeper and this had taken an extra toll on Cake's coat, which Crumb was keen to bring to his attention.
"You've heard of the Velveteen Rabbit, haven't you? There was another shabby rabbit, and never mind how the child loved him, they threw him out anyway!" she needled him. "Nights spent in the nursery are lovely enough when they happen, but the piper must be paid!"
"But I'm not made of velveteen," Cake whispered.
"No, you're not!" said Crumb. "You're made of wool. Wool fibers, to be exact, which is much more delicate than velveteen. And if ever little Nel was sick and slept with you, you could never be scoured clean! And THAT would be the end of Cake the Rabbit!"
"Oh, please. I haven't the heart, my friend. I was hoping the Lady would notice how shabby I'm looking, when she brought me down from the nursery. She set me in here on the work table, but that was days ago, and Miss Nellie will never find me in here." Cake said despairingly.
"If I were you, I'd enjoy the break," snapped Crumb. "Look at me! My sweater is lost, along with my specs. I'm SURE my tail must be broken; it hasn't worked right in months - I can't straighten it, see? My rocking chair got stepped on, the Lady stopped buying peanut butter, and Nellie always pulls my whiskers and pokes my eyes, but do you hear me complaining? No, I just get on with things, that's what I do."
"Ah, but you've a stronger will than I; you always have, you know? I'm afraid I suffer rather more than the average rabbit. It's my melancholy. You see, great minds have often suffered from it, and though I wouldn't want to draw comparison between myself and Winston Churchill," Cake began to pick up steam, his ears lifting animatedly.
Crumb rolled her eyes. She'd heard all about Churchill's "black dog" before. Once he got started on the "Great Man," as he referred to him, there was no telling how long Cake might go on. She looked around. Maybe she could find something useful in the jumble of things on the work table. A small sweater or even a piece of fabric she could use as a shawl.... She scurried around, sniffing. She was quite far-sighted without her spectacles.
".... and do you know what the man said to her? He said 'Madam, if I were your husband, I'd drink it!'" Here Cake laughed heartily and looked to see if Crumb was enjoying the joke. "I say, Crumb, my dear? Where have you got to?"
There was a scuffling sound from behind a pile of yarn. "Ah-ha!" came the muffled voice of Crumb. "Ah-ha! You see, while you've been yoodle-dooing on about your beloved old windbag, I've been getting on with things! And look where it's got me? I've found my specs, I have! And what have you done? Hmmm?" Crumb peered at him accusingly. She was struggling to free her glasses from the pincushion where they'd been lost among a jumble of straight pins and needles. "There we have it! They seem just fine," said Crumb, settling them on her nose. "Ah! To see again! Hell's bells, Cake! You are a sight! My goodness!" she sniffed audibly.
She scurried back over the piles of fabric and yarn. "And heavens, you're certainly stout as Churchill ever was, aren't you? I declare, Cake; you've been spreading!"
"I'm just as I've been, I'll thank you to know! I have an athlete's build!" retorted Cake. "And anyway, it makes me snuggly-a-ber! What child would want to cuddle YOUR tiny twitchit of a body?"
As his words hung in the air, Cake drew himself up, ready to meet his doom as a great man or rabbit might, but he was saved by the thundering approach of a pair of big and little feet. The Lady and the Child zoomed into the room, playing chase. Nellie's eyes fell upon the two, perched on the edge of the table. "Cake and Crumb! Cake and Crumb!" she squealed, grabbing one in each hand and running off. Crumb's spectacles clattered to the floor. The Lady picked them up and hooked them back on the pin cushion. She wondered how they'd ended up back on Crumb's little head. She certainly hadn't put them there. Had she?