Crumb's voice droned on and Cake wiped his forehead again. The Baby was hot from rolling over and kicking and her skin was damp, the hair stuck down to her forehead. It was July and every day was the same: hot. Cake was worn down by it, and though Crumb would never admit to suffering of any kind, perhaps she was wearing thin, too. The humidity made her whiskers curl and she had developed a habit of yanking at them irritably. Her sniffing had lost some of its crispness.
The three of them sat on a blanket in the shade while the Lady hung out laundry nearby. Crumb was wielding a small broom which she used to shoo flies off of the baby and in between swats she read from a book of nursery rhymes. Cake was charged with turning pages and in between times frequently wiped his and the Baby's brow with a large silk hankie.
"Are you watching for horseflies?" Crumb asked sharply. "Because I won't have the baby getting bit. She hasn't had a single bug bite yet and I won't have it, Cake! I won't have it!"
Cake raised his usually-perky ears up straighter to listen for the harsh buzz of a horsefly. "Oh, quite right, my dear, quite right," he said, but without his customary pep. "Perhaps it's too hot even for the horseflies today!" He smiled wanly at this tired joke.
"Nonsense!" sniffed Crumb, who was not in a joking mood. "And stop mopping yourself with that nasty rag! I don't know why you insist on that hankie; goodness knows you can't perspire any more than I can!"
"Ah, but it's a relief to be able to do something, and anyway, little Nellie certainly sweats enough for the both of us!" Cake returned, dabbing at his temple and then the Baby's.
"Good grief," muttered Crumb, just missing a fly with her broom. "And how many times do I have to tell you that I detest that word? Couth persons never use the word 'sweat.' But then what can I expect from an animal who carries an unkempt article like that?" she asked, flicking at the hankie with disgust.
"Come now, Crumb! I'm sure 'sweat' is considered quite a couthful part of the modern hexagon. And I'm as couth a being as you'll find, I assure you. Yes indeed, many a one has remarked on the couthness of my person. No, I think you're quite wrong there, my friend. I think you're wrong, and I might even suggest that the heat is getting to your head!" Cake raised his handkerchief above his head with a flourish at this final declaration, roused despite the heat, with the elegance of his argument and with the use of the word 'hexagon.'
Crumb's spectacles raised off her nose just the slightest bit and she gave three of her sharpest, loudest, sniffs. She narrowed her eyes and hissed - Ah! But some things are better left to the imagination! So here you must imagine your own favorite insult, because Fate intervened in the form of a long, low rumble from the Baby's posterior end. Crumb's voice trailed away and her glasses slid off the end of her nose. Cake wheeled around to see where the sound came from and the defamed silk hankie fluttered forgotten to the ground. The two looked at one another and then they both looked at the Baby, who kicked her legs and smiled and squealed.
Cake was the closer of the two, but Crumb was very much the nimbler, and she scurried up the Baby's diaper for a closer inspection, only to feel the ground (as it were) tremble beneath her feet. The rumbling continued and Crumb worked to steady herself.
"And how, my friend," said Cake, who was standing downwind, "is the air up there where you are? I must confess it leaves a little to be desired from my position!"
Crumb sniffed. "Of course you would be squeamish! It's just a little, just a little bit of... wind, I'm sure," she said hopefully, struggling to pry up one side of the Baby's diaper. "Now Nel, hold still a moment while Old Crumb checks to see - Oh! Oh, dear me! Well I think we should just - we should just - uh, we should try to keep her still!" she said, letting the diaper snap back and gingerly backing away. "I'm afraid that is a little more significant than wind, yes; a little more significant. But never to worry, little one," she chirped. "Crumb is here to help you! Cake, we must try to keep her still or I'm afraid there may be - ahem - leakage."
"Ah, of course, of course. I understand you implixitly, my dear friend, implixitly. Yes, I always say the thing to do in these situations is to remain calm. A few deep breaths" - here Cake remembered the nature of the situation and thought better - "Or perhaps not, after all. No, this is not a time for deep breathing. Er, perhaps we should retire to a distance to consider?"
"Retire to a distance??? That's your suggestion?" Crumb fairly shrieked. And to be fair, that was exactly what Crumb would have liked to do, had she been an animal of less fortitude.
Fortunately, Fate intervened for a second time in the person of the Lady, who was finished with the wash. Cake and Crumb both waved and tried to motion warning to her as she bent down and scooped up the hot Baby to take inside, but she didn't seem to notice their efforts. What became of the Baby's diaper? Her dress? The Lady's blouse? Some stories are better left unfinished.