Monday, March 5, 2018

How Arthur Signed A Birthday Card -or- Happy Belated Birthday, Anna Caterina!

The Saga of Annie Caterina’s Birthday Card

By Katie Armistead

The children were busy making cards for various Helpers one late February day, and Samantha had just finished with Annie’s card and gave it to the other children to sign if they wanted, and then send it around to whichever adults cared to sign it.

Zack, Geoffrey, Erick, and Kipper all signed it, and Zack took it to Vincent’s chamber so Vincent and Catherine could sign it.  From there it went to the study so Mary and Father could sign.  Along the way, a few others signed as well.

When it was almost time to send it topside for another helper to mail it, Mouse came running up to Zack.

“Wait!  Mouse didn’t sign.  Mouse likes Annie, too!  Need to sign it!” Mouse said rather breathlessly.
“OK Mouse,” Zack said, “just be sure you take it above and get it to Mr. Greene to mail for us, OK?  Annie’s birthday is coming up SOON!”

“Okay good, Okay fine, will do!”  Mouse agreed.

Mouse took the card back to his chamber, and set it on his workbench.  He got out his pen, and wrote a short message, and signed his name.  Before he could take it up to Mr. Greene’s store, a message came over the pipes for him.  Seems somebody broke the mechanism for one of the entry gates, and he needed to go right away to fix it.  “Something breaks, everybody calls Mouse,” he said to Arthur on his way out with his tool bag.  

Arthur sniffed around on the workbench.  He was bored, and he was looking for mischief to get into.  Oh, ho!  What was that?  A card; and it smelled like a lot of the people he knew and liked.  He carried the card over to his favorite spot, and sniffed it carefully.  It probably needed to go to someone else, since other things like this he had seen were usually given to a person who hadn’t signed it.  One person he didn’t smell on the card was Narcissa.  He liked the reclusive seer; she always spoke to him as though he were an intelligent being.  (After all, he was.)  So, Arthur carefully picked up the card and took off for the lower tunnels, intent on finding Narcissa.

Mouse was busy at the repair job for several hours.  When he got back, he was very tired, and it was late, so he just took a bath and went to bed.  He forgot all about Annie’s card, and didn’t even notice that Arthur wasn’t around.  

The next morning, he had to join Vincent and some others on a work detail, so he didn’t think about the card then, either.  He DID notice that Arthur wasn’t around demanding breakfast, though.  “Not good.” Mouse said to himself, “Not good!”

He met up with the work crew, and told them about Arthur not being in his chamber this morning. 
“Well, I haven’t seen him around the hub, and William hasn’t raised the hue and cry about him being in the kitchens, so wherever he is, he’s staying out of trouble.” Cullen offered.

“He’ll probably be back when we return this afternoon, Mouse.” Vincent reasoned.  “Let’s finish clearing this chamber, and we’ll help you look around a bit on the way back.”

Arthur, meanwhile, had finally found Narcissa.  “Well, small gentleman,” Narcissa called “why have you come seeking this old woman?”

Arthur knew that Narcissa already knew why he was there, but he took the card over and put it down at her feet.

“A birthday card, is it;  Oh, for the Annie girl!  She is a good helper!”  Narcissa smiled down at Arthur.  “Would you like me to help you send your wishes to Annie, as well, Mr. Arthur?”

Arthur chattered and waved his paws to say “Yes, please.”

So Narcissa signed with a greeting of her own for Annie, and then drew a little picture of Arthur and wrote his name under it.  She showed it to him. “Does this meet with your approval, Mr. Arthur?”

Arthur chattered and nudged her hand to say “Yes, thank you!”  

Narcissa understood.

She also knew the card would be even more smudged and wrinkled if Arthur took it back up, so she made a decision.  “Mr. Arthur, I need to take some more headache powders to the Father.  Will you walk with me and keep this old woman company on the long trip?”

Arthur bowed and raised his paw as if to say, “I’d be honored, Madam.”

“You are a very polite small gentleman, Mr. Arthur” she said, gathering up the card and her bag.  “Let’s be off!”

They set off on the long trip back up to the hub, making a little better time than Arthur did coming down, because of course, Narcissa knows ALL the shortcuts, even ones Mouse hasn’t found.

After looking in all the usual hiding spots, Mouse, Vincent and Cullen hadn’t found Arthur.  They were on their way back to Mouse’s chamber to look some more when they were met by an out of breath Zack.

“Mouse!” he called, “did you give Annie’s card to Mr. Greene?  He says he doesn’t remember seeing it yet, and would like to get it mailed, even though now it will be late.”

“Oh! “ said Mouse “Card!  I forgot all about it!  Arthur’s been missing.”

“I saw Arthur heading down to the lower tunnels yesterday, I think.” Zack said.  “He’s probably exploring.  But where’s the card?!”

Just then a familiar voice piped up from the nearby tunnel junction. “Your tardy greeting card is here, Zachary; so is your masked friend, Mouse!”

“Narcissa!” Vincent exclaimed, going to help her with the bag she carried “It’s good of you to help Arthur out.”

“Oh, Vincent, you know this old woman can always tell when she is needed!  Mr. Arthur just wanted to add his greeting to the card, and be sure I sent mine as well.” She handed Vincent the card.  He smiled when he saw Arthur’s greeting.  

“Well, we shall get this to Mr. Greene straightaway so that he can send it to Annie along with our excuses for its tardiness!  Come, Father will be grateful for these headache powders, and he will no doubt insist you rest and have a cup of tea, perhaps stay for dinner before you travel home.”

Vincent led Narcissa to the study, Zach took off to Mr. Greene’s with the card, and Cullen and Mouse were left standing in the tunnel.  Well, I guess that solves the Great Arthur Caper.  What do ya say we go get some dinner, Mouse?”

“Okay, good!  Okay fine! Great idea!  Hungry after all that work!”

So, the tunnel dwellers got back to their normal routines, a great meal was enjoyed by all, with much laughter about Arthur’s demand to sign a birthday card, and sooner or later, Annie Caterina would have her very well-traveled birthday greetings;  including one from a naughty, bored raccoon.  

The End

A very happy belated birthday, dear Annie from your friend and fellow Helper Katie!

Here is what Anna's card looked like. (sorry the photo of the front is blurry!)

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