Part 2 is a terribly boring name for this next chapter in the life of Horace. I could call it ‘The time before Horace Horatio Heggarty the 23rd was nearly caught’ but that would be too long and you’d roll your eyes and say, quite understandably, ‘Get on with it!’ A better name might be ‘Before the flour exploded.’ Yes, just hold a picture of an explosion of flour in your head, while I tell you what happened before it happened.
Lots of people live in my house.
There’s me. Obviously.
Then there’s Littlest. She is the Littlest. And Four-legged-friend is the only one with four legs. As far as I know Horace has two; I’ve only ever seen two red shoes.
Littlest likes to bake cakes.
When Littlest is baking, Four-legged-friend likes to help; catching things – he puts his nose between Littlest’s tummy and the side of the mixing bowl and waits for something to fall into his mouth. He is also an expert at cleaning the floor, particularly the floor beneath Littlest’s chair.
Horace likes baking too. He is very good at observing and sniffing. He mostly likes the finished cake especially when the finished cake isn’t one cake but lots of small, easy-to-run-away-with fairy cakes. His favourites are the ones that Littlest calls ‘ decorated prettily.’
One Tuesday morning, when it was raining stair-rods outside, Littlest and Four-legged-friend had just finished pushing mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips, chopped glace cherries, jellied oranges, hundreds and thousands and silver sugar balls into thick chocolate, butter icing on twelve, small, Victoria sponge cup-cakes. They abandoned their bowls, spoons, butter dish, palette knife, plates, sugar sifter, baking tray and hot chocolate cups next to the sink; for the house fairy to wash-up.
“Come on!” said Littlest to Four-legged-friend. “We must wash our … paws!”
You need to wash more than your paws thought Four-legged-friend, looking at Littlest’s face and shorts and knees. And hair – how did she get cake mix in her hair? Of course he said nothing as he licked his paws clean and waited for her to retire from soap-bubble-magician-ship and graduate to preparations for their afternoon picnic.
Now, if anyone had stayed behind in the kitchen, they might have heard a cupboard door slam, seen a flurry of flour float upwards beneath Littlest’s chair and a tail of snowy footprints run off beneath the old oak dresser.
Littlest wasn’t in the kitchen and didn’t see any of this. So, when she returned with thirty seven teddy bears and assorted dolls, wrapped up in a blanket like knobbly, knotted rags in a sac … and after she had arranged them in a circle with a tea cup in front of each soft friend … and after she had instructed Four-legged-friend five times not to knock over the big grey rabbit called Flopsy again … then, she yelled at Four-legged-friend and banished him to his cage because one of the cakes was missing.
While all the yelling, howling and stamping of angry feet was going on, Horace was at home, sitting on a half-full honey jar, enjoying his cake.
The home of a Felonious Kleptosquater is never easy to find but you would know it if you stumbled upon it. It is the place in your home filled with all the missing odd socks, pencil sharpeners, pairs of scissors, sellotape dispensers, books of stamps, gloves (only ever a right or left hand, never both), the playing card missing from your pack of cards, tea spoons, felt pen lids, jigsaw pieces, earring backs, spare car keys, and teeth. Everything, in fact, that goes missing from the human part of the house.