Oh lawdy, Mr. Donovan, Miz Cynthia’s done fainted again.” Teensy peered down at the slender lady lying on the Oriental rug.
Mr. Donovan removed the pipe from his mouth. “Let’s get her to the fainting couch.” He helped Teensy lay his wife across the plush red velvet.
Her eyes fluttered open. “Where is it?” She sat up quickly and drew her feet up underneath her. “Where did it go?”
Michael Donovan smoothed his wife’s hair. “Where did what go, dear?”
“That disgusting rodent.” She shuddered and pointed toward the staircase. “It ran from under there, across the parlor, then headed for the kitchen. ”
Teensy raised her eyebrows. “That thing better not be in my kitchen. Mr. Donovan, you ain’t payin’ me enough to share my biscuits with no mouse. If’n you don’t do somethin’, I’ll be lookin’ for another job.” She folded her plump arms across her chest in defiance.
“I’ll tend to the mouse. Just relax.” He turned his attention back to his wife.
“Yes, do rid us of it. I’m having a very special tea here tomorrow. You know I went to boarding school with President McKinley’s cousin. I’ve received a telegram saying she will be in town and will be able to attend. I simply cannot have a rodent on the loose.
“Teensy, the azaleas are at their peak, so we’ll set up in the garden. Make sure the croquet set is available. Some of the ladies will want to play.
“How are you coming with the refreshments?”
“They’s comin’ along fine, but you ain’t gettin’ no Earl Grey tea. Mr. Perkins down at the mercantile ain’t got none left.”
“Oh dear. No Earl Grey?” Cynthia touched the back of her hand to her forehead and leaned back against the couch.
Mr. Donovan patted her hand. “There, dear. Why don’t you serve some of that lovely pekoe blend Aunt Harriet sent you from abroad? I bet none of the other ladies have ever tasted that. You’ll be the talk of the town.”
“Why yes. I’ll do that.”
Teensy eyed Cynthia. “What you gonna do with Mikey while you’s havin’ this tea? You don’t ‘spect me to babysit him. I can’t serve and be runnin’ after no chile too.”
“Mr. Donovan is taking him over to his Uncle Paul’s on the bicycle built for two.”
Teensy headed toward the kitchen, mumbling. “That Paul gonna fill him full of wild Rough Rider stories, too.”
Cynthia smiled at her husband. “Would you fetch the smelling salts? We should keep them handy.”
Teensy stepped cautiously into the kitchen, expecting the mouse to jump out at her. Eight year-old Mikey sat at the table, a ring of purple around his lips. “Chile, you done been into my jam again, ain’t ya?”
“I’m hungry, Teensy.” He touched a doily on the table.
“Don’t you be gettin’ no jam on your mama’s doily. You gonna spoil your supper anyway. ‘Sides, they’s a mouse in here. Your daddy gonna get it.”
Mikey’s eyes lit up. “It’s in here for sure?”
“I ain’t sure, but it was headed this way. Here come your daddy now with a broom.”
Mr. Donovan began whistling “Hello! Ma Baby,” and rumpled Mikey’s hair. “You skedaddle now.”
“You’re not going to hurt it are you, Dad?”
Teensy steered him out the door. “Never you mind.”
They climbed the stairs. “Your mama’s havin’a fancy tea, and we can’t have no mouse runnin’ here and yonder.”
“Why not? It wouldn’t hurt anything.”
“Oh, them women that’s a comin’, they’s important women. They’ll be mindin’ their manners and be dressed right out of Harper’s Bazaar. We can’t have no mouse around. Them women would go to screamin’, and they’d dump their tea all over their pretty dresses.”
Mikey giggled. Teensy tried not to. She finally gave in and grinned. “Well, it might look funny, but it sure wouldn’t be. It’d be in all the society pages the next day, and your mama would be on that faintin’ couch for a week.”
Teensy turned on the Tiffany lamp in Mikey’s room. “You stay up here till supper.”
She winked at him and turned to leave.
Mikey spied a tiny gray tail darting under his bed. “Teensy?”
“I’m really starving. Couldn’t I have just a little snack?”
“What you want?”
“I think,“ he began, glancing back at the spot where he saw the little tail disappear, “I would like a piece of cheese.”
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