“I do wish he would walk a bit more softly when he paces,” said Edith. “The shelves are quaking, books are falling to the floor and the tea set in the cabinet is in danger of shattering.”
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.
“Chicago,” said Edith. “I think I’d like to send some hot chocolate to him, right about now. Hot chocolate with the tiny marshmallows he loves so much. What do you think?”
“I think that’s a wonderful idea,” said Chicago. “I’ll ask the kitchen to do it.”
“Thank you,” said Edith. “I have a room full of albino raccoons to care for.”
“They are so darling,” smiled Chicago. “I saw one in his pajamas this morning and I had to control myself, so that I wouldn’t pick him up and kiss him.”
“Oh, don’t do that!” said Edith, at once. “They are fully grown and intelligent adult raccoons. They are here because they are inventors, instructors and scientists.”
“But they are so beautiful with their white faces and lovely ears…”
“Snap out of it,” said Edith. “Leave them alone unless they speak to you.”
“Fine,” said Chicago moodily. “I know you’re right. It’s just that I had a pet raccoon as a child and I just thought…”
“They are not those kinds of raccoons and you know it.”
“I do, but…”
“Please send the hot chocolate to our guest and let’s hope that it has the effect we are all hoping for.”
“Of course,” said Chicago, heading to the kitchen. “I’ll send some biscuits as well.”
“Excellent idea. Thank you. And Chicago…”
“I’m sorry you can’t pet the raccoons.”
Chicago smiled. “I know you are. I’ll make sure he gets the tiny marshmallows, so don’t worry.”
“Tilly and Jerry sent the dragons to another dimension for a few hours. They can’t handle them while he’s here and that a guy Tim is no help at all. Maybe you should let them go to him and get it over with,” said the gray cat, sprawling on the counter.
“I don’t think we have a choice,” sighed Edith. “Just tell Tilly to release them and I’ll take any fallout that may come our way.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” said the gray cat, jumping to the floor.
Ten minutes later there was a terrible roar and the dragons were free. They disappeared, after making a right turn through the foyer and nearly hooking Edith with their claws but it was over quickly. After a few minutes, the pacing stopped and piece of paper dropped onto the blotter. Edith picked it up and smiled. It said:
Chocolate and dragons. Aren’t you the clever one.
Edith looked over the counter and saw a white raccoon. “May I be of service, Thomas?”
“I just wanted to thank you for all the tree trunks in our quarters. We do enjoy a soft bed, now and then, but a hollow tree is our favorite place to sleep. We appreciate your kindness.”
“Thank you. It’s a great pleasure to have you with us again, Thomas. I do hope Molly and the children are well.”
“Very well, thank you and Edith, some boxes may be delivered later today. If you would send them to the lab on the twelfth floor I would be in your debt.”
“It will be done. Enjoy your time here and feel free to read as many books as you like.”
“Gracious as ever,” he said, taking his leave.
“He’s very nice,” said Snowball. “Polite and grateful.”
“Yes he is,” said Edith, writing the titles of books in her ledger.
“Do you think he will make an appearance?”
“I do,” said Edith. “I think the chocolate and the dragons have calmed him a bit.”
“I met him once,” said Snowball. “A great man. Stardust fell from his midnight blue robe as he walked.”
“Oh, that’s my favorite robe,” said Edith, happily. “I do hope he wears it, if he comes down.”
“I’m happy you’re here.”
Edith choked up and felt tears sting her eyes. She went to the cat and put her arms around him. “I’m happy that I’m here too, Snowball.”
“EXCUSE ME, THIS IS ALL VERY TOUCHING, BUT WHERE SHOULD WE PUT OUR LUGGAGE?”
“You need to lower your voice and make yourself visible at once,” said Edith sternly.
“Oh, sorry,” said the Tiger. “My bad.”
“Your rooms are on the ground floor and they open into the forest,” said Edith. “You know the rules. NO HUNTING.”
“But stalking is okay, right?” asked the tiger, his tail swishing back and forth.
“I’d rather you didn’t,” said Edith. “You frightened quite a few of the others when you did that last time.”
“But Edith, we’re CATS and stalking is what we do,” moaned the tiger. “You’ve seen us…we get all focused, wiggly and tense.”
“This is a Convention, Bobby. Mind your manners and keep the rest of your party in line or you’ll answer to me. Understood?”
“Understood,” said Bobby. “But it won’t be as much fun.”
“There’s a new book in your room. It’s called Tiger by the Tail and it’s about two tigers who fall in love…”
“Oh, don’t tell me, don’t tell me,” said Bobby quickly. “Thank you Edith.”
“Did you see him yet?”
“No. Not yet.”
“I hope he comes down,” said Bobby. “Claws and fingers crossed.”
“”Claws and fingers crossed,” agreed Edith.
“These are for you,” said Bobby, pushing a brightly colored tin across the counter.
Edith removed the lid and snickered. “Hard candy in the shape of tigers,” she laughed. “How ever did you manage it?”
“Snowball knew a guy.”
“I’m sure he did,” she said, popping a red tiger into her mouth. “Delicious,” she moaned. “Just delicious.”
“I’m happy you like them Edith.”
“I do and I’m very, very grateful for your thoughtfulness but you still can’t hunt or stalk anyone.”
“It was worth a shot,” said Bobby softly.
“It certainly was,” said Edith, carefully placing the box of candy on a shelf under the counter. “And Bobby…”
“Try not to blow anything up.”
“You’re no fun Edith,” growled the big cat. “No fun at all.”