It was a rather lemony looking hat, wider on the left then on the right, completely covered with biggish, lemon colored feathers and a giant sun flower on the shallow side. Lolly Desjardin was besides herself and beamed like a light bulb underneath it's lemony brim. Said that "Lindsay felt this to be her finest creation". Iggy Braithwaite gushed all over herself, making an early and, I thought, premature pronouncement that she'd be passing the torch to Lolly this year. That is, the Most Beautiful Hat torch, if you will. Now I do adore Lolly, well who doesn't. And on a normal day, one that didn't involve stacking tea cups and longing for a sip of Earl Grey while realizing my dream of winning Most Beautiful Hat at the Malvern Races was diminishing with every lemon swoosh of Lolly's hat, I would be giddy with excitement for her, too. But I'm sure that they, Lolly and Iggy that is, must have noticed the complete drain of color from my face as soon as Lolly showed us her, I must admit, quite spectacular hat. I'd been working so hard on my hat, and here before my eyes was quite possibly the most glorious, lemon colored creation that a head could wear. Maeve Huckleberry wore a somewhat similar, pink creation two years ago at the Point to Point races, and blabbered on endlessly about how some famous hat man in London made the thing especially for her. Unfortunately, this famous hat man neglected to build something to hide Maeve's rather unfortunate looking mug. Therefore, I believe he completely failed in his mission.
Now Lolly is such a pretty girl, one wouldn't want a hat to cover her smiley face. And happy as she was, well you can imagine the pickle it placed me when she asked about storing the thing in my cedar closet. "I'm so dreadfully frightened that The Burglar might abscond with it," she nearly quivered. Iggy shook her head emphatically in agreement, reminding us that he'd, The Burglar that is, taken off with her would be entry to this year's competition. "Don't know what I'll do now," Iggy almost sobbed, "Huston says I spend too much money on hats to begin with, and that I should just wear the one from last year since it was so successful. He really doesn't understand a thing!" And we all agreed. He's a darling man, but like most men, he can be a bit daffed when it comes to important things like the Hat Competition.
Now the thing about being magnanimous, which is precisely what I believe I was being, is that you can't actually go out and brag of your magnanimosity, now can you? What would I say, "oh hallo, I've just given over my house as a safe haven for Lolly Desjardin's most glorious Hat competition entry, absolutely blinding my dream of snagging that honor with an original creation of my own". And speaking of my original creation, I'd been spending absolutely bundles of time on it, and you know, I think the thing is no where close to being a finished product. I'd left the project in the able hands of Mr Heung, over at The Second Hand, you know. And between the two of us, we'd clipped the man made tails off nearly a dozen second hand stuffed animals and statuettes with the plan of reattaching them to the brim of a very smart looking hat I'd located in the shop. If I remember correctly, we had at least one faux rabbit tail, a purple dinosaur tail, a small number of faux cat and dogish type tails and a most rigid piece from the rear of a plastic horse. Mr. Heung had taken on the task of attaching these tails in an artistic fashion of which he assures me he is most talented. And I do absolutely believe him as he has been so excited about the project. That is until I introduced him to that Veronic girl. Lovely sweet girl, if a tad tawdry in her outfits, but none the less, quite a nice girl. And you see, this brings me really to the dilemma I sat in the middle of at this moment. As much as I adored myself for the arrangement I managed to create at The Second Hand, it was at the moment leaving me rather hat less. After all, the Malvern Races were right around the proverbial corner, I was staring at the giddy, happy and gloriously hatted face of Lolly Desjardin as my head was moving up and down in agreement while she, Lolly that is, placed her lemon prize into a large shopping bag, provided by the ever eavesdropping Constance Cortnoy, and handed it to me for a vigilant safe keeping. I suppose a second place finish might be nice, if indeed the committee chose to award such a thing.
But the point here is that I believe Mr. Heung has become a bit forgetful towards my hat. Now I do admit that fabulous things had been going on at The Second Hand since I'd introduced that Veronica girl to the situation. She'd managed to create actual departments in the store. Where once you could find a vintage Lilly Pulitzer along side a baby bassinet, Veronica had staged a Ladies boutique to the right front of the store, jewelry smack dab in the center, Menswear to the front left and so forth and so on. Not to mention the bright dabs of color she'd painted on the walls and bright, happy lime green trim. Flubberheaded as I am, this all reminded me that Veronica gave me a hand scribbled ad to place in The Weekly, announcing that every Wednesday afternoon, High Tea would be served at The Second Hand. I couldn't wait for that and was so dreadfully proud to show Mr. Petigrew the business I was bringing The Weekly.
"A paid advertisement," I told him triumphantly. I must have bragged just a tad too much about how I masterminded the whole plot, looked like love and all that, for Mr. Petigrew grew into a foul mood and stormed off into his office, refusing to take calls. Which really is too bad, I had such a good idea to run by him. But in that mood, Sue-Nancy Quigley suggested, better not to bother him at all. So, as Sue-Nancy suggested, I decided not to bother Mr. Petigrew and to just go ahead and print my column with this new twist:
Dear Mr. Burglar,
I must say that I am an absolute fan of yours. I imagine you to be very busy, but a talented man with a special kindness towards animals. All things wonderful with that. Be that as it may, I've a special object in my home that I'm keeping safe for a dear friend and I would be most appreciative if you held off from nicking it until after the Malvern Races.
Thank you so much, you dear man and good luck,