“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’
In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15: 8-10
Time does not pass for a doll as it does for those who care for them. A year can be an entire lifetime for a much-loved doll. Some live their lives slowly – centuries – gliding through the years gracefully with but a few savored moments or special someones. So, the twelve years that Mavis had spent since her creation made her feel both oddly venerable and giddily young.
She had lived almost always in the Korean chest. Just the right height for children, it had been lovingly made into a proper home for Mavis, with everything a doll could want: beds, tables, chairs, cupboards, dishes, dainty crocheted coverlets, cushions and flatware. When the mood struck, she could have the Chinese furniture installed – the black lacquer and gold paint transported her spirit to exotic places. She celebrated Christmas with a tiny tree and miniature garland strung along the dark walls of the chest. Behind a screen, so as not to embarrass visitors large or small, there were even porcelain Conveniences, including a bathtub, where an imaginative cloth doll could at least pretend to soak in luxury.
Mavis enjoyed many visitors. Little hands often explored her home and created adventures for her. Others served as efficient young housekeepers, carefully arranging and rearranging her tiny furniture and simple wardrobe: a dress, two blouses plus matching skirts, in pretty pinks and purples.
When the Dreaded Time* came, and having escaped a Sorting, all of Mavis’s belongings were carefully wrapped in colorful tissue, bundled into boxes and more boxes. Mavis herself was dressed in her pink Everyday Frock, which was more than adequate for a long journey. Wrapped in her own length of crinkly paper, she entered a dark world, floating on a dream as well as a vast sea. Her memory upon waking was very dim. Emerging from the tissue, she found herself still in her home, surrounded by her possessions. There was quite a different view upon opening the large wooden doors, and the household needed organizing, but other than that, all seemed very much the same…
…until it came time to change from her rather rumpled frock into something fresh, and neither of her skirts could be found. At first, the loss was not considered dire. Mavis expected that her skirts would be found, no doubt in a box, bag or crate that had yet to be unpacked. She shrugged herself into a blouse and a borrowed skirt of brilliant orange, far too short for public decency, but providing a small measure of modesty. Mavis assumed her housekeeping duties as the word spread that the skirts were missing.
A reward was offered for the discovery of the skirts, a small one at first. As the household was unpacked and the skirts remained missing, the reward grew, half in jest, because they were suspected of being well and truly gone. The reward finally reached $100.00, a sum thought to guarantee thorough searching and add drama to the re-telling.
But they could not be found.
Years passed. Children grew. Little hands did not visit Mavis as they once had, but she did not want for company. She spent time with wooden friends in sunny, cheerful corners of the house. “Mavis’s Skirts”, in the language of the tribe, became, over time, the phrase to describe something mysteriously missing with no hope of being recovered.
Then, in Mavis’s twenty-fourth year, a thoughtful Daughter of the House offered to put the old Korean chest to rights, check for unwanted inhabitants, beat the rugs, count the flatware. Familiar hands touched each piece of furniture. Adventures were recalled; redecorating discussed. A small dresser was admired, dusted and…opened to reveal…THE SKIRTS! What was lost had now been found, and there was such a noisy ta-do as the word spread among Family and Friends. This little dresser had evidently suffered from something very like Swollen Peg Syndrome, a malady The Woodens complain of miserably during Alabama summers. What was once packed during a chilly Korean winter had become stiff and unyielding in the heat and humidity to the point that no one remembered that it once could be opened. Mavis was thrilled both with the recovery and the attention.
The skirts were gently laundered, hung to dry, mended and ironed. The reward was given with gratitude and cheer, all being reminded of the Immeasurable Joy of being found.
* “Dreaded Time” is phrase first coined by the Doll Kingdom Chronicler, Caroline Weerstra, author of a series of books for young people on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, as well as others. It denotes an unpleasant season in the cycle of the Doll Kingdom, possibly due to the Court being moved to a new location. It is marked by a Sorting and includes possible Expulsion from the Kingdom. It is a time both Dolls and Children fear.
Caroline has included a few of the Chronicles on her blog: The Doll Kingdom Chronicles.