148 What Shall We Do Now?
Dolls are, of course, perfectly at home in bed when you are ill, but there is even more interest in a menagerie. On this subject it would be difficult to do better than quote from a letter from E. M. R., who has 590 china animals, mostly in families and all named. She began this magnificent collection with a family of monkeys.
The mother was called Sally, her eldest son Mungo, the next Pin-ceri, another, eating a nut, Jock, and the youngest, a sweet little girl monkey, Ness. I was soon given a family of three foxes, Reynard, Brushtail, and Whitepad, and from that time to the present my collection has been growing. I soon had enough to fill a shelf in a cabinet, and I turned my doll's-house into a boarding-school for the little animals with a big pig as headmaster. But when my collection rose to 400 animals, I had too many children to be all boarders at the school, so some had to be day-scholars, and the headmaster was changed to a green frog who swam beautifully, and who was assisted by two swans, a duck, a fish, two crocodiles, and a seal, who all swam. Another frog taught the children swimming by tying a piece of string round their bodies, and dangling them in the water from the edge of a basin.
The animals' abode was now changed, and they were put into a large cabinet containing six small shelves and one big one.
I called the big shelf a town, and the rest villages. The town was called Weybridge ; the village where the birds lived, Airsbury ; and that where the dogs were, Canistown. The rest had various other names. At this time an important addition was made to the collection, for a big lion was given me, which I immediately created king; then came a queen and four princesses, and shortly after a crown prince, another prince, and three more little princesses.
The royal family was allowed a village all to itself, which was called Kingston, and was given five servants, two nurses, a footman, a housemaid, and a cook.
As I had now two families of several of the kinds of animals, I determined that they should be married, so, nominating Sally's husband rector, I had several weddings. I built a church with some bricks I had, and formed a procession up the aisle, to the Wedding March, played on an American organ.
First came the bride and bridegroom, then the best man and the bridesmaids, and last the children of the animals who were to be married, two and two. When the ceremony was over, I marched them all back to their places on the shelf.
I now made eight laws, and copied them out in an exercise-book, together with the names of all the animals, the number of men, women, boys, and girls, and the number of married and single families.