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  1. Racketty-Packetty House. As Told By Queen Crosspatch
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The big easy chair hid them and both the nurse and Cynthia seemed to forget that there was such a thing as a Racketty-Packetty House in the neighborhood. Cynthia was so delighted with Tidy Castle that she played with nothing else for days and days. And instead of being jealous of their grand neighbors the Racketty-Packetty House people began to get all sorts of fun out of watching them from their own windows.

Racketty-Packetty House. As Told By Queen Crosspatch

Several of their windows were broken and some had rags and paper stuffed into the broken panes, but Meg and Peg and Peter Piper would go and peep out of one, and Gustibus and Kilmanskeg would peep out of another, and Ridiklis could scarcely get her dishes washed and her potatoes pared because she could see the Castle kitchen from her scullery window. It was so exciting! The Castle dolls were grand beyond words, and they were all lords and ladies.

These were their names. There was Lady Gwendolen Vere de Vere. She was haughty and had dark eyes and hair and carried her head thrown back and her nose in the air. There was Lady Muriel Vere de Vere, and she was cold and lovely and indifferent and looked down the bridge of her delicate nose. And there was Lady Doris, who had fluffy golden hair and laughed mockingly at everybody.

And there was Lord Hubert and Lord Rupert and Lord Francis, who were all handsome enough to make you feel as if you could faint. And there was their mother, the Duchess of Tidyshire; and of course there were all sorts of maids and footmen and cooks and scullery maids and even gardeners. They could see bits of the sumptuous white and gold drawing-room with the Duchess sitting reading near the fire, her golden glasses upon her nose, and Lady Gwendolen playing haughtily upon the harp, and Lady Muriel coldly listening to her.

Lady Doris was having her golden hair dressed by her maid in her bed-room and Lord Hubert was reading the newspaper with a high-bred air, while Lord Francis was writing letters to noblemen of his acquaintance, and Lord Rupert was—in an aristocratic manner—glancing over his love letters from ladies of title. But Lord Francis can't kick about in his trousers as I can in mine, and neither can the others.

I'll like to see them try to do this,"—and he turned three summersaults in the middle of the room and stood on his head on the biggest hole in the carpet—and wiggled his legs and wiggled his toes at them until they shouted so with laughing that Ridiklis ran in with a saucepan in her hand and perspiration on her forehead, because she was cooking turnips, which was all they had for dinner. They are meat and drink to me. And I have nothing but turnips to give you. And if you'll believe it, that was what they did.

They divided their turnips into ten courses and they called the first one—"Hors d'oeuvres," and the last one "Ices," with a French name, and Peter Piper kept jumping up from the table and pretending he was a footman and flourishing about in his flapping rags of trousers and announcing the names of the dishes in such a grand way that they laughed till they nearly died, and said they never had had such a splendid dinner in their lives, and that they would rather live behind the door and watch the Tidy Castle people than be the Tidy Castle people themselves.

And then of course they all joined hands and danced round and round and kicked up their heels for joy, because they always did that whenever there was the least excuse for it—and quite often when there wasn't any at all, just because it was such good exercise and worked off their high spirits so that they could settle down for a while. This was the way things went on day after day.

They almost lived at their windows. They watched the Tidy Castle family get up and be dressed by their maids and valets in different clothes almost every day. They saw them drive out in their carriages, and have parties, and go to balls.

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Racketty-Packetty House, As Told by Queen Crosspatch

They all nearly had brain fever with delight the day they watched Lady Gwendolen and Lady Muriel and Lady Doris, dressed in their Court trains and feathers, going to be presented at the first Drawing-Room. After the lovely creatures had gone the whole family sat down in a circle round the Racketty-Packetty House library fire, and Ridiklis read aloud to them about Drawing-Rooms, out of a scrap of the Lady's Pictorial she had found, and after that they had a Court Drawing-Room of their own, and they made tissue-paper trains and glass bead crowns for diamond tiaras, and sometimes Gustibus pretended to be the Royal family, and the others were presented to him and kissed his hand, and then the others took turns and he was presented.

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And suddenly the most delightful thing occurred to Peter Piper. He thought it would be rather nice to make them all into lords and ladies and he did it by touching them on the shoulder with the drawing-room poker which he straightened because it was so crooked that it was almost bent double. It is not exactly the way such things are done at Court, but Peter Piper thought it would do—and at any rate it was great fun.

So he made them all kneel down in a row and he touched each on the shoulder with the poker and said:.

He knelt down on the big hole in the carpet and each one of them gave him a little thump on the shoulder with the poker, because it took more thumps to make a Duke than a common or garden Lord. The day after this another much more exciting thing took place. The nurse was in a bad temper and when she was tidying the nursery she pushed the easy chair aside and saw Racketty-Packetty House. I had forgotten it.

It must be carried down-stairs and burned. I will go and tell one of the footmen to come for it. Meg and Peg and Kilmanskeg were in their attic and they all rushed out in such a hurry to get down-stairs that they rolled all the way down the staircase, and Peter Piper and Gustibus had to dart out of the drawing-room and pick them up, Ridiklis came staggering up from the kitchen quite out of breath. Our house is going to be burned! Peter Piper was rather pale, but he was extremely brave and remembered that he was the head of the family.

Peter Piper just snapped his fingers. We shall just snap and crackle and go off almost like fireworks and then we shall be ashes and fly away into the air and see all sorts of things. Perhaps it may be more fun than anything we have done yet. Our nice old Racketty-Packetty House," said Ridiklis. The kitchen is so convenient—even though the oven won't bake any more. And things looked most serious because the nurse really was beginning to push the arm-chair away. But it would not move and I will tell you why.

One of my Fairies, who had come down the chimney when they were talking, had called me and I had come in a second with a whole army of my Workers, and though the nurse couldn't see them, they were all holding the chair tight down on the carpet so that it would not stir.

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And I—Queen Crosspatch—myself—flew downstairs and made the footman remember that minute that a box had come for Cynthia and that he must take it upstairs to her nursery. If I had not been on the spot he would have forgotten it until it was too late. But just in the very nick of time up he came, and Cynthia sprang up as soon as she saw him.

It must be Lady Patsy. And she opened the box and gave a little scream of joy for there lay Lady Patsy her whole name was Patricia in a lace-frilled nightgown, with her lovely leg in bandages and a pair of tiny crutches and a trained nurse by her side. That was how I saved them that time. There was such excitement over Lady Patsy and her little crutches and her nurse that nothing else was thought of and my Fairies pushed the arm-chair back and Racketty-Packetty House was hidden and forgotten once more. The whole Racketty-Packetty family gave a great gasp of joy and sat down in a ring all at once, on the floor, mopping their foreheads with anything they could get hold of.

Peter Piper used an antimacassar. Well, that was the beginning of a great many things, and many of them were connected with Lady Patsy; and but for me there might have been unpleasantness. Of course the Racketty-Packetty dolls forgot about their fright directly, and began to enjoy themselves again as usual. That was their way. They never sat up all night with Trouble, Peter Piper used to say. And I told him they were quite right. If you make a fuss over trouble and put it to bed and nurse it and give it beef tea and gruel, you can never get rid of it.

Their great delight now was Lady Patsy. They thought she was prettier than any of the other Tidy Castle dolls. She neither turned her nose up, nor looked down the bridge of it, nor laughed mockingly. She had dimples in the corners of her mouth and long curly lashes and her nose was saucy and her eyes were bright and full of laughs. She was treated as an invalid at first, of course, and kept in her room; but they could see her sitting up in her frilled nightgown.

After a few days she was carried to a soft chair lay the window and there she used to sit and look out; and the Racketty-Packetty House dolls crowded round their window and adored her. After a few days, they noticed that Peter Piper was often missing and one morning Ridiklis went up into the attic and found him sitting at a window all by himself and staring and staring.

Duke," she said you see they always tried to remember each other's titles. I fell in love with her the minute Cynthia took her out of her box. I am going to marry her. If I had a whole suit of clothes on, she wouldn't look at me. I'm very good-looking, you know," and he turned round and winked at Ridiklis in such a delightful saucy way that she suddenly felt as if he was very good-looking, though she had not thought of it before.

Where's the ball of string? Cynthia's kitten had made them a present of a ball of string which had been most useful.


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Ridiklis ran and got it, and all the others came running upstairs to see what Peter Piper was going to do. They all were delighted to hear he had fallen in love with the lovely, funny Lady Patsy. They found him standing in the middle of the attic unrolling the ball of string. When he had finished it, he fastened one end of it to a beam and swung the other end out of the window. She's always looking at it. She watches us as much as we watch her, and I have seen her giggling and giggling when we were having fun.

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Yesterday when I chased Lady Meg and Lady Peg and Lady Kilmanskeg round and round the front of the house and turned summersaults every five steps, she laughed until she had to stuff her handkerchief into her mouth. When we joined hands and danced and laughed until we fell in heaps I thought she was going to have a kind of rosy-dimpled, lovely little fit, she giggled so. If I run down the side of the house on this rope ladder it will attract her attention and then I shall begin to do things.

He ran down the ladder and that very minute they saw Lady Patsy at her window give a start and lean forward to look. They all crowded round their window and chuckled and chuckled as they watched him. He turned three stately summersaults and stood on his feet and made a cheerful bow. The Racketty-Packettys saw Lady Patsy begin to giggle that minute. Then he took an antimacassar out of his pocket and fastened it round the edge of his torn trousers leg, as if it were lace trimming and began to walk about like a Duke—with his arms folded on his chest and his ragged old hat cocked on one side over his ear.

Then the Racketty-Packettys saw Lady Patsy begin to laugh. Then Peter Piper stood on his head and kissed his hand and Lady Patsy covered her face and rocked backwards and forwards in her chair laughing and laughing. Then he struck an attitude with his tattered leg put forward gracefully and he pretended he had a guitar and he sang right up at her window. And then he danced such a lively jig that his rags and tags flew about him, and then he made another bow and kissed his hand again and ran up the ladder like a flash and jumped into the attic.

After that Lady Patsy sat at her window all the time and would not let the trained nurse put her to bed at all; and Lady Gwendolen and Lady Muriel and Lady Doris could not understand it. Once Lady Gwendolen said haughtily and disdainfully and scornfully and scathingly:.