When Eddie Dickens climbed into Mad Uncle Jack’s covered
carriage, he found that it was already occupied. In the corner,
en elderly woman was stroking a stoat.
“You must be Malcolm,” said the woman, with a voice
that could grate cheese.
“No, Madam. My name is Edmund,”
“I was talking to the stoat!” snarled
the woman, pulling the creature closer to her. “Well?”
she demanded, staring at the animal.
The stoat said nothing. It didn’t even twitch or blink.
The woman seized it by the tail and held it aloft (which is
in-those-days language for “up a bit”). It was stiff
as a board. “Are you Malcolm?” she demanded.
It was around about then that Eddie Dickens realized that the
woman must be completely crazy and that the animal must be completely
stuffed. He took a seat opposite the woman.
seat back!” she screamed, so Eddie did as he was told
and sat down.
Just then, Mad Uncle Jack stuck his thinnest of thin heads through
the door of the carriage. “Ignore her. She’s quite
mad,” he said gruffly.
“Who is she, sir?”
“Sally Stoat,” said his great-uncle.
“Did she get her name from that stuffed animal she’s
hugging?” asked Eddie.
It was the stoat I was referring to, you impudent whelp!”
cried his great-uncle. “That good lady is my wife, Mad
Aunt Maud — your great-aunt — and there’s
most certainly nothing mad about her.”