Hello, my little moppets, I want to share with you a tale of a kindly old woman who sets an entire village to worry when she is continuously seen shaking her head and talking to herself. Mrs. Tweedy soon learns that the love given by your friends should be shared with as many as possible.
(Illustrations available at auntiemillies.com)
Fall came as it always does, slowly and multicolored. The folks of Gentile Wood were busy packing their larders as Mrs. Tweedy stood on her front porch shaking her head slowly back and forth as if to say, “Things aren’t right.” Her neighbors wondered why the ordinarily cheerful matron now looked so gloomy.
Sarah, the baker’s daughter, thought it might be loneliness from missing her husband or maybe the fact that her gray tabby had passed away last spring and she missed his company. Whatever the reason for the long face, no one could get her to talk about it.
Thya, the village wise woman, paid her a visit and the two talk pleasantly. With no signs of sadness seen from the neighbors, the whole affair was put to rest with the consensus that the matron was getting on in years, and loneliness was undoubtedly part of it.
Wednesday was the market and all of the village folk headed to the square which overflowed with the abundance of the harvest. Apples, cabbages, and an assortment of smoked meats, cheeses and of course fresh bread.
Around midmorning, Agnes Shufflebottom noticed a small figure slowly crossing the bridge into the square shaking her head as she walked.
Taffy, Agnes’s daughter, ran to greet her and the two chatted pleasantly as the youngster helped with her shopping duties. Before heading out of town, Mrs. Tweedy insisted that Taffy and her mother stop over after the market to enjoy a slice of Dewberry pie that was still cooling on her windowsill.
Then off she went and almost instantly began to shake her head as if some dreadful thing had befallen her. The villagers talked in hushed tones fearing the matron had lost her wits and would soon wander off into the woods never to be seen again.
Agnes and Taffy talked about their concerns on their way home from the market. Taffy suddenly cried out, “Oh dear, I forgot to tell you! Mrs. Tweedy invited us for tea and pie.” Her mother began to protest about bothering the old woman until her daughter suggested they could use the visit to see how she was faring alone in that big old tree of hers.
Reluctantly Agnes agreed and the two headed over for tea. The two spotted the aged woman standing on her doorstep shaking her head as though she were confronted with a terrible choice, the kind that one loses no matter which decision is made.
Closing the distance to their destination in minutes, the pair were warmly greeted. Once inside each was given an enormous slice of mouthwatering dewberry pie. Talk turned to trivial matters, and all seemed relaxed while catching up. Finally, the time came to bid farewell, and, as the sun sank low on the horizon, Mrs. Tweedy packed an extra slice of pie for Taffy’s father, kissed a child on the head, and wished them both a safe journey home.
Slowly exiting the two cast worried glances over their shoulders wondering if their friend would be all right alone during the chilly night. Without warning, Taffy broke away from her mother and raced back to the closing door nearly knocking the poor old woman over as she slipped through the narrowing gap. “My goodness child! What brings you back with such a flurry?” exclaimed the matron.
“Oh, my dearest Mrs. Tweedy,” pleaded the youngster as tears begin to well up. Unable to control herself, Taffy blurted out all her fears. “Please, please don’t wander off into the night. I know you are sad and upset, but if anything should happen to you, my heart would simply break.”
Before the woman could gather her wits and answer, Agnes arrived. Having heard the child’s distress, she approached Mrs. Tweedy with a more reasoned tone. “We would love to have you come and stay with us. Everyone sees how troubled you have you been lately and are greatly concerned that you may find going on alone too much to bear. Please, Mrs. Tweedy, do come and be with us. Don’t go for a night walk into the woods. It would break all our hearts.”
The silence was unbearable as the three of them stood glaring at each other. Mrs. Tweedy cleared her throat and in a soothing voice asked, “Why do you think I am about to take a night walk?”
Agnes spoke carefully not wanting to upset the matron any further. “Everyone has seen your downcast eyes and shaking head as though you struggle with some impossible choice. We see the despair on your face and fear the loneliness must be too great for you to bear.” Taffy cleared her eyes with the ends of her sleeves in an attempt to appear in control of her emotions.
“You mean the entire village is worried I’m about to take a night walk because you have seen me shaking my head and looking grim?” The pair nodded their heads in silence.
Without warning the matron burst into laughter while Agnes’s face turned white with fear. Had she pushed the old woman too hard? Was her sanity gone the way of the songbirds? Taffy reached to comfort her friend in hopes of easing her suffering. Moments pass and gradually the fits of laughter died to the occasional snicker.
“Oh, my loves, I am terribly sorry.” The old woman straightened her clothes, and, then, in a calm voice spoke. “I am dreadfully sorry I caused you such worry, but I can assure you your worries will be over soon for I have made up my mind as to what course of action I need to take.” Taffy gasped. Had Mrs. Tweedy made up her mind to take the night walk? “I shall get both,” said Mrs. Tweedy. “I shall get a male and female kitten first thing in the morning from Farmer Ned’s barn to replace my dear departed Alexander.”
Their mouths fell open, and Agnes reached into her basket to retrieve a bottle of tonic, feeling that now would be a good time to take a large drink. “Do you mean to tell me that all this time you have been worrying about whether to get a male or female kitten to replace your lost cat?” asked Taffy.
“Why yes. It’s been such a difficult decision and, frankly, your concern for me has made my choice much easier, indeed. If you can have such love for a silly old woman like me, then I certainly have enough love for two cats who would otherwise need to fend for themselves.”
Mrs. Tweedy gathered the two women in her arms and gave each a loving hug and kiss on the cheek. Then she sent them on their way reminding them that the nights were getting bitterly cold and they should hurry home before the moon breaks the tree line and the dark forces were free to roam the land in search of poor lost souls.
The very next day Farmer Ned delivered one tabby girl cat and one black boy cat to Mrs. Tweedy. The villagers stopped worrying, and dear old Mrs. Tweedy stopped shaking her head.