“I say, Penelope, hullo Penelope…”
Penelope jumped at Twibble’s hailing, realizing how completely she was not paying attention.
“Oh, yes, I’m sorry?” she responded.
“Tom is being a darling and taking us along, there are some things I need to take care of and Luella is always up for a trip to the librarian.” Twibble twittered.
And, although Penelope thought Twibble was very nice and Luella was intriguing—she couldn’t help feeling as though they would delay her on her very important mission to get back home. On second thought, she didn’t feel right to complain. After all, Tom was driving her around for free.
The more Twibble ran about the little cottage fussing over getting ready, however, the more Penelope Sea felt she would never be able to take up her very important mission once again, and she would never get home. The more Twibble did to straighten her gown or fix her hair, the more she needed to do. And then, just as it appeared her preparations would never end, “I’m ready,” was cheerily sung out from the inside of the front door.
The Twibble that had sung out “I’m ready” looked very different from the Twibble with whom Penelope and Tom had just had tea. This new Twibble had all her curlicue hair tucked neatly into a floppy large brimmed hat. She wore a shabby overcoat and perched on her nose were the largest sunglasses Penelope had ever seen—that were not meant to be joke glasses or a party trick of some sort. The only bit of Twibble’s face that wasn’t covered was her mouth, which smiled that big small toothed sparkly smile back at the three people who had answered her call.
“It’s not like her fans won’t know it’s her anyway,” Luella rasped behind Penelope, “We’re the only ones that could be coming out of the house.”
Twibble, seemingly very practiced at ignoring Luella, ignored Luella in favor of whining very plaintively to Tom, “It’s too bad your taxi is so far away. I hate to get mobbed so and walking down the street is such a chore with all those people around.”
“Well now, I can fix that,” Tom offered, “why don’t you ladies just wait here and I’ll get the taxi. Just come out when you hear the horn.”
So now that they had waited for Twibble to ready herself they had to wait for Tom to come back with the car. So Penelope waited, and waited and waited. There’s nothing that takes up quite so much time as waiting. And even though many people would describe Penelope Sea as a patient little girl, she was becoming very agitated with all the delays. She imagined, as she waited, that her parents had woken up by now, and perhaps had looked in on her to see if she had woken up. What would they do when they found her gone? Was Mom panicking right now? Penelope wondered, were her mom and dad hysterically trying to get the police to file a missing person, to form a search party? Or maybe they knew about the dollhouse in the attic and that’s why they kept the playroom a secret from Penelope. If they knew, then they might know a way to get Penelope back.
Penelope knew it was far fetched thinking her parents knew where she was, and she still felt guilty for causing them worry—which she knew she most definitely must be—but she still saw a teeny glimmering ray of hope. Maybe her parents could get her back if she couldn’t get her back herself.
If Penelope Sea’s parents did know about the doll house and were awake and were trying to get her back, they did not come and get her just then. Just then, Penelope took a break from her reverie to look at her two hostesses. They had been murmuring to each other while Penelope had been lost in thought. Seeing her more alert though, they turned, and Twibble flashed that big small toothed sparkly smile again. For some reason, this time the smile made Penelope uncomfortable, and she silently chided herself on not paying more attention to what was going on around her. She had the feeling she had just missed something very important. And then, when it seemed her discomfort and impatient agitation had reached its peak there was a honk of the horn of Tom’s taxi coming from the back alley way.
Twibble immediately began pushing on Penelope’s shoulders and urging her out. “Here now, nobody wants you so much, you go out in front of me and open the door to the cab so I can get in fast.”
But Penelope hardly heard the last bit, she let herself be pushed out the door and ringing in her ears was Twibble’s voice saying ‘nobody wants you.’ Although, Twibble probably didn’t mean it so plainly and was most likely referring to Penelope’s lack of fame in Ocean End, it is an awful thing to tell someone—that they are not wanted. Even worse than telling someone they are not wanted is being told that you are not wanted. That is why Penelope didn’t hear the rest when Twibble told her to open the cab door for her. No, Penelope did not do this; she simply climbed into the backseat with her hurt little ego and watched wide eyed as people swarmed about the emerging Twibble like waves crashing on a rock. Tom had Twibble’s door open for her, and as she had gotten what she wanted Twibble didn’t notice at all how thoroughly she had injured poor, lost, Penelope Sea.
Luella had slunk through the crowd so expertly that she was safely ensconced in the back seat with Penelope before Twibble had fully arranged herself in the front. With everybody in that was going to get in, the taxi took off, bowling over a few of the fans that had pressed themselves to the sides of the automobile.
They had not been going for more than three minutes when Twibble bounced in her seat and pointed to the marketplace exclaiming, “Oh, Tom, please may we stop? I have to pick up some flowers for my hair.” Hair, which Twibble let out of the hat as she spoke.
Penelope wanted to protest the question, though really, she had not fully recovered from her hurt and instead sat dumbly in the back seat alongside Luella. Tom was accommodating and pulled up to the market. Obviously, Tom Parker didn’t feel the rush that kept Penelope Sea’s little heart beating so terribly hard as all her frustrations pounded in on her eyes asking for tears to come out.
Penelope usually cried when she was frustrated or mad. She sometimes wished that she could holler and yell like other kids, but she supposed that that was just the way she was. She didn’t holler and yell any other time. Of, course she didn’t ponder this now. Now, she reconsidered just how rude and ungrateful it would seem if she refused a continuation of her free ride and struck out on her own. She even reconsidered how this might not actually be a free ride. No, she didn’t have to pay for it with money, or even chickens or furs, but she was paying for it dearly in delays and frustrations. Maybe this was how nothing was ever free—like the way grown-ups say when they want to sound wise.
Penelope paid dearly for two more stops, one to get Twibble an ice cream and another because the same sparkly toothed lady wanted to peruse the scarves for sale on a street vendor’s cart. Penelope felt her heart might explode with frustration. Her whole body rocked with the force of it’s pounding against her ribs. She desperately wanted to go. She desperately wanted to go home, and now she felt as if she was only getting further and further away from her way there. She felt as though the only way she was going to make any progress would be to leave her present company.
Penelope didn’t actually make the decision to leave within the time that she could do it in. Twibble returned to the car with her ice cream cone and a new orange and black scarf tied around her neck. It clashed with the large, somewhat garish purple flowers threaded through the few braids that held the rest of her curly hair in place. They were off again, hopefully to go straight to the librarian. Penelope at least wanted to find out if he could help her.