Someone knocked on the door of Rabbit’s house, and Rabbit went to open it. As he did so he was rudely pushed aside by a young man, who shouted, “Mr Holmes, I have need of you again. Come at once.”
All of which was completely unnecessary, because Tigger wasn’t actually in Rabbit’s house, but in the garden at the back. He heard the commotion and came round to see what was happening. He and Rabbit stood side by side in the doorway as the intruder reappeared.
“Prince Eadwig,” Tigger said, “You haven’t changed a bit.”
“I need you to find my wife,” the prince said.
“I hadn’t realised you were married now,” Tigger said. “Congratulations!”
“I’m not married,” Prince Eadwig snapped. “But my fairy godmother has asked me to deliver a parcel, and this will reveal the girl who is to be my wife.”
“In which case I don’t see how I can help.”
“I need you to find the recipient, of course.”
“Oh, right!” Tigger would happily have refused the help the rude young man, but he and Rabbit had nothing planned until the evening, and he thought it might prove entertaining. In addition, if necessary, he would do all he could to prevent some poor girl being forced to marry the prince. Accordingly, he said, “Very well, I will come. But I need to fetch Watson first.”
It was Pooh’s turn to be Watson, but Tigger wasn’t entirely sure whether it was fair to the bear to inflict the prince on him. The matter was solved when the prince said, “I’ve already sent my coachman to fetch him. I don’t know what’s keeping them.”
Tigger could well imagine Eeyore and the coachman having a chat before they returned. Tigger and the prince stood around for nearly ten minutes, and by the time they saw the coach coming along Prince Eadwig was stamping his feet and turning red in the face.
The coach drew up and Eeyore stuck his head out of the window. “Good morning, Prince Earwig,” he said. “I hear you’re still looking for a wife.”
The prince turned puce. And he and Tigger climbed into the coach.
Once the coach had set off, Prince Eadwig said, “My Fairy Godmother has given me this cardboard box to deliver. Inside it are ruby slippers. I am not to look in the box, but to give it to the first person who says, ‘Have you got something for me?’ And she will be my wife.”
“Has your Fairy Godmother promised you that?” Tigger asked.
“Not in so many words. But that’s what Fairy Godmothers are for.”
“But how will you know where to start looking?”
“That’s your job!”
“Oh, I expect your Fairy Godmother has sprinkled fairy dust on the horses’ ears, so they know the right direct to go in,” Eeyore remarked with a confidence Tigger suspected was from a prior conversation with the coachman.
They were travelling along a narrow road which ran through the forest.
Suddenly the prince shouted, “Stop! Look!”
There was a young woman sitting on a homemade swing which was suspended from a branch of one of the trees.
“She must be the one,” the prince added. “Quick, give me the box.”
He took the box containing the ruby slippers and leapt out of the coach.
As the prince approached the young lady, Tigger and Eeyore heard her say, “Can I help you?”
“No, you can’t!” Prince Eadwig snapped. He jumped back into the coach. “Onwards!”
A few minutes later they arrived at a clearing in the middle of which was a small building shaped like the tower of a castle. At the top of the tower there was a light and they could see the silhouette of a young woman.
Once more the prince grabbed the box and rushed inside the building. Tigger and Eeyore followed more slowly and could hear the prince’s feet thundering up the stairs. After two flights the footsteps became rather slower, as the prince presumably started to run out of breath.
Looking around Tigger saw an elderly woman sitting in rocking chair. He said, “Good afternoon,” to her.
“Are you Tigger Holmes?” the old woman asked. Tigger nodded and she said, “In which case this is for you.”
He took the envelope she offered him, but didn’t have time to open it before the prince came back down the stairs. He was still holding the box.
“Not the right one, then?” Eeyore said.
“No. What she said was, ‘Are you all right?’”
“Well, you do look somewhat flushed,” Eeyore replied.
The prince saw the old woman and glared at her. She, in turn, smiled sweetly at him and said, “Have you got something for me?”
“No, certainly not,” Prince Eadwig said.
“I think you do have,” Tigger said firmly. “Give the box to her.”
Reluctantly the prince handed over the box containing the ruby slippers. The old woman opened the box and took one of the slippers out, exclaiming with delight, “Look, they’re all fleecy lined, so cosy. And the colour is perfect, they will match my ruby red dressing gown. My daughter is so good to me.”
Prince Eadwig stormed outside and back to his coach. Having said their goodbyes, Tigger and Eeyore followed. Once back in the coach, Tigger opened the envelope and took out the note.
Dear Mr Holmes,
Thank you very much for your assistance today. Eadwig should be grateful I only sent him on a fool’s errand. Next time, I WILL turn him into a toad.