A Dumb Place


In retrospect, agreeing Mary’s suggestion had not been a particularly bright idea. And she now realized the idea was never hers in the first place. In the past three hours Brenda had gone over the sequence of events and was now fully aware of how her young charge had manipulated her into her current predicament.

“Nanny! Come for a drive!” Mary sat on the floor of the basement in a large wooden box. “We’re going to Harrod’s to buy candy!” Brenda, new in her position and eager to gain Mary’s trust, as well as the approbation of her parents, delicately lifted the hem of her dress and stepped into the box.

Though nearly nineteen, Brenda was slight and not much taller than Mary, who was almost ten. Mary steered the “automobile” with an assurance beyond her years, it seemed to Brenda, and after a few minutes of avoiding horses and trams Mary announced they had arrived. The pair alit from the wooden vehicle and Mary said, “Come, the candy department is on the second floor.”

“What sort of candy shall we buy?” Brenda asked.

“Licorice allsorts.” Mary answered firmly. “We’ll take the elevator.”

Mary ran across the room to a small door in the wall. She slid the door open and started to climb in to the box on the other side. “Mary,” Brenda said, “perhaps we should take the stairs. I’m not sure if that elevator is big enough for both of us. Or safe.”

“Of course it is. I take the elevator all the time and you are not much bigger than me.”

“But I’m sure the two of us together won’t fit,” Brenda said.

“Then you go first and I’ll see if I can get in after.”

“Very well,” Brenda said, and climbed into the dumbwaiter.