It is difficult at times to link a story together when there are many characters. It is easier to sew a thread over silk then to bind together a slippery story like this, but I will try. Maybell Mouse finds herself at this very moment climbing up the table leg to talk to Grace Tenderstitch at last. She has followed Swain through the maze of smells and curious things in the Tenderstitch home, to the Studio where Grace sat before her drawing Table, working. Maybell reached the summit of this surface and heaved herself over the side. For a moment she stopped to catch her breath and to study the woman herself. Grace Tenderstitch was a large woman. Her jaw had melted into a little more than middle years, and puddinged softly into her neck. The skin about her eyes could have used a bit of starch and a good ironing. Her hair was dusted with white hairs, that streaked down next to brown. Some stood out, yelling like wires full of rebellion. She had still had freckles, and now some age spots. Her mouth, which was now drawn downward in concentration, had seen some smiles and some sadness, evinced by the deep lines around it, drawn like giant "C's".
Maybell cleared her throat. "Mrs. Tenderstitch," she said. Nothing. No response.
"I don't think she can hear you," spoke the Threader. The Threader was a muslin head that sat upon a wooden spool. His nose was long and stitched in a pinched row of fabric down his narrow painted face. He was a creation of Grace Tenderstitch and could not be found outside the Land of Baggaraggs. He liked to wear different objects on his head, and now sported a clay chicken on the top of his moss covered dome.
Maybell could not believe he had spoken, but she was a mouse with Manners after all, so she introduced herself. After these pleasantries were exchanged, Maybell inquired, "Why can't she hear me? Everyone knows that Grace Tenderstitch has the Ear. She can talk to any animal...any animal at all. Why, my Mother was her friend for several years and the tales she told me..."
"She may be loosing the Ear, my dear," said the Threader sadly. It happens when someone has what is called by Humans "the Doubt." "Her mind has become full of this uncertainty, and that is the big enemy of all creativity and of course, The Ear."
"She comes in and out of it...some days are better than others...last week she seemed like her old self, making all kinds of things...talking to everyone. Now she is very quiet. She has torn up collage after collage. I tried to stop her but she won't listen."
"Listening is so important," Maybell acknowlegded. Maybell watched the movements of Grace's hand applying paper and glue and paint to the page. She wondered what a tiny mouse like herself might do in this situation and felt frustrated and a little fearful of the outcome for the Baggaraggs. She had come along way and bore a very important message. She adjusted her hat, and spied a pincushion filled with giant Ouchers. Their metal pointy spears filled the pincushion to porcupine porportions. On an impulse, Maybell grabbed the largest Oucher between her little paws and thrust it with all her frustrated might into the thumb of Grace Tenderstitch.
"Ouch!," cried Grace Tenderstitch, jerking her thumb reflexively backward, and up to lips. "Geez!"
Grace looked down at the diminutive creature that was eyeing her anxiously. Maybell spoke again, and like the child who speaks at the end of a tincan with a string between the two to talk, she said loudly "CAN YOU HEAR ME?"