Wallie the Imp loves Disney films.
He is driving my Friend and me crazy by going on and on about how unfair it is that Cinderella and Giselle, among others, have so much practical help from their animal helpers. He says it’s no wonder the villains are villains, when they get no encouragement from their non-human, inhuman friends to be socially active.
My Imp was so upset the other day that I finally told him he was absolutely right.
He didn’t believe me, until I wrote this scene to prove it.
All was bustle and mayhem: come All Hallows Eve, not a bat nor scragg’ly whiskered rodent was sleeping in the belfry or in the nice smelly dungeon.
A few tastefully sputtering lanterns were lit. The bats had done an admirable job of eating the moths away and sending out invitations to the spiders to thread their webs in the corners. An ambience of desolate serenity was wanted. His Honor Vilainos had a weak constitution, and his allergies were bothered by dusty moth-wings fluttering and tickling everywhere.
The rat Nibbles was possessed of a more ambitious pursuit—that of guiding His Honor Vilainos’s confused fashion sense to a semblance of dignity and—if it were possible—grace. Today was the newborn princess’s christening, and the evil wizard Vilainos, exiled from the king’s court, was expected to invite himself and attend.
Nibbles had never attempted anything beyond a heavy black ensemble, the occasional tapestry, and a coffin shroud. When more was called for he was somewhat at a loss. Nonetheless the bats were full of suggestions and enthusiasm, and His Honor’s long and gauntly slender frame was by no means without hope of tailored enhancement.
His Honor could not stop staring at himself in the tall, iron-framed mirror. One thin, white finger rested on his lip in perplexity.
“I look like a fool,” he said.
“A deuced jester, my liege,” said rat Nibbles, picking at fabric. He glanced sharply at the bats. “Get rid of that lump of lace, you lot! What are you thinking? Looks like a regular bustle, it does, a shameful thing!”
His Honor went slightly scarlet and bent his head to one side, avoiding his reflection. His stockinged heel struck an audible tempo against the floor.
“We are running out of time,” he said. “And I of patience.”
“Here, almost done!”
“Ay, Worshipfulness, hold on!”
“Courage indeed,” said His Honor, with wretched look.
Nibbles worked at a thread stuck between his teeth. “All will be well, Your Reverence. You’ll see.”
The creatures redoubled their efforts. The bats wanted to sew little bells at the wrists and collar, but Vilainos wouldn’t have it.
The bats then insisted on ribbons and bows, frills and lace.
“Put away that ribbon,” said Vilainos. “I look positively gift-wrapped. It isn’t me at all.”
“I think it fits well in moderation,” said the rat Nibbles, who didn’t actually know what “moderation” meant, and imagined its opposite.
His Honor winced as they cinched red velvet around his waist.
“Do you really expect me to curse the king and queen’s firstborn in this?”
“It will make the little princess smile,” said Nibbles, clipping thread with his teeth. “Won’t you want to put an awful spell on her even more, then?”
His Honor Vilainos’ foot beat faster on the floor.
“I don’t know,” he said. “No one ever smiled at me before.”
The animals paused. They looked at each other. They couldn’t bring themselves to look at their master. He wasn’t much to look at. Ribbon aside, he looked perplexed and, worse than anything, a little shy.
Nibbles the rat decided it was time for serious talk. He climbed on the wizard’s shoulder.
“You’ll be perfect,” the rat insisted. “You’ll be sensational. It isn’t the suit that makes you. You make the suit.”
“I don’t know what that means,” said Vilainos.
The rat bunched his two front paws like fists.
“You listen to us, Your Royal Mischief,” he squeaked. “They’ll shake before you, they will! They’ll scurry! We’ll make them turn pale at the sight of you!”
“Very well,” His Honor said. He rested one hand carefully on his middle. The ribbon really was painfully tight. “Only, am I allowed to breathe?”
“Save your breath for what’s worth saying,” said the rat Nibbles.
His Honor Vilainos thought Nibbles was unnecessarily bossy. He didn’t have enough breath to complain.
Wallie made me stop writing here. He tells me that he thinks I am disagreeing with him by agreeing with him, and Imps are not to be disagreed with. Well I certainly didn’t mean to disagree.
Hmm. I might have to finish this story for myself.
What Imps don’t know can’t hurt them…