Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea
Once, in a fine house on a high cliff above a frozen sea, Throckmorton S. Monkey heard the frenzied barks of the family dogs announcing the approach of a stranger.
Throckmorton, a hand-sewn sock monkey, was suspended at the time in a fishy-smelling net strung high above Annaliese Easterling’s frosting pink four-poster bed.
Dozens of stuffed animals were stored in the crowded net.
Pressed against Throckmorton’s embroidered nose was the fuzzy tail of a stuffed rabbit. A penguin’s beak poked his black button eye. An elephant’s ear, spotted with jam, stuck to his bright red rump.
Throckmorton was miserable.
Many months earlier, a lazy maid named Madge—a fisherman’s daughter—had tossed him into the odoriferous net, and Annaliese hadn’t ever bothered to fish him out.
The maid said that she was sick and tired of dusting dolls that Annaliese never played with and pressing dresses she rarely wore. Mostly, Madge was sick and tired of scooping up stuffed toys off
of the nine-year-old girl’s messy bedroom floor.
Rats, rats, double-rats!
Whatever had Throckmorton done to deserve such a cruel fate?
Why, he’d done everything that a red-heeled sock monkey was supposed to do. He’d been all that a red-heeled sock monkey was expected to be:
A very good listener.
And he’d never—not even once!—stopped smiling.
Nonetheless, here he was . . . netted like a common crab.
Life, he lamented anew, was so unfair.
Suddenly the doorbell rang.
Who could it be? he wondered.
Eastcliff-by-the-Sea was far, far away from it all. The manor house was old and not nearly as fine as it used to be. Visitors of any kind were rare.
Now Donald and Bailey had stopped barking, and from somewhere in the house, Annaliese was shouting, “Evan! Teddy! Come here! Come quick!”
Neither brother answered her call.
Trippety-trip, trippety-trip . . . the heels of her shoes clicked as she scurried up the servants’ staircase to the second floor.
Thrickety-thrump, thrickety-thrump . . . the soles
of her shoes drummed as she scuttled through the manor’s shadowy halls.
“Miss Pine! Miss Pine! Come here! Come quick!”
Throckmorton was dying to know what the excitement was all about. If only he had bones and muscles, he thought wistfully, he’d dive into the frothy sea of pillows on Annaliese’s bed below and dash after her.
If only he weren’t so miserable . . .
Forgotten, abandoned, and unable to break free.