Jenny Berry opened her drawer and took out a red mitten. Then she frowned. She stood up onto her tiptoes and looked inside. The other red mitten was nowhere to be seen. She looked under her socks and scarves. She pulled her woolly hat and her leg warmers out onto the floor. She stretched and rummaged into the very back of the drawer. But however much she searched for that other red mitten, it was just not there. It was LOST. Where could it be?
Jenny knelt down and peered under her bed. Sometimes things hid under there when they didn’t want to be found. In fact, today there was no end to the ribbons and purses and sweet wrappers, the trainers and the library books to be found hiding there. But there was no red mitten. Not today.
This was terrible!
Jenny got to her feet and forced her one red mitten into her skirt pocket. She noticed Jeremy Pink Bear watching her.
‘Jeremy, I’ve lost one of my red mittens. And I can’t find it anywhere. And I’ve got to go to school and it’s cold outside!’
But Jeremy said nothing. He just gave her one of his looks. So Jenny hurried downstairs, pulled on her coat and hat and grabbed her schoolbag. Her mother was already looking quite cross so Jenny decided not to mention the red mitten. But as soon as she was in the car and her seat belt was fastened Jenny looked around. Perhaps her mitten slipped off her lap yesterday. But it wasn’t in the car either. She sighed to herself and watched the people outside, hurrying to work and school, wearing their scarves and gloves and mittens.
As the car pulled up outside the school gate, Jenny could hear the bell ringing for start of day. Her mother jumped out and hurried round to let her out onto the pavement.
‘Jenny, don’t forget your bag!’ she said. ‘And remember, Grandma Lily’s picking you up today. Make sure you bring your reading book home. And do your coat up!’
Jenny clambered out of the car. ‘But, mum, I’m going straight inside!’
‘It doesn’t matter. You could catch a chill hurrying through this!’
That was the sort of thing Jenny’s mother said. Jenny expected it. She also expected to hear her say, ‘And, where are your mittens?’
Jenny’s mother was always reminding her to wear her mittens. So Jenny pulled out her one red mitten and dangled it for her mother to see. ‘They’re in my pocket.’
‘Well, put them on!’
‘OK, mum,’ said Jenny, hurrying away, with her coat flapping open.
That day school was even more boring than usual and there was no break time because it was too cold to go outside. There was extra reading instead. And you had to be quiet during extra reading, even though it really ought to be break time. By lunch time it had started to snow. Jenny ate her sandwiches as fast as she could and then she went to sit next to her best friend Emily, and they watched the snowflakes twirling past the window. Some of them were as big as cornflakes.
By going-home time the playground and the rooftops and all the streets outside were white. And it was still snowing. Grandma Lily was waiting at the gate. Jenny trod very carefully towards her because teacher said that snow can be very slippery. Grandma took Jenny’s bag and gave her a snowy hug. And then she said, ‘Jenny, where are your mittens?’
‘Well, one of them is in my pocket, grandma.’
‘And where’s the other one, Jenny?’
‘I don’t know. I looked everywhere.’
‘Yes. In my drawer. Under the bed. In mum’s car. In my locker.’
Grandma gave a little smile and shook her head. ‘What a waste of time!’ she said.
Grandma Lily hated wasting time. She hurried Jenny into the back of the car and fastened the seat belt. It was a very old car and it made a lot of strange noises when it drove along. But it was cosy and warm inside and smelled of peppermints and rainy holidays. As they drove to Grandma’s house, Jenny thought about the snow. There was still a little daylight left so Grandma might let her play outside before tea. If she wrapped up warm. She felt in her skirt pocket and pulled out her mitten. She put it on her hand, then she tried to squeeze her other hand in too. After a lot of pushing and tugging she had managed to squash both of her hands into her one red mitten. She looked up and noticed Grandma watching her in the driving mirror.
‘You won’t get much done with your hands stuck together like that, will you, dear?’ said Grandma Lily.
‘But, Grandma, I want to play in the snow and I won’t be able to if one of my hands is frozen.’
‘Well, if you always wore your mittens, every time you stepped out into the cold, and you always put them away carefully when you got home, you’d always know where they were, wouldn’t you?’
Grandma Lily gave a little laugh. ‘And where would they be right now, Jenny?’
Jenny looked down at her one red mitten. ‘On my hands, Grandma.’
‘Yes, dear, on your hands is where mittens ought to be. Not in your pocket, or under your bed, or thrown into the drawer without checking that they’re together. Things get tired of not being cared for. And one of your mittens is obviously fed up with being thrown just anywhere and it’s decided to teach you a lesson.’
Jenny thought about her red mitten teaching her a lesson for the whole rest of the journey.
Granny parked her car in her little driveway and bundled Jenny inside her cottage. Jenny loved Grandma Lily’s cottage. It was only a very small cottage but it had everything inside it. Everything Grandma had ever been given. Everything she had ever bought. And everything she had ever found. And Grandma had found a lot of things. There was always something new to discover in Grandma’s cottage. But right now Jenny wanted to play in the snow.
‘Grandma, please can I play outside before it’s teatime?’
Grandma Lily folded her arms and smiled.
‘I’ll button up my coat, Grandma. And I can keep one of my hands in my pocket so I’ll only need one mitten.’
Grandma laughed and held out her hand: ‘Let’s go and look in my mitten chest, shall we? I think I’ve still got a pair of your mummy’s old mittens in there.’
So, Grandma Lily found a pair of blue stripy mittens and Jenny pulled them on. They were a little too big but it didn’t matter because now she could play in the snow. She ran towards the back door but before she stepped outside she stopped and looked at her grandma. Then she placed her red mitten on the kitchen table.
‘Grandma, will you keep my red mitten safe, until I come back in?’
‘Of course I will,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Hot chocolate will be ready in twenty minutes. Don’t get too cold!’
Jenny hurried outside. It was still snowing. She started to scoop up the snow to make a tiny snow man. Then a bigger snowman. Then a really big snowman. She could see Grandma Lily watching her through the window. Jenny didn’t think twenty minutes would be enough time to play in the snow but the snowflakes were beginning to get caught on her eyelashes and she was feeling very cold. She was very pleased to hear Grandma call her inside for a hot cup of chocolate.
The kitchen was lovely and warm and smelled of Grandma’s baking. Jenny sat down at the table and pulled off the stripy mittens. They were a bit soggy with snow so Grandma put them on the radiator to dry them. Then she handed Jenny a big mug of chocolate. Straightaway Jenny could feel it warming her hands. It made her fingers tingle. Grandma said that was the feeling coming back into them.
Jenny sipped her chocolate until her fingers had stopped tingling, then she put down the mug and reached over to pick up her one red mitten. It was a much nicer mitten than the blue stripy mittens. But there was only one of them.
‘Grandma, do you really think my mitten got tired of not being cared for?’
‘And it’s teaching me a lesson?’
‘Will it come back when it’s taught me the lesson?’
Jenny stroked her lovely red mitten: ‘I hope it lets me find it again because my red mittens are the best mittens in the world and I’m sorry I didn’t care for them enough. And I’m sad that they’re not together.’ Jenny drank the rest of her hot chocolate and thought about her LOST mitten: ‘Grandma,’ she said, ‘where do you think my red mitten is hiding?’
‘Well, Jenny, I have heard tell that there’s a very magical place where things can go and hide when they’re fed up with not being cared for.’
Jenny smiled. Grandma Lily always knew things like that. Things like where your LOST things can hide.
‘What place, Grandma?’
‘It’s a place called Raggedy Lyme. All sorts of things go there. And they can stay there as long as they like. So they only come back when they’re ready. When they think their owners deserve to have them back. When their owners have earned their return.’
‘But, how will I know when my mitten is ready to come back?’
‘You’ll know because, when you search for it, it will be there.’
‘Maybe in the first place you looked for it.’
‘The first place?’
‘In my drawer?’
‘Do you think I deserve to have it back?’
‘Probably. Let’s wait and see, shall we?’
For supper Jenny ate sausages and mash and tomato sauce, and some of her Grandma’s delicious jammy sponge. Then Grandma made more hot chocolate and helped Jenny with her reading homework. Grandma Lily always made reading seem easy, so it was finished in no time at all. And now it was six o’clock. Time to go home. Jenny picked up her one red mitten and packed it carefully in her school bag.
‘I hope I’ll find my other red mitten, Grandma.’
‘I’m sure you will, Jenny. Now, we’d better wrap you up warm. I think it’s stopped snowing but it’s still very cold out there.’ Granny helped Jenny button her coat. ‘But, Jenny,’ she said, ‘there’s a little rhyme about Raggedy Lyme that my grandma used to tell to me. Would you like to hear it?’ Jenny wobbled with excitement. So this is what Grandma Lily said next:
There’s a space in a place called Raggedy Lyme,
Full of errors and terrors and wasted time,
Where your lost things can hide, until they decide,
That you’ve earned their return from Raggedy Lyme.
Then she laughed. And Jenny laughed too. And then Grandma Lily drove Jenny home. And while Grandma was having a good chat and a cup of tea with Jenny’s mum, Jenny took her one red mitten out of her school bag and hurried upstairs to look in her drawer. She was almost too scared to open it. But finally she did. And what do you think was inside?
Her LOST red mitten. In her drawer.
It was there. In the first place she had looked for it. Just like Grandma said it would be. Jenny picked it up and put it on. Then she pulled her other mitten on and held out her hands. Her lovely red mittens were together again. She was so very pleased and, from that moment, Jenny Berry promised that she would always be sure to take care of them. In fact, she promised that she would always take care of all of her things.
Do you think she kept her promise?