Jenny Berry was seven years old. And now she had a brand new brother who was no years old at all. Jenny’s new brother’s name was William Jay Berry but Jenny’s mum said that everybody was going to call him Wills. Jenny was very pleased about that because she really liked the name Wills. Every morning, when she woke up, the first thing Jenny thought about was her new brother. And the next thing she thought about was Christmas because right now Christmas was only eleven days away.
As usual, Jenny carried her Advent calendar into her parents’ room so that Wills could see her open the next window and take out the special chocolate. ‘Look, Wills,’ she said. ‘Today it’s a kitten with a bow.’ She held it up so her brother could see. Then she looked at her mother: ‘Mum, when will Wills be able to eat chocolate?’
‘Not for months yet, Jenny,’ said Mrs Berry. ‘Now, go and get yourself ready for school. Grandma Lily will be here in half an hour.’
Jenny ate the chocolate kitten then she hurried back to her room. She had to step over a lot of books that were lying on the floor. She looked around her and frowned. Her room was a mess. Ever since baby Wills was born her mum did not have as much time to tidy her room, so Jenny’s toys and books were all over the floor. And her wardrobe door had been left open for days and things had fallen off their hangers and landed in a heap.
Jenny rummaged around to find everything that had to go in her school bag, packed it all inside then looked at her bag and frowned again. Her school bag was tatty. She needed a new one. One like her friend Emily’s, with two side pockets. She would have to ask for one for Christmas. So she hurried over to the red and gold treasures chest on her dressing table. She always kept it locked, so she pulled open the long dressing table drawer and scrabbled around until her fingers found a bobbly chain. She tugged at it and grabbed the golden key that was hanging from it. Then she opened her chest and took her folded Christmas list out from under the special tray. She found a pen and wrote SCHOOL BAG at the bottom of the list. Just then her mother called up the stairs to say breakfast was ready.
Oh no! Jenny folded the list back beneath the tray, got washed and dressed in a hurry and ran downstairs, dragging her bag and tucking her shirt in at the same time. Mrs Berry looked up from making Jenny’s lunch: ‘Jenny, have you brushed your hair properly?’
Her mother stopped what she was doing. And, while Jenny drank her strawberry milk and ate her cornflakes in a hurry, she brushed the tangles out of Jenny’s hair. Jenny looked round as Grandma Lily stepped into the kitchen.
‘All ready, Jenny?’ said Grandma Lily.
‘Nearly, Grandma,’ said Jenny.
Jenny was always very pleased to see her grandma. But this month she was very excited because every morning, when Grandma arrived, Jenny was allowed to have a present from Grandma’s special Advent Basket. So far the presents had been sweets and books and lacy socks, a purse, a necklace and a set of coloured pencils. So Jenny scooped up the rest of her cornflakes and hurried through to the lounge, where Grandma’s Advent Basket was sitting right beside the Christmas tree. She knelt down and sorted through the parcels until she found one with the number 14 on its label. It was a very flat parcel but it didn’t feel like another book. She carried it back to the kitchen so that Grandma could watch her unwrap it.
Well, today’s present was a beautiful velvet purse and inside the purse was a little round mirror in a glittery frame. Jenny held it in front of her so she could see her reflection.
‘I thought you might find it useful,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘You’ll be able to look at yourself and see whether you’re happy or sad.’
Jenny gave her grandma a thank-you hug, then she packed her new mirror into her school bag, kissed her mum and tugged Grandma towards the front door.
‘Slow down, Jenny,’ said Grandma Lily. Hurrying won’t make Christmas come any sooner.
Grandma Lily parked outside the school gates and walked Jenny towards her classroom: ‘Now, Jenny,’ she said, ‘don’t get too excited. And stop rushing around. You’ll forget what you’re doing if you rush around. And things will get lost and broken. There’s plenty of time. Rushed time always turns into wasted time.’
Jenny knew that Grandma Lily hated wasting time. ‘OK, Grandma!’ she said, hurrying into her classroom and forgetting to say goodbye.
Today Jenny’s class was noisier than usual because all the children were excited because today was all about Christmas. There were rehearsals for the Christmas concert and the whole afternoon was Christmas crafts. Emily and Jenny finished up sharing a table with Susie Flint. Jenny didn’t much like Susie Flint because she was always boasting and today was no exception. Today, when Miss Palmer, the Art Teacher, wasn’t looking, Susie Flint took a mobile phone out of her bag and waved it in front of Jenny’s nose: ‘It’s mine,’ she whispered. ‘But don’t tell Miss.’ Then she threw the phone back in her bag before Miss Palmer saw it.
Jenny and Emily looked at each other and then got on with their Christmas cards. ‘I bet it’s not her mobile,’ whispered Emily when Susie Flint was showing her drawing to Mrs Palmer. ‘It’s probably her mum’s and I bet her mum doesn’t know Susie’s got it. And it’s probably run out of batteries.’
After a few minutes, Susie Flint returned to the table looking very pleased with herself: ‘Miss Palmer thought my drawing was the best in the class,’ she said.
Jenny and Emily nodded wisely and then got on with their colouring.
At the end of school, Grandma Lily was waiting outside the school gates, chatting to the parents and the other grandmas. Jenny handed over her art folder and pulled her grandma towards her car. ‘Slow down, Jenny!’ laughed Grandma Lily. ‘What’s the hurry?’
‘I want to show Mummy my Christmas cards.’
‘Well, I don’t suppose they’ll be any different if we slow down a little, will they?’
That was the sort of question you were not supposed to answer, so Jenny didn’t answer it. Instead, she climbed into the car and fastened her seat belt and waited for Grandma Lily to say the next thing. The car pulled away. But Grandma Lily said nothing. Jenny wriggled with impatience.
‘Are there ants in your seat, Jenny?’
‘No Grandma, I’m just excited. Grandma, do you think Mummy and Daddy will let me have a mobile phone this Christmas?’
Grandma Lily looked at Jenny in the driving mirror: ‘Jenny, dear, I don’t think Mummy and Daddy will let you have a mobile phone this Christmas or next Christmas or even the Christmas after. Do any of the other children in your class have mobile phones?’
Jenny wriggled some more: ‘Only Susie Flint.’
‘And is Susie Flint your friend?’ asked Grandma Lily.
‘Not really. I don’t like her much.’
‘Well, Jenny, it seems to me that, if you had a mobile phone, the only person you would be able to call would be a person you don’t much like. That’s not sensible, is it?’
‘Isn’t there anything else you’d like instead? Have you written your Christmas list yet?’
Jenny thought about the list folded inside her treasures chest: ‘Yes, but it’s not finished. I have to write some more things on it.’
‘What things?’ asked Grandma Lily.
‘I don’t know yet,’ Jenny replied.
Jenny wondered what would happen if she wrote MOBILE PHONE on her list before Daddy wafted it up the chimney. So, as soon as they arrived home Jenny ran straight up to her room. Her bedroom was still in a mess. Mummy still hadn’t had time to pick everything off the floor or tidy the wardrobe. So Jenny stepped between the books and toys and headed straight for her treasures chest on top of her dressing table. She felt in the drawer for the bobbly chain. Then she felt again. But it wasn’t there. She pulled the drawer properly open and searched amongst the jumble of things inside. But the key and the chain were still not there.
Jenny looked down at the floor. She moved a cardigan with her foot to see underneath. But there was no key on a chain. She walked over to her bed. At least Mummy had made her bed. But the key wasn’t on the bed either. Or under the pillow. Jenny got down on her knees and looked under her bed. Quite a few things had found their way under there. But there was no golden key. She stood up and looked around her room. Perhaps she dropped it when she was hurrying to get ready that morning. Perhaps she had been in such a hurry that she had forgotten to lock the treasures chest. Perhaps it was not locked and the key was inside. She hurried over to check.
No. The treasures chest was locked and the key was LOST.
Jenny knelt down and started to rummage around on the floor next to the dressing table. She found her missing hairbrush and her photograph of Wills when he was only one day old, but she couldn’t find the golden key anywhere. She noticed Grandma Lily standing in the doorway with her arms folded:
‘My Goodness, Jenny, what a mess!’
‘Mummy hasn’t tidied my room for weeks,’ complained Jenny.
‘Oh! Do you tidy each other’s rooms? You tidy Mummy’s and Mummy tidies yours?’
‘No, Grandma. I mean … mummy used to tidy my room every day but now she’s too busy looking after Wills.’
‘Oh! Well, perhaps we ought to try teaching you how to tidy your room yourself.’
This time Jenny folded her arms: ‘Grandma, I know how to tidy my room!’ She noticed that Grandma Lily was smiling: ‘And I was just about to pick everything up because … because I’m looking for something. And it might be LOST.’
Grandma Lily stepped into the room and started to collect up a pile of books: ‘What does this LOST thing look like?’ she asked.
‘It’s the key to my treasures chest,’ said Jenny. ‘And my Christmas list is locked inside. And if I can’t open it I won’t be able to write any more things on my list and I won’t be able to send the list up the chimney. And I can’t write a new list because I can’t remember what I’ve already asked for.’
Grandma Lily looked up from the pile of books: ‘Oh dear, do you have so many things on your list that you can’t remember what they are?’
Jenny frowned: ‘I can remember the best things,’ she said.
‘Well,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Perhaps those are the things that you really ought to ask for.’ She carried the books over to the bookcase. ‘Are you going to help me tidy? Perhaps we’ll find your key.’
So Jenny helped Grandma tidy her room and Mummy helped by bringing tea and hot chocolate. The tidying took all the time until dinner. But finally everything was in its proper place. Jenny and Grandma Lily sat on the bed and looked around. Jenny was very pleased with her room. But there was still no golden key.
‘Grandma, what shall I do about the key to my treasures chest?’
Grandma looked up from her tea: ‘I think you’re just going to have to wait for it to come back, Jenny dear’
Jenny knew what Grandma meant: ‘From Raggedy Lyme?’
‘Yes. I imagine it’s hiding there until you’ve earned its return. Until you’ve learned your lesson.’
‘But what lesson, grandma?’
‘It’s no good if I tell you. You have to work it out for yourself.’
Jenny sighed: ‘It might be hiding because I was too much in a hurry.’
‘And I was too excited. And I wasn’t paying attention.’
‘And maybe I was caring too much about all the things that I wanted and not enough about the things that I already had.’
‘Probably.’ Grandma Lily smiled: ‘Do you remember our rhyme?’
Jenny nodded. Then she said:
‘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.’
‘That’s right,’ said Grandma Lily. Now, let’s go and help Mummy with dinner.’
Jenny checked her dressing table drawer before going to bed that evening, but the treasures chest key wasn’t in there. It wasn’t there when she woke up the next morning either. It wasn’t anywhere. She thought about Raggedy Lyme as she got ready for school. Getting ready was much easier now that her room was tidy. She hurried downstairs and fetched her own breakfast whilst Mummy made her lunch. Then she ran into the lounge to find her today’s Advent parcel. She picked out parcel number 15 and carried it back to the kitchen, trying to imagine what was inside. It was not as flat as yesterday’s parcel. What could it be? She had to concentrate on not wriggling with excitement while she waited for Grandma Lily to arrive. Fortunately, Grandma Lily was early.
Jenny waited until her grandma was sitting beside her and then she unwrapped her parcel. Inside was a beautiful sparkly pencil tin that matched yesterday’s sparkly mirror. And as she pulled it out of its wrapping paper she could hear something rattling around inside. Jenny pushed open the lid … and what do you think was inside?
‘Grandma,’ squealed Jenny. ‘It’s the key to my treasures chest!’
‘My goodness,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘How on Earth did it get in there?’