Jenny Berry knelt down in front of her wardrobe mirror and smoothed Rag Dolly’s crinkly hair. Then she held her up so she could see her reflection.
‘Do you like your new, yellow dress, Dolly?’ said Jenny. ‘Grandma made it especially for you. And she’s making me bedroom curtains to match. Grandma Lily is always very good at making things.’
Rag Dolly did not reply. That was not surprising because Rag Dolly hardly ever said anything. But Jenny knew when she was pleased. And today Rag Dolly was very pleased because of her new dress. In fact, Jenny thought she might have noticed her nod her head.
Jenny carried Rag Dolly over to the window and climbed up onto the toy box so that they could look down into the back garden. She pointed to the fat border of bright yellow daffodils that followed the fence right down to the old apple tree.
‘Those are my daffodils, Dolly. Mummy planted them for me because yellow is my favourite colour. And do you see all those blossoms on the tree at the bottom of the garden? Well, Mummy says that every one of those blossoms is going to make an apple. And Grandma said she’ll make pies with them. Daddy says she’ll have to pick them fast before the maggots eat them but Mummy said that’s a joke because maggots never eat our apples.’
Just then Jenny’s mother called up the stairs: ‘Hurry, Jenny, we’re meeting Grandma in twenty minutes and we need to collect your skirt from the dry cleaner’s first.’ Jenny grabbed Rag Dolly’s scarf and hurried downstairs with her. Her mum was standing in the hall holding Jenny’s coat ready. She frowned when she saw Rag Dolly: ‘Jenny, you’re not taking your doll into town! You’ll lose her!’
‘I won’t. I’ll hold her tight all the time. And I want to show Grandma what she looks like in her new dress.’
Her mother said well, OK, but she didn’t want to see any tears if Dolly got lost. And, besides, Jenny was going to be seven years old in a few weeks and she was nearly too old to be carrying a doll to town. But Jenny said Grandma Lily didn’t think so. So Jenny’s mum, Jenny and Rag Dolly drove into town.
Saturday was always Farmer’s Market and today was Saturday, so the car park was very full. But eventually Jenny’s mother found somewhere to park. She held the door for Jenny to climb out: ‘Jenny,’ she said. ‘Why don’t you leave Dolly in the car?’
‘Because I want Grandma to see her in her dress.’
Jenny’s mother shook her head and smiled. ‘Alright,’ she said, ‘but remember what I said about losing her.’
Town was very crowded. Jenny and her mother went straight to the dry cleaners but Jenny said she wanted to wait outside because she didn’t like the smell of the stuff they used to clean the clothes. So her mum said she had to stand where she could easily be seen from inside, and she wasn’t to move. So Jenny stood right up against the big window and waited. From where she was standing she could almost see into the toyshop next door. She leant forward to try and get a better look but it was no good, so she stretched out her arm and held Dolly so she could see for her. When Jenny’s mother stepped outside she started to laugh. ‘Jenny,’ she said, ‘why are you dangling Dolly like that?’
‘I was staying where you could see me so Dolly’s looking at the toys for me.’
‘Oh,’ said her mother. ‘Would you like to look for yourself?’
So Jenny and her mother looked in the toyshop window. There were loads of cars and trucks and a big castle with knights on horses. And next to the castle there was an even bigger doll’s house. There were dolls of all sizes sitting on their boxes, and there were games and puzzles. But in the very front of the window was the best thing of all: a red and gold treasures box, quite big enough for Dolly to hide in. It was open and Jenny could see that it had a special tray for holding special things. And even more best-of-all, it had a gold lock on the front and, dangling beside it, a key on a chain.
‘Mummy, look at that treasures box,’ said Jenny, pressing her nose against the window.
‘Yes, dear, very nice. But we’d better be hurrying to meet Grandma.’
Jenny pulled Dolly close and hurried along beside her mother towards the macaroni cheese restaurant. Grandma Lily was already there, sitting at a table next to the window. Jenny ran to sit beside to her. ‘Look, Grandma,’ she said, ‘Dolly’s wearing her new dress.’
‘That’s lovely, Jenny,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘But you’d better make sure she doesn’t spill her macaroni cheese down it and spoil it. Shall we sit her against the window so she can watch and see if any of her friends go by?’
Jenny laughed. Grandma Lily always made jokes like that.
When the waiter came over, Jenny’s mother ordered macaroni cheese and two chicken salads, which the restaurant also served, and a strawberry milkshake and two mint teas. And Jenny told Grandma about the treasure box and the special tray and the lock with a key. Grandma seemed very impressed.
Jenny ate her macaroni cheese until she was completely full, and then she had chocolate ice cream and told Grandma about the treasure box all over again. Grandma said perhaps they could take a look in the toyshop on the way back to the car park. Jenny was so excited about seeing it again that she was barely able to finish her ice cream, and when they went to leave, she almost forgot Dolly. She almost left her sitting by the window in her new dress. Her mother frowned: ‘Jenny, what did I say about losing your Dolly?’
‘I haven’t lost her, mum. I’ve just nearly lost her.’
Jenny held Dolly tight all the way back to the toyshop. There were several people looking in the toyshop window and Jenny hoped that nobody was going to buy the treasure box before her birthday, which was not for another six weeks and three days.
‘Shall we go in and have a look around?’ said Grandma Lily.
‘Mother, you spoil her,’ said Jenny’s mum. Jenny knew that ‘spoil’ was different to the ‘spoil’ when you spilled macaroni cheese down your dress. But then Mrs Berry’s frown turned into a smile.
Inside the shop it was very bright with hundreds of toys and things hanging from the ceiling and piled up on the floor. Jenny ran up one side of the shop and down the other side, trying to look at everything. She even picked a few things up to take a closer look. You shouldn’t really do that because things are not yours until you buy them but she was very careful to put them back in the right place. When she reached the counter, her mother and Grandma Lily were talking to the shop assistant. And the treasure box was on the counter. Jenny stood on her tip toes to see.
Jenny’s mother turned and smiled: ‘Grandma was wondering whether you’ve been good lately, Jenny?’
Jenny took a deep breath: ‘I did get a silver star for my reading,’ said Jenny. ‘And teacher said my writing is very better.’
‘Well, in that case, I think Grandma might buy you a present.’
‘Will it be a present for my birthday in six weeks and three days’ time?’ asked Jenny.
‘Let’s see, shall we?’ said Grandma Lily.
Jenny was so excited she didn’t know what to say, so she stood very still and watched the shop assistant wrap the treasure box in pink tissue and put it in a big toyshop carrier bag. The bag was so big that it touched the floor when Jenny tried to carry it, so Grandma had to carry it back to the car park although Jenny was allowed to have the bag on the seat next to her so long as she didn’t look inside. She watched Grandma Lily wander off to her car.
‘Mum, will Grandma will let me have my treasure box straightaway?’ asked Jenny.
Jenny asked that question perhaps ten times before they finally pulled into their drive. And every time her mother said: ‘Let’s see, shall we?’
Grandma Lily always called round for Saturday tea after lunch and shopping and she always brought some of her homemade banana bread or chocolate cake with her. Jenny watched her pull into the drive behind them. Then she hugged her bag from the toyshop and waited for Grandma to let her out of the car. ‘Grandma, do you know yet whether I can have my present now?’ she asked as soon as the car door opened.
Grandma Lily laughed: ‘Well, let’s see, shall we? Yes, I think you can! Why don’t you go and see what it looks like on your dressing table?’
As soon as she was inside, Jenny dragged her toyshop bag up to her room, pulled the pink parcel out onto her bed and tore off the tissue. And there it was: her very own red and gold treasure box. She practiced turning the key in the lock and lifting out the tray. She fetched her necklace bowl and tipped everything into the big space underneath the tray. She turned the key one more time. Then she emptied everything out onto the bed and put everything back more tidily.
After a while Grandma Lily called Jenny down for chocolate cake, so Jenny checked that her box was properly locked, put it on her dressing table and ran downstairs to the kitchen. Grandma Lily and Jenny’s mum and dad were sitting at the table. Jenny’s dad always joined them for Saturday cake even though there was sport on the television. Jenny sat down next to him and told him about her new treasure box. Then suddenly she remembered Rag Dolly. She looked over at the chair where Dolly usually sat. It was empty. Oh no!
‘What’s the matter, Jenny?’ asked her father.
‘Where’s Dolly?’ Jenny said. ‘She’s not in her chair!’
‘Oh dear!’ said daddy, ‘perhaps you left her in the car.’
‘But I don’t remember carrying her back to the car. I was helping Grandma carry my present.’
‘Well, perhaps you left her in the restaurant where you had lunch.’
‘Daddy, I didn’t leave her. I nearly forgot her but Mummy reminded me.’
‘Do you know what I think?’ said Grandma Lily. ‘I think you must have put her down in the toyshop and then forgot her in all the excitement.’
Jenny’s mum looked at the kitchen clock: ‘I think the shops are closing now. We’ll have to phone tomorrow.’
‘But, Mummy, I don’t want to wait until tomorrow. What if somebody sees her in her new dress and thinks she’s one of the dolls that the shop sells? What if the lady in the shop sells her?’
Jenny felt like crying. Grandma Lily patted her hand: ‘I don’t think they would sell Rag Dolly because she hasn’t got a price on her, has she? Perhaps you put her on the counter and the shop assistant put her in the bag with your treasure box. Did you look inside properly?’ Grandma stood up and held out her hand: ‘Why don’t we go and have a look. Mummy can be pouring me another cup of tea. And cutting Daddy another piece of cake.’
So Jenny and Grandma Lily went upstairs and searched in the toyshop bag, But Rag Dolly wasn’t there. She was LOST. Jenny started to cry.
‘Hey, come on, Jenny. I’m sure she’ll come back.’
Jenny looked at her grandma: ‘Do you think she ran away because she was angry with me because I was caring about my new treasure box and forgetting about her?’
‘Possibly,’ said Grandma Lily.
‘Do you think she’s hiding in the place you told me about when I lost my mitten? The place where LOST things go until you deserve to have them back?’
‘Perhaps,’ said Grandma Lily.
‘Will she come back?’
‘Probably,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘ Yes, I’m sure she will, Jenny.’
Jenny stood up and walked over to her dressing table: ‘Grandma, thank you for my present. But I don’t deserve it anymore.’
‘Of course you do. Have you put any special things in there yet?’
‘Yes. But none of them are as special as Dolly and now she’s gone. I hope she has gone to the place where the LOST things go and she’s not all on her own in the toyshop with the lights turned off. Grandma, will you tell me the rhyme about where the LOST things hide?’
‘About Raggedy Lyme?’
‘Yes, about how they decide to come back?’
So Grandma Lily 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.
‘Grandma, how can I earn Dolly’s return?’
‘Perhaps you should make up your mind that you’ll be careful not to put her down and forget about her ever again. Perhaps, when she comes back, it would be safer if she didn’t go into town anymore. It’s so busy these days. Now, why don’t you come downstairs and finish your tea?’
‘OK, Grandma, I promise if she comes back I’ll always keep her safe at home.’
Jenny followed Grandma Lily downstairs and sat in her place and nibbled chocolate cake and felt very miserable. Mummy and Grandma Lily were talking about gardening and not noticing her at all, and Daddy was reading the paper. Suddenly he looked up: ‘I thought you lost your Dolly, Jenny. Isn’t that her there, where she usually sits?’
Jenny leaned over to see Dolly’s chair. And Dolly was just sitting there! Jenny jumped up and hurried over to her.
‘She’s come back!’ squealed Jenny.
‘Back from where?’ asked Daddy.
Jenny looked at Grandma, who was smiling very wisely.
‘Daddy, don’t you know about the place where the LOST things go when they’re cross with you? It’s called Raggedy Lyme. Grandma told me all about it.’ She gave Rag Dolly a hug. And then she made a decision: ‘From now on, I’m going to call Dolly Raggedy to remind me of Raggedy Lyme. And I promise to care about all my things always. I’m never going to lose anything ever again!’