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Mumsy and Arnold (Part II)

Arnold managed to calm down a little while he sat on his back legs in the apothecary, while the man behind the desk chuckled, “You’re just wasting your time cat, there’s no such thing as white lampblack or benzene ash.”

The cat was silent for a few moments more, and then he finally replied, “Well then, I’ll just have to make them then.”

“Make them?”  He looked at Arnold with a mixture of mirth and confusion.  

“Benzene ashes will be easy,” the cat waved his paw dismissively and asked if the man had any to sell.

“Benzene doesn’t leave ashes after it’s burned cat,” the man assured him.

“It will when I’m done with it,” Arnold countered.


Arnold placed a wooden log into the tub of benzene.  After a few hours he’d invite over Maddox and a few urchins and have them declare it a ‘benzene log’, which after it was burned would leave ‘benzene ashes’.  He’d also be asking Nathaniel if he had the time to help him make a bacon stretcher.

“I’ll provide the marshmallow’s and sausages,” he added as an incentive.   


“Listen cat, unless you can figure out a way to make carbon turn white there’s nothing you can do.”

“What white dyes do you have?  Or makeups?” The cat paused for a moment and then asked, “What would you put in something that you wanted to turn white?”

The man paused for a moment as he considered the question, “Powdered ruti…err…Titanium dioxide,” He had worked in Babbage long enough to know that the scientific names attracted more business.  “You’d have to put quite a bit in to make it anything brighter than a dark grey, and there’s no telling how it would work as ink…”

“She said she wanted white lampblack, she never said it had to be functional or pretty.”

The mixture and resulting ink came out a lot better than either of them had imagined.


Hours later Heliotrope and a kid visiting from Mondrago heard the odd things that she had asked for, “Did she tell you why she needs these things?”

“They didn’t exist,”  Arnold replied with a shrug, “She didn’t need them at all.”

The kid with the tanuki-like tail piped up with his own opinion,  “Sounds like wild goose chases for things like sky hooks and striped paint to me.”

“That’s all it was I think, a test to see how long I’d waste my time.” Arnold replied. “Instead of calling her on it, I chose to create them myself.”

Lionheart hmmed and looked down at the crouching cat, “When I first met you, you would have proclaimed their nonexistence and walked away.”

“Yes,” Arnold agreed. “Now I’m out to fulfill everything they ask for no matter how impossible.  If Rumpelstiltskin could make straw into gold, I could make white lampblack.”  With science instead of magic, he added mentally.

Heliotrope smiled broadly, “I like it. You’re countering their test of you by testing yourself to meet their test.”

“But why?” the boy asked.  There were a lot of reasons that he could have provided:  Honoring his contract, challenging himself, the joy it gave him to beat them at their own games.

“Because I choose to,” Arnold replied simply. “What other reason would I need?”  After a few moments he added, “Besides being really annoyed.”

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  1. Mumsy Abigail Mumsy Abigail January 26, 2012

    Mumsy looked with amusement at the items set before her in the parlour.  Among the more mundane sundries were a bacon-stretcher, white lampblack, and benzene ash.

    Her smirk turned to a well-practiced scowl as she shifted her gaze to Mr. Arnold.

    “You, cat,” she said, “have too much time on your hands.  Please wait here while I prepare another list.”

    • Mr. Arnold Mr. Arnold January 27, 2012

      Arnold nodded, he should have anticipated that.  He supposed he’d have to see if they could lower his availablity at the hospital and the asylum to emergencies…

    • Brother Riddler Brother Riddler January 27, 2012

      Cor, she is worse than the Fathers!

      • Father Pizzaro Father Pizzaro January 28, 2012

        She sounds like a delightfully focused and resourceful Lady. I should arrange to have tea with her.

  2. Maddox Sinclaire Maddox Sinclaire January 27, 2012

    ((oooh, I dare say the next list will be harder to reproduce. XD))

  3. Petharic Petharic January 28, 2012

    After you spent spent so many nights
    thinking how they did you wrong
    you grew strong
    you learned how to carry on…

    You will survive!

  4. Mr. Arnold Mr. Arnold January 29, 2012

    Arnold had approached everyone else about why he would be unavailable in the near future, except for one.  So he took a copy of the flyer about a mission to save New Babbage again from one of the children and approached Miss Bookworm.

    “I’m retired.”

    “What?”  Bookworm asked and then looked down at the urchin message.

    “From saving Babbage,” Arnold insisted.  “I’m retired.”

    Bookworm just sort of giggled at him.

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