Fluffy had been out picking carrots on the cooperative farm. For this work she had been given a nice little crop of carrots that she now presented to her mother in the kitchen. This would be ample for their dinner tomorrow and still have enough making more carrot cake that they knew always went down well with Derrick the Post.
“Thank you my darling”, said Mother Ostrich, “now I have something for you”. Mother Ostrich reached into her apron pocket and took out a note. “This came for you today”.
Fluffy took the note and read it.
“Dear Fluffy, As you might have heard, Sothwik has opened a little Museum at the Town Hall. I wondered if you would like to go with me to see it? I thought it sounded interesting and that perhaps it would be nice to go together. With fond regards, Norbuttley”.
Fluffy looked up. Her mother was looking directly at her. “Fond Regards?”, said Mother Ostrich. Now it was Fluffy’s turn to blush.
“Well, I had heard about it. It might be nice to have someone to keep me company”, replied Fluffy. (Narrators note: In Dingley Dell it is almost impossible to not hear about anything that was going on).
“Actually, I do need some strawberry jam” said Mother Ostrich. “If you happen to be going to the Emporium any time soon”. Fluffy was already picking up some Moreofthems and was on her way out.
In no time at all she arrived at the Port Emporium. “Oh hello Norb”, she said. “Mother sent me for some Strawberry Jam”. “Certainly”, said Norbuttley, “You can have this on me. It’s from a fresh batch I prepared only this morning”. (Narrators note: Norbuttley made Jam as a hobby. He had seen Strawberries and other fruit arriving at the port and saw Sugar arriving too and thought someone ought to put these together).
Fluffy gave him the Moreofthems. “As I bought these with me anyway you may as well have them”, she said smiling. “Oh, and I saw your note. That sounds like a lovely idea. I would love to go with you. When were you thinking of going?”.
“It’s opening on Sunday. I will have my assistant working here on Sunday so I am free to go. I’ll pick you up at 10 o’clock if that ok for you”.
“Sounds perfect” said Fluffy. “See you then”.
Ostriches are flightless birds but she seemed to fly home.
The following Sunday, the Emporium’s assistant arrived early. This was Paula Rabbit. She was Norbuttley’s cousin and the Rabbit clan liked to keep it in the family. She was reliable and Norbuttley knew she could manage just fine in his absence.
Norbuttley had thought long and hard about what to wear and had settled on his best waistcoat. On Saturday he had paid a visit to Patrick Bear and had his teeth polished and his fur groomed.
Now he set off for ‘The House Where We Live’ at the top of the hill. He arrived just as the Town Hall clock struck ten. Fluffy was waiting by the door doing her best to look casual.
They set off together. “I am looking forward to see what he has found to put into a museum”, said Norbuttley.
“Me too”, replied Fluffy.
They arrived at the Town Hall. It looked very different today. Apart from the huge sign saying ‘Dingley Dell Museum’, the biggest difference was that the main door was wide open.
They went in. It was the first time either of them had been inside the Town Hall. As a day out, just going into the Town Hall was almost interesting enough. Sothwik was standing next to a sign that read ‘This way’ below which there was a hand drawn arrow. It was pointing to the first room on the left at the front of the building. The room was very ornate and looked spectacular.
Sothwik had followed them in. “All the exhibits in here were donated by Mrs Donkey and some lent to us by the Cribbins family”, he said.
The most eye catching exhibit was a huge zebra shaped dummy that was wearing a heavily braided uniform and with a peaked hat.
“Well that’s impressive”, said Norbuttley.
Sothwik pointed to a display case below the dummy’s head. It had a long line of medals. “We are still working out how these were worn as there were clearly more medals that would fit on the dummy’s chest”.
Fluffy was very impressed with the whole room. She found the dummy awe inspiring, the medals fascinating and the maps that were lining the walls were very interesting to study. She pointed to one map. “That’s where my house is”, she said but it wasn’t built back then”. Norbuttley looked at the same map. “The port’s not there either nor the Sorting Office” he said. The only thing they recognised was the path and the school house. “That’s the school” said Norbuttley.
“It wasn’t a school back then. That’s where this fine gentleman lived”, said Sothwik gesturing to the uniformed dummy.
“What is this?”, asked Norbuttley, pointing to the strange shiny disk on a stand with dials and knobs on it.
“Nobody knows” replied Sothwik. “Mrs Donkey found it in the attic at the school. We are hoping someone might recognise it and tell us”.
“It’s a great museum Sothwik” said Fluffy. “You have done a great job here”. As they left the room they passed another map showing DINGLAND, OLDLAND and OFFERSLAND.
“Captain Cribbins discovered OLDLAND and OFFERSLAND”. Sothwik recited from the writing on the map.
They all walked through to the next room. This had an old Handcart as the main exhibit and around the room there were drawings of the Sugar Mill in various states of construction.
“These exhibits were all donated by Old Fletcher of the Sugar Mill” said Sothwik.
Fluffy and Norbuttley walked around the room together looking at the drawings. Some were very interesting as they showed parts of inside the Mill they had never seen.
As they left the museum they thanked Sothwik for a very interesting visit. They signed the visitors book.
Norbuttley walked Fluffy home.
“Thank you Norb for a lovely day out” she said.
“The pleasure was all mine”, he replied.
At Fluffy’s front door Norbuttley said “We must do this again”,
“Yes soon” replied Fluffy.
Fluffy gave Norbuttley a quick peck on the cheek and went straight indoors.
Norbuttley positively hopped home.