“Tigger,” Rabbit shouted, “There’s a coachman at the door for you!”
Tigger bounced out and gave a half bow, saying, “Tigger Holmes, at your service!”
The coachman nodded and said, “I have a message for you. ‘Come at once, if convenient. If inconvenient, come anyway.’”
Tigger frowned. “I thought that was what I was supposed to say. Who’s the message from?”
“Ah,” Tigger nodded. “That makes sense.”
“And here are Pooh Bear and Piglet, come for elevenses,” Rabbit said. “Most convenient. Pooh Watson can go with you, and Piglet and I can go through the new catalogue.”
The coachman opened the door to the coach, Tigger climbed in, calling out, “Come along, Watson,” as he did so.
Almost immediately they were at the royal palace.
There, they were greeted by King Septimus, who said, “Excellent, Tigger Holmes, you’re here before I even sent for you!”
Tigger wondered whether to try and explain, but decided it would only get more complicated, and he suspected that the matter Princess Mabel wished to consult him about was somehow related to whatever was troubling the king.
“Your Majesty!” he said.
“Right,” the king began, “we have a missing grandmother. Not my grandmother, you understand. She did go missing on occasions, she was a bit like that, you know, but we never worried about her.”
Queen Hepzibah cleared her throat in a meaningful manner.
“No,” the king continued, “it’s Little-Red Riding-Hood’s grandmother who has disappeared. This is Mrs Riding-Hood, Little-Red’s mother.”
“So it’s your mother who has disappeared,” Tigger said, addressing the lady in question.
“You see,” the king said, “I told you he was good.”
“Perhaps we should let Mrs Riding-Hood explain,” the queen said quickly.
“Thank you,” Mrs Riding-Hood said. “All this week my daughter has been taking food to her grandmother, who hasn’t been well. Today I thought I’d call in myself, and she wasn’t there. Her bed was all rumpled as if she’d been snatched from it. Do you think she’s been eaten by the wolf?”
“Do you have wolves in your forest?” Tigger asked.
“No, actually it’s a werewolf. King Quartus’ son.”
“I thought that was the Knave of Hearts.”
“The Knave is his younger son. The werewolf’s the older one. And really, he’s more of a pussy cat. Apart from the howling.”
Pooh looked thoughtful. “Was it a full moon here? I’m sure the sky was very dark last night for us.”
The queen checked the calendar. “No. First quarter.”
“Hmm,” Tigger said. “Perhaps I should investigate the scene of the crime.”
“Excellent idea,” the king said, and went off to organise a coach to take them there.
“One moment, Queen Hepzibah,” Tigger said. “Is Princess Mabel a friend of Little Red Riding-Hood?”
“Yes, I believe they’re very good friends.”
“Hmm, well, let’s see if I can find out where the grandmother is.”
“You don’t think she’s in the wolf’s stomach?”
“No, I don’t.”
When they reached the grandmother’s cottage, Mrs Riding-Hood was astonished to see the bed neatly made.
“It wasn’t like this when I saw it,” she exclaimed.
“I’m sure it wasn’t,” Tigger agreed. “The sheets appear to be freshly laundered.”
Tigger looked around and found a travel brochure with the corner of one of the pages turned down. He checked the page and then looked at the calendar. He then went and looked in the fridge, which was more or less empty.
“Does your mother like to go on coach tours?” Tigger asked.
“Oh yes, she goes two or three times a year.”
“I think you will find that’s where she currently is.”
“But why did Little-Red tell me her grandmother wasn’t well and take little treats to her every day?”
“I suspect that’s a question you’ll need to ask Little-Red herself,” Tigger replied.
“And I shall be having a word with Ambrose,” the king said thoughtfully.
“Ambrose?” Pooh Bear asked. He really thought he’d understood what was happening until that point.
“Yes, Quartus’ son, doubles as a werewolf. I don’t mind them meeting in the forest, but I would rather they didn’t squash the orchids. Some of them are quite rare.”
“Of course, your majesty,” Tigger said. “And now, if you don’t mind, we’d like to be off.”
King Septimus glanced around. “Yes,” he agreed, “the wedding vibes are getting rather strong. Thank you so much for all your help, Tigger Holmes.”
The coach returned Tigger and Pooh to the Hundred Acre Wood.
As they descended, Pooh said, “We never did see Princess Mabel.”
“No,” Tigger replied. “I think she was too busy helping Little-Red change the bedding.”