Carolyn Teresa Hofstede had a problem. She loved pets so much, but her parents never let her keep them. Gregory the snake, Julius the frog, Bernard the cricket, and three baby bird eggs she hid on her windowsill, all had to go back to the woods by the stream. She never even got to see the bird babies.
She couldn’t let that happen to squishy Squerbils. He was just too cute. He jiggled and shook so excitedly.
“Squerbils…” squeaked Squerbils.
Carolyn scooped the little critter into her painted garden pail. He slid right off his splorchy perch by the stream. She was very careful not to muddy her new calico dress. The raven-haired little girl hurriedly exited the woods, toting a heavy load across the pasture. She used the perfectly lain vegetable garden for cover as long as she could. Then, a quick dash brought her through the draped clothes lines and to her backdoor.
At least Daddy wasn’t home. He was off “fighting Indians.” Which was strange because he always wore his best suit to do it; Mommy wouldn’t even let him into the garden in that suit. Carolyn was missing something, she knew, but nobody ever explained anything to her. Everyone was always so busy with neighbors and cousins and society meetings and business associates that nobody had time for Carolyn. Still though, Daddy usually found the pets.
Daddy being gone would make it easier she thought. Mommy would be in the parlor with Aunt Ellen. She only had to worry about Viola.
Viola was the maid. Mommy said that Viola’s “matronly bosom” was her best feature. The way Aunt Ellen always sniggered made Carolyn think that Mommy was being mean. As usual, nobody explained anything to her.
She was hauling the pail and the critter up the back steps to her bedroom when Viola caught her. Viola’s sharp green eyes shot right to Squerbils squirming in the bucket.
“Squerbils…” trilled Squerbils.
Viola blinked several times. She then smiled and said, “Good morning, Miss Carolyn. I’ll have you some breakfast in just a bit. Would you like to have it at your desk, honey? I can read you a book over your eggs.”
Carolyn nodded breathlessly. Viola squeezed right by them on the stairs and said nothing about Squerbils!
When she got to her room, Carolyn hid Squerbils’ bucket behind the miniature jewelry armoire on her desk. She petted him thoroughly, and he felt just like a frog stuffed with jellied eels. She wrinkled her nose at the thought of those nasty jiggly things from their vacation in London.
A little while later Viola came into Carolyn’s room with two plates of eggs. Without saying a word, Viola dumped one of the plates into Squerbils bucket. Squerbils cooed and loudly ate while Viola read some sonnets. Viola never said anything about Carolyn’s new pet. Neither did Mommy when she started helping to feed Squerbils.
Soon the whole family was helping to feed him. Then a few neighbors started chipping in. Squerbils just kept getting bigger and bigger. Carolyn didn’t know what to think. She wouldn’t be able to fit in her room with him much longer.
“SQUIRBLES!” bellowed Squerbils, and the whole house shook.