Red hurried home from the market. She had so much to tell her mom, and she wanted to make sure there would still be time to go to Granny’s house. She raced inside and slammed the door. The noise frightened poor Mrs Rabbit so much she nearly hit the ceiling.
“What’s wrong? Who’s after you?” she cried, pulling Red and her sister close.
“No-one,” panted Red, “You told me to hurry. Remember?”
After Mrs Rabbit got over her shock, Red told her all about the market while they finished making the cupcakes.
Red didn’t get to stir this time, but that was okay because she knew they needed to hurry. Besides, Red had an even better helping job in mind.
Her mom still hadn’t said anything about Red leaving school. Red decided she would just have to keep showing her mom how grown up she was.
When the cake mixture had been poured into the pans, Red said, “I’ll put them into the oven.”
“No, the oven is too hot,” her mom said, “You might burn yourself.”
Red crossed her arms. She was about to stamp her foot, when she remembered that big girls don’t throw tantrums.
Mrs Rabbit went back to stirring the ale. That gave Red another idea.
“I could help you stir the ale,” she said.
“Sorry Red. The ale is hot too.”
“I said no!” Her mom interrupted. “If it splashes it’ll burn you.”
Red couldn’t understand why her mom was treating her like a little kid again. How could she prove how grown up she was, if her mom didn’t even give her a chance?
Red could smell when the cupcakes were ready. It was the very best smell in the world. Mrs Rabbit was just pulling the cupcakes out of the oven, when there was a loud knock at the door.
“I’ll get it!” Red shouted, and quickly opened the door before her mom could object.
It was Mr Swift, hopping up and down and flapping his wings.
“Mrs Rabbit, please come quickly. It’s the Queen.”
“Already?” exclaimed Mrs Rabbit, “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” and before she’d even finished talking, Mr Swift had flown away.
Mrs Rabbit was a midwife—someone who helps deliver babies. The reason Red wanted to leave school was to learn how to be a midwife too, so she could help her mom. Red knew that she’d be good at it. She loved babies, and she was always practicing with Hazel.
Meg said that storks drop babies right at their house, so she didn’t know why they needed Mrs Rabbit’s help. Red’s mom said that she made sure that babies were healthy. That made total sense to Red, because it would be easy for a baby to bump it’s head on the way down or land in the wrong spot.
Being a midwife meant that Mrs Rabbit was often called away at any time of day or night. But this time was extra special. The Queen was having a baby, and the whole village was waiting to see if the baby was a boy or a girl—a Prince or a Princess.
“I’m sorry Red,” said her mom, as she got her special bag, “Granny will have to wait till tomorrow.”
Red saw her chance. This was the moment she’d been waiting for. “I could go by myself,” she said.
“It’s one thing to go to the market,” said her mom, “but the woods can be very dangerous.”
“But I’ve been there before,” Red pleaded, “I won’t be afraid.”
Mrs Rabbit paused. “Well, Granny is very ill, and the cupcakes will make her feel better.”
Red held her breath. She crossed her fingers behind her back, and thought:
Please say yes.
Please say yes.
Please say yes.
Her mom sighed. “I guess you can go.”
“Yay! Thanks Mom.” Red jumped for joy and wrapped her arms around her mom.
“Just promise me you’ll be careful.”
“I will,” said Red, “I promise.”
Mrs Rabbit got some cupcakes and some ale, and packed them into Red’s basket, being careful not to squash Hazel. Then she picked up Red’s baby sister. “I can go with you to the edge of the woods,” she said.
Red looked at Hazel sitting in her basket between the cupcakes and the ale. She remembered what Meg had said, and wondered if Meg was right. Maybe she was too old to carry a doll everywhere. She put Hazel on her bed and whispered, “I’ll be back soon.”