"May I -ah - enquire," said the little man, and that was the way he spoke, like a book, an old-fasioned book, "what you were searching for?"
"A mouse," said Dotty.
"A mouse," said the little man. "Well, well." And he looked at Dotty more strangely than ever.
"Yes, my mouse," said Dotty, and then she went on, "and I'm really very sorry that I sat on your tent, but we thought that this place was more or less private. It's our special Mouse Training School-"
Red-face turned, with an even more bewildered expression, to the young man and asked him something, it was perfectly clear that he was asking if he thought Dotty was quite right in the head, but the young man was laughing again. I looked at them both very oddly; I was not at all sure that they were right in the head.
However, we all cheered up - especially Prune - when the young man said, "We were just going to have some tea - if the thermos has survived - would you like some?"
From A GIRL WITH IDEAS, the novella written under the pen name Jean Bell in the 1960s but which was only published in Susan and Friends in 2002.