At age 4, Darcy Kildare still firmly believed in the Easter bunny. She assured her older brothers, Aloysius and Kelly, that the Easter bunny would leave her a basket of toys, candies, and eggs, like a spring-time Father Christmas.
“Darcy, Easter’s just the spring solstice,” Aloysius rolled his eyes. “And rabbits don’t lay eggs.”
“No, but they have a deal with the chickens,” Darcy said earnestly, staring into her biggest brother’s eyes. “Daddy told me.”
Kelly, full of wisdom at age 6, nodded sagaciously. “Yes,” he said, “and if you don’t believe in the Easter bunny, how will you get a basket?”
“I don’t care,” Aloysius stood up from the craft table, went to his room, and quietly shut the door. Kelly and Darcy went back to coloring pictures of Easter baskets and saints.
“Good morning!” Cecily Kildare woke her children by opening the shutters in their room, allowing bright sunlight to invade the room. The older boy groaned and rolled over towards the wall, a book falling from his bed to the floor with a soft thump on the rug. The younger boy immediately sprang to his feet with wide eyes.
“Did he come?”
“I think I saw some baskets on the way up the stairs,” Cecily nodded thoughtfully. “Let’s go wake Darcy while Aloysius gets his act together.”
The little girl was already out of bed, having heard her brothers stirring, and was pulling on her Easter Sunday clothes already.
“Don’t worry about that, Darcy,” said Cecily. “We’ll worry about getting to Mass later.” As the little girl began to get back into her pajamas, Aloysius stumped into the room behind his mother and gazed up at her blearily. “Happy Easter, eldest handsome son.”
From downstairs, Basil Kildare was putting the finishing touches on the three Easter baskets in front of him. The pink for Darcy, blue for Aloysius, and of course, green for Kelly. Equal treats, equal toys. Good. They’ll like this. He heard the bare feet padding along the short hallway upstairs, then down the steps. Kelly, of course, led the way. “He came! The Easter bunny came!”
Darcy was still picking her way down the stairs, trying to hurry, but her focus was on not falling. Aloysius slunk down the stairs, trying to avoid looking pleased that chocolate and little gifts were in his near future. The two younger children attacked their baskets as he stood apart a little ways, looking at the blue grass and the contents.
Darcy held up a white egg. “What’s this?”
Cecily took it from her, “I don’t know, darling, did the silly Easter bunny forget to dye this—” She stopped and looked at Basil, then silently handed him the egg.
“I didn’t put that there,” he said quietly, looking the egg over, his eyes widening.
“Of course not,” Cecily turned to her children. “Oh, look at this sweet bunny!”
A few short hours later, Cecily shoved open the heavy doors to the MI6 headquarters so hard they banged loudly against the walls. The receptionist stood up, alarmed, but settled back down as he recognized Cecily. “Is the Minister in?” she queried impatiently.
“Yes, he’s in his office, but I think he’s preparing to leave.”
“Damned if he leaves before I’ve had a word with him!”
“Should I ring ahead?” The receptionist was left without a reply.
Cecily flung herself up the stairs to the third floor, walked quickly along a blank hallway, then ducked into a decorative alcove and flipped the bowl on the small table there. The wall to her right parted, revealing a tiny elevator, which she entered, and rose to floor 39 ½.
The Minister was just picking up his briefcase when the elevator pinged politely and the door slid open. “Ah, Cecily, Happy Easter to you.”
“Happy Easter my arse! How dare you deliver this…egg!… in my daughter’s Easter basket!”
“I thought you might appreciate the joke. Besides, she doesn’t know what it means, does she.”
“She knows it was meant for Mommy and Daddy, sir, and that is too much information. I told you when Basil and I had our family that we did not want them involved in any way.”
“Then perhaps you should retire, already, Cecily. It wouldn’t do for my agents to constantly be leaving you messages in the fridge. This way I knew it would come to you because your little one wouldn’t understand what it meant.”
“Your agents were in our house?”
“How else would that egg have gotten there?”
“Y0u couldn’t think of another way? Basil and I have jobs you know! Easter break is only a long weekend. Couldn’t this have waited until we returned?”
“You didn’t even read it, did you.”
“No, sir, I did not,” some of the fire was leaving Cecily’s eyes as she began to get better rein of her emotions.
“Well, scan it here, and you may use my screen to view it.”
A pause, then Cecily placed the egg beneath a green scanner as one might see at a local supermarché. A scanner folded down and Cecily allowed it to identify her. “Welcome, Cecily Kildare,” a gentle female voice intoned.
The computer monitor flashed as a program began its auto-run, and Cecily looked to it to see what information could possibly be so important. Several photos and some text appeared, prompting her to utilize the mouse to scroll through. She turned sharply to her commander.
“Is this real?”
He nodded grimly.
“I understand.” The young woman nodded thoughtfully. “I’ll speak with Basil about it and see how he would like to proceed. Will that be alright?”
“Of course. You two are my best agents.”
“Thank you, sir. And I am sorry about the outburst earlier.”
“It’s understandable, Cecily, I won’t hold it against you.”
She smiled and turned to go. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” Cecily stopped, turning to him with curiosity on her face.
“What about it?”
“That,” said the Minister, “is the real one.”