It was a lovely day on Harvey Street, as it often was. As usual, the Harvey Girls - Audrey, Dot and Lotta - were hanging out together in the trailer that they referred to as their headquarters. They were just chatting over what to do today, what they would do if anything went wrong from what they would do, and things like that.
Just as they finished talking, however, they heard a knock on the door to their trailer, causing all three of them to smile.
"That would signify," said Dot, "that it's time for our good friend Lumpy to stop by and play with us!"
"Oh, goody!" Lotta cheered.
"This is gonna be great!" Audrey said in excitement.
The three girls got up and ran over to the door. Once they'd gotten close enough, however, they noticed that the door was visibly cringing. The person on the other side was inhaling quite audibly, as though they needed to sneeze.
The desperate gasps sounded more or less exactly like Lumpy. Perhaps it really was Lumpy inhaling like that on the other side, but the girls couldn't focus on that. They just looked at each other, having the kind of look that questioned what to do in their eyes but not saying a word. They held out their hands as they tried to hold down the door, but it burst open, and there stood Lumpy, sneezing explosively and covering his nostrils with a tissue.
The force of the sneeze was so strong that the girls were blown straight to the floor. So much for covering his sneeze. Lumpy stood where he was, his tissue in his left hand and a box from which he'd gotten it in his right, as he wiped his nose and sniffled repeatedly. The end of his snout had a bright red tinge on it, and he had bags underneath his eyes.
The girls, laying flat on the floor for a moment, sat up to look at Lumpy. They looked a bit dazed, but they recovered almost immediately. And besides, hearing the sneeze had left all three of them quite surprised.
"Gesundheit, Lumpy," Audrey said, unironically, as she rubbed her head with her hand.
"That was quite a sneeze!" Dot mentioned.
"I don't know about you, but I think something's wrong with Lumpy," Lotta said to Audrey and Dot. They already figured that, as she could tell by Dot's flat glance at her.
Lumpy blew his nose into his tissue, then threw it away and pulled out another one. "S-sorry, girls..." he apologized with another sniffle and some more nose wiping. "I'b afraid I've caught a code."
The girls all walked up to him, looking at him in worry.
"Aw, a cold?" Audrey asked.
"That's too bad. If there's one thing that's no fun, it's having a cold," Lotta stated, and Lumpy nodded in agreement.
"But it's a good thing you came over," said Audrey. "You need some tender loving care, and stat."
"Luckily for you, we know a thing or two about being sick," Dot went on. "There's no ailment too big..."
"Or virus too small," Audrey finished for her.
"That can't be treated and nursed back to health by..." Lotta continued, before she and both of her friends finished in unison.
"The Harvey Street Girls!"
"AHHHHHH..." Lumpy suddenly inhaled again, then fired another sneeze into his tissue, causing the girls to wince as he did so. "TCHOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Upon recovering, Lumpy gave a couple more sniffles as he wiped his nose again with his tissue. "Excuse be..."
"God bless you," Lotta said politely.
"Contrary to popular belief," Dot then said, "there is a cure for the common cold. We just don't know what it is."
"But don't worry. With the help of a little trial and error, we'll find it," Audrey went on.
"Yeah! How hard could it be?" Lotta finished.
Lumpy just sniffled, not knowing what to say. He did hope the girls could help him with this cold, however.
A few minutes later, the Harvey Girls had helped Lumpy into their headquarters and told him to lay still on a coverless bed. Lumpy had done as he was told, and here he was, sniffling and waiting for what the girls had planned for him. On the other side of the room, he could hear the girls talking about what they were going to do about his cold, but he didn't make much of their dialogue out.
He did, however, see them treat themselves to a couple of crackers and cups of tea during a quick break from what he assumed to be their experiment.
"Excuse be, girls?" Lumpy called, rubbing his hand gently underneath his nose. "Bay I have sobe of what you're eating, please?"
"I'm afraid not," Dot said, to Lumpy's confusion and disappointment. "You shouldn't eat anything while we're working on a cure. It's for your own good."
"It's like they say, uh..." Lotta thought for a second, having forgotten what she intended to say. "Feed a something, and starve a something else... How'd that go again?"
"It must be, starve a cold," Audrey said. "Anyway, what say we begin this project and get to work?"
She put on a surgical mask, or maybe it was a flu mask; Lumpy couldn't tell. Whatever it was, Dot and Lotta put on two of those masks as well, before they all went over to Lumpy. The way they did so made him feel a bit nervous, but he remained calm. He did whimper slightly, however, when Lotta pinched at the end of his nose and stretched it out slightly so she could take a look.
"We should figure out what's making his nose all red," Lotta told her friends.
"Well, then," Dot replied, "it's a good thing I managed to create this automatic rhinoscope specifically for such a task." She pulled out what looked like a cross between a pair of tongs and a car jack. It had two sticks like a pair of tongs, the ends of which had rubber grabbers that could cling onto anything. However, thanks to the car jack part of this gadget, these tongs could be held up to almost five inches apart, without Dot having to make it do so. "Okay, Lumpy, hold still..."
Lumpy nodded slightly before Lotta let go of his nose. Dot then held the rhinoscope directly in front of Lumpy's nostrils, and the rubber grabbers firmly held onto the edges of each nostril. Then she pressed a button, utilizing the jack part of the gadget that proceeded to pull them apart, stretching his nose out slightly.
"Ow... ow... ow...!" Lumpy said as she did this, but otherwise didn't complain. He could see Audrey and Lotta wincing in disgust, presumably from having to look into his nose.
Dot put a rubber glove onto her left hand, and then held her forefinger on that hand in front of his nostril. She felt nothing.
"Hmm, just as I suspected," said Dot. "No air is moving through Lumpy's nostrils. It seems that a blockage is impairing his breathing."
"At least it's not all runny. That would've been so yucky," Lotta commented.
"We'll have to find a way to unclog his nasal passages," Dot went on. As soon as she finished speaking, Audrey got an idea.
"Unclog? That's it! I know how to do that!" She reached over to the side and pulled out a plunger, the handle of which had a horizontal bar on its tip that would help make using the plunger a bit easier.
"Not that I disagree with your idea, but wouldn't using a plunger on Lumpy's nostrils be a bit too risky?" Dot asked.
"If it can unclog a drain, it can unclog that nose of his!" Audrey said. She started to place it right over Lumpy's nose, but Dot stopped her before she could do so.
"Wait, wait, wait!"
Audrey stopped and pulled the plunger away from Lumpy's nose.
"Has the plunger been properly sterilized?" Dot asked.
Audrey looked at the red end of the plunger, seeing the point Dot was making. So she pulled out a rag and shook it out, causing clouds of dust to emerge from it. Unfortunately for the girls, Lumpy could feel the dust surrounding his nostrils, tickling his nose quite badly. His snout quivered and his nostrils flared as he felt a sneeze coming on.
"Aaaah... Haaaaaahhhh..." Lumpy inhaled, trying to hold back the urge to sneeze. It was quite difficult for him to resist, however; his nose was just far too sensitive.
"Uh, guys?" Lotta asked in concern. She had heard the inhales, and she knew almost immediately what was going to happen.
"Yeah?" Audrey and Dot asked.
"I don't think the whole ster-a-li-zation thing is such a good idea..." Lotta stated, not sure if she was saying the word right.
"What? Why?" Audrey wanted to know.
"Haaah- HuuuuuUUUUUHHH..." Lumpy continued to inhale, his gasps growing desperate.
Now knowing what was going to happen, Audrey and Dot gasped in fear, with the former dropping her plunger and rag as the latter covered her mouth with both hands.
"Oh, not again!" Dot cried in worry, before Lumpy released a final inhale and exploded again.
And the next thing the Harvey Girls knew, they were blown straight into the wall that was inches behind them. None of them were seriously hurt, but they did feel a minor hint of pain. Lumpy got up and walked over to them, holding his forefinger underneath his nose sheepishly.
Dot pulled her mask upward, as it had somehow been covering her eyes, and stated, "Looks like this isn't gonna be as easy as I thought."
"Especially with a nose as sneezy as yours!" Lotta commented.
As Lumpy rubbed his nose with his forefinger to recover from his sneeze, the plunger from earlier landed right on Lotta's head. Audrey had to help pull it off before they and Dot could try something else.
A few minutes later, Lumpy and Dot were in the common room of the trailer, with Audrey and Lotta in yet another part of it. Presumably, they were trying to think of some other way to help Lumpy feel better. Currently, however, Dot had brought out a vacuum cleaner and was now cleaning it off with a sanitary wipe.
"Don't worry, Lumpy, we'll have that cold cleared up faster than you can say Gesundheit," Dot said.
"Gee, I hope so..." Lumpy said with a sniffle.
"I filled the insides of this vacuum cleaner with plenty of ground-up, sweet-smelling herbs. The longer you inhale these herbs through your nose, the sooner your sinuses will clear up," Dot explained.
Lumpy smiled as he visualized her theory. Finally, Dot placed the end of the vacuum cleaner in the desired position, set it to Blow, and switched it on. As the vacuum began to hum, a nice aroma emerged from the nozzle. Lumpy felt it, but couldn't smell much of it. So he took a few sniffs, followed by a deep inhale, which caused his nose to clear slightly. He sighed contentedly, liking the scent.
"Looks like it's working!" Dot said in joy. "Keep inhaling the smell, and you'll be better in no time!"
Lumpy nodded and did as he was told. He really liked the smell of those herbs, whatever they were. He was sure they would be key to making his cold symptoms go away.
After a few minutes had passed, however, Lotta approached Lumpy, wiping her forehead with a sigh.
"Hey, guys, that smells good and all, but it's kind of stuffy in here," Lotta said. "You don't mind if I open the window, do you?"
She went over to the window, which Lumpy happened to be sitting next to. She placed her hand on the window sill, but Dot saw her do so and tried to prevent her from opening the window.
"Uh, Lotta? I don't think you want to do that..."
"But there's lots of fresh air outside! What's the worst that could happen?" Lotta asked with a shrug, before she placed her hand on the window and easily moved it upward to open it.
But what happened next was exactly what Dot was afraid would happen. The wind from outside blew some pollen into the room, and the pollen tickled Lumpy's nose intensely. His red nose twitched as his nostrils flared up, his eyes watered, and his breath began to hitch.
"Aaaah... Aaaaahhh... Haaaaaaah...!"
"Lumpy, no!" Dot cried as she held out her hand. "Don't sneeze!" She could tell that Lotta was looking worried as well.
Lumpy wanted to do as he was told, but the pollen was bothering his nose so much that he couldn't hold it back.
"AaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH...!" Lumpy tilted his upper body back, nose and nostrils quivering in unison. As a last resort, Lotta took the vacuum cleaner and held it over Lumpy's nose, hoping the ground-up smell that was still emitting from it would help stop the sneeze.
But it didn't; in fact, it also tickled Lumpy's nose to the point that he released the sneeze.
Lumpy shot his neck forwards as he released the sneeze, directly into the vacuum cleaner. Large amounts of ground-up leaves blew into the air, getting into Dot and Lotta's eyes as well as into their throats, causing them to cough and rub their eyes a few times. Lumpy, on the other hand, released a few more sneezes, the substances bothering his nose almost as much - if not more than - the pollen that made him sneeze in the first place.
"AAAAAH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOO! HUUUUUUHHHH-TCHOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Huuuh... HAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH-TCHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
As Lumpy finished sneezing, Audrey came running into the room, having heard his sneeze attack.
"What the heck is going on in here?!" Audrey asked in disbelief.
"Audrey, don't come over here! It's not safe!" Dot warned in between coughs.
After a few seconds, however, all of the airborne herb pieces descended to the floor, and Dot and Lotta stopped coughing, although their eyes were still a bit itchy. Dot set her vacuum cleaner to Suck and began to vacuum up the mess, while Lumpy sniffled and wiped his nose with one of his tissues.
"S-sorry, Dot..." he apologized. "I couldd't help byself..." He blew his nose for one second, but it didn't do much to help.
"It's alright, Lumpy, I don't blame you," said Dot. "We'll just have to come up with something else. Also, bless you."
"Thadks..." Lumpy resumed wiping his nose as Dot looked over at Lotta, not amused. Lotta wasn't sure what she'd done wrong, so she just shrugged innocently.
Not long after that, the Harvey Girls decided that the kitchen area of their headquarters was where they could find their cure for Lumpy. So they helped Lumpy into the room, but as they did so, Lumpy smelled something good. He looked over at the stove and saw a steaming pot on it. He smiled, knowing what it was.
"Oh, wow! Chicked doodle soup!" Lumpy let go of the girls' hands and ran over to the stove. But when he got there, all three of the Harvey Girls were there, blocking his way. None of them wanted them to have it.
"Lumpy..." Audrey said as she and Dot gently grabbed onto Lumpy's hands and started to pull him away from the stove.
"Didn't we tell you that you shouldn't eat anything?" Dot asked.
"Even if it is the tastiest, yummiest, savory-est, farm-fresh chicken noodle soup that our moms taught us to make," Lotta agreed.
"Oh, cobe od, girls!" Lumpy said as he tried to reach the soup, to no avail. He had no idea why they were acting this way; they usually never did when he came over. "I deed that soup. By code is beggidg for sobe of that soup!"
But his pleas were ignored, and Audrey and Dot brought him to the nearest chair they could find. While they did that, Lotta pulled out an electric blanket that happened to be the right size for Lumpy.
"We're sorry, Lumpy, but we believe that the best way to fight a common cold is with heat," Dot told Lumpy.
"So maybe putting this around your body could help you feel better instead," Lotta responded.
Before Lumpy could reply, Lotta proceeded to wrap the electric blanket around him, until he was completely covered. Lumpy tried to speak, but Lotta didn't understand him.
"What's that, Lumpy? I can't hear a thing you're saying!"
Knowing why this was the case, Audrey moved some of the edges of the blanket out of Lumpy's face so that his head was visible. Lumpy sniffled deeply, then coughed loudly, his nose running slightly as he did so.
"Oh! Sounds like your cold is taking a turn for the worse," Audrey said. She switched on the electric blanket as Lotta ran to a cupboard, opened it and began to look through it.
"Hurry, Lotta! Lumpy's failing fast!" Dot warned.
"I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying!" Lotta told her as she continued to look through the cabinet.
"We're gonna have to find some more hot and yet painless things to give to Lumpy," Audrey pointed out.
Not long after she'd said that, Lotta found a box of something in the cupboard. She moved it closer to her, unknowingly opening the lid and causing a dusty substance to come out as she did so.
"Hey, what's thi- Haaah'tchyew!" Lotta sneezed, cringing as she did so, and Audrey turned to look at her when she heard the sneeze. Lotta pulled her upper body out of the cabinet, looking a bit dazed as she rubbed her nose with the back of her hand. In her other hand was the box she'd pulled out. "Ugh..."
"Yeah... something just made me sneeze," said Lotta.
"Well, no wonder," Audrey said as she looked at the box. "That's the sneezing powder we tried to use on the Bloogey Boys last April Fool's Day!"
Dot overheard her and walked over to Audrey and Lotta. She saw that the box was labelled "sneezing powder" and had a picture of a man sneezing underneath. A small amount of text on the bottom of the box mentioned the powder was made with pepper and pollen.
"Oh, I remember that," Dot mentioned. "It's too bad it didn't work and wound up making us sneeze instead."
"You're telling me; my nose wouldn't stop tickling for hours!" Audrey said as she took the box from Lotta, then handed it to Dot.
"Speaking of which, let's keep this stuff far away from Lumpy." Dot went over to a shelf and placed the sneezing powder on top. "The last thing we need is one more sneeze-related accident."
"Oh, absolutely!" Lotta said. She turned back and kept searching the cupboard. At last, she pulled out what she was looking for. "Ah, here it is! My old hairdryer!"
"A hairdryer?" Dot asked in disbelief. "You do know we're trying to cure a cold and not a bad hair day, right?"
"Yeah, but the air that comes out of a hairdryer is hot," Lotta explained. "So the longer we hold this in front of Lumpy, the better he'll feel until his cold goes away!"
"Not sure if that's crazy enough to work, or just crazy," Dot muttered to herself.
Audrey turned up the temperature of the electric blanket that Lumpy was still wrapped up in. Lumpy sweated a bit, but didn't complain or even try to remove the blanket from himself.
"That's a great idea, Lotta." Audrey then opened up the cabinet underneath the sink, reached down into it and pulled out a bucket. "But I think it'd also help if we put Lumpy's feet in some hot water for a while. Doesn't that always help when someone catches a cold?"
She placed the bucket close to Lumpy, then looked around for a kettle. She found one on the shelf, smiled and went over to it, not realizing that this was the same shelf the sneezing powder was still sitting on. She removed the kettle from the shelf, then looked over at a cookie jar that was sitting on the counter. After putting down the kettle, she picked the jar up and placed it on the other end of the shelf.
Unfortunately for Audrey, the jar was quite heavy with fresh cookies, and the weight caused the shelf to come loose and the sneezing powder to go flying into the air - and the opening landed right on Lumpy's nose, saturating it in nose-tickling sneezing powder.
The Harvey Girls gasped in fear and distress.
"Oh no!" Audrey and Dot cried.
Lumpy's eyes widened and pupils shrunk until they could barely be seen, and massive chills ran down his spine. His nose froze for a moment, but then turned a blood red shade as it began to tremble and rumble. His nostrils shivered and began to flare to several times their normal size. He needed to sneeze; absolutely, positively needed to sneeze. Everything about the sneezing powder - from its powdery texture to its scent to its large amount of pepper and pollen - made him need to sneeze. With no power to hold it back, Lumpy had no choice but to let the girls know it was going to happen.
"Lotta! Fire up the dryer!" Audrey commanded Lotta as Dot stood next to them in extreme worry.
Lotta did as she was told and turned the hairdryer on to its highest setting, before she aimed it at Lumpy's face. While she did this, Dot covered her eyes as Audrey plugged her ears. But it wasn't much help at all; Lumpy released the biggest, loudest and most powerful sneeze he'd released today.
Aside from expelling all of the powder from his nose, the force of the sneeze was enough to blow the air from the hairdryer toward the Harvey Girls, messing their hairstyles up slightly. Not only that, but the sneeze also blew them to the ground a few feet away from them, without injuring any part of their bodies. They lay there until the sneeze had finally subsided, and then they sat back up to look at Lumpy. None of them could believe what they'd heard.
"Gesundheit!" said Audrey, Dot and Lotta.
Lumpy smiled, enjoying the relief the sneeze had brought him as he rubbed his nose gingerly with his forefinger, sniffling loudly as he did so. Now that he had recovered his breath, he got up and went over to the stove, while the girls stood up, retaining their expressions of disbelief.
"I gotta say, that was awesome in more ways than one," Audrey commented.
"You said it. I hope we don't ever have to experience that again!" Dot agreed.
Lotta nodded in agreement. Then, however, a book fell on her head, somehow fixing her hair without injuring her. As she rubbed her head, she looked at the book she now held in her hand.
"Hey, what's this?" Lotta asked. "It says Folk Medicine for Fun and Profit, the kid-friendly version."
Dot gently took the book out of Lotta's hand and opened it.
"Well, my, my. It's not starve a cold; it's feed a cold and starve a fever," Dot said. "And, the book goes on to talk about the antiviral properties of chicken soup as well."
"So we could've just let Lumpy have some of our soup without having to go through this mess?!" asked Audrey.
Lotta, on the other hand, looked a bit embarrassed and perhaps guilty. "Oops."
"Oops is right. But let's just say we've learned something from all this," Dot stated, "so the next time Lumpy comes down with a cold, we know how to make him feel better without too many mishaps."
Lumpy, meanwhile, pulled out a ladle and a bowl, then scooped himself a bowl of the steaming hot chicken soup. Once he thought he'd gotten enough for himself, he took out a spoon and began to eat. The soup tasted quite good, and he could feel his throat healing and his nose unclogging.
After a couple of minutes, Lumpy's bowl was empty. He placed it on the counter, sighed and rubbed his full belly. The redness on his nose had faded slightly, but now made it appear pink. It was alright, however; soon the pink hue would go away as well.
"Lumpy?" Lotta asked.
"Yeah?" Lumpy's voice sounded much less congested and more like his usual self.
"Did you just cure yourself with our soup?"
Lumpy sniffled slightly. "Well, I'm not totally over it, but I feel much better than I was before." Another sniffle. "By the way, thank you for letting me have some!"
"Well, even though we could've given him that soup a lot earlier," Dot mused, "what matters is that he's gotten on the road to recovering from that monster of a cold he had."
"Yeah! And it won't be too long before he's all better!" Audrey cheered.
"That's wonderful and all, but..." Lotta shivered a bit. "Does anyone else feel cold in here?" Suddenly she inhaled, then doubled over with a mild sneeze. "Ah, hah... Ah'tchyew!"
As Lotta sulked from her sneeze, Audrey replied, "You know, now that you mention it, I feel a little... Haaaaaah..." Before she could finish her sentence, Audrey tilted her neck back and let out a sneeze of her own, hopping a little as she did so. "HAAAAH-CHUUUUU!"
"Hehhh-cheww!" Dot sneezed as well, putting both of her hands over her mouth.
As Audrey rubbed her nose a couple of times with her forefinger, Dot looked down at her slightly misted hands with an expression of horror on her face. She knew what was going on.
"Uh, girls? Don't panic..." she said, trying to stay calm. "There is at least a 99 percent chance that we've caught Lumpy's cold."
"You have?" Lumpy asked. He seemed to be in disbelief as well, but he mostly felt guilty. "Gee, girls, I'm so sorry... But if it's not too much trouble, how'd you like me to take care of you?"
Lotta sniffled quite audibly, her nose now appearing red. Audrey and Dot's noses were steadily developing a red shade as well.
"Sorry we gave you all this trouble, Lumpy," Lotta apologized.
"From this day on, we will never use trial and error to treat your illnesses again," Audrey vowed. Lotta finished her thought for her.
"And you will only receive the tenderest and loving-est of care from..."
"The Harvey St-" the girls started to say, but before they could finish, they all felt the need to sneeze again. "Aaah... Hehhh... HAAAAAH-CHYEEEEWWWW!"
Lumpy cringed as he heard Audrey, Dot and Lotta release their sneezes in just about perfect unison. That wasn't something that happened every day... But he knew what he had to do. It was his turn to take care of them.
"Bless you, girls," Lumpy said as he stayed calm.
Audrey rubbed her nose again with her forefinger, while Lotta wiped her nose once with her hand and Dot blew her nose audibly into a tissue.
A few minutes later, all of the girls were in three separate beds, each of them having a box of tissues close to them for when they needed to blow and wipe their noses. Lumpy handed each of them a tray with a bowl of chicken soup on it, still warm.
"Even though we're not going to do much together for a while," said Lumpy, "it's worth it to make sure you girls get better as soon as I do."
"I can't wait to feel better, either," Lotta said, and released another tiny sneeze, covering her mouth with her hand. "Aah-shew!" She then pulled her hand away from her mouth and started eating.
"And thank you for doing your best to cure my cold, even if most of your ideas didn't work," Lumpy went on.
"You're welcome, Lumpy," Audrey replied with a sniffle. Soon afterward, she needed to sneeze again. "Hah... Haaaah..." As she tilted her head up slightly, she didn't notice as Lumpy held her nose with a tissue. "AAAAAHHHHH- AH-TCHIUUUUUUUUU!"
Her sneeze was quite loud and forceful, but Lumpy managed to cover it without the risk of the tissue flying out of his hand. As Audrey recovered and opened her eyes, she saw the tissue that Lumpy had used to cover her sneeze, then took it and wiped her nose with it.
"Th-thadks, Lumpy..." Audrey replied, then blew her nose a couple of times before she went back to wiping her nose.
"No problem, Audrey," Lumpy said. "And bless you."
As the girls tucked into their servings of delicious chicken noodle soup, Lumpy switched on the television in front of the beds to help keep them entertained. Indeed, it might be a couple of days before his friends felt better, but he was more than happy to take care of them.
The day they made full recoveries, Lumpy decided, was the day he was going to play with the Harvey Girls and do what fun activities they couldn't do today.