Libertine the mannequin is approximately 1,6m tall with willowy and graceful limbs. She was made by a Parisian artist at the onset of La Belle Époque and so possesses a great fondness for the Art Nouveau Style although one could say she's veered more to the Mary Quant quarters over time until this very day. She has a penchant for go-go boots in exotic mushroom leathers and wears all sorts of wigs as she's bald. It's said the papers saturated to make the papier-mâché that moulded her were torn from old weathered books on architecture, art, design, natural history and botany and that's why she's got a keen eye for design, an affinity with nature and the most amazing intrinsic knowledge. It's said her maker’s particular blend of resinous glues used in her paper clay creation possessed a peculiar ageing property that imbued her very pliable and not at all stiff as one might suppose a mannequin to be. She is the Savoir-Faire of the town and when she feels so inclined, she will call for a conversation evening in her Salon situated in the Southern Greenhouse where her chaise longue is kept. All the sage and savy, cultured and coutured and even those downright rowdy, ridiculous and rambunctious congregate for sublime T’s (talks). When she was at the height of her career as a mannequin in that renowned London department store, she would overhear the overly posh and trendy socialites bragging about their invitations to 27 rue de Fleurus during their Parisian excursions and escapades. It sounded so exquisite. It fired her imagination. If Gertrude Stein could salonnière then why shouldn’t she? Indeed why not? With her inherent knowledge and trendy personality, she certainly has a knack and a flair for it.
During her most unpleasant sojourn in that department store's storeroom she had befriended generations of field mice who brought her gifts of seeds and pips in exchange for tickles and Tai massages. Mice are nice when you know what tickles their fancy and the mannequin had them all figured out. The mice would present her with beautifully packaged seeds. She loved watching them germinate into tiny sprouts before her eyes for she could meditatively scrutinize them for days on end without taking a break, because as you know, the only break she ever had was when her nose was damaged in the department store brawl. Being papier-mâché, she doesn’t need to eat or sleep. She only needs to fuel her soul contemplating the miracle of life. The mice would return and plant her delicate seedlings in the nearby gardens and fields and when they'd fulfilled their towering ambitions, the mice would shower Libertine with their flowers. She'd relish and cherish them and then dry them out for potpourri as an antidote for the stale stuffiness of the store room. Over the decades she learnt a lot about plants and flowers and had a particular penchant for heirloom seeds. Now that she is resident in Royal Doll Town she continues with her study of plants, flowers, biology, nature and design. She has a bursting library of books, a well-stocked bank of seeds and a herbarium. Her personal mission, to stock and guard as many traditional seeds in her bank as possible is even more driven since she learnt about the heinous practice of genetically modifying seeds, effectively ruining an ecology that nature took millions of years to establish and eliminating self seeding plants. Iniquitous is the bid of big corporation to own seed production and deprive people of ground root level of sustenance. Natural seeds, free to everyone, are enormous treasures in Libertine's department-store dummy opinion and I concur, don't you?
The first magical night I spent at RDT, Libertine leant me her bed. I was so inebriated with the beauty and detail of it all that I felt compelled to live there forever. However, it became clear as the hours and night drew on, that my presence was presenting a nuisance. The Throne Room, which was the original ‘water closet’ for the Marcellos, still operates with running water supplied from a spring well and pump system, so I was able to use it. However, Paulo Pavonazzo, the magnificent albino peacock resident in the rest room was most offended whenever he was ushered out so I could use the toilet. I would hear him muttering and gesturing in irate Italianate expletives and such to Dolores the taxidermied Dodo in the bathtub. She was equally riled by the inconvenience of my presence and emphatically dictated that on no account would I be using her bath tub. The notion of not bathing for days was not on my cards, so my trip was cut short particularly after tripping over the carousel carts in the stairwell and leaving some dolls perilously dangling and hanging over the edges. I immediately rescued them and restored them to the safety of the landing, but that was not much appreciated. Neither was my stepping on the little doll’s portmanteau, leaving crumbs in Libertine’s bed, wolfing down a packet of terrible raw peanuts that were in retrospect actually some prized heirloom seeds and accidentally sitting on Doorine, the antique stuffed dormouse who safeguards Count Mandrake’s back door, when she was going to exchange dolls-house books in the nursery library at Marzipan Mansion. An emergency meeting of the founders was expediently convened on Libertine’s bed. Their agitation was an immediate signal to me that any romantic premise I had had of perhaps permanently ensconcing myself at the tower was not going to happen. Queen Marcheline strategically repeated that: “If there were any way I could build you a Marzipan Mansion at the tower I would but somehow... er... you don’t really fit in. I mean not that you don’t fit in, you fit in but you’re just well... too big! And there’s nothing anyone can do about that is there?” She exchanged knowing looks with the co-founders. I noticed Count Mandrake seemed a bit uncomfortable. I looked him in the eyes and he looked away. Something never quite adds up with the Count. I hid my upset, my feelings of rejection and the humiliation of the situation. I apologized for my inconvenience, assured them I had written plenty of notes, scribbled umpteen sketches and committed virtually an entire scrapbook of mental snapshots to memory which should keep me going. “Going being the operative word,” I joked gathering together my scattered collection of papers, pens and notebook, “besides, I suppose I’d better get back to my ordinary everyday obligations anyway.” Their relief was palpable and did my esteem no good whatsoever, but I suppose it made me more determined to prove myself to them. Presently, when I was adieu-ing and all that jazz, Libertine gripped my little finger and secretly slipped a delicate pink scroll into my palm. I tearfully departed. With blurred vision I scrabbled through the dense prickly holly and ivy which protectively surrounds the tower, sustaining scratches and puncture wounds on my fight through. I stopped in the less vicious company of trees further on, to check what I was clutching. It was a pinky-promise promissory note. It read "Your Lifetime’s worth of Life Lessons, with Love, Libertine."