A twenty-seven-year-old unmarried lady inherits her uncle's rambling country estate, Mewingham Manor, and hastens to set up housekeeping. She keeps a diary of her days, as good gentlewomen do, and in it she begins to note strange flying creatures in the garden:
It was tiny, with fluffy, black and white fur, and, although by all other evidence a mammal, it wore a pair of dazzling jewel-toned wings!
Yes, Mewingham Manor is infested with Flittens -- tiny butterfly-winged cats collected from all over the globe by her roving uncle (just as other Victorian gentlemen might collect rare species of orchid, etc)! What follows is page after page of illustrations of Flittens and Minis (tiny winged mice). It's an adorable natural history of nonsense:
Hatchlings congregate for safety and comfort. When they mature, they become very independent and only associate with their own species (although on especially chilly days, I have observed adult Flittens of every type napping in a mound by the hearth).Many thanks to my coworker for pressing this book on me! Four out of five Flittenus arboreus.
Mewingham Manor: Observations on a Curious New Species by Edwina Von Stetina (Greenwich Workshop Press, 2002).