Mary Tompkins was sought in marriage by John Thomas, a young postal clerk who later became Postmaster-General, and by the Rev. Abraham Dribble, “a low-church scoundrel” who became Bishop of Rochester. She refused them both, and designed a coarse gray serge gown – ‘but up and down the collar and round the waist, and in and out of the plaits a curious device had been worked. The letters were not easy to decipher, but when they were read they ran as follows: “Old Maid.”‘
Sheets for the Cradle was edited by Susan Hale in connection with, and for the aid of, the Massachusetts Infant Asylum Fair. Probably the only existing copy of Trollope's contribution is in the Boston Public Library. It is a burlesque on the central theme in The Small House at Allington and its continuation in The Last Chronicle of Barset. Mary Tompkins is a caricature of Lily Dale, Trollope's favorite heroine; John Thomas of Johnny Eames; and the Rev. Abraham Dribble of Mr. Slope. Mr. Sadleir doubts its authenticity.