Monday, 15 October 2018

A New Case, Chapter 31.

Welcome to the UK & Worlds BEST feline adventure!

(Suitable for ages 12+)

Chapter 31

It is oft’ said, by the likes of Mrs Hudson and Mrs Herod, people wise to the ways of the world and the people in it, that there is nothing a cup of tea a slice of cake and a chat can't help sort out or put into perspective.

And so it was, moments later, as the guests and staff enjoyed their tea and cake, all thoughts of Anders and the disturbance were forgotten.

The Queen gravitated through the guests, conversing here and there as best she could. For the naturally shy young lady, for that is what she truly was, it had all been quite a strain for her first real social and semi-public engagement. Glancing around she saw Miss Darcy sat quietly to one side, looking lost amidst the conversation going on around her. For all the happiness of the event, it seemed to be passing her by.

The lost look on her face was one she too, all too often felt since she had been thrown into her new role, from Princess to Queen, almost overnight. The tears she had shed had been great, but for the better good. And with her companion Vinny by her side and the General, Bertie, to help her she was getting by. Jennifer, she knew could do with some help to get by herself, even if only for this one event. It was the least she could do to offer assistance to another so clearly needing support. She paused and looked at the gown Jennifer wore. The stresses and fuss of the ceremony had fogged her mind, and she had not noticed it earlier. But then, it was not the thing for a monarch to compare herself to others, but to set a standard, to guide and to help and show fortitude when others don’t or can’t. But it was so familiar. The cut and the finish and fabric all seemed so like her own.

She herself, had not been able to find the creator of her gowns. They as they were always bought for her, through various channels, so there was no connection directly with the palace. The gowns had helped her so much as they were so comfortable, indeed almost weightless, and she could wear them without effort. A simple elegance that she could feel at ease in rather than constricted by fashion, coarse fabrics and corsets of her mamma’s generation. Maybe Jennifer knew who had designed them? If she did and could share his name, she could offer her patronage and thanks.

With swan-like grace, she moved quietly towards Jennifer, glimpses of her soft pink court shoes the only suggestion of the movement of her legs.

The General’s ever-vigilant eye caught the fleeting glimmer of the silver thread that had been discretely woven into the Queen's gown. He knew that she had found a kindred spirit, and would be having a discreet conversation. It would he knew, be as much in support of Jennifer as comfort to herself after the stresses of the visit and the day ahead. He would make sure the other guests were kept away, discretely, until the time was right.

The soft cream gown seemed to sigh as the fabric slipped into the richly patterned gold inlaid seat beside Jenny’s. “Oh my, I fear that this is all really too much for me,” she said in a near whisper, glancing around at the group of guests. “Don’t tell anyone but I think I would rather be back home at the palace with Vinny than amidst people right now, nice though they are.”

Jenny, startled out of her thoughts by the Queen's arrival, blushed and went to stand and courtesy. But the Queens soft slightly trembling gloved hand touched her on the wrist and stayed her getting up. “No, please don’t get up, Jennifer, stop and let’s talk without the formality, I think the General has things covered for a bit.” She smiled once more to enforce the sincerity of her request.

There was a short silence then both went to speak at once, which caused an awkward light laugh and then silence once more, both looking a little lost.

“Do you truly feel afraid of all this? I mean the life you now have, ma’am?” Jenny broke the silence and then felt that she had been too forthright and overstepped the mark.

“Yes, I do,” responded the Queen. “But please do call me Cathrine, whilst we are alone. I must, however, maintain what is expected of me in public.” She smiled and glanced over to check they still had privacy and then urged Jenny to continue.

“Surely you had guidance, lessons and such like, ma’am, sorry, Cathrine?”

“Oh, if only fate had been so kind. If only my mother, the Queen had not died as she did, then I would have had time to follow and learn. But sometimes fate gives us choices, and at others fate dictates. As much as my nanny could show me, she did. But the throne called, and my education has been, well pushed faster than maybe even my mamma would have liked. I don’t even have the freedom to dress myself, or buy my own clothes or pick my own friends. Such a blessing to have Bertie, the General, though. A gentleman and officer of the first degree. The Queen drew closer and then whispered in Jenny’s ear. “And, he’s a fine dancer too. He's taught me many a new dance step from the London and New York scenes that we have practised in the palace corridors when nobody else was watching. Plus, he doesn’t always let me win at cards, which is a refreshing change, from all those stiff upper lipped butlers and ministers I have.” She laughed, a lonely sort of laugh and sighed. “But what of you, you look so lost. What has fate dealt you that saddens you so?”

“I suppose,” Jenny began, “deep down, it is never getting to be me, to be free with Esmerelda, Esme. I work long hours making gowns for a wage that barely keeps us going. My eyesight is failing, and for what, I never get to wear the gowns, nor to see them worn, and with my failing sight I soon may never. But I go on as it is all I know, and have a passion for. I wonder what will become of us when I can’t work. But Esme doesn’t know of course else she would fret more than she does with the loss of her kittens. Kittens I thought were stolen, but I fear may have been taken for who knows wha…. “She broke off, and tears started to well in her now reddened eyes. She fumbled in her purse and pulled at a silken handkerchief but only managed to drop it in her haste.

Cathrine swiftly bent and picked it up and noticed the Cat motif embroidered onto one corner, and the initials J.D and E.D embroidered, one each side. The same cat motif that appeared on her very gown, but only if you looked very closely. She quickly passed the handkerchief back into Jenny’s hands and sat back with a sudden realisation that made her sad but also very happy. There was something special she could do this day, here, that would in its small way, make the world a better and happier place.

To be continued............