Sunday, 8 July 2018

A new Case. Chapter 17

And now, it's Story time!


This adventure is suitable for ages 12 + and upwards, and for younger readers with adult guidance/permission.




Chapter 17


   Mrs Hudson returned to the general’s sitting room after having freshened herself up. He had been busying himself with last-minute preparations over the telephone for the royal visit to King Herod’s store that morning.

   For security reasons, the visit was scheduled for before the store’s official opening time, when there would be no customers. However, it was also to allow the queen’s guest, the US president, to attend before moving on to more mundane matters with the British prime minister.

   The president had been the guest of the queen at Buckingham Palace the previous evening for a private function, ostensibly to talk trade. In reality, it had been a chance for them to get out of the public eye, walk their dogs, and play games of World Monopoly by the fireside before the boring bits to come in the days ahead.

   He was a keen companion lover and took his own dog, Jackson, a white Highland terrier rescued from the local pound, on all his foreign visits. Vinny, one of the royal corgis, was to be Jackson’s official escort for the visit. Unofficially he was to act as play pal and guide to all the best smells and culinary delights to be had in the palace. A visit to the world-famous store was a treat for them all and would make up for all the boring speeches they would have to endure later on.

   The president’s love for cats was less well known but equally as strong. His beloved felines had come to him after he’d advertised the positions of chief of staff and general office assistant in the local press. Unbeknown to him, the advert was accidentally placed only in a local edition of the Nova Scotia & Meadow Valley Gazette. The very next day, and as though whisked there by magic, his soon-to-be companions presented themselves for the jobs. As the only applicants, the silver tabby cat called Nerissa and a marmalade orange–coloured cat called Seville were hired.

   So eager were they to please, they opted to stay in the White House to run the country and oversee the US catnip planting season in the president’s absence.

   “And why not,” the president had said to the queen the previous evening over a slice of pizza and a glass of Chardonnay. “Cats will rule the world one day, so why not start them off on local issues and see how they get on? Sure as hell can’t do any worse than these politicians!”

  The palace erupted in laughter, much to the delight of Vinny and Jackson, who were hoping to have a bite of a politician’s ankle before the end of the trip.


                                                                ~~~~~*~~~~~


   A call came through, and Bertie snatched the receiver from its cradle.

   “Yes. Yes, if she has cleared security, please do send her to me straight away. Oh, and can you bring some more sandwiches and some cat treats too. Thank you.”

   The general hung up the phone and turned to Mrs Hudson, who stood before him. He smiled at seeing her now-smoothed clothes, clean complexion, and impeccably straightened hair.

   “Amazes me how you do that so quickly. It takes my batman a whole day to make me looking shipshape. But there you are, radiant and none the worse for your adventure.”

   Mrs Hudson smiled. “Well, Bertie, we housekeepers are a rare and practical breed, and it’s amazing what you can do with minimal implements and a steaming kettle.”

   She winked and glanced in the mirror to check that her usually errant bun was still in place, and pushed one of her trusty No. 13–size knitting needles just a bit to the right.

   “That was your guest, by the way. All being well, she’ll be here in a tick, along with some extra sandwiches for the poor thing. I can’t imagine that she has eaten much since you sent her off on that trip. I shall do what I can to make sure that food is laid on for her when we get to King Herod’s.”

   “Thank you, Bertie. That is most decent of you. I am sure she will want to get going as soon as she can, though first we will need her to sit down and relax so we can explain things, and get her to eat too.”

   A knock at the door heralded the arrival of the adjutant with the tea, sandwiches, and a telegram, which he passed to the general before leaving. He also apologised for the fact that the mess was out of cat treats but would have some in the morning if required. A further knock brought Captain Jones, who, having shown Miss Darcy in, left, closing the door and leaving the three standing together in silence.

   Bertie indicated that the ladies should sit, and then offered around the sandwiches and poured Miss Darcy a cup of freshly brewed tea. She clasped the dainty porcelain cup in both hands, her shaking quite evident in the ripples on its milky, smooth brown surface.

   “Ms Darcy, please do not be alarmed. I appreciate that this is maybe not the lift back to Herod’s that you were expecting. I think we may have some good news for you, though, certainly in one regard. Mrs Hudson here will fill in some of the gaps and put your mind at ease. Mrs Hudson, if you will, please?” The general turned and gestured at Mrs Hudson to begin and then sat down and picked up a quarter sandwich, which he popped neatly and completely into his mouth.

   Mrs Hudson cleared her throat and then lent forwards towards Miss Darcy. “Please forgive the lack of introductions on behalf of our host. The military are apt to forget themselves in such things. Although there is some caution required in this matter, I feel that we know each other well enough to afford each other that courtesy.”

   She flashed Bertie a small but slightly reproving smile, for which in return she got from him a raised eyebrow and a blushing cheek.

   “Our host is General Bertram Smyth-Jones, and a finer officer you couldn’t hope to meet. My name is Mrs Hudson. I am the housekeeper and associate of the Princess Erin. But please feel free to call me Mrs H. If I may call you Jenny? That will be much less formal.”

   Jenny nodded in agreement but remained silent and nervous. Mrs Hudson continued with a smile. “I was so sorry to have missed you yesterday, Jenny, but I understood from Lady Esmerelda, Esme, that you were called away on a matter of some importance. To Scotland, I believe?”

   Jenny put down her cup at the mention of Esme. “Oh my, what has she been up to? I do hope that there is no trouble involved with the store . . . or a customer. We can’t afford trouble, and she is apt to be strong-minded.”

   Her head and eyes sank low, and she stared into her lap. “There have been incidences of sparkling things going missing, jewellery, and costume jewellery. And also stock from the ladies’ couture section. I know she has helped me find items for the dresses I make for the store, but I swear they were just things I need. I keep a list of everything and give it to the stock clerk, who tallies each month. She gets them so I don’t get discovered working late, by that nasty man that does the night shift. Please don’t say it’s that? I couldn’t bear to think that she has done something for me that is, well, wrong.” She broke off and took a tissue from her small, worn handbag and dabbed at tears that were starting to well up.

   “There there, dear.” Mrs Hudson got up and sat beside her, resting a hand on her all-too-thin arm to comfort her. “It is nothing at all like that. It is to do with your kittens. The kittens that have been abducted.”

   “You know about them?”

   Jenny raised her head and looked into the soothing eyes of the lady before her. Her own eyes drifted off into memories of the little bundles of joy that had, for a few short weeks, brought her and Esme much pleasure in their darkened world.

   Mrs Hudson, seeing her drifting off in thought, continued. “Jenny, Esmerelda came and visited my employer and me two days ago, and we have been hired to find your kittens. They have not, we believe, just strayed, but have been kitten napped. Our top investigator, my employer, Princess Erin, is at this moment on the case within the department store itself. However, things may come to a head this very morning during the royal visit and opening of the new Companion Department at King Herod’s. That is why we need your help and have brought you here, to rest and prepare for the visit. The general here is in charge of security and will be able to assist us in retrieving the kittens without incident or upset to the guests. He has also agreed to escort us onto the premises as his guests and guests of the store.”

   “But I will not be allowed in,” Jenny said, a glimmer of colour returning to her face. “I heard it is an exclusively invitation only affair. Such as the likes of me would not be welcome amidst royalty and the finely dressed of society.”

   “Well, that is where you are wrong,” Mrs Hudson said calmly but firmly. “I have here your invitation, given to me by Mr Herod himself just yesterday. It is for you and a guest of your choosing. May I suggest that the young Lady Esme would be a suitable companion? After all, she has the most exquisite wardrobe. In fact, you do too. I took the liberty of admiring some of your work when I called on you yesterday. You should wear something in cream, I think. I have it on excellent authority, from a close source”—she glanced sideways at Bertie, who blushed, as it was he who had contacted the royal household on the matter—“that Her Majesty will be in a pale pink for the visit. Never does to clash or match with your monarch, now does it?” She squeezed Jenny’s arm and gave a knowing smile.

   “But those gowns, that cream gown is for a customer somewhere. I couldn’t. I daren’t wear it myself. If the store found out, I would be on the streets, penniless and homeless, and Esme would be taken from me too.”

   Tears started to well up again in her eyes. The thought of what she had just said was too much to bear.

   “And even if I could,” she continued, “they are at the store, and I doubt there will be time for me to get there changed and presentable, even with your help, Mrs H.”

   “Hush now, Jenny. I dare say that Mr Herod will be only too pleased to see such a pretty lady there. And I bet he won’t even recognise you either; that is if he even knows who you are.”

   Mrs Hudson got up and straightened her dress and smiled. “Now as to the dress, I took the liberty of posting that cream one, and Lady Esme’s too, to Bertram here at the barracks. It should be here somewhere?”

   “It is indeed, and some strange looks I got too when my adjutant unwrapped it, I can tell you. What!” piped up Bertram, with a broad grin on his face.

   “Now if you ladies will follow me, I have placed the package in the adjoining room, together with a sewing set, as you requested, Mrs Hudson. Whilst you get ready, I must carry on. Time waits for no man, or housekeeper, it seems!” He winked at Mrs H and then led them to the small adjoining dressing room. “I will be ready by seven. If you will meet me next door when you are ready, you will take my car to Herod’s and await the royal party.”

   For the first time in a long time, Jenny felt at ease and yet strangely also excited. The worries of the past months and years seemed to fade as she dreamed of wearing her own gown. It was a sensation that radiated outwards too, a twinkle in the eyes that Mrs Hudson could see quite clearly, though she only smiled, remembering the same looks of joy in the charges she’d had over the years.



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


Join us next week when, amongst other things, we will be discussing a new book out called: Dinner Manners and the Military Man; and also asking whether any of them should be eating those sandwiches if the kitchens are in such a mess!   See you next week...





And here for all my pals, is this weeks selfie.....






This weeks selfie is all about being........ Caught between the devil and the nip banana.




42 comments:

  1. Princess, It must be so-o difficult for Miss Darcy to get through the day knowing that Esme's kittens are missing. But she must be relieved knowing that you and Mrs. H. are on the case. I cross my paws that she, Esme and the kittens will be back together real soon when they can cuddle together. She is a gentle soul and so humble when it comes to her talents. I bet she'll look like royalty in her gown and all the ladies will want to look just like her. I bet she'll be the talk of the haute couture world and will be sought after by all the great fashion houses!

    Paw kisses and red roses for you my luv. -Valentine (& Mom) of Noir Kitty Mews

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    1. Sweet prince, I know if you were there to support Miss Darcy, she would be so much more at ease. She is gifted, I know, maybe one day her dreams will come true.... I just hope there is time!
      Pawkisses and my heart to you, sweet wooly bear o' mine.
      ERin
      XOX

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  2. We are with Valentine, Miss Jenny will look absolute vision in cream, er fabric not 'cream' cream that is......

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    1. But can you imagine a gown of cream, so silky smooth and yummy! MOL Of course play havoc when it sets and goes off MOL
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  3. A selfie with this dangerous vacuum cleaner ? You are very courageous !

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    1. Yes, Mrs H thought so too...... little did she know I'd unplugged it! MOL
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  4. Your selfie is just purrfect sweet Princess and that gown sounds purrfect too!

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    1. Hi Brian, you do say the nicest of things. That gown sure will look pretty, I'm sure and will I hope make Jenny very happy, too.
      Purrs
      ERin

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  5. Hi Erin, Oh my gosh, we haven't meowed in like, forever! We're so worry about that. We think of you and your dad often and we're glad to be able to hop on over today. We love your selfie. Smooches!

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    1. Hi Lola! Great to see you, too. Do you have a post/selfie up today? If so I'll be over ASAP!
      Thanks, I have that vacuum exactly where I want it..... as far from my banana as possible! MOL
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  6. What a great selfie!
    Have a wonderful weekend...

    Noodle and crew

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    1. Thank you, and you too.
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  7. Wow...you took a selfie by the evil suckerdo monster? We're impurressed!

    The Florida Furkids

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    1. Thank you. Like every good feline, I did take precautions, before engaging in any interactions with the beast!.... I unplugged it, MOL
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  8. That picture cracks me up!!! Were you so nipped out that you didn't notice what was next to you?!?!?!

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    1. Shhh! Don't tell Mrs H, I promised I would take the nip easy for a bit, and I had pretended I was just worn out from supervising the housework!
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  9. Erin, I like your selfie and the selfie title. Between the devil and the nip banana, MOL!

    What a lovely story. We hope all turns out well for Miss Darcy and of course the kittens.

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    1. Thank you, that title just resonated with Mrs H and I.... or maybe that was just the vacuum resonating MOL . Oh my, yes those kittens and Miss Darcy. Well time will tell and theres plenty of action to come in Herod's store, I am sure....
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  10. You are brave to take your selfie near the evil vacuum. I will be back next wek to read about this new book :) XO

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    1. I think that new book might just be for military issue MOL Yes I thought so too, though the nip may have had something to do with it, MOL
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  11. Beautiful as always Erin,xx Speedy

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    1. Thanks, Speedy. You were looking particularly Rabbishing yourself this week.
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  12. ERin; ya look gorgeouz az all wayz; N 984 pawz up two nissy & seville.......whoa, we new ewe doodz waz top cat but.... !!!!! N pleez mizzez jenny; ERin N esme iz doin ther veree veree best ta get de wee onez ta safe tee....this we promize N catz never lie ~~~ ☺☺♥♥

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    1. Thanks everyoneI tries my best, even under the duress of the devil we know and that we dont MOL
      Yup, who knew the two dudes were in the White House. Thank goodness they were in charge of the nip else us cats could have come off on a bad deal. As to those kittens, I sure hope Miss Jenny hears you, as there is still plenty of action to come!
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  13. How can you sleep, Erin, with that nip nanner so close? I'd be all over it! ~Wally

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    1. Sheer exhaustion! Even a princess as to forgo some of the pleasures in life after doing battle with the devil! MOL
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  14. Great selfie, Erin!

    Though I'm not terrified of the vacuum cleaner, I would never lie that close to it!

    Purrs xx
    Athena

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    1. Needs must when the space is small, and there was no way I was going to miss out on a nap! MOL
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  15. Ummm ... Erin?! Did you fall asleep on the job of protecting the world from the evil monster known as the vacuum? Then again, saving the universe is exhausting :)

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    1. International inter species cooperation takes it's toll, for sure. The things I sacrifice for the universe, and the palace!
      Toodle pips
      ERin

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  16. OMC Erin!!! Is that the carpet monster you're sleepin' by? You are such a brave and bootyful girly. We'd never sleep that close to that noisy thing.
    Oh Erin, that's so pawsum that Mrs. H could arrange such. We sure hope that Esme and the kittens are okay. Did you get them reunited yet or are ya'll still in the doll house? We'd also like to see those herod peeps get theirs fur keepin' Esme and her mommy so down trodden. Knowin' purrsonally 'bout such things, we'd like to know somepawdy got what was comin' to 'em fur their nastiness. MOL Big hugs
    Luv ya'
    Dezi and Raena

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    1. Hi. Well this one is as quiet as quiet, but we have struck an agreement that she wont make a noise whilst I sleep, and I will keep chasing the dust bunnies her way. MOL .
      Stay tuned for more updates on whats happening in store and whats in-store for all the cast and staff of this adventure ;)
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  17. I thought you were cleaning the house and fell over the banana, Erin....MOL :D Very nicely done :D
    Oh, Erin, that was amazing to find Nerissa and Seville in the White House. No one runs the nip better than that they do :D You have to make a book. Your stories are pawsome! Pawkisses for a wonderful Wednesday and a great week ahead :) <3

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    1. Hi Binky! Slipping over the banana would be Mrs H's thing MOL
      Yup sounds like the two best cats for the job were installed at the White House. I wonder how much of that nip they'll need to check for quality assurance? MOL
      Watch this space to see about the book!
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  18. That selfie is epic, Erin! Guess you didn't notice that sucky monster right there, eh? :)

    We hope Esme and the babies are okay!

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    1. Thank you, I like this one too. Ms Vacuum isnt too bad as long as she is unplugged, and you dont mention her weight, MOL
      Well, lets hope all are OK, but we have a way to go yet in the story, not half way yet!
      Toodle pips
      ERin

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  19. Erin, you'll have to be extra careful 'round Jenny. Your gorgeous furs will show up on that cream dress of hers, if you should happen to sit upon her lap. PURRS

    AND I GOT A MENTION! And Nissy did, too! Wow. My gosh, Erin. I AM SO VERY HONOURED to be included in your London adventure. And in charge of a whole country's nip supply? MOUSES! I just KNEW those nip-growin' skills I'm developin' would come in pawdy sometime. I knew it! PURRS.

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    1. Good point, Seville, I'll make sure Jenny puts an apron on!
      Glad you enjoyed your White House role. Now as to some nip, when do you think you could get me a batch of the primo stuff? Mol
      Toodle pips and adventuring purrs
      Erin

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  20. I am sure that Jenny will look beautiful in the cream gown. I hope everything is going well for you, Esme and the kittens. That's a great selfie too.

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    1. Hi. Yes Mrs H seems a good judge of these things, and Jenny wont clash with the queen so that is the main thing. :) Oh my, those kittens are a handful, but more about them coming up soon...
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin
      PS the old vac monster ain't so bad when she's asleep, which I guess is what the mice say about me, MOL

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  21. A selfie sleeping is the best selfies of all

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  22. I am late catching up with the PetParade, sorry Erin and Mark!

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