Monday, 15 October 2018

A New Case, Chapter 31.


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

   The lost look on her face was one the young queen, too, had all too often worn since being thrown into her new role, from princess to queen, almost overnight. The tears she had shed had been many, but for the better good. And with her companion Vinny by her side and the general, Bertie, to help her, she was getting by.

   She knew Jennifer 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 help to another so clearly needing support. The queen 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 rather to set a standard, to guide and to help and show fortitude when others didn’t or couldn’t. But this gown 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 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. They offered a simple elegance that she could feel at ease in rather than feeling constricted by the 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, the queen could offer her patronage and thanks.

   With swanlike 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 skilfully and almost invisibly woven into the queen’s gown. He knew that she had found a kindred spirit and would be having a private conversation. It would, he knew, be as much in support of Jennifer as a comfort to the queen herself after the stresses of the visit and the day ahead. He would make sure the other guests were discreetly kept away 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,” the queen 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 started to stand and curtsey. But the queen’s 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, and 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 had not died as she did, then I would have had time to follow and learn. But sometimes fate deals 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 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 then 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—” Jenny broke off, and tears started to well in her now-reddened eyes. She fumbled in her purse and pulled at a silken handkerchief but managed to only drop it in her haste.

   Cathrine swiftly bent and picked it up. She noticed the cat motif embroidered onto one corner along with two sets of initials—J.D. on one side and E.D. on the other. It was the very same cat motif that appeared on her own gown but could be seen 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............

(Chapter 32 can be read HERE.)




24 comments:

  1. The reluctant Queen sounds like she captured Royalty quite nicely!

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    1. These things do take practice, but you know, I think she might just have, or will do.
      Toodle pips
      ERin

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  2. Thank you for dropping by our blog and saying hi. We are so glad to meet you and read your posts.

    Emma and Buster

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    1. You are welcome, we love to visit all on the selfies, and great you could come here on the Monday, for the adventure too.
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  3. ERin...de queen NOEZ jenny made her gown...N if we noe de queen like we think we due
    her will set ta ritez by jenny N we troo lee hope they bee come de BEST of friendz...we
    troo lee due...ERin, we hope ewe N de wee ones N esme soon pop in N say hi, therz a lot
    of stress bout yur still bee in missin ~~~~~~~ ♥♥♥

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    1. I think you may be right, but for now I'm not counting my kittens! MOL
      Toodle pips
      ERin

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  4. Today's episode brought a lump to my throat! I think Jenny and Esme's fortunes will very soon be changing for the better.

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    1. It has me cry each time I read it, too. Heres to a brighter future for them all... but NOT Anders!
      Toodle pips
      ERin

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  5. Cathrine is going to be a good queen, I know it!

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    1. You sure are right, and just what the country needs, too! Maybe she and Mr President could get together, what do you think?
      Purrs
      ERin

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  6. A fashion mystery! Ironic that the Queen would stand face to face with the woman she was seeking!

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    1. Yes, seems like we have it all... Great fun and fashion too! Just shows if you have right and Mrs H on your side then a bit of magic happens
      Toodle pips
      ERin

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  7. This is such a great story!
    Have a wonderful Wednesday...

    Noodle and crew

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, please stay with us till the finale in November. Have a lovely week.
      Purrs
      ERin

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  8. Very interesting. I wish we could see the gowns :)

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    1. Me too, I haven't seen them yet. I hope I will though....
      Toodle pips
      ERin

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  9. It seems to us that the Queen and Jenny are connected in a special, fashiony way!

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    1. I thinks you may well be right.... I do hope they get to share some more time together before the story is out, as they are both very nice people.
      Toodle pips
      ERin

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  10. I'm glad the Queen has a few furriends around, Erin, otherwise it looks such a lonely life :( I still have the feeling that Bertie the General brings up a little romance in the air..her air :D Pawkisses for a Happy Day and almost weekend, sweet purrincess πŸΎπŸ˜½πŸ’ž

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    1. You know I was wondering that too, but it would be most improper to have a fling with her Majesty ;) MOL
      Have a happy week
      Toodle pips and purrs
      ERin

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  11. I luv how Miss Jennifer sews a pussycat motif into the gowns she makes! That certainly means quality and attention to the finest of detail! Tee hee hee. Oh, that is so-o nice of the Queen to think of Miss Jennifer and to care about her worries. That truly shows she is the Queen of the people and is purr-sonable. I would go purr purr purr into her ear. Maybe Esme will let her keep one of her kittens so Vinny has a furr-iend at the palace.

    Paw kisses to you, my Princess Erin. -Yours, Valentino (Valentine & Mom of Noir Kitty Mews)

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    1. You know, you are so right, she will make a very fine queen, one who cares and rules with a kind hand. I bet Vinny would love a kitten friend to grow up with. Maybe that Tom kittenwould be a fine match for his antics MOL
      Pawkisses and smooches
      ERin

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  12. Oh my mouses! I'm thinkin' somethin' REALLY GOOD is gonna come Jenny and Esme's way. PURRS

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    1. I do hope so, they deserve good things to come their way after suffering so much bad...
      Gentle purrs
      ERin

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