The King Herod’s Kitten Caper!

Welcome to the UK & Worlds BEST feline adventure!
(Suitable for ages 12+)

 

A new case, Chapter 34

 

Chapter 34
They all smiled a truly happy smile that comes from deep within the heart and lifts the soul. And whilst it couldn’t be seen in the picture, published around the worlddelight and acclaim, there was a lot of barks, meows and laughter too.

Mr Herod looked on, a broad smile on his face. For the first time since inheriting the store, he felt at peace and at one with it and his life. A gentle touch on his arm made him look down. Ms Harriett stood beside him, smiling. “About my retirement, Mr Herod, I think I would like to not, not retire that is. I feel that I can maybe better serve as a guide to Miss Darcy until she finds her feet in the world. Those Italian’s can be so browbeating at times, and I do speak Italian too, enough that they won’t pull the cashmere wool over her eyes!”

“Ms Harriett, to have you here with us at the store, in whatever capacity would be a delight. And heavens knows whoever takes your place will need some guidance. So, if you could maybe help in that regard too? I would happily pay you more to secure even a little of your time.” Mr Herod’s smile showed that he was worried about how he would cope without her, but she did already know that.

“It would be a pleasure, though I will be needing a bigger office, to accommodate Miss Darcy, and her family too. I think in the circumstances that would be appropriate as they are her muses, after all.” she smiled. “I would expect that my old office would still be available though, for a while at least, as there are a few bits and bobs I need to tidy up, as it were.” She flushed slightly as she said it, dreading the mess she had to clear up the next day.

“That would be perfectly acceptable, and if you need a hand, please feel free to say, and I shall be there. I think,” he said, in a considered tone. “I think from now on there will be a more hands-on style, on my part. I need to get to know every part of this business, this great family that is King Herod’s, from the shop floor up to the ninth floor and all the jobs, and staff too. I would like to introduce myself, and to know each of my staff by name, and be able to shake their hands for work well done. After all, if I had known what a rogue Anders was, this mess today could have been averted, I’m sure.”

“Ah, well I have been thinking about that,” said Ms Harriet with a knowing look on her face. “Certainly, if you had known about him, then the kittens wouldn’t have been taken, and the mess wouldn’t have happened. But, in taking them, he brought Miss Darcy’s plight to light and delighted both Queen and the President with the discovery of the missing kittens. It also, from the look on her face, helped our beloved young monarch find out more about herself and set her on course to being as great and caring as her mother. Oh and I almost forgot, she seems to have forged a great friendship with the President. I do believe this whole matter will do more for International cooperation than any politician ever could.”

“Really, that much?” Mr Herod’s was stroking his chin considering the truth of what he had just been told. “I suppose we owe fate a great deal indeed. Just as well I thought about having the Companion Department then. Do you think we will be able to put the Presidential seal over the doors, too?”

Ms Harriett gave one of those raised eyebrow looks, knowing that the idea had in fact come from Mrs Herod. “Hmm, well I think you best hold fire on that, the guests haven’t left the building yet, and who knows what else could go wrong?”

“Oh, piffle, and nonsense. What could possibly go wrong now?” exclaimed Mr Herod in a jovial fashion, as he turned to help escort his guests back to the elevators.

“What indeed, Mr Herod,” came the reply from a world-wise Ms Harriett. “What indeed?”

~~~•~~~

Herman was only too pleased to comply with the Generals request. He had taken Anders by the scruff of the neck and seat of his pants, and marched the whimpering man, feathers and all, to the nearest room, to await the police. Having locked the door with his master-key, he went to call Scotland Yard, safe in the knowledge that not even a villain as slimy as Anders could get out the rooms stained-glass windows.

Duty done, he positioned himself close to the guests, intent on not missing the final presentation. “History in the making, seeing the Queen and the President in one spot,” he had told his wife, Dori, that morning at breakfast. “I doubt I’ll ever see this again in my lifetime.” In fact, he was wrong, and he would see it many more times in the years to come, but that is for another tale, or nine. In the here and now, he had been captivated by the scene that unravelled before him. He, like the other guests, had found himself drawn closer to the events unfolding before him. He had looked for little tom, applauded when he was found and had to dab away a tear when the photograph was taken. It was turning out to be quite an occasion indeed.

In the locked room, however, Anders was far from happy. After stewing on his bad luck for a while, the whimpering had been replaced by unfounded indignation about being deprived of his money. As well as losing his kittens, if he couldn’t get out soon, he’d lose his chance that morning to collect on the fashion items and jewellery he’d purloined.

No matter which way he thought about it, he was stuck. A cigarette was what he needed to concentrate. He did all his best work, he told himself, with a pint of beer and a smoke. His subconscious obliged, and on autopilot, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the pack. He tapped it and tried to shake one out of the torn hole in the top, but nothing happened. He shook it again and this time, rather than a cigarette, he got a palm full of rust coloured tobacco leaf. He looked down and cursed at the crumpled, flattened pack, and then tossed it into the air in disgust. The pack hit a radiator on the far side of the room with a clinking sound, and sent a shower of leaf and torn cigarette paper across the floor. Anders got up and felt in his pocket, but there was nothing there. He went over to the radiator, bent down and looked at the crumpled packet on the floor, then picking it up he peered inside. He smiled a very broad and malicious smile and slipped his fingers into the pack and drew out his single master-key.

To be continued………

 

Oh NO!!!!!! Looks like Herman didn’t search Anders. That lad has more luck than any black cat I know. Mrs Harriett seems to have got herself a good deal too, though really Mr Herod should have offered her a promotion ages back.

Tune in next week to see how Anders makes his getaway, and whether Vinny and Jackson can save the day once more….

Toodle pips and purrs

ERin

A New Case; Chapter 33.

 

A new case, Chapter 33

Previously:- Ms Harriett has discovered the truth of Jennifer’s situation and plight. Mr Herod was about to give a speech to the assembled guests at the opening, extolling the store’s virtues, when he is called aside by Ms Harriett and told of the matter. It is all down to him now to set matters right. Will he confess or will it all be brushed under a highly priced Persian rug? Read on to find out what he decides…….

Chapter 33

As he stepped up to the podium to give his speech, he faltered and took a moment to look at the guests. From shopkeeper in the suburbs to owner of one of London’s finest stores. Had it all been a dream, or was this really him, here and now, facing not only guests, his own monarch and a President, but also his fears of failing his uncle and heritage. In his hand, he grasped a speech written for what should be a better situation, for a better time, and maybe a better man than he. Then he looked around again, and saw the happy faces, the guests talking with his staff, the President with the General and the Queen with Miss Darcy. Even the companions Vinny, Jackson and the Lady Esmerelda were mixing and having fun. This was now his family and those he served. The store was more than numbers on a balance sheet, it was the life within it, and the good it did and the pleasure it gave through its services.

He stepped onto the podium and started his speech. “Your Majesty- Ma’am, Mr President- Sir, honoured guests, and staff of the Herod’s Companion Department.” Mr Herod’s voice was not loud. There was none of the booming that had made Mr Askew cringe, just a croaking voice that barely registered above the background noise. He coughed to clear his throat, and felt his stomach churning, like the moment one is told to turn over the exam paper and begin. He was about to turn and walk away to calm his nerves when the ringing sound of a spoon being tapped repeatedly on a china cup brought the room to silence.

“Pray silence for our host, Mr Herod,” called out the General who, having watched the scene develop, realised he needed to step in. He nodded to Mr Herod to begin.

“Oh, yes, thank you, General. Ah yes, right.” Mr Herod faltered then took a breath and began again. “Your Majesty- Ma’am, Mr President- Sir. Honoured guests, and staff of the Herod’s Companion Department. Thank you for coming today to help launch and celebrate our companions. This is a very special occasion for us all, when we celebrate the great store and the guiding principles that made it what…..” His voice trailed off into silence, and his eyes glazed over as he thought of all that had happened that day, the good news and then the bad, and then the worse.

A cough from Mrs Hudson brought him back to reality and the eyes focused on him. He looked at the speech in his hand and crumpled it up and let it fall to the floor. He cleared his throat, and with a small tear in welling in his eye, he continued. “I cannot stand here before you now and hark on about this great old establishment when it has perpetrated a great wrong, been neglectful in its responsibilities to its staff, and considered profit over wellbeing and quality of life.”

A small gasp from the audience was replaced with an intense silence that seemed to burn into his soul, like the eyes of a hawk on its prey. He swallowed hard but found no saliva to ease his dry throat, so continued. “I have learned a valuable lesson today, one of loyalty and friendships. Of rights and wrongs and not living or perpetuating a lie or an act that hurts others for your own gain. One of our guests here today has been greatly wronged by a series of errors created by and cast shame on King Herod’s. The errors have meant a designer, and skilled seamstress has been ignored, and her skills abused by my forebear. This is a situation that has today, I am pleased to say, stopped. Miss Darcy and her delightful companion, the Lady Esmerelda, are unexpected but timely guest that fate has brought here today. They have for so long worked without recognition or recompense for their creations. They will receive full and enlarged reward for their past endeavours. An apartment nearby will also be made ready for their immediate use, for as long as they need. And also, should they….” He stopped and drew a breath and wiped away the small tear. “And also, should they wish, we would be honoured for them to accept their own department within Herod’s. Plus, staff to help develop, create, and showcase her own brand, not a Herod’s brand, her OWN brand for the world to see and enjoy.”

There were gasps of delight from the audience. Jenny almost fainted from shock, but Mrs Hudson caught her arm and sat her down so she could steady herself and take stock of what she heard. Esme, who had been napping after the exertions of the event, came and jumped up onto her lap, purring and rubbing cheeks and sharing her mamma’s tears of joy.

“Furthermore,” boomed Mr Herod, his confidence now restored from the relief and delight in putting right a wrong. “From a discussion I have had this day, I believe Miss Darcy will be much sought after in the coming hours and days. Sought after not by one but two Italian, and one French fashion house. I can but hope that she will be able to visit us from time to time in between shows. It is my pleasure to present to you all, and the world, Miss Jennifer Darcy, THE Fashion Designer of……” Before he could finish, he was cut off by a howl and some barks. He turned slowly around, dreading what new disaster might be about to unfold, and saw Vinny dragging a sack, with Jackson providing the vocals.

Vinny placed the lumpy sack before Jenny, and then both dogs gently pawed the sack open. The guests gathered around, craning their necks to see what the noise and fuss were about. “What is it lad, asked the President. What you found?” As if on cue, the sack began to move. What had seemed like a single object within, split into two, and moved to the opening, and two small faces peered out. After a moment’s hesitation, two wobbly kittens emerged and attempted to climb up the gowns of Jenny and the Queen.

A loud “Awwwww!” filled the room, followed by a round of applause as the Queen and Jenny picked up the kittens, and held them, side by side.

“A picture, I think, to celebrate this wonderful event and reunion,” said the General, as he indicated to the royal photographer to come forward. He looked to the Queen, whose radiant smile in return, was the permission he needed.

Esme had jumped down, and after checking the sack, came back and stood before the happy foursome. “Mamma, there is no sign of the tom kitten?” Jenny’s smile faded. Mrs Hudson picked up the sack and checked but shook her head. The gathered guests fell silent, not knowing what to say or do. Then, with an agitated urgent murmur, they started to look around them in case the kitten had fallen out on route.”

A wolf-like howl from Jackson brought silence once more. And out of the silence came the mewing sounds of a kitten. All heads turned to see Agent V come trotting through the guests and placed the kitten he had been carrying in his mouth, at the President’s feet.

“Well, would you look at that,” said the President, as he bent down and picked up little tom. Tom for his part, spat and gave a small hiss, but on finding this hand quite comfy, gave it a lick and settled down for a nap between the Presidents cupped hands. “Seems like we have a family once more. Yours I believe, Lady Darcy, Miss Darcy,” he said as he showed the kitten to them both, and then placed it on the floor.

Esme bent over the kitten and licked his head and drew him close to her, along with the two kittens that the Queen and Jenny had placed down beside her. Mr James had a moment of inspiration and grabbed a gold trimmed, red velvet sleeping cushion from a display, and placed it in front of Esme. “I hope you will accept this gift, Miss Darcy, Lady Darcy, from the staff and management of King Herod’s store, in honour and appreciation of your visit today.”

“Oh my, that is wonderful, yes thank you so much, Mr James, we do,” exclaimed Jenny and Esme in unison, looking into each other’s eyes as they said it. The kittens didn’t need any encouragement when it came to having a nap and had already clambered on. By the time Esme had settled herself beside them, the kittens were all fast asleep.”

“And now I think we are set for that picture,” said the General, with a broad and engaging smile. “Places if you would be so kind, Your Majesty, Mr President thank you. If you would gather round, Vinny and Jackson too, with Esme. I think we have the perfect family shot, don’t you?”

To be continued…………



Dare I say it, but that had me in tears. Boy did Mr Herod come up with the goods– I never thought he had it in him!   But what of Erin? Has the story editor deleted her? Will she make it to the party in time to have her picture taken? And what about those kittens? I mean, after all the shenanigans they just have to crash out when the all important pictures come around. Tune in next week when the story and action continues!

A New Case; Chapter 32.

 

A new case, Chapter 32

 

Chapter 32

Up in her office, Ms Harriett was scouring the filing cabinets for facts. Facts were the key to all things, she said, and guesswork and rumour caused all manner of chaos and mistakes. She would not be at home to those whilst she could breathe and tell a supplier his own business better than he knew himself, which she often did. Mistakes she didn’t make, but she had a horrid feeling that someone had and a very bad one at that.

She wasn’t by nature a messy person, quite the contrary. But if anyone had entered her office at that moment, they would have thought she had lost a one hundred pound note, or her sanity, maybe even both! Files lay everywhere, on every piece of furniture and every available space on the floor. There were files on top of the lamp shades, the mantelpiece, sticking out a large copper tea urn. They were even in the jaws of one of a pair of large porcelain growling panthers that sat either side of the fireplace. She muttered and groaned as, bent double, she lifted an old leather briefcase from the back of a cupboard. It had belonged to Mr Ahbutt Ornott-Grey, the Personnel Manager, who had retired on the death of the Late Mr Herod.

Maybe she had been grasping at straws, but she thought not. But she knew she had seen what she sought somewhere in this room, and now there was nowhere else left to look. She undid the rather rusty clasp and sat back against the padded leather fender around the fireplace. Pulling out two dozen manila files, she spread them out in a row, like a dealer would his cards, and then scanned the labels on each. Pulling out one from the middle, she undid a pink ribbon that held it shut and started to work her way through the single page documents within. None fitted what she was looking for, and in an unusual show of disgust and despair, she cast them to one side. Then, on a whim, she grabbed the case and peered inside. Her eyes lit up like a child’s at Christmas, and dipping her hand in, to the bottom this time, she retrieved a single concertinaed sheet paper. Carefully, and with an expression akin to an explorer uncovering an ancient manuscript, she moved to the desk and sat down. Smoothing the page out, she began to read silently to herself the contents. After a few minutes, and a further reading, she leant back in her chair, a look of grave concern etched on her face, as well as a few extra creases in her brow.

Being a woman of action, she took out a pen and fresh sheet of paper and started to make calculations. Twenty minutes later and satisfied with the accuracy of the results, she picked up the empty manila folder and placed the page and her calculations within. As she left the office in search of Mr Herod, she stared momentarily at the mess she left behind. “You can’t make an omelette without cracking eggs,” she muttered to herself. “But that will be one mess that will be easy to deal with, tomorrow. For now, I just hope I’m in time.” She turned and having locked the door, marched towards the elevator.

The General and Mr Herod were busy discussing the closing speeches when Ms Harriett signalled that she needed to have a word with Mr Herod. He excused himself he went over to her, but before he could speak, she grasped him by the elbow and steered him into a small office used by the floor walkers.

“Ms Harriett, this is all a bit, irregular, I was about to give my closing speech. Could we maybe defer this until tomorrow?”

“This will not wait, Mr Herod. In fact, this needs to be sorted before your guests leave as it could impact gravely on Herod’s reputation. Not to mention destroy any chance of royal patronage and to safeguard the future of the store.”

“But….” began Mr Herod, but he was cut short by a withering look by Ms Harriett that told him to stop talking and shut up. Much akin, in fact, to that Mrs Herod used when he was about to put forward some ill-considered plan.

‘There’ll be no buts, please take a seat and listen carefully what I have discovered, and then make a decision. I think you’ll agree, once I am done that we need to act now and there is only one course open to us. Though to be fair that path is only appropriate and will be profitable too.”

“Well, if you think it wise, then I shall take your guidance. But please be quick, Ms Harriett, we have little enough time as it is.” He replaced the silver fob watch into his waistcoat pocket and took back out the silk handkerchief and dabbed at the beads of sweat forming on his brow.

“I do, and I shall. But it will take as long as need be to do justice to the matter I have uncovered, a travesty of poor record keeping by Mr Ahbutt Ornott-Grey.

Mr Herod merely nodded, and fell silent, looking into his lap like a schoolboy being lectured on some indiscretion. “To cut to the chase, as the Americans say, it seems like Mr Ornott-Grey hired a certain young lady some years ago to make some sample gowns for the store. If the gowns were approved, they would be sold exclusively by the store, with the designer’s own label. There was to be a trial period of course, and subject to results an agreement drawn up to finalise matters such as pay, and staff. I have no doubt, given the results I see here today, that a contracted would have been awarded.

“Results, Ms Harriett? What do you mean? How do you know what the lady does now, and for that matter who is she? I don’t recall seeing a seamstress on the staff list? Mr Herod was most confused, and it looked like his blood pressure was starting to rise, as he dabbed the handkerchief repeatedly at his head and neck.

“Mr Herod, I have to look no further now than the guests outside to see her creations. Two in particular in fact, one of whom is also that very same seamstress, Miss Darcy. I thought I recognised her face, and it wasn’t until now that it came to mind. I have seen her, and her charming cat leaving here very late most nights. Though she didn’t look as she does now, and was huddled in an old coat and hat. At the time, I had checked on the staff list and confirmed who she was and her position as a temporary seamstress. But as security had not raised an issue, nor Mr Ornott-Grey as she was after all his responsibility, I thought no more of it. However, I now guess he, having set the wheels in motion, forgot and let the matter of her employment proper, slide. The death of your uncle compounded the error, and here we are now. The poor thing has been slaving away for a pittance for the last few years, without thanks, staff or proper facilities. No wonder she looked so dishevelled and upset. I bet she hasn’t eaten properly for years.

Mr Herod was about to speak but was cut off by a wave of her hand. “If you would like proof, I have the original contract here.” She thrust the crinkled paper at him, which he took with a slight hesitation, and perused. “I have also calculated that Miss Darcy is owed quite a considerable sum in pay. As well as any compensation, she may wish to levy on us should she care to take the matter to court. After all her career has been stifled by this store, and you are now responsible for the store.”

“The store,” Ms Harriett continued, “has also been selling the gowns she made, ostensibly as samples, and continues to make to this day, all for a profit.” She thrust the other piece of paper at him, which he took with a worried look on his face, his eyes flitting from one to the other.

“AND, if you need any additional evidence, you only have to look at the gown the Queen is wearing today, and compare it to that on Miss Darcy. I believe, without an inch of doubt, that they are the same, and the gowns she made for your uncle and thus the store…… and you.”

“Oh, my, this is terrible, horrible in fact. What have I done? The store could be ruined. What can I do?” Mr Herod’s face had gone whiter than a lime-washed wall. As his mind grappled with the problem, his eyes and head roamed the room, looking as though the answer was to be found nailed to the wall. Oh, if only my dear wife were here, he thought, she would know what to do.

“You are not to bear the blame,” soothed Ms Harriett, seeing the confusion she had unleashed. “I let this slip by without questioning it. I am as much to blame for not doing anything to retrieve the situation as anyone, and as Ornott-Grey was for not doing it correctly in the first place. We must all do now what is right, and honourable, and something that should have been done a long time ago.” The tone in Ms Harriett’s voice mellowed slightly, and she bent down and reached over and touched Mr Herod’s arm to provide comfort to him. “If putting this right were to break the store, then at least you can hold your head up high. But this has the power to make the store great again. I think you know what is right, and that you can do it, after all, YOU are a man of your word, and as great in your own way as your Uncle, better so if I may say so.” She stood up and straightened her skirts, and then went and stood beside the door, hand outstretched on the handle.

With some colour returning to his face, Mr Herod got up and looked at the door, then Ms Harriett. She nodded, and then opened the door and let Mr Herod through to his destiny and that of the store.

To be continued…………

I hope that you all enjoyed this weeks chapter. Now the truth is discovered, what will Mr Herod do?

Will he man up and put things right, or will he bury it all under the highly priced Persian rugs they sell? Join me next week for more from the floor of King Herods department store, and a royal visit that isn’t going quite as planned!

A New Case; Chapter 31.

Welcome to the UK & Worlds BEST feline adventure!

(Suitable for ages 12+)

A new case, Chapter 31

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…………

 

Things seem to be happening for the better at King Herods store, but are they? Tune in next week as we delve deeper into the fashion world and goings on at London’s Best (and funniest) Department store, with a villain everyone loves to hate!

A New Case, Chapter 30

A NEW CASE. Chapter 30 (C) HEADER

Chapter 30

 

In well-practised fashion, on hearing clatter and Anders yell, the Presidential security staff spread out from and took up key positions. Agent V, who had been alerted moments earlier by his keen hearing, had slipped from his trolley and was already checking for low lying threats. He was also keeping guard on Jackson, who was, for want of a phrase, doggedly not letting go of the villain. The General took the lead and came out from the front to face the potential attacker, taking careful but quick stock of the somewhat comical scene. He levelled his English Circassian burl walnut walking stick at the person, if indeed that is what the mass was, that had come sliding to a halt before him.  Scanning the figure, he smiled when he noticed the King Herod’s Store guards insignia on his sleeve. He turned around and looked at Mrs Hudson, who now stood in the break in the curtain. “It’s all safe now. This the one, Mrs Hudson?” he said whilst giving the Anders an extra prod with the stick to deter him from trying to get up, and got a rasping groan akin to a deflating balloon in return. Mrs Hudson frowned and merely nodded in return, and then turned to speak to someone who was out of sight behind the curtain.

Murmurings from the concealed guests and staff grew and erupted into a round of applause for their saviours. Not having seen the incident, they could only let their imagination run riot as to the perilous scene that had played out on the other side. Mrs Hudson dipped her head and moved to one side, as Queen and the President, whose curiosity had got the better of them came to see what had gone on.

“General Smyth-Jones, are we safe now?” the Queen asked in a genteel and slightly coy manner. “Is that the rogue? Oh, do let us see what he has to say for himself. It is not every day one’s guests get to have such fun, though it did rather ruin an excellent presentation by Mrs Dawson.”

“My God!” exclaimed Mr Herod as he arrived at the scene, blowing hard from the exertion of his run. “Pardon the language, your majesty–ma’am, Mr President. Anders, what on earth are you doing there, man. Answer me!”

“You know this thing, this man, Mr Herod?” Asked the General. “He barely looks fit to be called human let alone staff of this fine establishment. Can you vouch for him, though that hardly matters now? He’ll be arrested and charged with assault on two heads of state, destruction of property and by the look of it, cruelty to chickens, and kittens too!” The kitten, who had been staring wide-eyed at the proceedings, took that as his cue to bite Anders, again, and then ran off around the curtain.

“Alas, I do, General. This is…. WAS our night security guard. Though heaven only knows what has taken him to act this way.” Mr Herod shook his head and then stared down at the mess about him. “I really do not know what to say. This is a disaster of the first order. I pray that Her Majesty and guests have not been disturbed or put off by this incident? He took out a pale pink handkerchief, chosen by Mrs Herod to compliment the Queen’s outfit, and dabbed at beads of sweat forming around his reddened face. “Maybe it would be best if we did this again, or just cancelled the whole… “

“Nonsense, Mr Herod,” the Queen interrupted, with a show of determination and command that surprised even herself. “I think this is all rather exciting. A marvellous show of teamwork on the part of your staff and all the Presidents men, ladies and felines, to keep everything under control.”

“I have to agree with Her Majesty,” said the President, nodding. “I do declare that this has been a great morning and I am most thankful to everyone who has made it so interesting, and safe too. I think it is true to say, that I have been made very welcome, very welcome here indeed.

The General smiled, a good job well done, in more than one sense, though not all would know that, not yet at least. A couple of growls and a groan from the floor drew the attention back to Anders whose plight had taken a back seat, which was where Vinny still had his teeth.

“Vinny. Vincent do let that man up will you so he can explain himself, there’s a good lad. I think we have things under control now, thank you.” Said the Queen, as she bent down to praise her companion who, having let go of Anders trouser bottom, came over for a fuss and a treat.

“Jackson, you too, lad. Great job son, but the fun’s over now.” The President looked at Jackson, who seemed torn between staying attached to Anders now soggy trouser leg and coming back. “Jackson,” the President affirmed in a more severe tone. “Enough already. You’ll spoil your appetite for the politicians we spoke of earlier. And I know how much you want to try… er … to meet one of the English sort.” Vinny gave a wrrrroof-woof of approval to the whole idea, too. It was a good point, Jackson thought, and so he dropped Anders’ leg and trotted back to sit, tail wagging, beside Vinny, ready to take on any and all politicians.

Anders, his body now dog free, started to sit up and then faltered as he saw all eyes were now upon him. He began to speak but found that he was spitting feathers rather than coherent words. “Stand up man, and explain yourself,” the General said firmly but calmly. “Come on, we haven’t all day, and this is probably the last chance you’ll get to see anyone for a long time. Well, out with it….”

Anders stumbled to his feet, looked extremely flustered and red-faced. Then the idea came to him, it had worked earlier so it would work again. “It was a cat sir, ma’am, your highnesses. It was attacking some of the pets, in fact, there was a whole gang of them lead by a black and white one. A real villain it was, evil looking eyes and bitten off ears and dirty smudge on its nose. I lost it but was chasing the rest of the gang, small but very dangerous. Well I was until them there curs got in my way, and I fell.” He gestured to Vinny and Jackson, who instantly growled at the absolute lies they had just heard.

“Balderdash!” Exclaimed the Queen. “Hogwash!” added the President. Vinny and Jackson both wanted to go for Anders but were restrained only by the dictates of the occasion and their company.

“That was nothing more than a kitten I saw you with. I dare say you are the only villain here, kitten snatching and selling. Added the General. “Yes, I think we know your game all right. And take your hat off when you speak to royalty and your betters!”

“It’s the truth!” blurted Anders, but it came out more “Twit’s twer twooth” as he inhaled and then spat out a rather sodden selection of feathers. “I swear on my dear ol’ mother, it was them cats, and I wasn’t selling them, just more relocating them.” He went and pulled off his hat in what he thought was a sign of sincere, albeit false, respect, and revealed something that made even the General flinch. For there, perched on his head, was a rather large spider. In fact, not only was it rather large, but it was angry, very very angry at having been battered and shaken around for the second time that evening. Enough was clearly enough, and it crawled down from Anders’ straggly hair, and over his face.

Anders thought he had his audience hooked with his story and what he hoped was a contrite expression of innocence. At least he did until he saw the look of horror on their faces. Then the reason for the horror came to him, or rather came into view, as the hairy body of the tarantula worked its way down and settled on his nose. His eyes crossed, and he leaned his head over from left to right, straining to make sense of the mass that was blocking his view. It wasn’t until he saw a set of beady eyes, and two large jaws connected with his nose that the truth of the situation bit home, quite literally. With a very less than manly scream, he fainted and collapsed, sending a small plume of feathers dancing into the air and wafting across the floor.

“Oh dear, he seems to have, erm, passed out. He’s not going to die, is he?” said the Queen, who bent down to look at the spider who was picking its way through the feathers towards a nice pair of Oxford shoes, knocked off a nearby display.

“Allow me, ma’am,” said the President who bent down and gently picked up the spider, who happily took the help offered. “I think this fine lady should be put somewhere safe and warm. I doubt she will want to go wandering around ever again after this adventure. Not lethal as a rule, but I think he will have a swollen nose for some time to come, and serves him right too.”

Mr Herod signalled to Mr James to come and retrieve the tarantula, which he did, though used a shoe box and held it at arm’s length as he walked away.

“Well, that was all quite an adventure,” said the General, smiling at his guests, sensing that the event needed to be brought back on schedule. “I think maybe we have time for a cup of tea and a scone before we leave. Mr Herod, would you be so kind as to have Herman remove this man and have him under lock and key, once we have moved on?” He prodded Anders again gently with his stick, an elicited another groan. If you call the police, I believe they are not far away and will be more than happy to have a chat with him.”

“Oh a cup of tea would be most welcoming, indeed,” said the Queen. “I understand from Mr Herod that the Kensington branches of the Women’s Institute, and the FWI, have been baking cake, and making biscuits for us. Mr President, I think you and Jackson will find that there is nothing finer than the home baking of the WI and FWI. Or King Herod’s” she added with a smile. “Mr Herod, please lead the way.”

The curtain around the presentation area was pulled all the way back to reveal a lavish display of excellent homemade pies, pasties, cakes, biscuits and sandwiches. On another table, there were carafes of juices, chilled teas, and gently bubbling earns of hot water. And beside that was a very decorative and inventive, Christmas tree like display of stacked gold trimmed cups, saucers, plates, and cutlery. With a gasp of delight, and another round of applause the guests, led by the Queen and President, moved to their much-needed refreshments.

To be continued………



Well I have to say I am so very pleased that the tarantula got back safe and sound. And wasn’t Mr President so cool and calm about picking her up. Do you think there’s a chance the President and the Queen will get married, I mean he is a bachelor and all?

And what will be in the sandwiches? Will it be pate, or maybe peanut butter and jelly?

Tune in next week for more fun and games at the BEST Department Store in town!

A New Case, Chapter 29.

A NEW CASE. Chapter 29 (C) HEADER

Chapter 29

 

Vinny and Jackson sat looking at each other after a most thorough search around and about the screened off area. Vinny scratched vacantly behind his ear with a back paw and sighed.

“Fleas, Vinny?” Jackson enquired, with a slightly reproving look that suggested HE never got any.

“I hope not, Jackson! My mamma would be most upset.” Protested Vinny. “But if they were, and they came from here, they would be very upper-class fleas. Nothing is second rate about King Herod’s,” woofed Vinny in a light-hearted manner, shoving Jackson with his paw in a matey fashion. “There you go chum, have one on me, as a souvenir of your visit to London. Better than a postcard and hours of fun scratching and itching on your boat trip home. Spread the love, I say.”

“Well that was mighty kind of you, Vinny,” said Jackson, who promptly cuffed Vinny’s shoulder, but with a wag of the tail that meant he wasn’t serious. “Have one of mine back, with love from the US of A. These little suckers have stars and stripes on, and bigger than your English sort, naturally. Wrrruf”

The two fell into a happy brawl with each other, chasing the others tail and trying to nip a leg or get hold of an ear. A sudden yell of pain and kitten-like hiss brought them to their senses, and they froze, listening intently, ears up and tails erect.

Next came cursing and then the unforgettable sight of Anders, red-faced, blazing eyes, and covered in drying ketchup and ash, in full flight in search of a kitten. A small Siamese kitten, in fact, that was as they looked on, weaving around and under display stands, and heading their way.

They didn’t need to exchange looks or question their sanity, they just knew they had a kitten to rescue and some ankles to bite. Neither dog would have boasted to being an athlete, but neither in their own way was a slouch either. But Anders was a slouch and years of loafing and slacking had only developed flab of mind and body.

“Vinny!” Shouted Jackson, as the pair raced to intercept Anders. “You take the ankle, and I’ll go for the….” A hiss from the kitten, who was prepared to make a stand against the oncoming beasts, curtailed the conversation as to which part of Anders anatomy was the target.

“Nice kitten,” called Vinny to the kitten as he passed by and missed a hopelessly out of range swipe of its small paw. “You sure have pluck though. Keep it up, and I’ll be back in a moment.”

Anders was once more in a fog, but this time it was a rage. All he saw was the kitten as he tried to create his own path through various displays of companion supplies and clothing en route, in his pursuit of it. Not until reaching an actual walkway did he gain on the ball of floof which had suddenly stopped in its tracks. And then he saw it, a midsized fawn coloured dog bearing down on him with all the purpose and speed of a hawk, albeit a not too fast hawk, onto its prey. He dodged sideways and out of its path as it leapt at him, but instead met the sharp teeth of Jackson who, having taken a roundabout route, came at him from the side of a hat display. Of course, from Jackson’s perspective, he’d hit the jackpot and was only too happy to find fate and justice had placed the ankle just how he liked it!

~~~•~~~

Anders fell forwards, dropped the sack, and fell head first into a display of bedding. His curses and wimpy yelp were muffled when a pillow burst and covered both he and Jackson, who was still attached to his leg, in soft white feathers.

Vinny had missed the target first time around and had, without traction, slipped along on the marbled floor some distance. He turned and looked back at the abdominal snowman-like mass lurching forwards, one arm on its hat, one leg trying to shake off a growling Jackson. Pondered, albeit momentarily, whether he should sit this one out, after all, he had a position to uphold. “Wrrrruf, not bally likely,” he said. “Can’t let Jackson have all the fun, now can I. Just wouldn’t be polite to leave a guest hanging, as it were, arrr-arf-arf, arf-arf-arf,” he chuckled. With that, he found his balance and traction on the floor and headed off towards his chosen target.

At the same time, Mr Herod walked back onto the floor, confused by the conversation he’d just had on the telephone. This confusion was overtaken by the sight that met his eyes and pretty much made his jaw drop to the ground. His brain processed the whole cacophony of sound and action in slow motion, and it ran along lines thus. Anders, despite the extra appendage, had the kitten in his sights and was making a last-ditch dive to grab it. The kitten, for its part, had weighed up the odds and decided the monstrous feathery three-legged growling beast was actually way worse than the two seemingly crazed dogs that had run past it moments before, and so made a run for a black curtain not far ahead. Jackson was hanging onto Anders’ leg as though it was the last piece of tasty Southern-fried chicken in existence, albeit a rather scrawny bit. And as for Vinny, he was making what could only be described as headlong flying tackle directed at the back end of a very soon to be sacked security guard. If slow motion had been invented, then the scene would have won an Oscar.

Life spun back to normal speed with a yell, yelp, woof, growl, and a rather long hissing spit, and there will be little doubt from whom they all came. The scene concluded with Anders, hand around the kitten, sliding towards the curtain with two very partisan dogs gripped around parts of his anatomy. Things at King Herod’s, it seemed, had gone downhill faster than a scared mouse into its hole.

To be continued………

Oh my word! I can see it all now, and I have to say, it’s not a moment too soon for Anders to get what was owing to him!!!
BUT the games not over and Anders’ isn’t out. So what will happen next week?
Will Anders get the kitten? Have Jackson and Vinny got an early lunch box?
Has Anders had his shots, and more importantly, will Jackson and Vinny catch anything!
And when was it slow motion was actually invented? I for one would love to see the last scene again, and again and again…..
The answers to these questions may well be revealed, more or less, in next weeks thrilling chapter of this, the one and only……. London Adventure!

A New Case, Chapter 28

A NEW CASE. Chapter 28 (C) HEADER

Chapter 28.

 

 

As a finale to the whole event, the guests were being steered to a small area in an adjoining section of the store. Here they were to receive a presentation by the staff of the work that had been undertaken by the charity to date. Also information of what was planned by the HFPCH&F in the coming year. The area was fitted with a floor to ceiling blackout curtain, so a special cinematic presentation could be given.

Having taken their places, the guests gave a polite round of applause for the guest speaker, the renown New Zealand author and companion philanthropist, Mrs Dawson. After a short speech, the lights were dimmed, and the film was started, with Mrs Dawson adding comments on the cinema-photography as it went along.

The ping of Mr Herod’s lift had entered Anders subconscious but not elicited a response. It was the sound of passenger lift arriving to take Ms Harriett to her office that awoke him from the hazy daydream he’d been having. The haze wasn’t just in his mind though, as he’d smoked many cigarettes since he entered the small room, and the air was thick with their acrid fumes. A waning pillar of smoke spiraled its way upwards from a dying cigarette that sat between his brown, nicotine-stained fingers. He looked down and then let out a yelp of pain as he realised the smouldering dog-end was burning his skin. He jumped up and sent it, and its accumulated ash, flying off onto the floor, to join the others that lay round about. Sticking his fingers in his mouth to cool them, he looked at his watch and noted the time. Anders guessed that if he gave it another five minutes, Mr James and the staff would have gone in that second lift. Leaving the floor clear for him to have another look around before the proper customers arrived.

Grabbing the bag with the two now sleeping kittens inside, he moved quietly to the door, and then looked through, and then listened at the keyhole. Everything seemed nice and quiet and going to plan. Confident of finding the floor empty, he unlocked the door and stepped out, and immediately gasped and coughed as the fresh air hit his lungs. His eyes darted left and right, and he dropped to his knees, fearful someone may have heard. But all he could hear were some muffled sounds which he took to be from the ground floor. Getting back up he swaggered his way around the display units, lifting the covers and peering underneath. This, he thought, was going to be easy.

Further down the room, Jackson and Vinny had ‘opted out’ of the presentation. In actuality, they had slunk out as soon as the lights went down, and started to sniff their way around the floor in search of any feline smell they could find. They had retrieved Erin’s scent on the way out, from Mrs Hudson’s gloves as they rested on what seemed, to Vinny at least, to be a very interesting handbag. As for the kittens’ scent, they had to rely on that of their mother, Esme. They just hoped between the two scents, there was sufficient to find the kittens.

Their noses swept from left to right across the floor, and then up and down any displays and draped fabrics. They sniffed in small bins and around and up plant pots. Jackson even tried to climb on a small aspidistra until it almost toppled over and sent him onto his back with a yelp.

Further along the floor and oblivious to the finale going on behind the curtain, Anders had all but given up hope. He was tired, hungry and needed a cigarette. He sat with his head against one of the birdcage displays, towards the middle area of the store, wondering if he should carry on or not. One kitten down meant a lot of cash gone, a month’s wages for just one. But, he reasoned, he could always come back another day or that evening and start again.

He could, if it was found in the meantime, plead that the kitten was his own, a gift for his ma. He took a small silver coin, a nine pence piece, from his top pocket and looked at the picture of the old Queen on one side, and then the English Blue cat on the other. He didn’t actually like either, so he kissed the cat, which seemed younger, and tossed it up. “Heads I stay and look more,” he said to the coin, “tails I go home for a kip.” The coin arced through the air, glinting in some unseen ray of light as it turned. He went to make the grab but only managed to hit it with his fingers, sending it onto the marble floor with a resounding glass like CLINK. He sat, open-mouthed, and watched it as it rolled away and then start to spiral inwards. It’s ever-decreasing path ending quite neatly under a display of matching human and canine goloshes for ‘The Discerning Country Companions’. Grumbling at the stupid coin, he got up and walked to the counter and shoved his hand underneath and grabbed for the coin.

What he expected was a coin and some dust, what he got was a set of very sharp teeth, and a LOT of pain.

To be continued………