A New Case, Chapter 21

And now it’s Story time…. with London’s BEST Feline Adventure! (serialised in 36 parts)

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

A NEW CASE. Chapter 21 (C) HEADER

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Erin cursed as she tried to squeeze herself into the gap, and fend off the kitten who seemed to be making a game of it all and tried to bite her ankles. It took a firm cuffing of the little guys ear, that sent it tumbling forwards, to stop it’s antics.

Try as she might though, getting back into gap from this narrower end was harder than the other way around when she just seemed to pop out the end.

She squeezed herself in as much as she could and pushed as hard as she could, but to no avail and got stuck at her shoulders. It was like she had gained a pound in weight since she had entered the store. She sat and pondered the matter for a moment and then it came to her. Of course, it was the fabric of the harness she was wearing that was snagging on the edge of the edge of the counter. She slapped a paw against her forehead at her own stupidity. All she needed to do was either shed the harness or pull it in tighter. Reaching down she was able to catch a claw into the small buckle on her chest that held the harnesses webbing straps together. Mrs Hudson had insisted Erin should be able to get herself dressed, if need be, and that she practice getting in and out of the harness herself. In an emergency, this was important and could save her life should she become entangled.

But, if she stepped out of the harness she would have to leave it behind as she couldn’t carry it and the kitten. That, she mused, was not an option as she had chosen it as a birthday present from Mrs H to herself. Tighten it was then. With a good tug of the webbing straps, she pulled the harness tighter and tighter until she felt she had no more room to breathe. Snapping the buckle shut, she pushed her way into the narrow opening and to her relief, was able to fit, though she did shed a few hairs along the way.

41722-2berin2bstern2bface2b5As soon as she was free of the tight end of the gap, she sat and loosened the straps, letting out a sigh and taking in a deep breath. The banks of overhead lights started to come on, row by row, causing her a momentary panic before she realised what was happening. “Drat, can’t be long till opening time,” she muttered to herself, as she picked him up and trotted back to the rabbit hutches. Jumping the outer picket fence, she headed straight into the one with the other two kittens. Still asleep, they hardly moved when she placed the third kitten amongst them, giving him a lick on the head to settle him in. Moments later the three were curled together, asleep. The only movement came from their tiny breaths and the occasional twitch of a paw as they dreamed. Maybe of a silken thread and a tail? Erin thought, smiling.

Shaking herself from the cute family scene in front of her, it was time to get back to the plan, such as it was, and get to Mrs H and Esme. The stairs up seemed to long a journey and the chances of meeting someone were now increased greatly with the stores impending opening. She had to intercept Mrs H when she arrived on the floor, and the best way to dothat, was by the elevator. She recalled admiring a potted palm tree beside the customer elevators, the foliage of which was broad and dense enough to conceal a cat. It seemed the most obvious place, and safe too, after all who would look for a cat up a tree, besides a fireman?

With one last look at the kittens, she checked all was clear outside then left for the picket fence. Once over, she checked direction signs for the elevators and then sprinted for cover.  With the display stands, mannequins and pillars for concealment, she worked her way aroun15a36-25c225a92berin2bsmile2bleft2bcute2bd the store until only a clear space separated her from the palm.

She covered the remaining twenty feet to the potted tree in a twinkling ofthe eye. The white of her tummy floof a ghostly cloud against the dark and mottled colours of the marbled floor. She entered into the tree in one graceful bound, her claws finding an easy hold on the trunk’s rough surface. As soon as she had her breath, she moved quickly up and settled into a crux of one of the larger fronds, to wait.

 

~~~¨~~~

Anders had exited the lift on the first-floor moments after the lights went on. He looked left then right and decided to head around to the right, a decision based purely on the lust of a quartet of mannequins displaying swimming costumes and floral bathing caps. To Anders, who had never had a girlfriend, this was the height of indulgence. He winked at the brunette wigged model and pouted a kiss at her before carrying on.

He looked behind pillars and, somewhat stupidly, in closed cupboards and locked rooms. In fact, he checked everywhere for the cats that he should have checked for his job, but never did. Around the next corner was the companion area, and more bending which troubled his back. His head had started to throb again and so, having braced himself against a pillar decorated in fake foliage, he took a sip of whisky from his flask.

Whilst he was tired and upset at losing the kittens, they were by no means going to earn him as much money as the goods he had been pilfering and shipping out from the loading area at night. Butthey would be easy cash, no questions asked, and best of all, untraceable.

It was whilst he was rubbed his eyes to further ease his sore head, that he saw it. Or at least thought he had, as it was all happened so very quick. A black cat had, he thought, just jumped out of the one of the rabbit hutches just ahead, and ran off into the store. He stiffened and tried to focus through the foliage at the store beyond. Yes there 6cb6f-25c225a92berin2btail2bup2bwalkingit was again, a flick of a tail and a flash of pink from its back. That was the same cat that had assaulted him, it had to be.

He watched and thought he saw a blur with a flash of pink move across the floor at the farthest end near the lifts. If it was in with the rabbits then that is where he would look for the kittens. He didn’t know nor he did he care where the cat was, as there was no money in a moggy, not like those kittens. If it came back it would grab it and then drown it for the aggravation and scars then present it to Mr Herod to demonstrate he was doing his job. Maybe even get a bonus for it, too! Slowly and as carefully as he could he took the sack from his jacket and crept to the rabbit hutches and stepped in. This, he thought, was going to be his lucky day.

To be continued………..



Is this then end of the road for Erin and the kittens? Will Anders really sell the kittens into slavery? And are cat corsets really going to be this years must have item for the size challenged fashion kitty?  Tune in next week for more mayhem adventure and booing and hissing at Anders, who we all love to hate!

 

And for all my pals out there in story land, here is my selfie for the week…..

SS 5.8.18. std qual

This weeks selfie is titled………. That’s all Folks!

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A New Case, Chapter 20

It’s Story time!

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

 

A NEW CASE. Chapter 20 (C) HEADER

 

 

Chapter 20

Getting through the gap was much harder than Erin thought, and clearly those extra snack-mice between meals would have to stop. But then, she mused, it was only comfort food and therefore comfort calories for the cold winters days and nights. Come spring she could wear it all off chasing around the palace between naps. One final push and a pulling in of the waist and she popped out behind the aquarium display. She suddenly felt very tired. Probably the warmth of the heated aquarium and the gentle bubbling sounds from the filters lulling her to sleep, she said to herself. As much as she was tempted, she shook herself to stay awake, and went to where the kitten’s scent path seemed to be headed. But try as she might, she couldn’t pick it up, so clearly, she surmised, it had stayed under the aquarium, but which one? She sat and licked her paws, and considered the problem. She had failed to make a note of the position of the one the kitten had gone under, and now she was the other side and back to front, she just didn’t know. Plus they all looked alike, covered as they were with a red, gold trimmed cloth.

Mrs H would’ve known what to do, and which one to go to, she meowed out to herself. The basics of detection were, she had told Erin one evening, to observe, take notes, and then have a nap. She thought about that last statement and decided that taking a nap wasn’t what Mrs H had said, when she said consider a problem. Taking a nap was what she herself had done when the talk had moved onto logic, permutations, variables and deductions. They all sounded like something to do with a tax return, and had made her so very tired and wish she were asleep. It wasn’t until much later that she realised she had fallen asleep. What had awoken her that evening was that sound of Mrs H’s dictionary falling to the floor with the sort of flumping thud, that only dictionaries seem to manage.

The only thing she could think of was to be logical as Mrs H would be. And so, she did what seemed most logical and with a paw pointing at the counters, she began to sing. “Eeny-meeny-miny-moe, catch a white mouse by the toe, if he wriggles make him squeak and then he’ll be ready to have to eat.” At least those were the words she knew; Mrs H’s were way less tasty! She went over to the middle aquarium, which was the one she had chosen, and pawed at the cloth backing underneath. There, and much to her surprise and delight was a dark recess. She popped her front paws and head into the opening in the material and peered around and gave a good sniff. A heavy aroma of warm damp and algae came to her nostrils. There was a reddish glow to one side, and a faint humming sound too. The adage, ‘Fools step in’, came to mind as she pulled her whole body inside the space, but she really had nothing to fear, she told herself, so long as she was silent and quick. Peering around she headed into corner where the light was. Call it a hunch if you will, but Erin knew if a kitten wanted to be safe, it would head for somewhere warm. And the throbbing of the electrical device would in a way, mimic the comfort and sound of his mother. Reaching out towards the red glow, the soft outline of a sleeping ball of kitten came to her paw. Safe and sound, he was cuddled up asleep.

She managed to rouse the kitten with a purr and gentle nudge with the paw. It uncurled and meowed at Erin and staggered to its sleepy feet and nudged her under the chin. Erin’s heart opened up to the baby, as though it was her own and she felt she needed to spend more time with it, rather than cart it off. But time was scarce, so without any more ceremony, she took the kitten by the scruff and headed out and back over to the gap.

In the few strides to the gap, the docile kitten had come alive, and was squirming everywhere, trying to get free. Try as she might, there was no way she could get them both through the gap at the same time. It had to go first else it would probably not come out on its own. She unceremoniously dropped the kitten into the gap and pushed it forwards with her paw.

~~~¨~~~

In the ground floor lobby, Anders was handing over the shop keys to Herman, the new daytime security guard. Herman was an ex-army man, a sergeant and proud, and was in character everything Anders wasn’t. As the ever-present face of help, as well as security for the store, he tried to get along with all he met, and give the benefit of the doubt as required. It had however only taken two weeks before he had taken a dislike to Ander’s careless, devious and cheating ways. Things never added up in the security log, not where Anders had been involved. And whilst he was prepared to allow for his lack of education, the man, to Herman at least, was not stupid. But he was careless about the times he recorded for when he had visited the floors. And he was signing work off before it was done, or as was more likely, not done. Still, he thought to himself, at least I don’t have to work with the idle so and so. Wouldn’t cut it in the modern army.

Anders grabbed a hessian sack and headed back into the store with just a curt ”I’m just going to look for something I dropped, then I’m out of here. Don’t wait up now, will you Herrrrr-man!” The new guard had, he noted, given him a strange look. That instantly put Ander’s back up, not that it took much with Anders who had a short temper and even shorter fuse.

“I’ll see you this evening then, Anders.” was the guards reply, as he went through the routine of switching on the stores lights at the main control panel.“

“Not if I can help it or see you first,” Anders sniggered to himself when he thought he was out of hearing range, and then threw an exaggerated and condescending salute to the guard.

     After watching Anders disappear into Mr Herod’s personal elevator, Herman turned to the log and read Anders report. “The mans a complete liar,” he muttered, as he wiped away a smear of red sauce from the page. “And a disgrace too. Wandering around like he owns the place and in those awful slippers and stained jacket. Thank goodness he won’t be here when the royal party and guests arrive!” He picked up his pen and made a new entry under Anders, stating how the previous entries were not consistent with the time the log was signed. He also added how dirty and unkempt Anders had appeared and rude too. He then marked it for the attention of Mr Herod, and closed the log. He was not a vindictive person, but Herman knew that if he didn’t say something now, it would reflect badly on himself later on. Still, he couldn’t help but feel a little satisfaction knowing once Mr Herod read it, later that day, he probably wouldn’t have to put up with Anders attitude much longer.

To be continued………


Has Anders finally blown it, or will he bluff and lie his way out of it? Will Erin manage to get through the gap and back to safety with the kitten?  And do all cat nursery rhymes have white mice in? Tune in next week for more kitten mayhem and Anders based shenanigans in this, Erin’s & London’s BEST Adventure!

A New Case, Chapter 19.

And now, it’s Story time!

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

(Chapter 18 can be seen HERE.)

     Despite the name of the store, King Herod’s was not owned by a king, or even a prince, just a plain old simple MR. Mr Herod was however his name, and he had inherited the store when his uncle died, almost one year ago. Alas his mind was not used to the concept or methods for running a store this size or of Herod’s importance.

His small greengrocer work ethic and principles, where cost and value for his frugal customers was paramount, and profits low, seemed so at odds with the Herod’s policy which was high quality at a high price and a lot of profit. And try as he might, he was struggling with the seemingly decadent spending of the well to do, who had nannies and big houses in the city, as well as in the countryside.

And why should he change, he asked himself. After all, his needs and those of the nation as a whole, for the greater part at least, were in reality few and money scarce. He was comfortable with what he had. In fact, he still had his small greengrocers shop on the outskirts of the city that his wife ran. And each evening they would travel their different paths home, to the two-bed semi-detached house they had bought when they married. It was a very comfortable house, well kept, in a smart, but not too smart, area of Dulwich, a village in the outskirts of London which was popular with the aspiring, but not too aspiring, middle classes. It was just right, in every way, and Mrs Herod made sure it was.

But he tried hard to move with the times, and keep his fingers on the pulse of public whim, hence the Companion Department. It seemed that everybody across the land had companions of some description, be they spiders, snakes, cats, dogs or horses. And whether rich or poor, they were a constant in people’s lives and gave them focus and support and companionship. He himself had a companion, a white cat, called Harvey, who gave him great comfort during the long evenings spent doing the accounts for the store. Harvey, and his wife, had both pointed out to him how his customers bought the best they could for their companions, as in fact he did for Harvey. To Harvey and Mrs Herod it was clear that what Herod’s lacked was a department specifically for companions. Somewhere he could showcase the best that there was for every kind of companion, from a spider to a horse. And when the companions came, they had reasoned, so would their humans, or their nannies, and they would spend more in the store.

And it was the ‘more’ that the books said needed to be spent, as they seemed barely able to show a profit these days.

“If this doesn’t work,“ he said to his wife the evening before the visit, as he ate his supper, “then we may have to sell up. I have put as much as I can into this but between stock losses, wages and the country’s economic woes, things just don’t seem to add up.”

     Mrs Herod circled a small advert in the Detective Services Offered section of the Court Fashion magazine she’d been reading whilst simultaneously knitting cardigans, scarfs, and mittens for cats and kittens need. She then placed the magazine and her knitting down on a side table and peered attentively at her husband over the top of her glasses. She was a lady much like Mrs Hudson, just more petite. She had a kindly oval face and a winning smile that had raised much money from reluctant donors for the charities she supported.

She had also, though seldom used it, a growl and a frown that could stop a charging bull elephant in its tracks…. and had! That however, was a side of her past that she never discussed with her husband. Instead she supported his endeavours by being there for him, and guiding his often-rash ideas with positive little suggestions or changes that brought out the best from them. She herself took great pleasure from running their corner store, and had never once thought of helping run King Herod’s. That was for her husband to do, and she would in her own way help him develop his own skills. It was she that had suggested that he should carry a spare invitation to the Royal Opening, in his pocket. As she had said, “There will always someone you will bump into that should have been invited but was forgotten. Or someone you see, and know in your heart should be invited.” And so it turned out, and he had come home and explained about the rudeness of Mr Askew, and how the invitation had been the best thing to give the rather stern nanny with the little princess.

Mrs Herod’s interest had been piqued by the description of the lady, and that evening she gently teased more details from her husband. When he finally recalled the ladies name, a Ms Hudson, she inwardly smiled, and then praised his truly generous attitude and swift thinking.

She’d had for many weeks now been studying the accounts of Herod’s, and noted the losses. Also, she’d noted the time of delivery and then the manner in which the goods were found to have disappeared. As a result, her suspicions as to the culprit were all but confirmed. But she couldn’t voice as much without hard evidence, or revealing that she had been keeping an eye on matters too.

Mr Herod had kept all the staff that had worked for his uncle, and in truth knew very few by name or nature. Instead he relied upon the evidence of his own eyes to tell him all he thought he needed to know. Alas it was this lack of knowledge that someone was taking advantage of, and to the detriment of the store as a whole.

     So, despite her husband’s feeling that the store was doomed to fail and would close, she was determined that it should remain, and be a success. Now if she could uncover the culprit, then the store would show a profit, and save itself and Mr Herod from failure.

To that end she decided it was time for covert action, and to call in the help of an expert. Tomorrow should she hoped, see a change in Herod’s good fortunes, with royal favour and patronage. The last thing she needed was for things to go wrong for her husband and the store. Starting things off with a clean sweep was what was needed, and she knew just the person.

Later that evening, whilst her husband was taking a bath, she went to her writing bureau and retrieved her address book. Having checked the address, she telephoned the telegram office. After giving the message to the operator, and then confirming when it was read back to her, she replaced the receiver. Sitting down, she returned to her knitting, one of a set of three kitten size hooded jumpers for a local shelter, at Battersea. She wasn’t one to trust to luck, but said a prayer and hoped that it, and the telegram would be delivered in time.

To be continued………

Will Mr Herod really sell up shop? Who is Mrs Herod contacting?  Will she finish knitting the scarfs before bedtime and more importantly….. does she take orders for balaclavas? The answers to this and maybe much more, might be forthcoming next week, tune in then to continue this ripping yarn (no pun intended! MOL)

Chapter 18 can be read HERE;

Chapter 20 can be read HERE;

 

And here is this weeks selfie from me…..

This weeks selfie is all about………. A book at bedtime.
If you wondering, the book was none other than ‘Cat’s Paw’ a cosy mystery by Mollie Hunt, a fellow blogger, CWA member, and a jolly good writer too. Why not give it a go sometime…..

A New Case, Chapter 18.

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 can be read HERE.)

      Erin watched Anders leave, and listened carefully until the slapping sound of the slippers had long faded away. Uncurling herself from the now sleeping kittens, she carefully stretched, first her front legs then the hind. Then, after stowing the knitted rope back into her harness she left the hutch. The rabbit area was quite large, and contained three smaller fenced areas, each with a different style hutch. Hers, aptly enough, was a palace, whilst the adjoining was a replica of the King Herod’s store, complete with flags and a replica of the owner himself standing by the door. The third had been modelled around a Wild West stage post, complete with log cabin, fake horses and a stage coach the bunnies could climb into.

She hopped over the lower picket fences and looked into the two other hutches. Within each she discovering groups of miniature rabbits, curled up asleep in the bedding, like the kittens she’d just left. They looked for all the world like her own two kittens. Now however was not the time to be meeting the neighbours, well not unless they had any spare mice. There was a kitten on the loose and she needed to find it before the store opened and that man came back.

      Looking around, there were any number of places a small kitten could have got into, under or behind. Factor in the fact that this little guy was clearly an adventurer, she couldn’t rule out the possibility that it had left the area completely! Another problem was that being a kitten, he would take a lot of naps. She could easily overlook him if, for example, he was asleep. Start at the bottom, Mrs H always told her, and work your way up. Unless you’re dusting, in which case work from the top downwards so any disturbed dust doesn’t settle on what you’ve just cleaned. She smiled at the thought of them both dusting back home, and the fun they’d had. Once they’d got to give the curtains a good beating when a family of mice had run up them to avoid Mrs H’s vigorous, if somewhat haphazard, broom action.

      Whilst kittens are very adept at climbing, though not necessarily getting back down, Erin doubted that she would need to check that high up. Additionally, the only curtains she could recall, were in the ‘Soft Furnishings and Fabric Department’, on another floor. There were, however, decorative frills and covers to some of the display cabinets, and they seemed a great place to start her hunt. She headed to where Anders had found the yarn, and began her search, sniffing around until she picked up the unmistakable aroma of smelly kitten. A lick behind the ears to bond with the kittens was one thing, but a whole-body wash was not happening. These would need a good and proper bath when they get home, she thought, as she lifted up and peered behind one of the covers. That was one job she was happy to leave to Esme and her mamma.

There was no way she could squeeze under the stand to follow the scent, but she didn’t have to. She had passed a gap between two of the display units a few feet back and so padded over to have a look. It was going to be a squeeze but if she could hold her tummy in she would be OK. Coming back with a kitten in her mouth would be more interesting. She just hoped it wouldn’t wriggle too much.

~~~•~~~

Back on the ground floor, Anders had scribbled a note in the accident book about the stray cat, or cats, and his heroic attempts to stop them killing the pets. He also, in a graphic and a much-overstated manner, described his own injuries in the course of duty. Injuries that would conceivable force him to have a few days off, and maybe counselling too.

Checking is watch he realised he’d need to complete one more round of the building before signing out for the day staff, who would be due in about an hour’s time. Just long enough to have a quick glance around the floors and then have a look for that cat and his kittens.

He signed off the log in advance, as having visited the floors, and then strode over to Mr Herod’s personal lift, and headed to the 8th floor. He peered around the lift doors into the darkened offices beyond and then shut the lift doors again and did the same on the seventh and sixth floors.

On the 5th floor he got out and walked around the square central core of the store, which housed the shoppers, as well as Mr Herod’s personal elevator. From this point, he could see all the departments, though not the side rooms or behind the counters or pillars. Part way round he heard a strong long rumbling sound, like thunder. He went to one of the ornate windows and looked out into the early morning sky. Strange, he thought to himself, the radio hadn’t said anything about rain or a storm. Another longer low rumble sounded, escalating in severity, followed by booms that seemed to shake the building……. and then silence. His mind recalled the old adage that you hear the lightning after you see the flash. But he hadn’t seen any flashes of lightning, which was strange for a storm that sounded so close.

      He shrugged, maybe it was around the other side of the store, it was after all a big store. And what the heck, so long as it wasn’t raining when he went home he didn’t care what it did. It could rain on Her Majesty so far as he was concerned. Royal cow deserved that, getting all the best dresses, fine wines and foods, and going on all those foreign holidays. “PAH!” he exclaimed, and spat onto the floor. “Who needs a queen. I could do better than she can. Queen Anders the first, that would be me. First thing I’d do would be to have a public holiday, for a whole week. No, for a month. And there’d be NO pets either. Pesky things always leaving hair everywhere, and dog droppings on the street.” He smiled and headed back to the lift, composing in his mind a new national anthem, and a list of new public holidays, just for him.

      Along the way he saw small patches of dust on the polished floor. Looking up he saw that they had come from the ventilation ducts that ran along the ceiling. “Bally things, so old that thunder must have shaken the dust off of ‘em. Can’t wait to tell day shift they’ll have a big clean up job as soon as they came in.” Again he chuckled and, almost in harmony, there were more rumbles and then bangs from overhead, but this time just a little bit further away.

To be continued………



Chapter 17 can be read HERE;

Chapter 19 can be read HERE.

Hand here is this weeks selfie…. 

This weeks selfie is titled …….. Memories.

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.

 

 

Mrs Hudson returned to the generals 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 and to avoid the presence of customers, the visit had been scheduled to take place before the stores official, and slightly delayed, opening time. However, it was also to allow the queen’s guest, the 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, called 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 not so well known, but equally as strong. His beloved felines came to him after he advertised the positions of Chief of Staff, and general office assistant, in the local press. Unbeknown to him, the advert was accidentally only placed in a local edition of the Nova Scotia & Meadowvale 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 oversea the US catnip planting season in his 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.” He hung up the phone and turned to Mrs Hudson standing 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 ship shape. 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 pushing 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 some extra 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, and closed the door 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 fresh brewed tea. She clasped the dainty porcelain cup in both hands, the shaking quite evident in the ripples on its milky and otherwise smooth brown surface.

    “Miss Darcy,” Bertie began, “please do not be alarmed. I appreciate that this is maybe not the lift back to Herod’s that you were expecting, but 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?” He 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 Mrs 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, 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 I call you Jenny? That will be much less informal.” 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 sunk 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 that I give to the stock clerk that 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, and worn handbag and dabbed at tears that were starting to well up.

    “There there, dear.” Mrs Hudson got up and sat beside her, and rested 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 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, 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 Companions 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 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 I 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 the 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 that 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 lead 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 dreamt 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.

A New Case, Chapter 16.

And now, it’s Story time!

(Chapter 15 can be seen HERE.)

Esme’s journey back up and through the ducts was far worse than she had recalled from the last time she had ventured into the network of ducting. But then she hadn’t gone nearly as far that time, one floor in fact and the slope wasn’t that bad. These slopes, that had been so much fun on the way down, were a trial to clamber up. Her claws could find little grip on the surface. Where there was a join in the metal, she became like a rock climber, her claws feeling along until they found a gap. Then it was a question of strength as she half pushed half pulling her way upwards, section by section until she reached the top of the slope.

She rested between floors, she had to, her small body heaving from exertion that she had never had to do before. More than once she found herself sliding down the inclined ducts, ending up on her bum, tail dragged between her legs. She was however, a resilient cat, and a mother too, and that thought gave her the strength to plough on. But each climb, despite the rest, made her weaker. Erin had left some small packs of cheese along the route, thinking they would both be coming back that way. So it was with great relief that she came across these on the fifth floor.

Fortified, she felt sleepy and decided that a few minutes rest would be in order, to compose herself for the climb ahead. She slept a dream of hope, and love. A dream where she romped with her kittens once more, but not within the dry walls of the store. Her dream had them in the woods and formal gardens of a summer country palace, much like Erin’s might be in summer. Chasing butterflies and bees, and lounging around in puddles of sun or dappled shade. When she wasn’t with her kittens, she was sat beside her mamma on a sun-drenched patio, helping her design, picking fabrics and accessories. And off course, she was modelling the feline couture that momma made to go with the ball gowns for, well whomsoever bought them.

Everywhere she turned, the dream showed her something new and exciting. A banquet here, a dance there. Once She turned and found herself looking at a cat walk set up in a summer meadow. It was decorated with pastel blooms and soft and silky swags of the most delicate fabric that wafted in a perfect summer breeze. Crowds watched on in awe as the models floated along, pirouetting in the arms of their escorts, in gowns of impossible colours and textures that flowed around slender bodies like water flowing over the contours of a pebble.

As she lay in the duct, her paws twitched and moved as she did in her dream. There, she was now on the cat walk herself, wearing a fine golden gown. She stopped and turned amidst the adulation of the onlookers, and saw her mamma, standing proud, a warm glow in her cheeks, and a smile on her face. The tiredness of her years of labour had been washed away in a warm breeze that gently tugged at a curl on her brow. She looked whole once more, and alive.

Esme awoke with a start. A cool breeze was being drawn over her fur from the extractor fans that had come on whilst she slept. She gasped. How long had she been asleep? Surely not that long? She thought back to when she was asleep on the ninth floor, and the times she had awoken by the clatter of her mamma’s foot powered sewing machine. Or the times when the machinery in the adjoining room disturbed the roosting pigeons, sending them off into the early morning London sky. It was morning, she thought, or thereabouts and the fans had come on to clear the air in preparation for the staff and the customers arrival.

She got up and after the quickest of stretches, dashed along the flat ducting, jumping any grill in the duct’s floor without fear for her own safety. Her mind raced, and guilt drove her forwards. She had given up before, surrendered hope of finding them. But she had made a promise to Erin and thus her kittens too, and would not let them down, not again.

The turn and upwards climb in the in the duct loomed ahead. This time there would be no slipping. This time she would take it at full speed and drive herself forwards and up. She took the corner with a leap, using her momentum and her soft paw pads to drive her accent. But the speed was not enough, and the climb was steep. Like a deflating balloon that is left to fly around in diminishing circles until it’s air is spent, she felt out of breath and begin to fail and to fall.

In desperation, she struck out with her paws, left then right. But instead of falling as she feared, she found a ridge in the metal that she hadn’t seen on the way down. What she had found was the edge of an inspection cover that ran the last few feet to allow for cleaning. But none of that mattered, as with both hind paws and claws now dug in she drove on upwards and out the top like a canary out of a cage, leaving only the echoes of her thundering paws behind.

To be continued……..

Will Esme make it to the top, and what will she find when she gets there? Will Mrs H ever make it back to the store in time to save Erin and put paid to Anders? Do tell us what you think and join us next week when we find out more about the kittens, Mrs Hudson, and Erin…

Chapter 15 can be read HERE;

Chapter 17 can be read HERE;

And here for all my readers, is this weeks selfie….

This weeks selfie is all titled ……….. A Hard Days Work Testing Ikea Furniture.

A New Case; Chapter 15.

8d306-25c225a92berin2bface2bright2bcute2bearlyAll in all, nearly an hour had passed between Anders being knocked out, and the kittens leaving the room. His drink induced catatonic state was starting to fade as the inevitable headache set in. He stirred himself and sat up, leaning heavily on one hand whilst the other massaged his aching brow whilst he pondered what he had happened. It came to him, it was a black or maybe black and white cat that had attacked him from the ceiling, and somehow, he had slipped and….. well that was all he could recall.

His eyes cleared and he realised what was wrong with the scene before him. He scrambled to his feet and lurched into the little room, scattering the remainder of the toilet rolls. There on the floor was the empty box with the dirty towel not far to one side. He crouched down and started to peer under the racking and the cupboards. He lifted the mops and brooms and tossed them to one side when he found nothing. “Here kitty-kitty,” he called. Not that cats respond to such things as a rule, and no cats would have if they had heard the malice in his voice.

Unsuccessful in the room, he turned his attention to the area without. Stunned and cursing at the broken glass and contents of the vivarium on the floor, Anders grabbed a broom and swept everything against the wall. He would blame that on the stray cat too, and he’d be in the clear and not have to pay for it either. He could even say it was in cahoots with the cat from the ninth floor. That way he could get it and the stupid owner kicked out and then he’d not have to patrol that floor at all, not that he did. He smiled at his own ingenuity and, having put his hat back on, strode off towards the front desk to report the feline intrusion.

~~~*~~~

Despite being their captor, the kittens passed by the fallen Anders without a second glance, intent on having fun with their new pal, Erin. As her pace quickened, so the kittens got more delighted with the knitted rope that she flicked up down and left and right. She had heard Anders start to awake, and later the sweeping of the debris, but was by that point nearly out of the Companion Department. But the kittens were looking tired so she decided to find somewhere safe where they could sleep off their exertions.

Looking around, the perfect safe-house came into sight. It had a wooden roof, shuttered windows, and a tower. There was even a water feature on the lawn and a large convertible Bentley on the drive. It was perfect, and she even fancied it herself…. except for the fact that she had a full size, if somewhat run-down palace of her own back home. But what of the residents?

She huddled the kittens together, and having untied the string from her tail, popped over the white picket fence that surround the small building. Peering through the unglazed windows, she saw some doll sized beds, and lots of soft looking straw and hay bedding. It was in fact the perfect weekend retreat, or kitten hideaway, and no sign of the owners either!

Jumping with a kitten in your mouth isn’t easy, and she was a few years older now than when she had last done it with her own. But a mother never forgets, and so without hesitation she grabbed a kitten cleared the top of the fence, and entered the wooden house. Placing it onto one of the beds, she headed out for the next.

The second wasn’t as obliging as the first and had rolled over onto its back, claws out, to try and fend off Erin’s attempts to pick it up. Kittens play with each other as a way of learning life’s lessons. But this was not the time for play, and Erin was weary that Anders would be coming their way, sooner rather than later. With a gentle and motherly cuff, she subdued the kitten, and got it in the house with its sister. But when she returned for the third it was gone!

 With heart in her mouth, Erin scanned the floor for signs of where it would be. Tom cats, she sighed to herself, are always problems, no matter the size. Then, out of the corner of her eye she spotted the woollen string disappearing under the curtained sides of one of the raised aquarium. The sound of Anders large novelty slippers, slapped on the marbled floor like flippers on a seal. Erin, thankful of the warning, ducked back inside the miniature palace with the two kittens, and curled up against them to keep them both silent. With one eye on the window and the other on the kittens she waited in fear as to what might happen next. Life on the streets was like this for many poor cats and kittens that fell on hard times or were kicked out by the unloving families that had first adopted them. It brought back vivid memories for Erin when she too had suffered abuse at the hands of humans, of the less than enlightened kind that did not agree with their equal status and role as friends and companions in society. For the first time in many years Erin was truly scared, nay petrified, for Esme’s kittens, that had now become her kittens too.

~~~*~~~

For whatever reason, and Anders wouldn’t have had the brains to fathom it himself, he noticed a small thread of what looked like string move on the floor just ahead of him, under the fabric screen that concealed the gap between the aquarium stand and floor. He stopped and looked, thoughts whirling around in his brain like confused ants. He couldn’t recall seeing it before, and had it actually moved?

    His excitement grew. Maybe it was a kitten? They like string, it had said so in the book his mother had read to him as a child. The cash signs lit up in his eyes and he lurched down onto his knees and lifted the material and at the same time yanked at the string. It whipped through air and dangled limp in his hand. “Pah!” he muttered as he balled up the soft rope into his hand. “Damned cleaners, nothing but dust under there.” He let the material fall back down and getting to his feet, stomped off as fast and noisily as his feet would allow, tossing the balled-up yarn into the the door of the palatial wooden rabbit hutch. “And he scores!” he yelled, punching the air as the woollen ball rolled inside, coming to rest just in front of Erin’s nose.

 

To be continued………

 

 

Did King Herod’s meet building regulations when they installed the rabbit hutches so close? Is wool really the new and safer way to play football? And how are the dust bunnies under that counter going to get back to the hutches? All these questions and no doubt some more bad goings on will be happening right here on you screen next week, so don’t forget to tune in to ‘A New Case, Chapter 16’.