Sunday, 15 April 2018

A New Case. Chapter 5

Firstly, it's Sunday Selfie time.... 

We are joining The Kitties Blue, from The Cat on My Head blog, for the weekly celebration of blogs and bloggers from across the world and across the species.

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Here is this weeks selfie.....

IT IS IMPORTANT  that a princess is and seen to be on the straight and narrow. And whilst bits of me are not all that narrow at times, I do like anything that can be straight, acts like it. Here you can see me putting my whiskers through a tough balancing regimen in advance of going to church tomorrow. Not that I have sinned any, but I heard there was a new lot of church mice to welcome MOL Anyways, I think I should entitle this selfie 'Whiskers at 12 o'clock high!'

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And now, it's Story time!

(If you want to catch up on Chapter 4, please click HERE)

A New Case. Chapter 5

The night slipped away, and despite the countless juddering stops and starts at every village and town on route, the pair didn't stir.

There were no other passengers in that last carriage, and no need for anyone other than he, as guard, to be there. So after leaving them Albert had gone and locked the connecting doors to the forward sections of the train, just to make sure no drunks or straying passengers should bother them. He was in the guard’s van, behind, and would check in on them from time to time as his duties allowed, in case they needed anything - and to steal a glance at the lady, who through her beauty and kindness that day so long ago, had captured his heart.

Erin awoke to the smell of fried food, bacon she guessed, and the smell of coffee, too. There was a gentle rap on the compartment door and Albert slid it open just enough to pop his head through the gap. "Anyone for breakfast? I have fried egg, toast and cheese and sausages on the go. Plus I make a mean coffee too. If you have some nip tea bags I can do them if you'd rather?"

Mrs Hudson, yawned and shivered slightly, and looked at Erin then back at Albert. "You know I think that would be grand, Albert, thank you. I have some cheese sandwiches but somehow something hot seems far more tempting. Especially as it is rather chilly in here and we can see each other’s breath condensing in the cold air of the train."

Erin sat upright and moved out from under the cloak, and immediately shivered. Clearly, she thought, the trains meagre heating system didn't extend this far back. She had a sudden longing for the warm fires of the palace that she always came downstairs to in the morning.

"Well that's settled then," said Albert. "Meet me next door in the guard’s van in ten minutes and we'll have a hearty breakfast fit for a queen...... and a princess too!" He winked at Erin and tipped his hat to them both and left the carriage.

They both busied themselves with their morning 'ablutions', as Mrs Hudson called it. A good licking is what Erin described it as, for herself that is. Mrs Hudson spent time tidying her hair and washing her hands in the small toilet closet up the carriage. Then, once they had both passed inspection, they headed into the guard’s van and breakfast fit for royalty. Very hungry royalty.

The trained pulled to a halt at platform nine of Paddington station, bang on time. The engineer vented the boiler of steam, for safety, but it sounded for all the world, to Erin, like a big sigh.

By the time they had said their goodbyes to Albert, they were the last to alight the train. Albert had spoken to Mrs Hudson in private, and then they shook hands. Erin noticed that he ever so discretely slipped something into her hand. A ticket maybe, or a lovers note? She dismissed the idea as it was both impolite, and the latter seemed also unlikely as this was after all Mrs Hudson she was thinking about. Instead she gazed at the activity around them, and at pigeons on the platform walls. Sacks of mail and crates of fresh fruit and veg lined their walk down the platform. But it was the towering glazed roof that spanned the entire station that really caught her eye. She wondered if she could have something similar back home, over the moat and drawbridge? But of course, she would need a railway line too, and those wouldn't come cheap.

They stopped briefly to admire and check the time on the stations ornate suspended three sided clock. Then with a brisk pace and a deep breath, Mrs Hudson steered a path out onto the London streets and forwards to Knightsbridge.

Their walk took them through Hyde Park, and around a part of a lake within, that part being known as The Serpentine. There were a few more people out and about, shop and office workers mainly. The nannies with their charges in tow, silent or screaming, would come later on in the morning. Mrs Hudson had picked out a bench seat close to the path and the lake, on which to pass some time. Erin rested her head and paws out the carrier and meowed with delight at the geese that waddled past them. They in turn honked and hissed in reply, and then went on their way to nibble at the grass beside the lake.

A horse with its mounted rider walked past, the rider only glanced down at the two on the bench. But when it was a short distance away it stopped, turned around and came back to stand beside the bench. The rider, a man in army uniform, tipped his hat at them. "Good day, and pardon the intrusion, ma'am, but that isn't Mrs Hudson, is it?" Mrs Hudson looked up in surprise and scrutinised the man and his uniform.

"Well I'll be," she said finally. "Corporal Smyth-Jones.... BERTIE! or should I say General? Those stars do rather suit you, Bertie. How long has it been now, let me think...." she paused and thought for a moment. "It was in Egypt, on the Nile, thirty-two years ago to be precise. My how you have grown, and that moustache too. Very becoming a military man.

The General smiled at the compliment, and twiddled at one end of the moustache to neaten it up. "It was that minor incident with the locals over commandeering their racing camels for the war effort. I do recall it would have got quite nasty if you hadn't stepped in, Mrs Hudson, and chased the blighters away. I don't know to this day how you did it, but I am glad you did." The General's horse, a chestnut mare of seventeen hands, bent down and sniffed at Erin and snorted. Erin, not being used to such things, dived back into the carrier for safety, and hissed for good measure. "Don't mind Gladstone here, young lady," the General said, patting the horse on its neck. "She is rather friendly with the black cat at our barracks. Thinks the world of old Bomber Harris, as he's known. Thinks all cats are the same and just wants to give them a good sniff and a lick."

The thought of being licked over by a horse, friendly or not, was not to be encouraged in Erin's eyes. But being polite, she offered Gladstone her paw. Gladstone gave the paw a good sniff and gently rubbed it with a twitching action of his upper lip, which Erin found quite ticklish and made her smile and purr quite loudly.

"Erin, now we have by happy good fortune met the general on his daily ride, I do rather need a word with him about something. I'll just be a minute, so if you can just stop here for a bit please, then we'll be on our way." Mrs Hudson turned and went around and spoke in a low tone that Erin could not hear. She gestured towards Erin and back to the station, and then to the footpath and buildings that lay ahead. The general in return bent down and whispered in her ear. He had a serious look on his face though, and Erin wondered if it had anything to do with the kidnapped kittens. He straightened up and removed a calling card from his jacket pocket and handed it to Mrs Hudson who slipped it into her cape pocket. She smiled and, with a normal voice, wished the general a safe ride. As an after thought, she asked that should he ever be in the area of Erin’s Palace around July 16th, to call in for tea. And maybe stay for the village fair, too. Gladstone would prove to be a wonderful attraction for the child and could raise much needed funds for the Church Mouse Restoration Fund, too.

My dear Mrs Hudson," he said in a jovial manner that could only be managed by those senior ranks of noble birth. "We would love to, as long as there are no camels around that is. I'll tell you what, the boys from the officers’ mess would love a day out, and some tea and crumpet. We'll make a day of it and bring the band too!" Somewhere in the area a church bell chimed the hour, and he looked at his watch and then frowned.

"No peace for the wicked, it seems, Mrs Hudson. I must be off else I'll be late for my own special parade practice. I'll have to put myself on a charge, and that wouldn't do at all, what! Ladies, Princess, until later then." He saluted Mrs Hudson and Erin and turning Gladstone round kicked her into a fast trot. As soon as Gladstone’s hooves touched soft ground, she broke into a canter and headed off into the distance in a shower of clumps of soil and grass.

"Well now, he does cut a dash, doesn't he," Mrs Hudson said to no-one in particular. "Let’s be on our way Erin, as King Herod's will be opening as we get there, and we can have the store to ourselves."

Erin nodded and settled down into the carrier. As they walked on, she wondered about what she had just seen, and also about all the fun she could have with camels and galloping horses at the village fete.

To be continued......

What mysterious past does Mrs Hudson have, and can she walk like an Egyptian? Will the camels get the hump at having to go to a village fair? Why were the coconuts shy? Will the General get a speeding ticket? All this and more probably won't be revealed next week....... BUT the adventure will continue!