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In Which Catrina Renews an Old Acquaintance

by on August 9, 2014

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine, in the company of Captain Ahab, had just encountered the legendary White Whale, Moby Dick. Unfortunately, the whale turned out to be the oceanic equivalent of a Weeping Angel, and suddenly Catrina found herself in England, 1913, one year before some rather dramatic events were due to break out in Europe….

As the man she had first met ran off to get the constable, Catrina had to do some very quick thinking. She could, of course, be honest. She could tell the constable that she was a princess from the 12th century, and that she had been sent to 1913 by a malevolent whale. Catrina had enough experience with time travel, however, to realize that the constable wouldn’t necessarily believe her. In fact, she might very well be packed off to a lunatic asylum before she had time to explain about Mlrning (the Shovel of Thor!). Catrina didn’t fancy spending time in an asylum, as she felt this would put rather a damper on her efforts to get back to her own time. That meant she had to come up with a story, and she had to think of one fast.

“‘Ello, d’ you require assistance?” said the constable, who had just arrived.

“Yes, I do,” Catrina said. “I’ve, ah, just arrived from the countryside, you see, and I’m looking for a job. As a…”  she paused, trying to consider what would be the best vocation for her in this time period. “As a nanny.”

“Ah,” said the constable. “It just so happens that there’s been an advertisement in the Times. A family on Cherry Tree Lane wants a nanny for two adorable children.”

“Splendid!” said Catrina, waving the Shovel of Thor enthusiastically. “I have two children myself back at home, and this will be just the thing. I’ll bet I could take them on excursions to fox hunts and tea parties on ceilings!”

The constable wasn’t quite sure what she was going on about, but he nonetheless gave her directions to the family’s residence.  Catrina thanked him, and set off immediately. Her heart sank a little bit as she approached the house and saw a queue of respectable English nannies already formed outside the door. Catrina, having just arrived, had no references. All she had was two years’ experience of being a mother, and an exceptionally powerful Shovel. Surely the family would pick someone else.

Still, Catrina didn’t mean to give up yet. She bravely positioned herself at the end of the line and waited. Then, suddenly, the weather began to change. A wind picked up, blowing hard. “I say,” Catrina said to the nanny in  front of her, “Is this normal weather for 1913?”

The nanny was about to reply when, quite abruptly, she wasn’t there anymore. Catrina gaped, open-mouthed, as the nanny tumbled off into the sky like a piece of scrap paper. Then another nanny pitched over her head, and another, and another, and then the whole line of nannies was soaring off into the clouds. Catrina wondered if she should do something, but then all at once she found herself lifting off as well. “Oh, no, I’m not!” she declaimed, and slammed Mlrning down into the cobblestones. She clung desperately to the Shovel as the wind picked up, sweeping the nannies away into the sky beyond. Then, it suddenly occurred to her that this could be the opportunity for an adventure. Suppose the nannies were being kidnapped? Suppose this was some weather wizard, or someone with air powers, attempting to make off with Britain’s nannies as a way to take over the world? That decided her. Catrina pulled Mlrning free, swung about, and blasted off into the wind. Someone else would have to look after the children of Cherry Tree Lane; she had nannies to save.

To her great disappointment, however, the adventure was over almost as soon as it had begun. The wind deposited the nannies in a quiet courtyard near Wimpole Street. They dispersed rapidly, muttering about the unusual weather and resolving never to answer advertisements for houses on Cherry Tree Lane again. Catrina raced back to the house, but sadly, a housemaid informed her that the nanny position had been filled. “Well, I hope she does a better job than I would,” Catrina said dejectedly.

She milled about London for a while, trying to think what to do next. Perhaps she could enter service as a lady’s maid? Catrina didn’t have much maid experience either, as she’d been on the other side of the upstairs/downstairs divide, but it didn’t seem all that difficult. She’d had a few maids while she had been princess, but between traveling to different timelines, and running about her kingdom fighting Cthulhu or Atlanteans or Murphy the Terrible, she hadn’t given her chamber maids much to do. Probably she could finish her tasks in an hour or so, and then use the rest of the day to find a way back home. With that happy thought, Catrina marched to the first house she saw and rapped smartly on the door. “Hello,” she said to the butler who answered it. “My name’s Catrina. I’d like a job as a lady’s maid, please.”

The butler looked askance at the Shovel she carried over one shoulder. “Are you familiar with the, er, requirements of the position, miss?”

When Catrina indicated that she wasn’t, the butler proceeded to explain exactly what the job of being a lady’s maid entailed. As he did, Catrina became more and more astonished. “I’m sorry,” she said, interrupting the butler as he was just getting to Afternoon Tea, “what about the act of getting dressed requires help? I’ve been dressing myself since I was four. It’s not terribly complicated.”

“The Lady cannot be expected to dress herself,” the butler said importantly. “It would tire her out, when she must save her strength for her social engagements.”

“I see,” said Catrina. “The act of sitting around and talking is somehow so exhausting that one cannot even summon the strength to pull on one’s one dress or tie up one’s own boots.”

The butler appeared scandalized. “Madam, I’m afraid you would not be suitable for this position!”

“I’m beginning to think not,” Catrina said.

She was just starting to walk away when she heard a burst of laughter from inside. “No, Mr. Falken, really, I think she is perfectly suitable! You must hire her at once.”

“But, my lady, she isn’t…” the butler said nervously.

“Of course she is! I’ve been wishing someone would say what she did for years. They’ve been flinging lady’s maid candidates at me till I’m sick, haven’t they? Well, she’s the exact one I want.”

Mr. Falken sighed. “Very well, my lady. If you insist.” He turned to Catrina. “It seems, er, you have the position. If you’d still be interested?” He said this in a way indicating that he really hoped she wasn’t.

“I am, rather,” said Catrina.

The butler surrendered to the inevitable, and motioned her inside. “You’ll be provided with proper uniforms, of course, and rooms in the servant’s quarters. I suppose first you’d better meet the mistress.”

Catrina was quickly ushered into the formal sitting room. Only one person was there, the rest of the family evidently being out on errands. She was of average height, with brown hair that fell to her shoulders, and wide eyes in a roundish face. “Miss Catrina,” the butler said, “may I present the lady Susan, daughter of Lord Blackacre.”
“Susan?” gasped Catrina.

“Yes,” Susan said. “Have we met?”



This has been another exciting episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. For other adventures with Catrina and Susan, you can visit my Amazon page, or if you’re so inclined you can find me on Goodreads as well. Thanks for reading!


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  1. Haha, I think someone to assist with dressing is a silly thing, too! Nice twist on the ‘meeting’ of Susan.

    • Exactly. I could just see needing help to do up buttons on the back of one’s dress (I gather sometimes that’s tricky), but beyond that….

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