Drusilla was back in Blighty after her week in Turkey. Now she
had to post last minute cards and mark a load of mock papers.
Thank goodness her mother was doing all the Christmas cooking
down in Bradford-on-Avon. She was enjoying being looked after by
Diana, and her father, Augustus, would arrive for Christmas in a few
days, bringing a goose, apparently, as his festive contribution.
Added to the seasonal burden of activity, she had to make a visit to
Great-Aunt Augusta in Snodland Nursing Home for the Debased Gentry.
She had let her father off the hook, as far as accompanying her,
as he had a prostate appointment, but the demanding self-appointed
materfamilias really preferred to have a one-to-one session with her
new-found female relative, Dru suspected.
Dru telephoned the care home beforehand, to check that the old
battleaxe was still in the Land of the Living. No use in wasting petrol.
She spoke to switchboard and was connected to her aunt’s room
Yes, dear. Did you get that money? I never trust postmen nowadays..
Yes, thank you. I’ll be down on Tuesday afternoon.
You bought the Turkish Delight I asked you to get me?
Good. Edward Pevensie’s favourite!
Who is Edward..? (Maybe it was some old codger she played
Haven’t you read the Chronicles of Narnia? her aunt broke in.
I give sweet things to the staff here. That’s what The White Witch
did. Good for controlling minions.
Drusilla began to have serious doubts that she should have indulged
the old bat’s whims, especially if she was going to be manipulative
with the spoils.
Like The Queen of Narnia, her great-aunt had no children of her own
and was probably making a move to adopt her grand-niece. Great-Aunt
Augusta seemed to share the evil child enslaver’s regal propensity for
focussing on the negative aspects of others’ characters and playing
down any faults of her own. But the aged relative was actually openly
admitting to corrupting others by creating sugar cravings.
Dru realised that she was genetically linked to a witch!
The next thing will be that she starts to blame lying fauns for her
detected wrongdoings, Dru mused, while the old fiend rattled on.
I’ve looked out all the old photos, Aunt Augusta continued. There’s
one of your father lying naked on a sheepskin rug, aged about six
Can’t wait, lied Dru. Oh, someone’s at the door. Must go! See you
She wasn’t lying. A member of the allegedly untrustworthy Guild
of Hermes was holding out a contraption on which she had to inscribe
an identifying mark. He was standing in a veritable Laocoon of elastic
Merry Christmas, love! he smiled, holding out a padded envelope which
should have been able to have been slipped through the letterbox. He
was lingering just a fraction too obviously, in keeping with the time of
year. Ah no, to be fair, it required a signature.
Thanks! replied Dru. Same to you. And she shut the door somewhat
For once, the package was actually addressed to her and wasn’t for
the neighbours. It had been re-directed from the school boarding
house. Gosh! The office staff must still be working.
What could it be and who was it from?
At least the postperson hadn’t put one of those wretched cards
through the letterbox, necessitating a scurried trip to the office to
collect whatever it was.
She took a creased fiver from her purse and hurried out in her slippers.
He was easy to spot in his luminous waistcoat.
Merry Christmas! She tipped him just before he chalked some esoteric
symbol on their gate post, which would have meant that their mail
would possibly have been permanently re-directed to Lapland.
Cheers! he grinned, dropping a couple more elastic bands on the path
in his adrenalin rush of greed and pushing his trolley into the lane.
Oh well, Aunt Augusta’s over-generous paper flourish had come in handy
after all. Yet, every gift seemed to be a bribe of one sort or another.
She looked at the sender label on the back of the package. Cryptically it
only read: “Caligula” and was postmarked as having originated in Cornwall.
She ripped the padded envelope open. A little black velvet pouch with
drawstrings was revealed. She pulled the knotted strings and a fine gold
chain with a tiny gold harp slid into the palm of her hand. A card
accompanied the gift and it said:
To My Angel xx
What is the subtext? she asked herself.
Dru! Who was that?
No one, she lied. Just something for the neighbours.