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(A short story of 2233 words)

Jack Black, Rat-Catcher

Historical Fiction Literary

by Yasmin Keyani

When Jack Black, Rat-catcher and Mole destroyer by appointment to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, comes to visit he brings hope and love for broken heart

The nine o’clock chimes ebb away from the grandfather clock I’ve been dusting. It is a sneezy job and not one I enjoy, but now the dust in my nose is replaced by the scent of violets. Such a sweet, springtime smell. It lifts my spirits, makes me want to laugh, until I realise where it is coming from.
Mrs Havelock is standing behind me, waiting impatiently. She is always quiet as a mouse in her soft leather shoes and has been known to like catching servants out.
‘Morning miss,’ I say quickly, holding the duster behind my back.
She eyes me beadily, ‘Eliza, a Mr Black will be here later this morning. Ask Cook to put aside a slice of pie and a glass of beer for him. I do feel a complimentary tray of wholesome fayre would reflect well on this house. I did tell her last night, but you know how contrary Cook can be.’
I nod. If ‘contrary’ means she won’t do as she’s told and will throw a ladle if provoked, then contrary she surely is. I do hope Cook, or Missus B as she likes to be known, is in a good mood.
‘And get Rupert up and dressed and ready to receive Mr Black. When you meet someone who works for Queen Victoria, you really must make the very best impression.’ She smiles at the thought of our Majesty.
I nod again, ‘Indeed Miss.’
‘And ask Mr Black to leave his bill,’ she takes up her bag and adjusts her bonnet, ‘I do hope he can help dear Rupert.’ Her face suddenly squeezes like she’s chopping onions...

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