Unfinished Business, Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

Brenda looked up from the playmat where the twins were constructing a section of the Great Wall of China out of Lego. Davie was looking worried as he dashed around the TARDIS console and there was something in the movement of the ship through the vortex that was just slightly wrong. When a section of the Great Wall suddenly collapsed under an unexpected vibration she knew that her instinct was right.

"What's happening?" she asked.

"We're being pulled by something," Davie answered. "I don’t know what it is - not an object - some sort of force."


"I don’t know. Lie down on the mat with the boys and I’ll turn on the anti-grav around you."

That meant he expected a bumpy ride. She had the boys lie down either side of her and put her arms around them. Sebastian complained that he couldn’t repair the model, but Marcus was happy to snuggle beside her as the TARDIS bucked and yawed and span around. Being on the floor with her eyes shut was the best way to deal with this sort of problem. The anti-grav felt like an invisible blanket, though it was exerting far more pressure than that as the floor became a wall and they rolled over several times.

Davie clung to the console and fought to bring the craft under his control but there was little he could do. When the console room briefly righted itself he abandoned the effort and ran to lie with his wife and children as the TARDIS went into an unscheduled landing at an unknown destination.

"Wherever we're going, we're going together," he told Brenda. "Nothing can be so bad as long as we're together."

Brenda could think of a lot of things that could be bad just BECAUSE they were together, but she didn't have time to name them. The TARDIS was materialising in a very strange way. The walls kept phasing out and revealing something very different outside, and there was a noise that penetrated her head and made it difficult to think.

It was difficult to do anything. She couldn't stay awake. She gripped the two children's hands and tried to remember their names. She felt her husband holding her tightly but his name, too, was difficult to recall as she lost consciousness.

She woke in a comfortable place. Soft cushions were supporting her head and the surface beneath her body was upholstered. She was warm - the warmth came from directly in front of her, and there was a crackling sound she loved - from an open wild fire like the house she grew up in.

Brenda opened her eyes and sat up. The crackling real log fire was familiar, but not the hearth it was burning in or the huge, elaborate marble surround that was almost as tall as she was. Above it was an almost life-size portrait of a lady in Tudor dress whose severe expression seemed directed towards Brenda in a critical way.

This was a drawing room, a very large and comfortably appointed but curiously old-fashioned drawing room in a substantial house. Curiously, there was room for two big sofas and a pair of armchairs as well as padded footstools and low tables covered with linen cloths and decorated with vases and ornaments.

Brenda thought that this was a room small children didn't come into often. There was no guard on the fire and all those vases within reach of clumsy fingers wouldn’t last two minutes.

There were two huge windows on adjacent walls of the room. Brenda stood and walked to the closest one. She drew back the curtain to see what was outside.

Nothing was outside. Literally nothing. It was a void even emptier than deep space.

She stood back, pulling the curtain across the frightening sight that made the warmth and cosiness of the room suddenly sinister and cold.

Without conscious thought about it she stepped back to the sofa where she had been lying. She was puzzled to see a silver tray with teapot and cups, milk, sugar, and a plate of fresh sandwiches - thin white bread with the crusts cut off and cut into triangles.

She looked at the closed door to the rest of the house. It was a big, heavy door made of panelled dark wood. It could not have been opened without some kind of sound. Besides, she had only turned away for a matter of seconds.

She could smell the hot fragrance of the tea even through the pot. She sat and poured a cup, adding a single lump of sugar and a dash of milk. The ordinariness of the action in such extraordinary circumstances was strangely comforting.

She had poured a second cup and was reaching for a third delicate triangle of cucumber sandwich when she realised what was missing from this room.

The twins were in bunk beds. That in itself was exciting. At home at Brooklands, in the TARDIS, and in the lodge house by the lake on Tibora where their grandparents and uncle Philip lived they had side by side beds.

Seb looked over the edge of the top bunk to his brother and grinned.

"Look at all the toys," he said.

The room was filled with toys for boys from a time when nobody thought about gender conformity or lead paint as considerations when making purchases. A beautiful rocking horse in vibrant carousel colours was the biggest feature. From the bottom bunk Mark reached that first while his brother settled for the model of a Ferris wheel that moved when a handle turned and could seat small hand crafted figures that waited their turn on the ride. All over the floor were spinning tops, toy soldiers, drums, toy horns. Bi-planes were suspended from the ceiling on their very own air race. Model cars were parked under the dressing table. A fort full of US cavalry defended themselves against hordes of Red Indians without a nod to revisionism or political correctness.

After they had both tried out the rocking horse the twins settled down to a game in which the soldiers were Earth Federation soldiers from the forty-fifth century and the Indians vicious Ferro-Hordes attacking the colony world, then they reversed the roles and had a group of native Barrou defending their city against the fearsome Dominators. Later still, both soldiers and Indians became the besieged people of Badzi, under attack from a giant furry bear-like monster that Mark found under the bunk beds.

When they both felt hungry and thirsty they noticed a tray on the side table containing glasses of home-made lemonade and tasty snack treats. They ate happily, without worrying about where the refreshments came from or how it was that they were in an antique playroom.

"Mum and dad must know we're here," Seb decided. "They wouldn't have left us if we were in danger. We can stay until they come for us."

Mark frowned as if something wasn’t quite right with his brother's suggestion, but there were still plenty more of the retro toys to play with and he quickly forgot his doubts.

"Seb, Mark!" Brenda called out. "Boys, where are you? Davie?"

At first, she panicked. She grabbed at the door handle and tried to open it. The heavy door wouldn’t budge. The thought that she was locked in this room on her own frightened her nearly as much as being separated from her boys.

Then she realised that the door wasn't locked. The brass knob was just very stiff and she needed both hands to turn it. Slowly it moved and she felt the door give. She pulled it open and stepped out into the hallway beyond.

After their lunch, the two boys tried to play again, determined to get the most out of their time, but they quickly got tired. Mark gave up first and climbed onto the bottom bunk. He was already asleep when Seb stretched beside him, too weary to climb the ladder to the top bunk.

The hall was wide with polished wood floors except for a long Persian carpet leading from the bottom of the stairs to the front door. Like most hallways an assortment of furniture had accumulated there over the years. Side tables and chests supported a variety of ornaments including a heavy-looking but decidedly ugly statuette of a bird about to take flight and a porcelain cat that could well be channelling the spirit of the Egyptian cat god, Bast. An umbrella stand by the door contained one black umbrella and a stout walking stick.

Brenda thought she would throw the whole lot in a skip and have the place painted in nice, bright, inviting colours if it were up to her.

The ‘front’ door was strange. Brenda looked at it for a long time before she realised what was wrong.

It was a solid piece of wood with no keyhole, no letter box, and no hinges. It was just fixed there in the wall as if fashion dictated that there should be a door, but not that it should be a functioning means of passing from the house to outside.

There was no way to open that door, and even if there had been, what would be outside but the same void beyond the windows.

She turned away from the front door. There was another internal door to the right, and a corridor going past the stairs. The boys or Davie might be in any of those places.

Davie was in a library. It was an impressive room with a very high ceiling and a mezzanine level where shelves were packed with more books than the main floor could contain. They were all leather bound with gilt titles. Expensive volumes as much for show as for reading.

On the ground level there was a long polished desk with sturdy chairs for serious study and a pair of armchairs for more relaxing reading. A globe in brass fittings sat on a table between the two armchairs. Davie noted that it wasn't representing any planet he recognised. There were no continents and oceans, only a swirling miasma. It was not a planet he would consider visiting.

He had already noticed the void beyond the tall window. That was odd, but for the moment not as odd as the huge painting over the fireplace.

It was a portrait of a woman in sixteenth century clothing – something like the severe, puritanical style of the Cromwellian inter-regnum - black taffeta and crisp white lace. She was probably in her late forties, long past the bloom of youth, but with a kind of mature beauty that would have some young men falling over themselves to pay court to her.

Not him, he decided firmly. What disturbed him, apart from the cruel half smile and eyes that seemed to bore into the observer, was that he felt he recognized the woman from somewhere.

“Can’t be,” he told himself. “I don’t know any Cromwellian matrons.”

Perhaps this had once been her house, but if it was, then it was a long time past. There was an old-fashioned look to the heavy furniture made in an age when big drawing rooms were normal, the ornately decorated wallpaper, the elegant gasolier hanging from the ceiling - but not that old-fashioned. There was an Edwardian gentility about the room. It felt like the place where a man would get away from the women of the house and pursue genteel but manly hobbies.

There were other things he ought to be doing. He felt that very strongly in the back of his mind. But the library intrigued him enough for now.

There was certainly something odd about it. A very quick perusal of the books on the shelves told him that ‘odd’ was too kind a word for it.

There was something downright sinister about a library full of fake books.

A corridor with a bare, flag-stoned floor and three steps down led to a large kitchen that pre-dated electricity. Somebody had rigged up power to a huge refrigerator, but Brenda decided she had no intention of touching the plug point.

An old-fashioned Welsh dresser was full of crockery, while thoroughly scrubbed pans hung from the ceiling along with bunches of drying herbs. A big wooden table filled most of the stone-flagged floor. A black-leaded kitchen range warmed what might have been a cold room.

There was a woman standing beside the range stirring something in a pan. She turned with the pan and poured the contents into a mixing bowl. She then took a box of cereal from a cupboard and added that to what proved to be melted chocolate. This she spooned onto a greased tray in small heaps.

“Hello,” she said, looking up from her task. “Chocolate crispies. I thought the boys might like them.”

“Boys?” Brenda answered. “My boys?”

The woman looked just a little older than Brenda with long blonde hair tied back neatly in a pony tail. She wore a plain cotton dress and a cardigan. She wore no make-up and had the ‘well-scrubbed’ look of somebody who frequently worked in a kitchen.

“Yes, I suppose they must be,” she answered after considering the question. “I’m Alice. I do the cooking around here. You’re new, of course.”

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Brenda said. “I am looking for my children and my husband.”

“They will be in the house,” Alice told her. “In their appropriate places. I cook… so I am in the kitchen.”

“Not always, surely?” Brenda questioned, even though finding the rest of her family was important to her. Finding out exactly what was happening in this strange house was important, too. If she knew that, she might know why they were here and how they got there.

“Not always what?” Alice asked.

“Not always in the kitchen. You must sleep, sometimes. You must have a bedroom, at least.”

Alice considered that question carefully.

“No… I don’t think so. I cook. That’s all.”

“That doesn’t make sense. You can’t cook all the time.”

Alice didn’t seem to understand Brenda’s point. She continued making the chocolate treats and only adding, by her very presence, to the mystery.

“Where are we, anyway?” Brenda asked. “This house… what is it, whose is it, and where is it?”

“It’s… the house,” Alice replied. “And it’s….”

Her voice trailed off as if she really couldn’t answer the question.

“How long have you lived here?”

“I’ve always been here,” Alice replied. She stared for a long, uncertain moment, at the spoon in her hand. “I can’t really remember…. I think…. No, there’s nothing. I’ve always been here. I cook….”

“This is hopeless,” Brenda sighed. “Where are my children?”

“They are children… they will be in the children’s room,” Alice answered. “We all have our place in the house.”

“I don’t. I have a house of my own. It’s in Surrey. It has the remains of a race track around it, which makes it a really STRANGE house, but it’s where I live, with my husband and my boys, and we’re going back there as soon as I find them and the TARDIS.”

Again, it seemed as if Alice didn’t hear anything that didn’t fit her view of the world around her – which seemed to consist of this kitchen.

"The boys like chocolate crispies," Brenda added. "But that's far too many for them to eat at once. they'll be sick."

With that, she turned and walked out of the kitchen.

Davie was on the mezzanine floor confirming his first conclusion about the books when he saw the young man come into the library. He was tall, thin and red-haired. He walked to the book cases under the mezzanine where Davie lost sight of him. He had to go back down the stairs to confront him.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

"I'm Alex," the young man answered. "I needed a book on electromagnetics."

"There aren't any books here," Davie replied.

“Of course there are," Alex replied, waving his hand to indicate the rows of books.

“They’re all blank."

Alex looked at Davie as if he had just said something in ancient Greek and then picked a book out of the section with titles relating to electronics. He opened it and appeared to read some of it then turned and sat at the table to study the book.

"It's BLANK!" Davie insisted. He snatched the book away and confirmed that the pages were clean white paper and then threw it back to Alex who settled to studying it again. "Why do you ned to know about electromagnetics anyway?"

"I'm a scientist," Alex answered. "I make things... electronic things. I made a machine that can receive radio waves from the universe, and another that sends out electromagnetic signals. I hope it will attract a fellow scientist who can help me."

"Help you do what?" Davie asked.

"Help me to... to...." Alex looked uncertain for a moment.

"To escape from this house?" Davie asked. For a brief moment Alex looked relieved, as if he was glad somebody else had said the words he didn't want to say.

He didn't want to say out loud that he was a prisoner.

"I need somebody to... to help me to experiment and build my machines. Are you a scientist?"

"No," Davie responded. He reached quickly and tore a page out of the blank book allegedly about electromagnetics and even more quickly turned it into a model of Leonardo da Vinci's flying machine. "I do origami."

Alex was singularly unimpressed by his sleight of hand. He protested about the vandalism to his book.

"You've got plenty more blank pages," Davie retorted. "Don't waste my time."

The twins woke from their post-lunch nap and saw the plate of chocolate crispies. Mark quickly calculated that there were twenty-four of the treats piled up.

"That's twenty times more sugar than we ought to eat," Seb decided. "Mum would not like it. We should have two each and leave the rest."

They were children, even if they were Time Lord children who understood about the food values of chocolate, so they took the four biggest cakes.

"We need to wash our hands and faces now," Seb pointed out. "There must be a bathroom somewhere."

Mark agreed. Besides, after finding the necessary room for more than hand-washing, they might explore other parts of the house.

From the kitchen Brenda found herself in a different place than she expected. Surely the passage should have gone back to the hallway, not to a dining room.

Like the drawing room it was an elegant if a little old-fashioned space. The dining table itself was highly polished mahogany and it was set with fine china and silver ware, crystal glasses and tall candle sticks. On a side table were dishes and tureens ready for food to be served in them.

The windows were covered with curtains, shutting out the sinister void.

At the head of the table, like a rather less fragile Miss Haversham, was the woman from the painting in the drawing room. She was carefully slicing an apple with a sharp knife and eating the segments.

"Who are you?" she asked as Brenda approached. “I wasn't told of new arrivals."

"I am Brenda Campbell, she answered. "Who are you?”

The lady sighed and some of the imperious way in which she had addressed Brenda faded.

"I am the first of the lost who exist within these walls," she answered. "The others .. Alice, Alex, the other young man... the little boy ... they came later. That's why they still have names... I can never remember those two. The young man spends all his time in the observatory... It is up in the tower. My old bones aren't capable of climbing those stairs. And the child won’t come near anyone other than Alice. She tempts him with food. He doesn’t talk much even to her. As for me... my name has been forgotten as I have been forgotten."

"I've seen Alice," Brenda said. "She has trouble with difficult questions. I suppose you are the same."

"I can answer any question you care to ask," the lady answered. "The answers might not please you."

Whether the answers pleased her or not wasn't Brenda's problem. It was more like deciding which of the dozens of questions to ask first.

"Do you know where my husband and children might be?" she decided would do for starters.

The room the twins found after their bathroom break was even more exciting than the playroom.

It wasn't obvious what the purpose of this room was, unless it was a sort of museum. The theme appeared to be India. Exotic weapons from the subcontinent were mounted on the wall. A jewelled turban was set upon a bronze bust of a maharaja. A whole pack of pewter elephants marched in procession across a low table. A silver garuda and a seated Buddha faced each other on another surface.

In the centre of the room was a fountain in the shape of a mountain upon a silver base supported by four serpents who stood on the edges of a lake. The water cascaded over the edge of the silver plate, showering the serpents and pooling in the lake.

"It must drain away somewhere, " Seb concluded after looking at it for a while. "Otherwise the floor would be wet."

Mark agreed. Seb noted that he had donned the jewelled turban - despite it being far too big for him. Not to be outdone, Seb slipped a large bracelet on his arm and put a pith helmet on his head before the two of them set about playing with the set of elephants and a rearing tiger statuette that was wildly out of scale.

In the midst of their game a boy came into the room. He was three or four years older than the twins, but he seemed happy to join in their game.

"I'm Percival," he said. The boys gave their names. "I play in here all the tine. Alice says I shouldn't. She says these things are valuable and not toys at all, but I like this room."

“There are a lot of sharp things," Seb noted. "No touching them."

Percival pulled a face as if he didn't need reminding of the dangers of a room full of edged weapons and firearms, especially not by somebody younger than him.

"I found something new," he said. "Do you want to see?”

"Is it dangerous?" Mark asked.

"I dont think so," Percival answered. "It's in the tower room. Benedict saw it first, but he doesn’t know what it’s for. I bet you won't either. "

"I bet we will," Seb responded, pushing the pith helmet up off his eyes. "Show us."

The lady couldn't tell Brenda exactly where Davie and the twins were, though she was sure the children were safe.

“There really isn't anything harmful here. It is just that none of us can leave."

"You mean this house is a sort of prison?" Brenda had suspected as much, but it was useful to have it confirmed.

"Not exactly. More a sort of purgatory for those of us sent here."

"Purgatory? You mean you're dead?"

"Death would be a change. The worst of this is that it never changes."

"Well, I’m not dead, and im not in purgatory. I’m going to find my family and we're getting out of here."

"I wish you luck," the Lady said doubtfully. "Others have said the same and they have not succeeded."

"I'm not them," Brenda declared as she turned away. She hoped she was right. So far, she hadn’t even come close to finding either the children or Davie. The prospect of searching a maze of rooms with odd people in each of them and never finding her own loved ones was disconcerting.

"I'll find then," she told herself decisively.

The winding stairs in the slender tower were exciting. There were no windows and nothing on the plain stone walls to indicate how far they had come. They might be climbing forever. But before it got boring they reached a wooden door. It opened with a creak into a room with a glass domed roof. The large telescope that dominated the room would have been interesting if there were any stars beyond the glass.

"Those star charts are blank," Seb pointed out as he glanced at the sheets of parchment fixed to the wall.

"They are not," replied a thin man with horn-rimmed glasses. "I filled them in myself from my observations."

"They’re blank," Mark said, backing up his brother. "And so is the sky. But we don’t care because you’ve got the TARDIS over there."

He pointed to a tall cabinet standing in the corner. It had not disguised itself particularly well this time. It was just a cabinet with a ying-yang symbol on it - adopted long ago by Davie and Chris Campbell as the logo that appeared on everything important to them - especially their TARDISes.

“That’s the thing," Percival told them. "It appeared here like magic."

"It can’t be magic,” protested the astronomer, Benedict. “There is no such thing. There has to be a scientific explanation."

"Yes," Seb answered him. "It is a TARDIS. It belongs to our dad."

He walked up to the cabinet and held his hand up to the ying-yang symbol. The door slowly opened. Seb and Mark stepped inside. They turned and looked around. Percival and Benedict were gazing inside the TARDIS in astonishment, but neither crossed the threshold.

"We can’t go in there," Benedict said, holding Percival back from trying. "It is... forbidden."

"Ok, bye, then," Seb answered and closed the door.

"We can’t drive the TARDIS," Mark pointed out.

They couldn't even reach most of the controls. Even they forgot sometimes that they were four years old. They had a vocabulary of far older humans and thought much faster. Their father had already started teaching them many of the fundamental lessons a young Time Lord-to-be needed. Even so, there were limitations, still, to what they could do because they were, after all, only four years old.

"Think about dad," Seb told his brother. "Hold onto the TARDIS and think of him. It will find him.”

The Time Lords who designed the long defunct model known as the Chinese TARDIS for its interior design never imagined it could be navigated that way. But they did make the machine semi-sentinent and they installed the imprimatur that linked it psychically to its pilot. So when the children of the pilot, with so much of his DNA in their bodies, touched the console and made a wish, it should have come as no surprise to anyone when the wish was granted.

Well, anyone except the two people standing outside. The disappearance of the TARDIS from the observatory was pure magic to Percival. Benedict insisted that it was science, but he couldn’t explain it within his knowledge of science. He gave up and admitted that it might be magic after all.

Alex's science was a little more advanced than his brother's, but even he couldn't explain when the TARDIS materialised in the library. Davie laughed triumphantly and ran to hug his two sons as they came to the door.

"What's with the exotic headgear?" he asked as he pulled Mark's jewelled turban up off his eyes.

"Just a game we were having with Percival," Seb explained from under his pith helmet. "They can’t come into the TARDIS. It's forbidden. "

Davie looked at Alex thoughtfully.

"This weird house occupies a null time spatial dimension?"

Alex nodded as if he understood most of the words.

"Not exactly forbidden,” Davie guessed. “But certainly risky. You might be torn apart by the spatial flux."

Again Alex nodded.

"I can't help you. I dont think I SHOULD help you. I think there is a reason you are here and it’s not up to me to interfere. I'm going to find my wife and then we're leaving. You go and turn off all your electromagnetic gismos that pulled us into your dimension in the first place."

Alex again nodded. Now he knew that Davie was a far superior scientist he was more than a little in awe of him. He practically scurried away to do his bidding as Davie ushered the boys, odd headwear and all, back into the TARDIS.

Brenda was in the basement, surrounded by broken toys, cleaning equipment, spider webs and, for no particular reason, a tin bath full of ripe watermelons. She had reached the basement without descending any stairs, leading her to conclude that there was something very wrong with the internal geography of the house.

She was also beginning to have the smallest glimmer of doubt about finding her husband and children. The phrase 'perhaps the Lady was right' hovered in the edge of her conscious thoughts where optimism was still holding it back. It was a siege that might have collapsed very soon, though, if she had not heard the welcome sound of the TARDIS materialising.

"What are they wearing?" she asked her husband as she tried to hug him and the boys at the same time.

"Don’t ask. Just come in and close the door. If Alex has shut everything down like he should we won’t have any trouble getting out of here."

He had and they didn't. But as they resumed their flight through the vortex and the boys, still wearing their odd souvenirs, resumed their construction project, Brenda noticed something that didn't belong in the console room. Davie left the navigation control to examine it with her.

It was a model of a house. Not a doll’s house for children to play with, since it was made of fine ceramic, but a model of a gothic mansion which was open at the back to show the rooms.

The rooms they had all wandered through.

“Oh….” Brenda reached into the model and lifted out a small, but beautifully defined model of a young woman with a mixing bowl and spoon in her hands. “Alice.”

“This one looks like Alex,” Davie added, taking a figure from the library.

“Ohhh!” Brenda quickly returned the figure of Alice to the kitchen as a horrible thought came over her. “Is this them… turned to… to….”

“I think it is some kind of representation of their pocket dimension,” Davie answered, though he, too, was quick to return the Alex figure to the library. “It does explain why the books were blank, though.”

He turned from the model and spent a few minutes at the TARDIS database. He came back to where Brenda was looking at it closely, noting the exact detail of every room.

“The TARDIS search engine is better than Google,” he said. “I put in all the names we knew – Alex, Alice, Benedict, Percival and it came up with their story. Alex and Benedict Harvey were brilliant young science students in the fifty-eighth century. All round geniuses – physics, chemistry, biology - all the ‘ologies’ and more besides. But they let their ambitions get ahead of them. They were convicted of performing unauthorised experiments….”

“What sort of unauthorised experiments?” Brenda asked, noting Davie’s hesitancy.

“In their century, biology is taught using virtual reality cadavers. They wanted to try the real thing and started stealing bodies from the city mortuary. Sort of futuristic Burke and Hare.”


“Yukk is the word. As for Alice… you’re not going to like this. She murdered her own children with poisoned cakes.”


“Don’t panic. The boys are fine. She is obviously rehabilitated.”

“What about the little boy, Percival? He can’t be a criminal, too?”

“I’m not going to tell you what he did. You really will get upset. Again, our boys are fine. Nothing happened to them.” He looked at the model and reached for another figure. “I knew I recognised her portrait,” he said. “This is Lady Margery Peinforte. She’s NOT from the fifty-eighth century. Originally she was from the seventeenth. She was a murderess and a dabbler in all sorts of things that were half-magic, half-science. Granddad thought he had sorted her out, but it looks like she ended up making mischief in the time when they had developed pocket universe prisons with null point dimensions. They trap the prisoners in these tiny little worlds where no time passes. They never get old. They can never escape, and eventually they can’t even remember any life outside of their prison.”

“Horrible,” Brenda shuddered. “Or… well, its life of a sort. They’re ok. And they can’t commit any more crimes. But still….”

“Yes, I’m not sure about it, either,” Davie agreed. “Alex was trying to escape. His electromagnetic device pulled the TARDIS in. But it did him no good. He couldn’t leave. All it did was mess us about for a while.”

“If the boys hadn’t found the TARDIS we might have been there forever,” Brenda pointed out.

“Worse, it might have felt like forever. I’m not sure I can quite get my head around the fact that our four year old kids saved us. That’s quite a humbling thought for a prince of the universe!”

“It doesn’t hurt to be humbled now and again,” Brenda told him. “It will stop you getting conceited.”

She took the model of Lady Peinforte from Davie and replaced it in the dining room before turning the model to the front so that she couldn’t see the rooms and their occupants. She thought of a shelf in their drawing room where it might go as an odd kind of remembrance of a very odd adventure and made up her mind not to let any part of it worry her again.