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French maid Adeline, Fanella, Mirabelle, unexpectedly propelled in our contemporary timeline from their original pre-French Revolution Versailles condition…

(see Time Dragglers) The maids and Russians having fled in the hot air balloon from Versailles settle down into some intriguing village. Romance and complications soon appear.
We learn more about who is pulling the temporal strings, and how the Queens can once more save the day.

So the Story goes...

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  • The youngest maid, Adeline, quickly placed one of the rat like toys at the bottom of the large basket of laundry she had come to collect.

    The Queen has so many; she will not even notice this small one. And there are two of them. What does an old woman like the Queen want with toys? she reasoned.

    It was Adeline’s small brother’s birthday tomorrow and there would be no fine party for him. She knew he would love this strange toy.The few measly coins she received each week for slaving over her mistress left nothing for luxuries. It was barely enough to survive. Although she knew she should be grateful she was not on the streets like so many others. She noticed a small tear in the seam of the toy. All the better! If she were found out she could say she was taking it to mend. She knew if she were not believed there would be a heavy price to pay.

    The oldest maid, Mirabelle, quickly stuffed the other toy ferret into the queens cork bum basket that she was carrying. Furtively she glanced around to make sure nobody had seen her. Triumph! The Russians would be pleased with her success. She was looking forward to the rendezvous in the Folly at midnight.

    But Mirabelle’s sleight of hand had not gone unnoticed by Fanetta, the middle maid. Tsk tsk, she whispered nervously and quickly busied herself with the chamber pot, pretending not to have seen. She knew it was no good speaking out. The bossy Mirabelle would make her life hell.

    Sleep wouldn’t come, and the narrow wooden pew was hard. Cedric had shifted to every possible position trying to get comfortable, and succeeded only in cricking his neck. He eased himself off the pew and crept outside. It was a clear crisp night and the moon shone brightly in the chapel yard. A broad flat tomb beckoned him, looking more promising to stretch out on than the wooden seats inside. It was the tomb of the 14th century mystic (often called witch) , Marguerite Isabeau. Many had claimed to see Isabeau flying around at night, draped in white robes.
    Lying flat on his back on the tomb, with his cork bum as a pillow, Cedric wrapped the voluminous white choir boys robes around his body. Despite the chill air, he dozed off, dreaming of lemon pavlova.


    Igor Popinkin kept to the darkness beneath the trees as he made his way towards the Folly for the rendezvous with Mirabelle. The moon was bright and it was imperative that he stay well hidden. The shortcut through the chapel yard was an open stretch of ground where he might be spotted, but it was unlikely for there to be anyone there at this hour. He was so close now that he mustn’t made any rash mistakes now and spoil it. Igor paused momentarily, reminding himself to be fully present at all times and paying attention. That’s when he noticed Marguerite Isabeau, risen from the grave again ~ although not very far from it, in this instance, as she was lying on top of it, quite motionless. As if drawn by a magnet, he inched slowly towards her, mesmerized by her ghostly beauty. Closer and closer, until he was standing over her, peering down at her scarlet lips. His hot breath and specks of dribble running down her chin woke her, and she opened her eyes.


    “Am I dreaming?” asked Cedric breathlessly. “Or are you an angel?”
    “No, you’re an angel”, replied a baffled Popinkin.
    “Why thank you sweetie, oooh, a Russian angel! Love your accent ~ fancy meeting you here!”
    “Where were you expecting to meet me then?” Igor replied, even more puzzled. “You mean you were expecting me, Marguerite?”
    “Marguerite who?”
    “Isabeau. You!” Exasperated with the conversation and confusion, and remembering his rendevous with Mirabelle, Popinkin said “Look, I have to go, but meet me here at the same time tomorrow night.”
    Cedric sighed, but he did note that his stiff neck had gone and he felt much happier.

    “I don’t know why Cook is making such a fuss about that missing knife, making us all feel like suspects!” complained Mirabelle to the other maids, as they lined up shivering in the chilly servants quarters, to take turns splashing their faces in bowl of cold water.
    “That’s not the only thing that’s gone missing, either” added Fanella, glancing at Mirabelle with a knowing look. Mirabelle nodded, looking over at Adeline with a raised eyebrow. “The queen’s ferrets have gone missing too.”

    “Tu es betes comme tes pieds,” muttered Adeline under her breath. (She muttered the small insult in french, to add some couleur locale to the story). Inwardly though, her heart clutched with fear. Both the ferrets were missing! A tumble of panicked thoughts rushed through her head. Should she return the ferret and say she took it for mending? No, they would not believe she had just the one and would beat her without mercy for the other. She had seen it happen to others for much lesser crimes.

    Oh dear Mother of God, I wish I had never touched the stupid toy. If only I could go back in time and do things over.

    All of a sudden a feeling of great peace came over her. A feeling of clarity. She must pray! She must throw herself on the mercy of Mother Mary and the Saints. May they forgive her for her sins. First opportunity she got she would sneak in the secret way to the chapelle and pray to Mother Mary for help.

    Mirabelle’s harsh voice interrupted her. “Are you listening, Adeline! I said those floors won’t wash themselves.”

    Sadie was using the sewing app on her e-zapper to modify the horrible garments provided for them, when she noticed that the ferret was moving toward the chapel. She felt a rush of anticipation go through her.

    ”Okay, you guys, we need to hide. Someone is coming and it looks like they have a ferret on them!”


    ”Oh Dear Blessed Mother Mary, and if there are any Saints or Angels listening, please help me. I have done something very bad and done an awful sin and and I don’t want to be beaten so please forgive me. I am so sorry for taking the little toy. It was for my little brother because it is his birthday coming up, but it is a sin to steal and also to think that the Queen is old and ugly and please have mercy on me and I promise I will never sin again and I will serve you the rest of my life. I won’t be rude to Mirabelle, even though she is a bad sinner and quite mean. I will only do good and smile and think good things. I will say my prayers every night. So please have mercy on me and make sure I don’t get in trouble. I am leaving the little toy here for you and you can do what you think is best. But don’t tell anyone I left it”

    ”Please.” she added again, for good measure.

    Feeling satisfied that she had done all she could, Adeline placed the toy ferret gently in front of the statue of Mary, and silently slipped out of the chapel.

    In an attempt to set a good example for the younger less diligent maids, Mirabelle had over exerted herself. Truth be told, she had been nervous, and keeping busy had alleviated her worry. The meeting with Igor Popinkin had gone badly. When it became apparent that the romance between them had been a sham and she’d realized that it was a pretence merely to get the queens ferret, she became enraged and punched him squarely in the bollocks. While he was doubled over howling in pain, she grabbed the ferret back off him and ran out of the folly.
    But what was she to do with the ferret now? she wondered. Ah! I know! an idea popped into her head. The hot air balloon of the Theatre du Soleil. It would be found the next day, she knew, but she would not be implicated in the theft.

    “If you have any spare room in that basket, mademoiselle, can I come too?” asked Mirabelle, the oldest maid. “I feel like I’m stuck in the wrong time zone here, in this life of servitude. I am sure I was destined for much more interesting things than this.”
    “Well” said Sadie, “It would appear that there is plenty of room in this basket, because the dragglers are going with Sanso and the, er, singing frogs. Who else wants to go in the balloon?”
    “Would it be alright if Igor came?” asked Mirabelle, blushing.
    “You tart, Mirabelle, if Igor’s going then so am I! And Fanella.” Adeline piped up. “I am so done with all this religious stuff and praying to Mother Mary. Take me to the future!”
    “If Mirabelle’s taking Igor, then I want Boris to come too” said Fanella.
    Mirabelle and Adeline looked at Fanella in astonishment. “You kept that quiet, you tart!” the cried in unison.
    “I think Ivan should come too” added Adeline.
    Sadie raised an eyebrow. “Well then” she said. “ I hope one of you knows how to fly this balloon, because I’m going with Sanso. Bon Voyage!” And with that, she left them to it and rejoined the others.

    Mirabelle, did you have to bring that damn parrot? I can’t stand the endless squalking!” complained Adeline. “There is no respite, nowhere to go in this balloon to escape the endless nonsense talk of that bird.”
    Boris, always so resourceful, made her a pair of beeswax earplugs from one of the candles in the provisions basket that he had the foresight to bring.
    “My parrot has a name, you rude tart Adeline, her name is HuHu.” replied the wisest maid, adding prophetically, “You will be glad of her in due course, you can be sure of that.”

    “Are we nearly there yet?” asked Fanella, who was easily bored. The balloon had been drifting steadily westwards for almost two days. It had been decidedly chilly at that altitude, but the occupants had kept themselves warm with lashings of champagne and cognac and hard boiled eggs (much to HuHu’s disgust), thanks to Boris’s basket of provisions, but they had drained the last drops several hours ago.
    “We will have to land soon to replenish our supplies” said the practical Boris. “We have a long way to go yet, and we will soon be flying over the sea.”
    Perfect! thought Pseu, I will have an opportunity to acquire a bleu and white Quimper tile for my collection for the Folly in the City.
    “But it’s almost dark, Boris, can we land this thing in the dark?” asked Adeline.
    “It will be a perfect time to land, under the cloak of darkness. We don’t want to be attacked by superstitious peasants brandishing pitchforks.”
    “Oh splendid, will we be doing a spot of raping and pillaging?” asked Igor, cheering up at the thought.
    Mirabelle glared at him. “Pillaging, yes. Just the supplies that we need, and then back to the balloon!”

    The three maids waited in the balloon for most of the night, in increasing agitation. Mirabelle’s face was like thunder, imagining Igor ravishing the Breton wenches as they slept in their beds. As is often the case during a long tense wait in the black of night, the maids thoughts turned increasingly murderous, worry transposing to anger and thoughts of vengeance.
    The truth was that the Russians were having a great deal of difficulty finding any food. The peasants were starving and there was nothing to steal. Dreading returning to the balloon empty handed, they continued the fruitless search.
    Meanwhile Pseu was leisurely perusing ceramic tiles in the Locmaria quarter, unaware of the difficulties of the Russians.
    Eventually, the three men returned to the balloon, with nothing to show for their nights escapades. Mirabelle snorted derisively, resisting the urge to slap Igor.
    “It’s getting light” said Boris, “We really must leave now, food or no food. Let’s go!”
    The balloon rose just as the sun was casting a pinkish glow and the river mists were rising in ghostly wisps.


    Exhausted from lack of sleep, the occupants slept, taking turns to stay awake. Fanella was on the first watch, shivering and grumpy with hunger. Surreptitiously, she gobbled down a few foul tasting handfuls of lard. When it was Adeline’s turn to keep watch, she had a similar idea, and likewise swallowed some greasy globs of lard, thinking, as Fanella had done, that a few handfuls would not be missed. When the others took their turns on the watch, they also had similar ideas, erroneously assuming that nobody else had thought to do the same. By lunchtime, when they’d all had sufficient sleep, there was not a great deal of lard left. A dramatic and judgemental argument ensued with everyone accusing each other of monumental stupidity, but as Boris wisely pointed out, they were all equally to blame.
    “But we’re over the sea now, and we’re losing height!”
    Uh oh, said Pseu to herself. I can increase the wind speed to hurricane force, but that might be a bit too risky. Or I can allow the wind to resume it’s prevailing westerly course, but that wouldn’t help, they’d end up back where they came from and that would be catastrophic.
    “Perhaps I can help” whispered Belen telepathically. “If you think you can land the balloon on my decks.”
    It would be a tricky landing, but there was no other option. Quickly Pseu worked out the likely coordinates of the ultimate descent and beamed them to Belen.
    “The homing parrot will help” added Belen. “Follow the bird and adjust the wind direction accordingly.”

    The lard had run out and the descent was swift. Pseu deftly manipulated a few strategic updrafts to keep the balloon out of the water, causing the occupants to alternately shriek with fright and cross themselves fervently. HuHu the parrot was nowhere to be seen, and there was no sign of ghost galleon Santa Rosa.
    The ghostly image of Marguerite Isabeau the 14th century mystic, appeared in Igor’s mind, and her scarlet lips seemed to whisper to him. “You let me down, young man, and now I shall let you down, down down down to the bottom of the ocean, to punish you for leaving me waiting in the chapel yard……”.
    HuHu! HuHu!” called Mirabelle anxiously.
    “This is no laughing matter!” said Adeline sternly.
    While Mirabelle was rolling her eyes, she spotted the parrot, silouetted in the orb of the sinking sun. “Over there!” she cried, and Pseu responded with a final gust of such force that the six passengers toppled right out of the balloons basket into the sea.
    “Bugger!” exclaimed Pseu. “Bugger that!”

    Huhu dived in an unexpected move and snatched the key while tittering in a manic parrot cackle.
    “So long floaters, and thanks for all the fish.”

    Obviously it wasn’t by mistake that a parrot was lurking in Versailles biding for its time.


    Meanwhile, a cucumber free Irina was trying to get the hang of the commands of the new p-box that could allow for entering the minds of animals.

    On the empty box lying at her feet, one could read the usual side effects caveats, especially for the birds section: Birds are very tempting, but a p-boxer may soon lose contact to the mundane things of earth, and want only to fly.

    Mirabelle and Adeline sat in the morning sun on the verandah, appreciatively nibbling the perfectly formed sliced toasted bread and marmalade.
    Almost six months had passed since they’d been found on the beach, confused and soaked, babbling incoherently. An early morning beach walker had found them (she had wondered if she was dreaming or hallucinating), and had attempted to engage them in conversation. A rudimentary smattering of French acquired during a grape picking sojourn in France many years ago helped. Much of what the bizarrely clad group said was incomprehensible, but it was clear that they were lost and hungry, so Lisa invited them back home with her. They were reluctant to get into the car, fearing a trap, and when she started the engine, they panicked and scrambled to get back out until Boris calmed them down and suggested they had better trust this stranger because frankly, what were their options? She seemed kind and helpful, even if she was shockingly under dressed with her legs exposed for all to see, and had an invisible and very noisy horse pulling her carriage.
    Lisa lived in a relatively new community of creative and forward thinking individuals who were in the process of renovating an abandoned village in the orange groves. They called the village the Trading Post, a name that was a loose play on words on the social media platform where they had first become acquainted and traded and shared posts. They were a diverse assortment of people from all over the world, united with the common goal of experimenting with a new type of anarchist culture, a novel creative and expansive playful approach that was becoming increasingly popular.
    Pierre and Étienne’s knowledge of French had come to the rescue upon the first arrival of the group, as they unraveled their strange tale. After much confusing conversation and translations for the rest of the occupants of the village, it became clear that the group were time travelers, although somewhat accidental and clearly unprepared.
    While the travelers rested after an unfamiliar but welcome meal, the villagers discussed the situation with much interest and curiosity. It was decided that they would keep the news of the travelers a secret for the time being, and gradually assist them with learning about their new timeframe, current customs and the local languages.

    With years of intense Happiness training, and being herself a certified Happiness Coach™ in Rainbow Unified Bliss®, Lisa was reasonably adept at dispelling the occasional bouts of frustration that the six time travelers were experiencing while familiarizing themselves with the new time frame. Learning the new languages, both the local Spanish and the common language of the village tribe, English, was of paramount importance, and Mirabelle in particular was having difficulties. A basic vocabulary was easy enough, but when it came to grammar, Mirabelle was hopeless. Thus her communications were of a very basic and rudimentary nature, and she often felt unable to express her feelings, or her thoughtful observations on the many nuances, similarities and differences and overlaps of the current time and 18th century France. Not only was she obliged to learn two new languages, but was also learning to read and write. Often it seemed like all work and no play, too much pressure to perform, to learn, to do well at her studies, and yet play breaks were always frustrated in some manner because of her difficulties in communicating clearly. The fact that the others were progressing better with the languages made her feel alone, adrift in a sea of her own unexpressed thoughts.
    Adeline had a more relaxed approach to the language difficulties, less inclined to struggle with it and more likely to chatter endlessly to Boris instead, and ask him to translate when she needed some help. She had discovered an interest, and some considerable talent, in the art room, experimenting with the paints and materials, and spent many happy hours engrossed in her paintings and playful collages of mundane (but to her, bizarre) objects. She was like a magpie, collecting items that caught her eye. The bright colours and smoothness of plastic appealed to her, especially when transformed in shape by one of those odd little plastic fire making gadgets. Sunglasses were another favourite, especially the different shades of lens. It was not unusual to hear one of the villagers complaining that the lids to the tupperware containers were missing, or all the bottle tops had been removed, to find they had all been glued together, with the flyswatter, a few odd flipflop beach shoes and the mirror lenses out of someones shades. But the villagers were on the whole amused, generously indulgent, and good naturedley rolled their eyes at her creative curiosity.
    Boris was practical and capable, and true to form, was learning rapidly. He had no particular desire to express vague rambling thoughts (indeed, he was not a vague and rambling man by nature) and turned his attention to more practical matters. When he wasn’t chatting to Adeline, he was watching Jack tinkering inside car engines, or playing with Pierre’s camera and had quickly learned how to upload and play with the images on the computer. Often in the evenings Adeline would sit beside him and watch drowsily as the images changed in front of her eyes on the screen.
    Ivan and Igor were learning what they needed to learn while doing it ~ tending the goats and chickens, working outside on the land, or helping with various building projects. They had taken to the local bars like ducks to water, and spent the evenings downing copious amounts of beer and wine with the locals, all of them babbling and shouting incoherently, but seeming to understand each other in the camaraderie of inebriation.

    The sun slanted through the tree tops, projecting light beams through the rising river mist, creating ghostly shifting wisps. Fanella sat quietly on a log at the rivers edge, watching the elusive mist beings ascending, and wondering at the strangeness of it all. The only time she felt a sense of relaxed familiarity was when she was surrounded by nature ~ her solitary walks by the river or in the woods, far from the confusing distractions of people and unfamiliar objects and customs, kept her reasonably sane during this peculiar and unsettling time. She was homesick, that was the truth, and the futility of the nostalgia saddened her. There was no going back. Or was there?

    It was said long ago that the role of the parrot is that of opening communication centers. When this totem appears, one should look to see if one needs assistance in understanding views that are different from one’s own.
    Huhu didn’t care about any of these human assigned meanings to its existence.

    When the grip of Irina’s mind over Huhu the parrot was suddenly released, it found itself out of sight of the floating balloon and struggled to glide over the oceans’ air currents without losing too much altitude as well as precious degrees.

    The air was cold and the ocean had no end in sight, and if a parrot knew despair, Huhu would have succumbed to it already. But it was a brave parrot, as though inhabited by some divine spark, and it continued bravely, only guided by his senses.

    When it was about to faint from exhaustion, and dive dangerously close to the sea, was the precise moment when it noticed fumes swirling around in strange vortices erupting from the sea.
    A strange boat appeared at the surface with a shining light.

    Little did Huhu know, but it was the ghost galleon Santa Rosa which had a special thing for birds in distress, and would appear at times of need, a haven of luxuriant foliage and birds cackle, a benediction of safety in the turmoil of the seas.

    Nobody knew clearly when the galleon sunk, one of the last of his kinds in the Old Continent, probably around the early 1111s, but one thing was sure, it was a ghost ship long before Huhu was born and brought to Versailles in 1757.

    A ghostly form picked his soft body from the ground, delicately removing the key entangled on its foot, then placed the bird with great care on a bed of moss.

    We can go now Belen said the man to the whale captain of the ghost ship.
    Whale that! came the answer.

    “I’m looking for crew” the stranger said with a thick Russian accent as he bought all the men in the bar a beer, “No experience necessary! I need strong young men to help me sail to the Big Island.”
    Igor had no idea where the Big Island was, or indeed how to sail a boat, but he felt a strong overwhelming urge to accept the strangers offer. “Count me in!” he exclaimed in Russian. What a relief it would be to speak in his native tongue. Russia seemed so very far away, both in distance and in time. There was something timely about this mans unexpected appearance in the village bar, something fortuitous. Igor felt it, but couldn’t explain it. All he knew was that he was destined to sail away with this stranger.
    In truth, Mirabelle hardly crossed his mind. Leaving her would not worry him, although telling her he was leaving worried him a great deal.
    “We leave now” explained the stranger, much to Igor’s relief. “No time to lose, the winds are favourable tonight. Let’s go!”
    And with that, Igor left the village, without looking back.

    “You’re better off without him, really” Adeline said. “Igor would never have settled down with the likes of you, Mirabelle
    “What do you mean, the likes of me?” Mirabelle responded, wiping her eyes and sniffing.
    “You’re far too bossy for a man like that” replied Adeline tartly, pulling no punches.
    “But he needed someone like me to keep him in line! He goes off the rails quicker than a greased mermaid, always looking for trouble!”
    “Well, it’s too late now, he’s gone, and if trouble is what he’s after, then trouble he’ll find. Now, blow your nose and stop sniveling. Come on,” Adeline gave Mirabelle a quick hug. “It’s time for your driving lesson.”
    Mirabelle cheered up at that, she was enjoying the driving lessons. It was something she could excel at without worrying too much about languages and attempting to communicate vague rambling thoughts.

    “Not that!” snapped Lisa, uncharacteristically rudely. Adeline snatched her hand away, bewildered. “You can’t glue bits of plastic trash all over that, it’s special”
    “But it’s just a funny tile shaped bit of old rock!” said Adeline. “What’s so special about that?”
    “I don’t know, really” admitted Lisa. “I found it on the beach the other morning.”

    Belen quickly found out there was something amiss in the usual navigational patterns from her tile guidance system.

    Her initial plotted course to jump from Bay of Biscay 1757 to Hawai’i 2222 was almost whale calf’s play. Relying on the tiles beacons, it was easy for her to hone to an intermediate time, at the same location, from where it would be easier to navigate the ghost whaling boat. 2222 customs clearance was always a bother, as soon as human had started to time-travel, they had put unnecessary barriers around some key timezones such as this one.

    Her favourite stopover was on the other side of Galicia on the Mediterranean coast del Sol 2020, but then…

    Peetee Pois as Peter was affectionately called by Belen was the first to notice the sails of Барк Крузенштерн, the Krusenshtern swollen by the wind, seconds before they came crashing onto it, launching all the birds in a massive flock around the town that the tall ship had just left (coincidentally with Igor on board as one of the newest recruits of the Russian sail training ship).


    Lisa was still arguing with Adeline in broken Spanglish when they noticed the flock of birds at the horizon.
    — Something’s happening on the beach, Lisa snapped, quick let’s go have a look.

    Mirabelle, I have come back for you!”

    Igor! How, what …” Mirabelle gasped, lost for words.

    “I jumped overboard the ship and swam back. Sure, you are a bossy tart, but you look so hot when you put that birdcage on your head.”

    Mirabelle reddened. *“Ebanashka!” she cried, slapping his face.

    *crazy person in Russian

    Adeline deftly dodged Mirabelle’s flailing hand, almost spilling the mug of coffee all over the mangled bed sheets. “It’s just a dream, wake up! Here, I’ve made you coffee.”
    Mirabelle rubbed her eyes. “милый Adeline, you’re so kind and thoughtful. What would I do without you?”

    The door creaked open and a shy Igor entered with a big rainbow conch.
    Mirabelle, I have come back for you!”

    Igor! How, what …” Mirabelle and Adeline gasped, lost for words.

    “I jumped overboard the ship after I stole this miraculous conch and swam back…”

    Before he could say the rest, Adeline jumped on her feet and slapped his face.
    Then Mirabelle’s turn, three times.

    The door creaked close like a laughing seagull.

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