Lost, Stolen, or Strayed
After laying the table for the vicar and
his wife, Mrs Timmings left for home, knowing that her own dinner would be warmed up
stew with too many potatoes and only a taste of meat, but fresh beans from her husband’s
garden. She came in to find that, once again, she was not greeted by Tiger twining
around her ankles. That he wasn’t in the kitchen was not, in itself, a great surprise: it
is the nature of tomcats to roam. However, he had not been seen for almost a week, not
at home, nor around the village. He might have strayed further afield, led by a flying
sparrow or the wiles of a lady-cat, and lost his way home. He might have been run over
by a lorry from the army camp.
The next morning, on her way to the vicarage, she dropped by the post office, and was
surprised to find that no one seemed to be in. Well, the paper boy was probably late as
usual, and Mr Jenkins dealing with him. His wife, no doubt, must just have had to pop
upstairs for five minutes.
Mrs Timmings looked in her bag for the note she had written about Tiger, and found it
missing. Oh, dear. She went past the counter and pushed open the door, expecting to
find herself in the small back room. Strangely, though, she did not see the postmaster
and the errant paper boy. Instead, she found herself in an office, overwhelmed by an
enormous desk untidy with stacks of paper, where a young woman sat at a typewriter. At
least, Mrs Timmings thought it must be a typewriter—and a most up to date model indeed—for
the girl was tapping busily away at the keys.
“Might I borrow a piece of notepaper?” she asked. “I want to leave
a note on the board.”
“Help yourself,” was the response. “I’m on deadline.”
The head did not turn; and Mrs Timmings had to riffle past the stacks to find a pad
of notepaper and a rather blunt pencil.
“Is this for the classifieds?” the girl asked. “Dictate it to me; I’ll input it
directly; it’ll be faster.”
Mrs Timmings hesitated; but she was used to following directions when given in that
crisp tone. “Well,” she said, “I was going to head it ‘Lost, Stolen,
“Fine, sure, okay,” drifted round. The voice seemed to have an American cant, and was
vaguely familiar; but Mrs Timmings could only address the back of the head. “How does
it go on from there.”
Mrs Timmings opened her mouth to respond; but, as she dictated, the words somehow
seemed to come out rather differently from the way she expected.
The scroll was handed to Alexander by one of the pages. As he unrolled it, Hephaistion
came over. “From the regent?” he asked.
“No, The Renault Times,” said Alexander. “I was beginning to think the latest issue
had gone astray—or the messenger been captured.”
Hephaistion grinned. A captured messenger might have meant a little retributive action;
and the army had been idle too long. However, the latest Renault Times was an even more
The two sat in the shade of a tree, taking turns reading aloud. It was a slim scroll,
both agreed. Rather disappointing after such a long wait. Most of the articles were
about the doings of characters in other books...in their books, not in the ITOWverse.
No. The closest thing to current events was a discussion of the most appropriate casting
of parts in a movie of The Charioteer. (Both men recalled seeing a movie called Troy a
few years back, and shuddered at the thought.) Even that had taken place a month
earlier. For news to take a month on the road in their own book was no surprise; for
news in The Renault Times to be so stale was unprecedented.
“I thought they usually had a collection of stories at this time of year,” Hephaistion said.
“Yes, I thought so, too,” said Alexander. He sounded a bit peeved.
Although it was a section they usually skipped, they finally turned to the advertisements
at the end. As always, there were inquiries from community members about the availability
of second hand copies of scarce editions of the Authorís novels; there were offers of
World War Two memorabilia for sale; and Mrs Kearsey had, once again, inserted a listing
for her boarding house in Wales. At the end, though, they found one communication that
they had not expected. “Lost, Stolen, or Strayed,” it began.
Lost, Stolen, or Strayed. Two moderators, slightly used but well
beloved. Last seen a month ago in heartofoshun’s journal. If spotted,
please direct back home to the community where they belong.
“I don’t think that came out quite as I intended,” said poor Mrs
Timmings. “Did I mention my Tiger?”
“You have a tiger?” said the Interviewer, turning around for the first time to be seen clearly.
“I think maybe you should put a new sheet of paper in your machine—or maybe it would be
better if I wrote it myself.” Mrs Timmings picked up the blunt pencil.
“Too late,” said the Interviewer. “It’s already posted.” And she hit
Fan Fiction based on Mary Renault's novels
Table of Contents for Fan Fiction
These interviews, conversations, and stories are written purely for
entertainment, and as a tribute to the creator of the characters and author of
The Charioteer, Mary Renault. No copyright infringement is
“Lost, Stolen, or Strayed” was originally posted to the
community, 24 August 2012.